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The imaginary race

I remember how as kids running was one of the greatest pleasures of life. It's a distinctive perk of childhood, the pleasures of which are mysteriously erased as we gradually grow up. Running against friends was the simplest sport known to us. Seeking competition in this delightful activity was always on our minds and we would be ever willing to participate. Finishing last would puncture some pride...but only momentarily. Running wasn't always an option though!

Sometimes, we had to slow down to a walk! But even then, walking slower then others (especially strangers) wasn't acceptable. If I found someone walking in the same direction as mine, I would just no allow him to walk faster than me...especially if I wasn't accompanied by anyone. So I would often break into an impromptu competition if I so willed. The idea was to 'defeat' a stranger walking in the same direction, who was already ahead of me. He would become an unconsenting and ignorant participant in my figmented race; the object being to cross an imaginary line or landmark first. Needless to say, I won such 'competitions' with ease. It was such sheer joy. And the participant wouldn't even be aware of losing! How pitiful!

I recalled the feeling tonight as I was walking back home after a hard day's work. This kid walking a few feet away from me was perhaps drawn into one such competition of his own...cause he suddenly gained momentum and we were now walking at neck-&-neck speed. We momentarily glanced at each other, as if to acknowledge the rules of the game through telepathy. I accelerated & so did he. I lengthened my footsteps, he fastened his. Okay, he was in for some competition! I wouldn't allow defeat, not after all these years of starvation from the magical feeling.

The race ended a little after he gave up, probably because a cyclist was headed his way. The kid realized I was the wrong guy to compete against. I won. The victory was minor, but the feeling was great!

Thanks, pal! I wish you better luck next time!


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