Ajit and Deven went outside the house and Deven said good bye. As Ajit entered his home, his grand father, who had recently come from their native place, stopped him.
“You are fast friends. It is difficult to find friends like you in today’s times,” his grand father praised him.
“That is just eye-wash, grandpa. I don’t feel the friendship. Since when we were in the 8th, I don’t know how always he comes first and I have to contend with the second place. This is our 10th year. This time somehow, I have to come first. Let him fall ill or let something happen to him.”
“Beta, have patience. Have your dinner and go to sleep. Tomorrow will be a new morn.”
The next morning was a Sunday. When Ajit got up, grandpa was already up. Grandpa had gone for a walk and had returned refreshed.
After Ajit had his breakfast, grandpa told him to come and sit beside him on the hall sofa.
“Ajit, I wanted to tell you a story. But, you are no longer a small boy. So I will narrate a real incident.”
This is what grandpa narrated. There were two brothers, who lived next to each other. The elder brother, Arjun, had usurped the property, so their father had come to live with the poorer brother, Archit. And Archit had filed a case against his brother in the court.
The brothers had one son each. Both the boys were studying in the same class in the 10th std. Arjun’s son, Dinesh, would always come second and his cousin, Dhaval would come first. Dinesh was always jealous of Dhaval.
Suddenly one day, Archit’s family started getting anonymous phone calls. The caller would threaten any member of the family, who would pick up the phone that they would kidnap Dhaval.
Another surprising thing happened a few days before the final exams. Dhaval and his mother, Arpana disappeared!
The next day, Dhaval’s grandpa got a call asking for Dhaval. Grandpa replied that Dhaval and his mother had gone somewhere and had not returned home.
Finally, when Archit came home from office, it was decided that they would go to the police.
When the two met the ACP of the area, Archit requested him to find Dhaval and his mother before the exams began. The ACP said that he would try his best.
The exams started and there was no sign of Dhaval or his mother.
Archit and grandpa met the ACP again. This time grandpa had asked Arjun to come along. Archit was more worried than ever. He told the ACP to find Dhaval and his mother alive. He no longer bothered about Dhaval’s exams.
The ACP said that he would try his best but it would require some money. On grandpa’s insistence, Arjun got ready to pay the required amount.
Dinesh was the one, along with his friends, who had made the anonymous calls to Dhaval’s place. But he had not kidnapped his cousin. He could not concentrate on his studies. He had lost his sleep over the incident. Finally, when the results were declared Dinesh had just made it to first class with some condonation marks. Dinesh could not join the course he wanted to.
Almost a year went by and the time came when the next batch would give the 10th std. board exams. Just before the time the exams fees were to be paid, Dhaval and his mother returned home. No questions were asked and no answers were given since Dhaval had work to do. Though he was worried about the loss of one year, on his grandpa’s insistence, Dhaval attained confidence enough to give the exams.
The results came and Dhaval had passed with flying colors. Everybody was surprised that such a miracle too could happen. When Arjun could not tolerate the suspense any more, he asked Arpana, how a boy, who had been kidnapped, having experienced mental and probably physical torture, could perform so well in the board exams.
Arpana just smiled and looked at her father-in-law.
‘Is there something I should know?’ Arjun asked his father.
‘Yes, son. When we started getting the anonymous phone calls we went to my friend, the ACP. He found that the calls were coming from your home, when you were not at home. We put two and two together and realized that it was your son and his friends. Then with the help of the ACP, we relocated Dhaval and his mother for some time in a safe place under police protection. He studied hard all the while. The money the ACP took from you was for their sustenance.’
“What do you learn from this incident, Ajit?”
“That I should work hard instead of acting like an Indian crab, pulling down Deven from his progress,” replied Ajit.
Ajit’s hard work paid dividends. This time there was a tie for the first position between Deven and Ajit!