I made Gaya sit in my car, and we made for a far-off ground. I had a solemn expression on my face, but Gaya was still considering the whole exercise as a joke. Yet, he looked neither excited nor joyous - perhaps, he was contemplating the wide social gulf between the two of us.
I asked him, "Did you ever think of me, Gaya? Be honest."
Hanging his head in shame he replied, "How could I think of you, sir? What's my worth? It was my good fortune to have had played with you as a child, else, where do I stand!"
I felt somewhat sad at the reply. "But I have always remembered you ..... Your stick with which you had hit me. Do you recall?"
Gaya was visibly upset at being reminded of the incident. "That was childishness, sir. Don't remind me of it."
"Well! That has been the most wonderful memory of my childhood days. The joy that I experience on recalling that incident is so great that no number of felicitations or wealth that I receive today can exceed it. It is a sweet memory that gladdens my mind.
We had, by then, traveled three to four miles away from the village. It was a desolate place and very quiet. On the west lay a pool from where we used to gather lotus flowers during our childhood days. The sky was turning crimson as afternoon gave way to evening. I climbed a tree and cut off a branch. The tipper and the cat were instantly shaped.
The game started. I placed the billet across a small hole and flicked it with the tipper. The billet shot past Gaya. He stretched his hand as though he was angling for a fish. The billet flew over his head and dropped some distance behind. This was the same Gaya who as a boy seemed to have had a mesmerising effect on billets - the billets, however they were shaped and whatever their size, as if on their own accord would fly to his hands. The boy, then, had a magnetic effect on his hands which attracted the billets to them. But, today, the billets did not display the same love for him.
I took full advantage of the situation, and began striking the billet merrily while Gaya chased. And I cheated. On many occasions, I was clearly out, and should have allowed Gaya a turn at striking the billet. But I cheated and continued. Gaya observed my deceit but did not utter a single word of protest; he acted as though he had forgotten all the rules of the game.
After continuing like this for half-an-hour, Gaya's throw found its mark; the billet struck the tipper, and I was, without an iota of doubt, out. But I claimed the billet had not hit the tipper, it had missed. Gaya did not protest.
"Yes, quite likely the billet had not struck the stick," he agreed.
"Would I cheat if the billet had struck the tipper?"
"No brother, how can you cheat?"
In my boyhood days if I had cheated in this manner, Gaya would have taught me a good lesson. But today I could cheat him so easily. He is an ass! He has forgotten all rules of the game.
The billet suddenly struck the tipper making a sound like the firing of a revolver. Now I could not have offered any excuse. There was no way I could have claimed it was otherwise. But let me try to falsify the truth. What's the big deal? If Gaya agrees, nothing like it; else I will have to chase the billet for some time. I will try to wriggle out of my turn at chasing by saying that we should abandon the game because it was getting dark.
Gaya cried out in joy, "The billet has struck the tipper. It made such a loud sound."
I pretended not to have seen the billet hit the tipper. "Did you see? I never noticed."
"It made a loud sound, sir."
"The billet must have struck the brick here."