I was thinking back to the day I first met her. Straight jet black hair, fierce shining eyes and a smile which showed confidence rather than grace. Even at that age, other toddlers steered clear of her, whenever they saw her coming up to them.She wasn’t a friend of mine. In fact, we hardly talked, to be honest. Calling her an enemy would be being a tad bit judgmental but I definitely got bad vibes off her. She’s not what one may understand on seeing her. From the outside, calm, collected and ever-virtuous. But inside, a fire burned in her. A fire which was determined on doing what she wanted and getting what she desired.
That first race with her. That first defeat. That first surge of disappointment. I had never been used to losing. But that day marked a new beginning. She crossed the finishing line way ahead of me and turned around to look at me. A cackling laugh gave way to her thoughts. More than once, the word ‘wicked’ did come to my mind. Not that I blamed her. I blamed it on my lack of practice. We were five years old.
Ten years later, I got a chance again. To compete with her, and return a wicked grin for her cackling smile. The race course was crowded, with members of both our schools gathering to view this reunion of the two most formidable athletes of their schools. The whistle was blown and I lunged forward. I looked neither right nor left, just straight forward. Towards the finishing line, towards my goal. She was very near me, so near that I could hear her pants behind me. We ran nearer to the finishing line. Just a few more steps, I thought. And then, a push, a gasp and I felt myself losing balance. Just saving myself from spiraling downwards, I managed to look up, only to see her run ahead of me.And then what was it? She won.
The victory didn’t haunt me. What haunted me was her cackling laugh.
Some things never change.