Rithvik felt miserable about the tears that were flowing down his cheeks. He was 16, for God’s sake! Men don’t cry, and he was a man. Not a boy anymore, he had to remind himself. How was he going to find the money to make good the loss he had caused to Jignesh? He had borrowed a racquet and then, after playing, forgotten it in the park. He had searched high and low the next day, but was unable to find it. Jignesh was hopping mad and refusing to talk to him!
Rithvik felt bereft. He worshipped the very athletic Jignesh and was trying hard to be like him, if only to get into his good books, to be respected equally. And now he had lost the right even to speak to him. Rithvik’s father had been angry too and refused to spare any amount to replace the racquet. “This will teach you a lesson,” was all he had to say.
Dejected, he went to the park and took two rounds to work off his frustration and humiliation. Tired and depressed, he went to a bench and a pair of shoes caught his eyes. They looked too new to have been abandoned. And yet, there was no one around in that lonely park. It was still too sunny for the walkers and joggers to arrive.
An idea niggled his mind. As a couple entered the park, he acted before thinking. He quietly tucked the shoes into his backpack and rushed out. He had noted only two things – that it was a Nike and size 10. He rushed to his brand crazy friend Piyush and made an offer. “My dad got these, but they are the wrong size. I need the cash…” he pleaded. Piyush loved the price quoted and willingly took some out from his pocket money.
“Thanks,” Rithvik said as he ran out and went to the sports shop. He couldn’t afford the best brand still, but Jignesh anyway had given him an old racquet. So he got the next best and headed to his friend’s house.
Jignesh was looking down in the dumps.
“Sorry about the racquet, man, I got you a new one… Here…” Rithvik said as he handed the racquet to Jignesh, hoping to be swept into a warm and happy hug.
Jignesh remained listless. “Is something wrong?” Rithvik asked, worried.
“This morning, I left my shoes in the park as I jogged bare-feet. Since by the time I remembered, I was late for school and the park is always deserted during the day, I thought I will pick them up in the evening. But now they are gone! Someone actually stole it!” he exclaimed, feeling stupid and angry.
Rithvik’s jaw dropped. He patted his friend silently and then left. When he felt safe, he let out a hearty laugh. Serves the b@S#@^d right, he thought.