Teenage is one of the best phases of life, especially for boys. They are no longer kids and far from being a man. Although, they had already turned into a man in their mental state. It is a time when they are ebullient about everything. Realizing the growth in physical power augments to that. Being a rebel has gotten into their blood as a result they face tremendous problem in following rules. It’s also a time when tucking school T-shirts inside the pants is considered too pastoral.
Happy and Joey were my friends in the school. Or I should say they were it. Happy was a tall sardar with a big turban. His physique could have easily scared a full grown man. His palms were even harder and rougher than a brick. But his nature used to contradict his physique. He was a very humble, jolly and generous person. He was the protector of our group.
Joey on the other hand was a catholic and a preacher by nature. He was always calm and serene. He was a small boy with sense way ahead of his age. He had solution to every problem we used to throw at him. He was the glue that held the group together.
I was the nerd of the group. Always attended all the classes and helped both of them with their studies. They were very supportive and never used to disturb me when I was studying. It was a complete group altogether. One important thing of the nexus was the love and passion for cricket. We all were there in the school cricket team.
Once, an inter-school rotary cup cricket tournament was organized by our school. Our school did perform well in it and we were in the finals against St. Xavier’s school. As it was our home ground, whole of our school was present in the stands to cheer us up. We lost the toss and had to field first. They made a commendable score of 112 runs in 15 overs. It was our turn to enforce our supremacy over them.
While I was getting ready in the changing room to open the batting for our school, I saw Happy running towards the senior’s stand.
‘Hey! You all sissies’ he shouted standing in front of the stand panting heavily.
‘Do you want to make more fun of me and my turban? Why don’t you all come outside the school premises and I will give you a nice pounding for your ill-mannered behavior. This will help you remember that a sardar will never tolerate jokes about his turban’
He was burning in anger. I and Joey ran towards him as soon as we heard it. We knew it wasn’t the best of an idea to test the patience of huge number of seniors. But they all had agreed to Happy’s challenge before we could have even reached.
‘What happened?’ I asked.
‘While I was fielding these guys were making fun of my turban.’ Happy said. ‘They were also cracking jokes about sardars. Let’s go outside and teach them a lesson’
‘Are you a fool?’ joey said. ‘Nobody from our batch will ever come to help us and clearly we aren’t enough for them’
‘So, it’s three of us then’ happy said.
‘I am afraid but joey is right. It isn’t a sensible thing to do’ I said.
I was able to envision the beating we were about to get.
‘If you guys don’t want to come? It’s fine’ he said. ‘I can handle them by myself’.
‘We knew you will understand’ we both said at the same time and turned to go back to the changing room.
‘Wait. I was kidding. You guys are coming with me or else I will have to drag you both outside’
Joey and I looked at each other and we were able to come to a conclusion without saying anything. It wasn’t difficult to prioritize friendship over ass kicking. Was it? We went outside the school premises. I was taking the smallest steps possible. It helped in delaying our fate for some time. I knew even Happy couldn’t save us today. Back of my mind I was elated that at least I was wearing the batting pads. I thought they will at least protect my legs.
In a minute or two, a mob of ruthless seniors were coming out from the main gate. There are always people who try to lead everywhere. This mob too had a leader. He was walking ahead of the mob and somehow he lost track of the distance. He may have walked too fast in excitement. As soon as he came close by, Happy slapped him hard on the cheek. He fell in the sewage line running nearby.
Everyone stopped for a moment. This definitely worsened their anger. Joey and I did sh*t our pants but we couldn’t run away. It was as if our feet were chained. The very next moment whole mob bounced on us. We were receiving punches, kick and slaps from every side. I was finding it difficult to choose a direction that was lenient as compared. This lasted for 15 minutes and then everyone left. We were all bruised up.
There were three people lying on the road moaning in pain and one was still there in the sewage line. Lying on the road, I thought it was more than a fight for Happy – It was a feeling that he stood for his pride and he had find the best friends one can ever get. For I and Joey it was more than a fight – it was a feeling that we passed the test to our friendship.
Naah. It was shear humiliation.