Head or Tails

And it came to this...again! Shekhar looked unperturbed. Or maybe the habit of unfailingly losing to me had made him indifferent. So why did I see a gleam in his eye this time? Or did I just imagine it? I tossed the coin in the air and as it flipped, my mind went into a flashback, like a movie reel playing… We both were orphans and grew up together in an all-boys children's home. Shekhar was shy, and reserved but possessed a brilliantly sharp mind. The boys at the orphanage teased and made fun of him. As we grew older, Shekhar turned out to be a good-looking lad and became a victim of molestation and abuse, first at the hands of our Director and then regularly by the orphanage boys. He went into his shell even more and started keeping only to himself.  Every Sunday we'd watch a movie. Of them all, ‘SHOLAY’ was my favourite. I loved the ‘coin’ scene the most and wished I had a friend like ‘Veeru’ with whom I’d shared a similar bond. When we were 12, he and I shared a room. As he was meek, I was a stud, whom no one dared to mess with. One night when the boys came onto Shekhar, I saved him and kicked the life out of those boys. From then on, no one laid a finger on Shekhar and he stuck to me like a shadow, which I must admit repelled me and pleased me too. Contradictory, is it? He trusted me with his life and I would often take the help of his sharp brain and bribe him to complete my notes and help me in the exams at the orphanage. I had a clear goal, I wanted to become someone worthy, I wanted to prove to the world and my unlucky parents, that who they considered thrash was actually a diamond whom they should've treasured. Shekhar was my stepping stone and means to turn my dreams into reality. We started flipping a coin to come to an agreement. Shekhar always called ‘head’. If it were me I’d at least try calling ‘tail’ to check my luck, but Shekhar was not me. After I noticed this peculiar trait of his, I procured a coin that had a ‘tail’ on both sides, my winning mantra against him for ages, a la 'Sholay'. Thanks to my lucky coin, we both got into the same college with the same score, duh, he lost the toss and I copied Shekhar's answer sheet verbatim. And five years later, that's exactly how I landed my dream job during campus placement when we both were contenders for the same prestigious job. As always, he lost the toss and it was me who was on the way to achieving my dreams. I was shocked and touched when Shekhar cracked the interview and landed a job in my company after twelve failed attempts because he missed being around me. In the office when Anahita, our senior by three years and in a managerial position, started bonding with Shekhar, his attachment to me became less. I should've been happy, strangely I wasn't. Anahita was no beauty, but what she lacked in looks she made up in brains. In fact, she and Shekhar were the perfect pair.  And so came the time for another coin toss. This time Shekhar lost Anahita and took it very hard. He quit his job and just disappeared from our lives. And that was the last I heard of Shekhar, till he showed up again five years later with a proposal so appealing that I had bet all my stakes on it, Anahita included.  I am still in a daze. What just happened? Did I really lose everything to that loser Shekhar? My house, my job, my car, and even Anahita, who had grown on me over the years? What I didn’t figure out was how did the coin land upon ‘head’, my Sholay coin, which only had ‘tail’? And why did Anahita not make a scene or cry? Just as I was processing all of this, I saw Anahita hug Shekhar and both looked at me and smirked. Shekhar removed two coins from his pocket and threw them at me.  Why was I not surprised to see a coin with ‘tail’ on both sides and the other coin with ‘head’?  Life does come a full circle or in my case, a coin.   Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!