Sahib dropped Akshay and me at my uncle’s place. Upon ringing the door bell we were greeted by my sister. She sprang her arms around me. Pecked me on the cheeks and shrieked, “I knew this would work out.” All my attention was sidetracked from the pain and the accident. She was the most benign member of my extended family. My sweet little sister (we are of the same age, but it’s always the brother who feels bigger and conscientious.) Her dark brown hair waved with a gush of air that freed my tensed nerves. The freckles on her face were not a result of age, but a sign of fret and relief on holding her dearest brother tightly after such a long time. Her eyes, a shade darker than mine, were shut. She only opened those almond contoured eyes to look at Akshay. We had never had any sibling rivalry. We owed this to the fact that my uncle treated me as the son he always wanted and my cousin was overwhelmed by the distinction of being the only girl in the whole of Dehradoon who could address me as “Brother”, without offending me.
…“Stop!!! Let me have a word with you.” I turned around to see Aakrisht. He was my best buddy. I had to step back because the breadth of his shoulders always spilled beyond my picturesque field of view. His body had an unusual stiffness. This stiffness in his body language translated into his nick name-‘The Robot’. He invented a gait all for himself by swaying the body while holding those shoulders still (as if they were acupunctured by some Chinese medic). A gene inherited somewhere in his family had thickened his skull. Mine on the other hand was still responsive to pithy pleasures of life. This quite naturally made him the big boy in our group. The following episode is about the side effect of our friendship. We have a habit, which the reader might refer to as “Gambling”. Whenever we faced a difficult scenario, be it extraordinarily important as this penalty kick or a more common place insignificant decision. We just couldn’t resist the urge to bet on it. And here he was standing right in front of me seconds after I decided to take the penalty kick.
“Kalsh, you won’t make this penalty kick. I am sure”.
“What if I do?” I had to retort. “What if I score this most important penalty of my life? Then what? Aakrisht”
I was brash. He was cocky.There was no turning back now. The bet was accepted. My only regret is that I will never know if he actually prayed for me to miss.