"Don't trust them. They are manipulating you. They are turning your weakness into their strength. Don't accept this challenge" yelled Arul, becoming teary-eyed.
"Arul! Please! For one last time, let me accept this bike race challenge. They raised fingers at my skill-set. I am not going to spare them" said Shashi in anguish.
"Don't lose your senses in the zeal to show what you are! You are all set to participate in the Motorcycle State Championship. If you are physically injured in this challenge, you may have to lose the golden opportunity of racing in the State championship that is waiting at your doorstep. Don't!" said Arul, trying to convince his best friend in the best possible way.
"Hey! Why do you think we are doing this to hurt your friend physically? I clearly showed you the track and finish line too. Still, you don't trust us. I think you don't want to see your best friend succeed in this challenge" said one of the envious bikers, named Rahul.
"Shashi! Is he your babysitter? Don't take it offensively. I meant that way as you ask his permission for everything!" smirked Sandy planting a seed of grievance in Shashi's mind.
"Don't get carried away by their words. Listen to me! Let's go" pleaded Arul. Showing a hand sign to stop, Shashi stood up and walked towards his bike. Arul silently trailed his footsteps becoming nervous about the possible outcomes of this challenge.
"Did you set up everything?" Rahul frowned at Sandy who nodded with a closed-lip smile.
Arul grew suspicious eyeing their non-verbal communication. Becoming alert, he tried to find out their vicious plan. He signaled their common friend Pradeep to look into the matter as fast as possible.
After a while...
"3... 2... 1..." The horn blew off waving the flag at the biker's start line.
Arul's heart started beating fast as he had a gut feeling that something bad is going to happen.
The race started on a smooth note. After a few minutes, Pradeep ran to Arul and whispered "You are right! Rahul messed up Shashi's bike. I am going to stop this challenge"
Arul was taken aback. His heart skipped a beat when he saw Shashi losing balance at one point. Shashi somehow managed to continue the race after breaking his usual speed.
"I need a bike. Now!" Arul yelled at Pradeep.
"Take mine," Pradeep said, pulling his keys out from his jean pocket.
Arul joined the race and within a short time, he managed to come closer to Shashi's bike. The spectators wide opened their eyes and were watching the unexpected happenings.
"Rahul messed up with your bike. Jump!" Arul yelled. Shashi nodded his head and jumped into the nearby bush.
The race abruptly came to a halt.
"What is happening here?" Rahul shouted throwing his helmet aside.
Holding his jacket in a tight grip, Shashi asked "How dare you? You tried to win by crooked ways. You messed up with my bike. I shouldn't have accepted your challenge. Cheater!"
"What nonsense are you talking about? Who told you?" Rahul paused for a moment and continued "Oh! Now I get it. This was an act, right? You were not able to pick up your usual speed and race against me. Your friend showed up by grabbing Pradeep's bike suddenly to make you withdraw from this challenge so that you won't become a loser. How nicely you both cooked up a cock and bull story within this short time! I must appreciate this" Rahul clapped aloud and smiled sarcastically.
"Pradeep! Come here and spill the beans for God's sake" Arul frowned badly. Pradeep came and stood mum. A biker came and checked Shashi's bike and frowned at Arul. He said that everything was perfectly fine.
"You said something about Rahul messing up Shashi's bike, right?" Arul shouted, losing patience.
"What? I don't know anything about this. Please! Don't ask me to lie" Pradeep said with an innocent face.
"I am not a cheater, Shashi! You are!" Rahul smirked, pointing his index finger at Shashi. Shashi remained silent.
"I feel that Shashi is innocent. It may be Arul's doing. He didn't want Shashi to participate in this race and win the challenge. So, he played this trick and influenced Shashi" Sandy argued.
"Yes! You are right. This can also be a possible case. What say, Shashi?" Rahul nodded.
Shashi's face turned pale. Arul placed a hand on his shoulder and requested "No! Don't! Please don't think I cheated you and stopped you from continuing the race"
Shashi tried shaking him off and bent his head low for a moment. Arul was dumbfounded as Shashi showed him the cold shoulder.
"Shashi! You consider him as your best friend and feel happy when he tops in our college but he doesn't deserve a friend like you. I think he is not happy with your progress towards a successful career" Rahul showed fake concern.
Shashi's eyes turned red and his jawline was shaking violently clearly showing his anger. Rahul and Sandy exchanged looks hiding their happiness. Just then, Shashi slapped Rahul hard enough to make him lose control and fall to the ground.
"I trust him!" Shashi yelled, tapping Arul's shoulder. Arul raised his head with a smile and tears.
Sandy gulped and stepped back while Rahul rubbed his reddened cheek in dismay.
"I kept silent to see your level of stooping to break our friendship! Don't you dare to speak ill about my best friend in front of me! I know what he is! He is my friend who was beside me through thick and thin. He made my goal as his and strived hard along with me. Though we are not connected through blood relations, we are connected through a beautiful special bond named FRIENDSHIP. He is my Friend! It's the one that you never heard of! I trust him more than my life. He never liked motorcycle racing but after he became my best friend he accepted me as I am and looked at my perspective. He was the one who motivated me to become a bike racer. My friend is the one who doesn't ask or look for gains but he is the one who feels responsible towards my success and my happiness" Shashi said, giving a side hug to Arul.
Spectators clapped aloud and cursed Rahul for his ill-doing.