Life always springs up surprises at the most unexpected moments. But for these twists, perhaps, we may become bored with life itself. For, the very first time I met him, I intensely disliked him. The reason for that apathy, I will go into it very soon. First about life’s surprises. Whom I thought would be my enemy became my savior in a sense, that he extended a helping hand at a most difficult time for me. But in spite of his kindly gesture I had to soon look upon him as my enemy. I know, you may think about me as an unworthy fellow, but, perhaps, after I put forth the circumstances before you, you may revise your opinion about me.
Now, for my dislike towards him at the first sight: Where I saw him first was, at an interview for a job which I desperately needed. I was out of job for more than a year, I have spent all my savings on a tour, a purposeless roaming born of ennui with life itself, and found myself threatened to be chucked out of my rented house for not paying my dues for a long time. I was confident of landing this job because I was selected through a written test among some two hundred candidates; and of course this other fellow was also along with me. But what made me happy was that this fellow did not turn up for the interview at the appointed time. I entered the Senior Manager’s room with all the confidence of a King, who enters the battle field with his mighty army, only to see that the enemy King has taken a retreat with his army abandoning the fort wide open. I tried all the tricks in the book to impress the Manager and I thought I had accomplished what I intended to. The Manager asked me to wait for some time and I went out and sat gloating over my luck. Soon I was in for a shock. This other fellow whom I was talking about entered in a great hurry. He looked harried and excited and asked me, “Has the interview started yet?”
“Yes.” I replied triumphantly.
“Oh God…Oh God“, he cried in desperation and I laughed inwardly.
But I spoke as though I sympathized with him.
“I am really sorry, but may be God intends to give you a better opportunity.”
“No…no, I was sure of getting this job and…”
And at that moment the peon came out of the Manager’s room.
He asked him, “Have you come for the interview?”
“Yes, yes” he replied pleadingly.
“The Manager does not like late-comers. Any how I’ll inform him.” He went off.
After some tense moments he came back and told him, ”the Manager asked you to come.”
He went in.
I now felt like a fool and cursed all the gods I knew for having let me down.
I waited nervously for a few minutes only but it seemed forever.
When he came out, the smile on his face told me all. And his thumbs up sign confirmed it.
He came near me laughing and said, “Won’t you ask me how I convinced the manager about my late coming?”
I remained silent and he continued, “I told him I saw an old woman hit in an accident and took her to the hospital. The manager was touched by my good Samaritan gesture.”
“Is it so?”
“What do you think? Of course I lied.” He laughed again.
I got up and prepared to leave.
He called out, “Hey…where are you going man?”
“What is your guess man? I’ll go look for another job.”
He laughed heartily and said,” No need man…. We both have been selected.”
“Yes man! Congrats! We will work together and become great friends.”
I doubted it very much and my hunch proved to be right. He wanted us to celebrate the occasion, but I was reluctant at first, and later on relented on his insistence. And in the bar he told me his name was Vaman and he guessed my name was Sekar. He asked me whether I remembered my school days and told me we were in the same school in Trichy where we studied together in eighth standard. Since his father got transferred to some other place they had to leave.
Now I remembered him vividly. We were rival captains of two teams of Volley Ball in the school and we grudged each other whenever possible and we always competed in every activity. We both stood for school leader elections and he always had a card up in his sleeve. He won. What he did was, he somehow made all the girls rally behind him. When he left the school upon his dad’s transfer, I celebrated the event with my friends buying tickets for a movie and taking them to the hotel.
The enemy has now returned to torment me in my working place.
We both were sales persons toiling to achieve targets and soon were pitted against each other. We were constantly goaded to compete with each other and the company profited by our rivalry. I constantly thought of ways to beat him in the competition.
But when I suddenly fell sick with Malaria, he took me to the hospital and even tended me there during the night times. He gave me financial assistance in a crunch situation and I was surprised by his gesture.
And soon I had to face him in another challenge. A new girl was appointed in our office as P.A. to our Manager to whom we had to submit our sales figures. Her name was Sara. I was surprised in the manner I found myself attracted to her inevitably. For I always thought of me as invulnerable to girls. She also seemed interested in me and I soon thought of letting her know of my feelings. I took her out one or two times and I was confident of winning her heart. She confided in me even about the official secret that the Manager was intending to promote me as assistant manager in preference to Vaman! At last I thought dame luck has turned her looks in my direction.
But it happened as a bolt from the blue. Vaman was promoted instead of me. Sara told me Vaman had been strongly recommended by none other than the Manager’s dear wife herself. Vaman had endeared her by way of gifts for her feminine preferences and for her ten year old daughter also!
I was so much perturbed by this relegation of me in the office, I took a week off.
And when I returned for work I was shocked to see Sara avoiding me at every attempt I made to speak with her.
You guessed it right. I heard from others in the office that she was soon to marry Vaman.
As I told earlier life springs up surprises at the most unexpected moments.
Vaman had been killed in an accident.
A month passed by without any interesting incident, and one evening Sara told me she wanted to talk with me.
We met by the temple and seeing me she burst into tears.
“I’m really sorry I agreed to marry Vaman when I knew you were in love with me. He somehow made me fall for him and I had been crying every day since his death, not for him, but for betraying your love. I really feel bad and beg your pardon.”
I remained silent not knowing what to tell her.
She asked,” Will you accept my love and marry me?”
I did not answer her and she pleaded with tears, “please…”
I could not say anything immediately and said, “I’ll meet you here tomorrow and tell you.”
The next day I met her as promised and she eagerly awaited my assent.
I told her, “Sorry, I can’t marry you. This is not as a punishment for your ditching me or something but it is purely personal. I know and acknowledge he had been a rival to me in everything I did, and I respectfully treat him as one. I want to give him a fair chance to fight me and now I can’t as he is no more there. So I feel it is unethical to take away what rightfully belongs to him in his absence and I’ll carry a burden in my conscience if I did so. Please understand and forgive me.”
So telling her I went my way.