Well, I must admit, this particular boy, whom I so magnanimously anointed as our ‘worst enemy’, did nothing to us. And with the alliance formed with my friend, I don’t see him harming me anytime in future. So bravo mate, I am proud of you.
But I must explain why we were so scared of him.
The rivalry goes back to when we were in class seven and got the access to our school library. Now we could lend books, any kind of them without the librarian guiding us to read what we were supposed to read. We were all ‘high school’ boys then and as such grown up and mature. In our small world, we were adults. Whereas, lesser mortals like the boy in question, who was in class six that time, had to wait one year more to reach our ranks. And the beauty of seniority is that, once you are a senior, always a senior. Juniors, even one year younger ones, ought to respect you. We were taught teachers are our second parents. And we ensured that juniors see us as their second teacher.
As such, it was our moral obligations to guide the immature lot into this crazy maze that is called ‘world’. ‘Life’ to be precise!
And we were good in that!
We had a rule in our school that either the librarian or students of class seven would choose books for class six and five. There were separate books for class eight and onwards. Everybody and anybody could select the book of their choice. Students of class five and six, the immature ones, were supposed to submit their requisition slip to the pre-determined place and the librarian and ‘seven’ites’ would go through their request to decide if they had asked for more than what they could grasp. To be precise, if they have asked for some books destined for the more illuminated lots like class eight and onwards!
Now, we had a favourite game. By that time, we had no idea how to make our name famous. So, as was the practice then and as we learnt from our previous batch, we used to put a puzzle in every ill-fated book that used to come across us! Not a puzzle actually, but a treasure-hunt.
We used to take a book and scribble in the starting page, “amar naam jaante hole 36 patai jao” (if you want to know my name, go to page number 36). In the aforementioned page, it would have been written ‘if you still want to know my name, go to page 7”. And when the curious treasure-hunter skimmed all through the lead, he would have been directed to some other book where the lead would start again.
It was the privilege of the class seven seniors. And we were proud of that. Once in a month the librarian used to threaten to ‘rrussticate’ the whole class unless the culprit is named, but we were sure of our friendship and the new-found strength in our muscle. The boy, who would dare to blow the lead, would be taken to the taskforce. And I swear, I was a terrible threat to the ‘boykind’ that time! It’s much later that I became what I am today, but that time, I was sure of myself. And those who knew me, including my father, were sure of my doomed future.
So, we had a game. Though anybody was invited to play the game and make the otherwise dull book a part of treasure-hunt, the good boys were against ‘defiling’ books. They didn’t want to earn the wrath of goddess Saraswasti, who is in charge of the education department somewhere in the sky above us.
Our story was different, we were the followers of Rakshasas and as such always against education and all those shit.
So one fine cloudy evening, after carefully considering this boy’s request, we handed him a book that incidentally was from a newly purchased lot. In fact, he was the first one to get the book. And we were always happy to give away new book to uninitiated juniors. If you write treasure-hunt clues in a new book, the chances of getting caught are very high! So says logic, since the librarian has only you to blame. Only when the book has circulated thrice, we used to start our masterpiece.
But there was a surprise waiting for us! The boy returned the book and as soon as we, the master mystery monsters, started to explore the thick book for strategically important pages, we found our nemesis, our worst nightmare came true. At the starting of the first chapter, it was written “if you want to know who I am turn on page 19”. The wires on our brain snapped. How dare he destroy a property of the library! That too, under our custodianship? It was an open challenge!
Before we showed the book to the librarian and proved that class seven students were indeed angels and it’s the class six lots that were the bad apples, we decided to bring the culprit to the task force.
We almost kidnapped the boy and took him to the nearby hedge. Then after a brief lecture like Steve Jobs does, before every new product launch, I brought the book from the bag. The boy, sensing the alarm, tried to run for his life. But five of us were too agile and athletic.
We gave him the beating of his life and pushed him at the nearby pond. After making him drink several gallons of water, we pulled him up and left him to recoup. He swore he would never defile a book. And he swore, rather uncomfortably for us…he would take revenge. His father was there at the police!
We went in hiding. In the sense, we didn’t go to the school for a week after that. We simply refused to go to school or said there was a holiday going on. The unfortunates among us did start for the school but ended up playing cricket at a distant ground.
No, police didn’t come to pick us up. We also didn’t show the book to the librarian.
But much to our astonishment, we saw the boy growing up like a goliath! When he left the school at class ten, he was already six feet tall. Well built, with unusual muscle for a boy of his age. And our batch really didn’t grow up. We were stuck at 5’2” when we left school. To this day, I am 5’8”. Whereas I heard that the boy, now a man, has added 5” more to his height and now has bulging muscles.
Do I need to tell how shit scared we were when he was growing to his glory. There was a time when we used to hide from his gaze, lest, he remembers and come to even out the past experience. We used to follow his every move just as jackals follow a lion. Careful, not to attract attention from the mighty beast. We were consoled when we found out, his favourite position in a football match is that of a mid-fielder!
A mid-fielder, in no way, is an aggressive fellow. He is not aggressive as a striker; neither is he a stubborn like a defender. We used to nurture hope that his nature was like that of the position that he choose to play and he still didn’t remember his vow!
That, I am typing still now and not dead, goes on showing, he is a forgetful giant! God be with him!
It’s true, he never harmed us, but the tension every time we crossed our path was too much for us. I am sure; I have lost at least five years of my life through that.
I really don’t know how my friend, a party to the crime, managed to hook the goliath’s sister, but I for one, never dared to look at her. She was beautiful and always hanged around with his giant brother. Naturally, the question of eye-contact was a stretched dream for a feeble man like me.
In fact, to be honest, my friend must have got that girl without any competition.
Because I spared no one in my locality. So much so that, without knowing, I once eve-teased the giant’s girlfriend! But I swear, I was innocent, ill-informed. If I would have known she was who she was, I would have made her my sister. But it was too late. When I realised her true identity, I was quick in fleeing ftom Calcutta!
So naturally, I shouldn’t have been in my friend’s marriage party, even if that means an end to our friendship! What if the girl reminds the giant of the vengeance? Incite him for the vow he pledged?
I have heard, all the wars in the world started with a woman. In this case, it would not be a war at all, it would be a murder! Ah…women…gate to the hell! Without any reason, the boy would land up in jail. Just imagine. Afterall, I know him from my school days, how can I moot this injustice to him?
Besides, life is precious than friendship, isn’t it? Or that it’s the opposite?