Success Knocks Only Once
Success Knocks Only Once
The first miss
Abdul did not know who the target was. He did not like knowing who he was going to kill. He picked his sniper and started walking up the stairs of the under-construction building. Abdul was reminded of his first murder walking up. The first time he picked the sniper no one thought he would be able to kill someone. He was only 15 years then. Nothing changed from that day. His accuracy, his fearlessness, and never getting caught, nothing changed. Except for his pay, which started with only twenty thousand. That day he can demand up to 20 lakhs for a kill. Abdul reached the top pointed the gun through the window and zoomed to see his target for the first time. He could not believe what he was seeing. He turned around and picked his bag to confirm the target. Target was accurate. It was Raju his childhood cricket opponent. He was a little hesitant for the first time. But he clicked the triggered anyway and the bullet missed. He was not going to lose his 20 lakhs. He picked his rifle and headed directly to Raju's home.
The first fight
Abdul and team were playing Raju's team for the first time. They are doing not very good. Abdul was the captain of the street cricket team. He always was careful about the games they played. He never doubted his teams winning abilities. But, he did not like betting more than they could afford. Raju, on the other hand, did not care for the money. His father was rich, and he could afford to lose games and money. Raju did not let his team lose any games, his ego won't let him sleep, otherwise. The game that day was for 250 Rupees. Abdul asked all to get 20 rupees each, he was to cover the rest 50. Everyone brought their 20's and gave them to Abdul. But Abdul was not able to get his share. He could not ask his parents, who are struggling to have a meal a day. With the 50 rupees, the 4 brothers and 2 sisters could have a meal for 2 days.
Abdul was a great all-rounder. The superpower that saved him for losing all these days was his yorker. He could bowl that on will. Today it is not working with Raju. Abdul and his team were the first to bat. They made a wonderful 150 runs in 20 overs. Abdul on his part made a 40 ball 70*. Raju's team did not start very well. They were four down by 7th over with only 50 on board. Thirty of which were made by Raju by then. Abdul did not start bowling at that point. By 16th over Abdul finished 3 of his overs and the score was 126. Raju scored a whopping 90 of the 126 runs. Abdul yorkers failed against Raju all day. Abdul did not understand what was going on. If someone were watching Raju's stance, they would have given tips to Abdul. But that was just street cricket.
The 17th over Abdul decided to stand in slips. He was tired from all the running. The bowling in 17th over was by one more, fast-paced-bowler, Sunder. Sunder was bowling very good line. But Raju hit him for two boundaries and then a six to reach his century. That was when Abdul noticed Raju was standing almost a bat length ahead of the crease. Raju was able to convert the yorkers of Abdul to easy scoring opportunities. The very first time Raju faced Abdul the next over he was clean bowled. Abdul adjusted his length and line a little bit. But it was too late. The next three overs Raju's team needed less than 10. They made the runs easily and Abdul's team lost the game.
Raju and team were celebrating their win near Raju's car. They did not wait to ask Abdul for the money. They all wanted to win, and they did. Abdul walked to Raju's car. Handed him the 200 he had. Raju took the money and kept in the pocket, without even counting. Ahmad turned around to leave when Raju stopped him. Raju shook Ahmad's hand and said, "Good Game". Ahmad said, "Thank you". Ahmad then said the truth that there were 50 rupees short. Raju said not to worry. Ahmad felt relieved and was about to say, "Thank you". Then Raju asked Ahmad to pack all their kits which were lying on the ground and bring to his car. Ahmad had no counter word to say. Ahmad packed the kits in the car.
After that loss, Abdul won all his next games. Soon his friends were happy they got their 20 rupees back and more. Abdul did not encounter Raju playing in the ground, but he never engaged in any conversation. Abdul learnt a few things from the humiliating loss. Study your opponent. Never bet what you don't have. But he never hated Raju. Raju, on the other hand, did not consider the game's win big. After all, he was preparing for the under-19 team of India. But Raju was excited meeting Abdul. He wanted to know Abdul more. But he had no way to reach Abdul. Abdul did not even have a phone number to give to Raju. What Raju did not know was all people will not have phones in the 90s. Some of them never seen one too.
That day Abdul and his team won their match and celebrating on the ground. Raju who was watching the game for a while walked to Abdul. Raju congratulated Abdul for the win. Raju then asked if Abdul would play against Raju's team again. Abdul said, "He cannot play against Raju's team". Raju taunted with the words, "Fear of losing?". Abdul replied, "Losing game, I don't mind. Losing self-respect, I cannot afford". Raju said, " In that case, I will carry your kits to show respect if you win". Abdul was tempted by the offer. But all his team plays to make a little money over the weekend. They will not like the idea of playing for no money. Raju realized Abdul was hesitant. He said, "He will pay Abdul 500 and carry his bags till his house. If they win. If they lose, they don't have to pay." Abdul said "Yes".
The game that morning did not go as planned for Abdul. Raju hit one more 100+ score. Raju's team made 162 playing first. Abdul came in to open the innings. He never liked that position. He liked open fields and quick singles and doubles. That day he changed his game and started to hit boundaries. He cannot take one more loss against Raju. But 18 overs into the game the score was 152 with Abdul on 120. The 11 in 2 overs should be easy, but they are already 9 down. Abdul was off strike when Rana was facing the ball in 19th over. Rana tried to hit a big six which only reached the slip cordon where Raju was standing. The ball was in Raju's hands, everyone was about to celebrate, and the ball jumped out of Raju's hand. Ahmad took a quick single off the misfield. Abdul decided he cannot take any more chances. He hit four and six next two balls to finish.
Raju walked to Ahmad and congratulated him for the win. Handed the 500 rupees and walked to his car. Ahmad was happy he won such big money. He forgot about carrying the kit. Raju's car left the ground. Ahmad was walking to pack his bat and pads in the worn-out old bag. That is when he heard Raju saying "Stop". He walked to Ahmad packed his kit. Placed it on his shoulder and asked Ahmad to take Raju to Ahmad's home. They both walked in silence until they reached Abdul's house.
They both played many more games with the same conditions. Abdul was losing some and Raju was losing some. Very soon they started to have a game every week. All their games ended in one of them feeling bitter, or that is how it felt. But they never had any more to talk about after the match. They walked in absolute silence to carry the kits to each other's home. Abdul personal life, on the other hand, started to get tough. His father lost the small job he had. He was very religious all his life. Now more than ever as he had too much time in hand. The family had one more addition in the name of Abdul's sister Raheema. The 500 Abdul was winning was a big help for Abdul.
That morning Raju was waiting for Abdul to come and play a game. Abdul did not show up. Raju went to Abdul's house. He was not at home as well. Raju asked Abdul's mother his whereabouts. He learnt Abdul started to work in a bungalow nearby. He cannot come to play anymore. Raju was furious. He felt cheated, he was planning to win that day. Disappointed he was about to leave. An idea struck him. He walked back to Abdul's house to enquire where Abdul was working. He got the address and went home.
Abdul was asked to not come to work anymore in their Bungalow. He could not understand what was happening. He ran to the owner and asked to forgive him. The owner told he cannot do anything. He was ordered to do this. Abdul was told it was a different man who asked to not employ Abdul. Abdul wanted to know why that person stopped Abdul in the job. He went to the man's house. As he was about the enter the house, he saw Raju. He could not believe for a second Raju could do this. He was ready to leave from the place. Raju noticed Abdul at the door. He dragged Abdul into his home. He took him to his father. Asked his father to employ Abdul. Raju's father said, " There is no job to do". Raju said, "He will be working for me. Please". Abdul thought Raju was punishing him for making him carry the kits. But he was happy anyway if he had some job. Raju's father agreed to his adamant son.
Raju asked Abdul to follow him to his room. Once reaching his room Raju asked Abdul to pick the kit bag and head to the backyard. Abdul picked and walked to the backyard where there was a small ground with a cricket bowling machine. Abdul was awed by what he was seeing. Raju came running wearing a different dress. He asked Abdul to open the kit wear the pads and start practising. Abdul did not understand what was going on.
"Let us play here for a while. You can try all the shots, you like, here without fear of losing. You can hone your skills. Play with the machine for a while then I will start bowling for a while. "
They played there for a few hours and Ahmad was ready to go home. Raju asked Abdul to come with his kit the next day. Our bet stands the same. We will find a way to score and decide who won the day. Abdul felt guilty of taking Raju's money without doing any work. So, he started doing odd jobs in Raju's home. Raju did not like it. But he was not able to stop Abdul.
That day Raju lost to Abdul. He picked Raju's kit and started to walk to his home. Abdul said he does not mind, and he will carry it. But Raju did not agree. They both were walking for a while now. Raju could not walk in silence anymore and started to talk. Raju told how he was training for Under-19 tryouts. After walking and chatting about cricket they reached Abdul's house. Abdul went into his house brought some water for Raju. Abdul's mother gave Raju "Double ka Meetha", which was given to her for someone's marriage in the neighbourhood. Raju was ready to leave. While leaving Raju handed Abdul an application, the form for tryouts of the under-19 team.
That day was tryouts for selection. Both Abdul and Raju were well prepared for the day. They both had a great day. Abdul was good with both bat and ball. The selection was almost confirmed for Raju and Abdul. That is when someone came to Abdul and said to withdraw. Abdul could not believe what he was hearing. They said they will pay him a lot of money to leave. Abdul did not know how to react. The results were out in the next few hours, both Abdul and Raju were selected. Raju rushed to call his father and give him the good news. Abdul was waiting at the car for Raju. The guys who spoke to Abdul came back to talk to him. They said, "Selection was only the first step. Competing needs a lot of money ". The words made Abdul start thinking. Abdul came to meet Raju the next day and told he cannot compete. Raju did not need any questions to know why? He took him to his father and gave his selection sheet. What Ahmad did not know all those days was, Raju's father was a club owner. He gave Abdul membership to the club. That means the club will manage his expenses for games.
The big game.
Raju was packed and ready to head to their first game. He was waiting for Abdul at his home. He was supposed to come to his house and they head to the game from there. They have to start before 7 PM to reach before 10 PM. Sleep the night at the club and be ready the morning in the ground for the game. Raju was ready by 5 PM and was eagerly waiting. He expected Raju to reach by 6 at least. It is now crossing 6:30 PM and still no sign of Abdul. Raju started to get anxious. He decided to not wait any more, and he headed to Abdul's house. He was stopped from entering the streets. Police blocked the roads and did not let him go. Raju's father said they cannot wait anymore. So, they headed to the ground. On reaching the ground Raju sent the driver to wait for Abdul near his house.
Next morning it was time for the game. Raju woke up early and tried to contact the driver for any news. There was none. His father came in early to speak to Raju. On seeing his father Raju enquired about Abdul. But he too had no clue about Abdul. Till the game started Raju was looking for Abdul. But he never came to the game. The only chance at a good future was lost for Abdul.
Abdul walked into Raju's house and pointed his gun at him. Raju recognized Abdul right away. He sat down without any fear for Abdul's gun. Raju said, "You already killed me once when you did not come to the game. Because of you, I lost face with my father". Abdul had nothing to say in return. Raju wanted to ask Abdul a question. Not why is he pointing a gun at him today? Not even why he did not make it to the game. But why Abdul did not tell him any reasons for not coming to the game. He wants to ask that question. But he is too angry to ask it anymore. Abdul stopped pointing the gun at Raju. He sat down opposite to Raju. Abdul could not face Raju. He focused his eyes on the floor and started to talk.
"A kid never had any dreams. The best thing he wanted in his life was a decent house and three meals a day. Outcomes a rival who humiliates and makes him feel something in life for the first time. The rival does not stop there. He finds ways to humiliate him more. Gets him hope of a future for the first time. He almost gives him a taste of good fortune. But what he does not know was life does not work that way. It finds a way to kill hope. I walk home with hope and my great father decides to die. He died for something he gets in his afterlife. He left the onus of the 10 mouths to feed to god. My father's history and my great fortune, I found my god in a Gun. Fifteen years from there I don't know I am a good man or a bad man. But everyone convinced me god gave me this job. I believed it and today I am here to kill you because you are against the only god." Abdul said this and stopped for a reaction from Raju.
Raju was not ready to talk to Abdul yet. Abdul shouted, "Please ask me something. Please be angry with me. Tell me you hate me. Do something." Raju finally asked, "Why did you not come to my home and spoke to me?" Ahmad had no answer for Raju.
Raju continuing, "I never wanted to help you. I only wanted to see your talent shine. I never realized I needed to help you before letting your talent take you to heights. I had all the money I need and more to give you. But I never wanted to humiliate you by giving you money. I just wanted you to be big on your own. But what you gave me in return, nothing. Not even a reason for not coming to the game."
"After so many years, today you come here pointing a gun to me. All these days I believed your father's death was an accident. I thought not being able to find you and not supporting you after your father's death was my mistake. I felt I was the reason you missed your chance at greatness. I don't know any more what to believe. I cannot live in a world where your talent was wasted. I am ready to die. Please kill me. " said Raju.
Abdul was thinking what if his father died in a road accident, or a work accident and not in a religious attack. Abdul still will be left with no father. He would have no had chance to survive after that. The whole set of people around him marked him a traitor's son. Now, there is no way he can survive after that in normal life. Raju to rescue or not he could have had no future. This is what he told himself for not meeting Raju. In the last 15 years, he earned money doing what came naturally to him. Today the first time he started to doubt his decision. The first time he asked himself what if my father was alive.
Raju as if he heard what is going on Abdul's mind. "Why cannot your father wait a few months more. By then you would have made a name for yourself in Under-19. "
Abdul: No, still I would have picked the gun
Abdul: One, I needed a lot of money in a short time. Two, it was for the greater good.
Raju: What greater good? Nothing can be good when it kills someone's naturally born talent.
Abdul: We have bigger reasons to be here than playing cricket.
Raju: Yes, we have. But for sure it is not killing other people for money.
Abdul: It is not that simple
Raju: It is that simple. You need your father to remind you that.
Abdul: He will love me for what I am doing.
Raju: No, no father wants his son to do this. Even when he was a victim.
Abdul: I cannot believe that
Raju: I have a 3-year-old son and I exactly know how a father thinks. I can never let my son have a life that you have today.
Abdul: You don't know what I do.
Raju: I know exactly what you do. You live a lie believing it is your destiny.
Abdul: Don't try to change my mind
Raju: I am not, I am asking you to kill me now.
Abdul pointed the gun at Raju. He still had no power to look directly into Raju's eyes. There was a shot. But it was not from Abdul's gun. It was from the gun of security of Raju. Raju could not believe what was going on. He ran to catch Abdul who was falling. Abdul with a hint of a smile said to Raju, "I can never shoot you". Raju with tears in his eyes, " I know my friend".
"You called me Friend for the first time. I thought I am your rival".
"You are my rival. You killed my dream. You killed my dream of seeing you succeed".
That is when Raju's wife walked in with their kid. She was shocked to see all the blood. She was about to take the kid away. Raju stopped her and asked to bring the kid. Raju showed the kid to Abdul and said, "Abdul meet my son Abdul". Abdul finally looked into Raju's eyes with his tears filled eyes. "Sorry man, I lost to you one more time. Let me carry your bags", said Abdul smiling.
P.S: Raju told about Abdul to his wife many times. How he hated Abdul for missing that game. How he never came to Raju again and explain what happened. Today he knows why? It was his father. If Abdul father did not die that day, Abdul would have achieved greatness.