The cheering crowd and the tensed composure of his friends at the gallery didn’t seem to bother Abhiram in the slightest manner. Even the assurance of winning the ongoing tournament which he has given to the most supportive person he has seen in his life, his sports teacher didn’t seem to materialize at the moment.

Yes ! Abhiram is just one point away from losing out in the finals of the State Level Youth Table Tennis Championship. The score board reading for the final i.e 5th set of the match read : Abhiram 9 Ramesh 10.
His opponent from another school seemed to be in a hurry to win the title as soon as possible and leave the arena. Maybe he had promised ‘someone’ to meet at the nearest Starbucks outlet !

He was quite confident of winning the match now. But one could see Abhiram at the opposite side of the table totally cool. Because he had good hope of winning the next point through his highly unpredictable serve. “Best of luck, Ramesh”, he murmured.
As he hoped, the scorer exclaimed. “DEUCE”.

A set in a table tennis match consists of 11 points. If both the player has their score tied at 10, then the first player to score two consecutive point wins the set. Here the same thing happened much to Abhiram’s pleasure The game was still in no one’s court.! The crowd just got insane with this unexpected twist. Ramesh smirked, probably blaming himself for his folly of taking the serve by Abhiram for granted.

Then, a miracle happened ! Much to Abhiram’s dismay, Ramesh scored the next two points in quick succession.

The match was over. And Abhiram couldn’t keep his promise he has given to his teacher. He was dejected. It seemed as if his energy got drained at that moment. He tried to compose himself. A formal handshake with his opponent and the pleased scorer happened.

He just went straight to his friends who accompanied him to watch his play. All of them congratulated them for being the runner-up. They were the best bunch of people he had in his life. “Don’t feel dismayed Abhi, you have one last chance next year before we all get into collegiate-level.”.said Ahana, trying to comfort him. I am OK, came the reply. But Ahana and others very well knew he was not at all OK. The title for which he had been dreaming much couldn’t materialize even this time, his second attempt at it.

The felicitation function continued and one can clearly figure out that Abhiram was not at all mentally present. He couldn’t bear it anymore. He just went out of the sports complex even before accepting his prize. Everyone present there couldn’t believe what they just saw ! His friends blurted out in unison, WHAT THE HELL !!! Ahana told others to stop Abhiram to stop his solo-sorrow lad venture before he create any ruckus outside. She waited till the function got over and personally went to the tournament authorities and collected the prize from his behalf after she heard a mouthful of scolding from them. She knew she had to go through this all because of Abhi.

By this time, Abhiram had a silly fight with his friends which ended with his trademark dialogue when he gets pissed off, GET LOST, YOU FOOLS !!! He took the first Rickshaw he saw and reached home. He couldn’t make eye contact with his mother when she opened the door for him. Beta, atleast tell me what happened. No reply came to this query. He just went straight to his room and threw himself on his bed. His mother followed him to his room. She felt that things may not have turned out as per her son’s plans, which got confirmed by seeing him crying inconsolably. She tried to comfort him to her level best but she knew everything would be in vain. Even though Abhiram keeps him calm even during tough conditions, a loss was something which he couldn’t learnt to cope up with.

“Leave me alone, Maa”, he replied in a quivering tone. Please leave me alone for sometime.

She knew her Abhi would be fine, as always. She left the room silently. The next second, he received a call. He picked up his phone. AHANA CALLING.

In a rage of anger, he just cut the call and switched it off. Ahana who was already angry with him because of the reprimanding she had to hear because of him a hour back, couldn’t bear it. She decided I will never speak to him.
He rejected to have his dinner although it was a Biryani which his mom made especially for him to make his mood lighter. The aroma of the food couldn’t probably grumble his empty stomach as he was dreaming himself lifting the winner’s trophy next year. To ignore a meal is not an easy task he knew especially if you have a typical Indian Mother. So, he executed the all time successful idea of faking as if in a sound sleep ! And guess what, he was victorious. At least in this game.

He somehow made himself cheerful. All thanks to his belief in Bollywood story plots, where the protagonist always wins at the last with his lady love besides him, safe from the clutches of a namesake Villain !

Now it was time for him to call back Ahana and say a big Sorry. There was an outburst of messages and missed calls when he switched his phone on. But his mind was just focused on calling Ahana. Its time for some melodrama, he felt. Yes, the call got connected. The first ring, second and third went on Why is she not attending my call ? Is she angry with me ? Yeah it was my mistake, no doubt. The answer came quite fast and equally blunt in the form of a WhatsApp text message which read Don’t try to confront me, ever…And do try to win next time, you Selfish. Good Bye !

He felt really hollow from inside. He knew he hurt her much that day and her anger was righteous. But it was his duty to make things better between them. After all, there were great buddies. He just went on thinking how to approach her the next day in school. Gradually, he forgot about the losing saga he witnessed at the sports complex that day.
The next day, as planned as soon as he got to catch up with Ahana during the lunch break, he exclaimed “Hey Ahana, Good Afternoon !”.
Ahana replied, “Who are you, huh ?” and went away without even waiting for his reply.
He continued to follow her, but in vain. At last he mustered courage and said “What are you upto ?”.
Ahana blurted , “ I want to kill you !”
YEAH, kill me. But you will have to win the trophy for me the next time !
Ahana started laughing and said, “Never ever repeat this.”
OK. So, friends ?
“You are asking me this question for the 100th time. Why can’t we stop fighting ?”
In the garden of friendship, even fight is a tasty fruit.
“Oh my poet, please STOP this crap !”
As you wish Your Honour
Both of them had a great chat for the next 15 minutes which got interrupted by the class bell which indicated the end of the break.
Ahana said “Uff, it’s Prakash Sir’s class now. I am going. You know he is very strict.”
Abhiram’s reply came as a thrashing, “You Science people have very boring teachers just as you guys”. He chuckled.

“Wait, lets meet after the last period. I have a good reply for this.” Said Ahana in an angry tone.
So, a reason for another fight between the great pair of friends was struck right.