A right hook, uppercut and a couple of left hooks – in a few minutes it was all over! The attackers disappeared into the shadows from where they had appeared. Aamir and Sagar examined each other in the moonlight.
Gradually, thanks mainly to Sagar, Aamir started getting adjusted to his new school and even began enjoying himself.
Sagar and he, Aamir found, were completely different from each other and that is probably why they seemed to be getting along so well. Sagar was an out and out extrovert who enjoyed mixing with people. Aamir, on the other hand, was quite reserved and very choosy in making friends. Sagar was a great sportsman. He was crazy about cricket and was already in the running for a place in the school team. He was also the school champ in 100 metres. Aamir was just average in sports but very good at academics. To Sagar, studying was a barely tolerable activity and though intelligent he had never made it to the top ten in class.
Being an outgoing sort of person Sagar had many friends, but after meeting Aamir he realised that they had all been acquaintances. Aamir, who had always been wary about making friends, too found in Sagar a buddy he could trust.
During Class VIII an incident occurred which brought them even closer. The annual triangular athletic meet was in progress on TPS grounds. This was the most prestigious event in the annual sports calendar. Central School Golconda, Central School Trimalgiri, and TPS were in the fray. On the evening of the penultimate day, Sagar and Aamir were returning from the basketball court. The next day was the final of the 100 metres race as well as the 4×100 metres relay. Central School Golconda and TPS were neck and neck. If TPS managed to win one of the two races it would move ahead and pick up the NTR champions trophy. And the only way it could win was if its star athlete Sagar ran the best two races of his life.
That evening Sagar had been feeling a bit tense. “Come on bro, let us go and play some basketball. It will help you get your mind off tomorrow’s race and also will be a good warm up,” Aamir suggested and Sagar readily agreed. Aamir though short was quite quick on his feet and they had a good game.
It was a dark, cloudy night. They were walking across the football field and had almost crossed it when they heard some footsteps. They turned back. Emerging from the shadows of the huge peepal tree that was behind the goal post were three figures. Two were around Sagar’s height while the third was a little shorter.
“Sagar, you are not going to run tomorrow’s race,” one of them said. He was the tallest and the heftiest of the trio.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean exactly what I said. You will not be participating in tomorrow’s race!”
“What nonsense are you talking?”
“You’ll know soon enough. After we have finished with you, you won’t be in a position to limp, let alone walk or run.”
“Who do you think you are to walk into our school and issue ultimatums?” Aamir said, his voice shaking with anger.
“You keep out of this, you little runt, or I’ll give you such a whack that you’ll turn into a turnip and wither away,” the leader barked and his companions roared with laughter.
Aamir backed off and turning around slowly slunk away.
Sagar was aghast. ‘How could Aamir desert him when he needed him most?’
“Smart fellow, he knows how and when to save his skin. Now we can get on with our job,” the leader said and advanced.
Just then there was the sound of running feet and a short figure smashed into the leader, catching him off guard and sending him sprawling on the ground. At that precise moment, the moon came out from behind the clouds and Sagar could make out Aamir sitting on top of the leader and smashing his fist into his face. As if on cue Sagar launched into the other two, his fists flying. A right hook, uppercut and a couple of left hooks – in a few minutes it was all over! The attackers disappeared into the shadows from where they had appeared. Aamir and Sagar examined each other in the moonlight. Except for a couple of scratches and minor bruises they were okay.
“Thanks, buddy. For a moment I…..”
“I know. For a moment you thought I had deserted you. Come on Sagar, you should know me better than that.”
“Who were those guys?” Sagar asked.
“I think I recognised one of them. It was Central School Golconda’s Shot Put champion, Hamid Ali.”
“Should we report him to the Principal?”
“What is the point? It will be our word against theirs. Moreover, they are our guests in the school. The Principal would not like to create any controversy. If you really want to teach them a lesson, do so in the field tomorrow.”
“By winning the 100 metres race.”
And that is exactly what Sagar did. Even though the team lost the relay, Sagar won the 100 metres race. As a result, TPS managed to edge out Central School, Golconda, by two points to emerge champions.
Read on to Chapter 4
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