Peanuts Stuff!

There was a hockey stadium near my house where I lived as a youngster (we have since moved to a different place). Various hockey tournaments were held; the matches were played late in the afternoons. For a greater part of the day, in fact for a greater part of the year, the stadium lay idle. It was an ideal venue for fitness freaks to exercise, and local lads to practise hockey.

One day, feeling hungry (like the ever-hungry Tenida - the loveable character created by Narayan Gangopadhyay), I raided the kitchen and was rewarded by the sight of paper bag containing peanuts. I grabbed it. Just then my next-door friend Sanjeev came up; he suggested we go to the hockey stadium and enjoy the peanuts there. The suggestion appealed to me.

There were no matches being played that day. The stadium was empty excepting for the two of us. Nevertheless we sat in the pavilion to chat since it was lazy afternoon. At the moment when I opened the paper bag, our conversation had somehow turned to the subject of our own physical abilities.

"I don't think you can run five rounds of the ground," Sanjeev said.

Well, said in that tone you have to accept the challenge.

"Of course I can," I said.

"It is very warm now; maybe you can easily run five rounds in the morning, but if you try it now it will knock the wind out of your sails," Sanjeev said.

"Bah!" I said, "nothing is going to knock the wind out of my sails."

I folded up my trousers. "Here, hold this," I said handing over the bag of peanuts, "I will show you the stuff I am made up of."

The fellow took the bag; he did not say anything further, but from the look in his eyes I gathered he thought I was crazy. "You are a fool," the eyes said.

I started running. The first round was kid stuff. The second round was easy. The third round had me puffing a bit. I was huffing and puffing like a steam engine after I had completed the fourth round. My knees were wobbly and refused to do my bidding when I started on the last and final round. But, putting on a supreme effort, I completed the fifth round.

I returned to the pavilion triumphantly as though I had accomplished the most difficult task. There was an admiring look in Sanjeev's eyes now; the look of ridicule had vanished.

"There," I said majestically, "how was that?"

"Bravo!" Sanjeev said. "You did it!"

I held out my hand to him to take back the bag of peanuts. He thought I wanted to shake hands, and obliged.

Where is the bag of peanuts?" I asked.

"There," he said pointing out.

I saw the crumpled paper bag, with not even a single peanut sticking to it, sitting on top of the other waste in the dustbin. The dustbin was quite some distance away, yet Sanjeev's aim had been perfect!

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