It was that time of our lives when Kartik had joined the gym. Now, Kartik has joined gyms several times so far, five, I guess, maybe more. But that was the time when he had joined The Gym – Gold’s Gym, to be precise. Of course, like all the previous times, he rarely used it. I had used and given up on all forms of persuasion to make him use this one for once, but like all the other previous times, I had failed. And then, his friends-cum-flatmates-cum-colleagues stepped in.
“Rads,” They intoned, “Let us handle him this time.” (And curse the name, but that’s what they call me now). “You don’t know how such things work!” They continued. “We promise you, hereby, that Kartik will go the gym for five days straight this week. Just wait and watch.”
I, of course, shrugged, and gave them a very cynical “Sure!”. I also added a very silent “Good Luck!” at the end, but I don’t think think they ever heard it. If they had, they probably hadn’t tried.
But try they did. Aj instructed Kartik that he will be woken up early the next day – by curse or a cuddle, the choice was his. Kartik hurriedly chose curse, and the next day, scared of Aj’s manly cuddle, he woke up and dragged himself to the gym. Dil encouraged him, of course, and with that joint effort, our good boy finished the first three days of his promise.
And then, on Day 4, he finally showed his true colours and did what he loved the most – he worked till late in the night, and in the morning, he slept off. Aj tried all his tricks and Dil threw his motivating best at him, but Kartik, true to his love, slept on. Finally, after both of them had tried, given up and left for work, Kartik called me at 12 in the afternoon, and mumbled – “I slept off.” I could almost see his head bowed in shame, when he added, “But I am taking my gym bag with me. I will be going in the evening. I promise!”
Tt 8 in the evening, he called me again. “I need your help.”
“Yes?” I asked, puzzled. He never called so early, and rarely did he call for help.
“Dil is going to call you and ask whether I went to the gym today. You have to say yes to him.”
“Why?” I asked him. “I mean, why is Dil calling me, when he can just ask you, and why should I lie, when it was all your fault?”
“Dil is calling you because you are the only one they trust. And you have to lie because the stakes are very high.”
“Er, why?” I asked him, still puzzled.
“Well,” he added in a guilty voice, “Aj and Dil had a bet, about my gym thing. Aj said I would miss today. Dil said I would go. Poor guy, he was so confident! But, the thing is, Aj was pretty confident too, and he challenged Dil to remain topless at home all day if he lost. And, well, he is going to lose. And you know Aj. I mean, you know, he cuddles. So please, please, just tell him that I went. Please?”
Most people won’t imagine such connections, but I did, and laughed. It probably wasn’t the best response, for Kartik sounded nervous. “I know the bet is funny,” he said, “but laughing isn’t helping!”
“Er, that’s not why I was laughing.” I told him, still grinning from ear to ear.
“Why are you laughing then?”
“Well, you know this story about Yudhishtir, Drona and an elephant called Ashwatthama?”
“Nope. What about it?” He asked.
“Ummm, nothing. Never mind. Go back to work, I will handle this, don’t worry.” I promised him.
Sure enough, Dil called in a few minutes. “Rads, bas itna bata do, did Kary go to the gym? Tum jo bhi bologi woh sach maan lenge! Did he go?”
I laughed again, unable to control myself. “Yes,” I told him, and silently, so silently that he never heard it, I added, ‘Yesterday.”
“Thank you Rads!” shrieked Dil, and I giggled. Somewhere in the back of my mind, a regal, truthful voice proclaimed, “Ashwatthama hatahath, naro va kunjaro va.”Disclaimer: All characters in this story are real. Any similarities you find between them and real life people are intentional. And, oh, Aj is not gay. And he made me add this last line under pain of death.