Class 2nd . Division B.
“Don’t worry. Chetan cannot do a thing. I’m with you” He assured me.
“But Swati…I think he doesn’t want me to be friends with her. And he is too big. I can’t fight him alone.” I said and looked at my best friend for support.
We had just entered class 2 and he was only 3 months elder to me. But at that time, it made a lot of difference.
He thought for a while and then said,
“But Neil, you are a fast runner. Think about it. He can never catch you.”
“Hmm…you are right. I can run really fast. I can jump over the school gate like no one from our class can. You are right, Vedang. Thanks. This is why you’re my best friend.”
Vedang was right. He knew me well. I continued to be friends with Swati. I ran really fast every time I saw Chetan. I knew how to outpace him. I was a fast runner. But eventually time outpaced most of us.
From class 2 to corporate jobs. Time had played its trick. Chetan was lost somewhere in the sands of time. Swati, I do not remember when I saw her the last time. Somebody told me that she got married last summer and had shifted to Delhi. I had to accept my defeat. Time was a better runner.
But Vedang knew me well. He somehow did not get lost in the whirlwind of growing up. We did not keep in touch simply because we were supposed to. I do not know if I can still call him my best friend. But then, he knew how to find his way to reach me, when I needed a friend.
“Don’t worry. Your boss cannot do a thing. I’m with you” He assured me.
“But this work-pressure. It’s killing me, Vedang.”
“I know Neil, you look so stressed. You know what, leave it. Leave this job. I mean it. Run so fast that you boss can never keep you chained like this. Run and chase your dreams brother. You are not meant to do this kind of a job.”
“Hmm. You are right. I should leave it.” I said and took a deep breath.
“Vedang, do you realise that you always tell me to run. Like I know I’m a good runner. But, hahaha why am I running all the time?”
“Hahaha!” he laughed as he heard that and spoke, “Well, it has worked quiet well so far. Don’t you agree? I mean see how far you have come. Think about it, you could’ve still been with Swati. And she isn’t that good right?”
“She isn’t? I mean she wasn’t? So why did you not tell me back then?” 28 year old me asked like a school kid.
“Because I was a kid back then, Neil. We both were. And we just had to deal with immediate problems. Like Chetan. We did. And we were happy, right?”
“True that. Immediate problems. I think that’s the key to happiness. Like…umm, right now it’s 7.45 pm and we just have 15 minutes left to order more beer in Happy hours.” I spoke with confidence.
“Now, we’re talking!” He high fived and we placed our order.
“Oh shit!” I exclaimed.
“What?” Vedang asked.
“Akansha. Your ex. Do not. Do not turn behind. She is looking in this direction only” I said.
“What do I do? What do I do? Help me Neil” He said.
“You know what? Run. Like real fast. Now!”