Nobody, including myself, believed I had a realistic chance of laying my hands on the cup. In fact, I was expected to lose the 400m race if I ever qualified for the finals. The entire conversation which I overheard in the classroom did something to me which as a class VI kid I could not comprehend. I had never been competitive, had never worked for a victory, had never been victorious. But that evening something pierced through my innocent heart. I did not want to lose. Within 24 hours, I found myself walking towards the valley tracks all alone in frightening darkness. It was dark and reasonably cold in the hills but I seemed incapable of assessing any dangers. I warmed up in my sneakers and then put on my spikes for the sprints and in that darkness a boy fell in love with the sound of spikes going through the moist ground uprooting the grass. I kept up with my secret routine for five days believing I was in the battle all alone. I was wrong , another little heart was beating as fast as mine. On the sixth morning as I moved out before dawn, a buoyant voice dispelled the silence, रुक मैं भी आता हूँ। This was a classmate, a house mate, a soul mate. He took my shoes, did not ask any questions, may be he already knew the answers. He sat there on the cold shed stairs as I went through my routine. I was taking the pains as I had something to prove, he was suffering the morning chill because he cared.
As I fell on my back having beaten the second best boy by about 40 meters, scores of boys patted me on the back, some shook my hand, some hugged me and then one boy handed over my blazer that hung over his shoulders. I handed over to him my championship cup. He took a victory lap holding it, a lap he perhaps deserved as much as I did if not more. He was my morning pal, my sun before the dawn.
Some 29 years later, we are still friends.
– Sudip Bajpai (1996 Batch)
This content has been reproduced from a Facebook post by Sudip Bajpai on February 07, 2018.