It was Friday, a long weekend lay ahead of me; an invitation for relief and respite after five long days of staring contests between me and the monitor. Work was light until the last thirty minutes when my manager decided to assign me some. I groaned and complained, but kept them to myself.
It was the last day of the week and the last working day of the month. Very rarely the two coincided. Salary was credited on the morning itself, but the opportunity to spend somewhat extravagantly would not arrive until after work. I decided to indulge in some good whiskey, cigarettes, Chicken Manchurian and Chicken noodles.
𝘔𝘢𝘯 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘴, 𝘎𝘰𝘥 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘴.
The auto stand didn’t have a single auto, save one and I would’ve to wait for it to fill up with so many people that it’d be one step away from falling down and having their skulls cracked open in the process. I decided to walk, the liquor ‘off-shop’ was a good one and a half kilometers away at least. I plugged in my headphones, lit a cigarette and started walking, taking long strides with each step. Soon enough, I was on par with a guy who sat nearby to my place. We never talked. He was walking at a slow pace with a carry bag in his hand. I crossed him. Through the half-hearted illumination of the dim street lights, I recognized his contour at once.
Suddenly his pace went from sluggish to steady and I found myself competing with him, neither of us wanted to fall behind. The match was set, the game was on.
I love walking, in fact, I’ve spent a great deal of time walking when I used to bunk classes and tuition but the practice was not polished upon until today. We both gained on each other, reluctant to lose. My calf muscles strained and my foot crushed under the sheer weight of my fat filled body, but I was determined not to lose. It amazed me how competition can sprout from even the unlikeliest of places, both of us didn’t know each other, still, we were competing in a race. Sometimes I had to get down from the road on a stretch full of stones and pot holes as bikes and cars made their way past us. Walking side by side would mean one of us getting brushed by the vehicles and a single soft touch from the whizzing cars could mean lethal.
A third competitor came from nowhere walking frenetically as he whizzed past the both of us, we tried to keep up but both of us failed. He was exceptionally lean and fast. Midway, I put in full effort and gained on my previous competitor, in hopes of equalizing with the new player, but in vain. Our final prize lay ahead, on the main road an auto was waiting, whoever would finish first would get to ride it.
The boy who later joined the competition emerged victoriously, but that didn’t concern me, my battle was against the guy I knew but never talked to. The auto whizzed off, we were left behind. We spilled sand, stones, and gravel as we crossed a bad stretch of road, by this time I was sweating profusely and my feet were beginning to hurt, I could not care less about the songs I was listening to and decided to plug out the headphones altogether. The liquor shop was near; my prize for walking more than a kilometer in under twelve minutes.
I bought a bottle of premium whiskey just in time, for the shop was on the verge of closing down. I thanked myself for the competition and also the guy whom I competed against. I was out of breath, almost. I looked at the bottle and smiled.
Competition can come from the unlikeliest of places and motivation can induce surprising results.