Dinesh was struck by a thought that seemed to him filled with poetic intensity. If he could complete this journey (only a walk from his friend’s place to his home) with success and confidence, then surely the girl that he was trying to get will finally feel a mental spark igniting a strong feeling for him. The reason this journey seemed terrible to him, and difficult enough a sacrifice, that it’s completion will force a change of heart in the girl was his fear of dogs who were very likely present in his way.

He told himself that if he did it, his thought would pass through the mind of the girl. He knew from her confession itself that he did play on her mind, but one can play with positive or negative results. He wanted this time to be one of the biggest positive peaks. After all, one cannot control everything if one plays by graceful methods, some element of luck should also play a part.

He wondered how many people did this, make personal deals with the universe. He was confident of it being a common practice. This was the birth of superstition. And, in his experience it worked. He could remember clear instances where he had violated his rules, and suffered and clear instances where he had followed them and conquered. During the US Open finals, he had stopped himself from smoking in the tense ridden five hours. To pump himself through it, he said “If Andy could do it, so can I.” Was this madness, he thought. And rationalised it by ‘it was a very subtle madness unique and available only to humans’ theory. He also found it an excellent way of adding some drama to life.

The dogs had eluded him for the most part of the journey, but he was wise enough to not start feeling too confident. Luck had screwed him over many times in the past, when he started to get confident midway in a journey. Any journey. Dinesh was now struck by how this journey was a metaphor for his journey of life. Such a thought felt strongly gave an immense beauty to even streetlights and the potholed roads it lit.

***

From his experience, Dinesh knew there were two turns were the presence of dogs were probable. As they approached, he started to mutter the girl’s name and gained strength. Drama and effects were the only way to escape life.

He crossed the first turn without any issue and with extreme silence, but when he was crossing the second one, he decided to play a smart move. Instead of taking the road which was surrounded on both sides by a few dogs, he thought it smarter to walk from the space reserved for a crowd to gather outside the few shops that were there. As soon as he put one foot in that space, the dogs started barking.

What an elementary error he did. Dogs were territorial. They bark if you step into their area. And they have a sense of ridiculing abnormal behavior. Despite knowing this from hearsay, he had for the first time experienced the heat of the mistake. Not knowing how to cross a road full of dogs barking at him, he retreated slowly. With experience he had managed to control his urge to run.

Once a safe distance away, he tried to think about how to complete his journey now that he couldn’t go back the same way for quite some time. Thankfully, there was a restaurant that stayed open till 4 in the morning, and was not far away from there. He drank a glass of water there, and lighted up a cigarette.

He knew the delivery boy well since he had ordered a lot of things from there over the past few months. If he would go in the direction of his house, then surely he’d ask him to drop him. But, there was some time before enough orders were collected.

One thing that depressed him was that his resolve to influence a change had been foiled. The universe had spoken. Just like his life, he had not been able to go the full distance because he had put a foot wrong. The game was not yet over. He could walk back that path. This time without infringing in the dogs territory. But, he couldn’t muster the courage. He had a lot of cold sweat over him, and the phrase ‘he stank of fear’ seemed most appropriate for his position. It would be silly to take the brave chance now.

Someone could pass by on a bike, and he could take a lift, but that didn’t seem appropriate to him. Surely, he’d be taken for a madman. But who cared, people do help a madman and I’d give him a story to tell. Even if someone happened to walk, he would take their company and gather courage from their presence.

No man and no bike passed that road for the next 20 minutes. Or what felt like it. One car did and from the speed at which it went, the driver was bound to be drunk.

Distraught and dejected, he felt like calling his roommate who could come and pick him up on the bike. But, wouldn’t he utter a silly abuse under his breath while coming out to help him. Maybe, but who cared. That is what friends are for. At worst, he could make an excuse and pretend to be sleeping.

Dinesh was embarrassed to do it, but still persisted and called. To his utter delight, the response was very helpfully in the affirmative. When he said, that he’ll come, Dinesh thought ‘Wow! What a messiah. A friend in need is a friend indeed.’ and relaxed after a long time. The universe had spoken against him, but this token of humanity had made the world at least momentarily a better place.

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