This is a story, a real one, happened at a time when I was leaving childhood and entering the phase of adulthood. Those were good days. Early morning tuition, then school, then bullshitting all day on those last benches, then rushing to school canteen, only school in our city to have a canteen, then going back home to anticipate next early morning. Monotonous yes. But I would swap anything I own for that beautiful period of monotonous lull. There were some close friends. Some because studying in a bad school meant that more company would lead us to trouble (that’s what parents used to say and who we are to defy them). So I had a particular friend. Close to best friend in fact. Despite the fact that I do not believe in “best friends”, it sounds a bit girly or stupid (not in a sexist way). The superlative verbs I have always hated. Anyway. We were buddies. He always scored more in all exams. He was a shoo-in for the topper of school in board exams. Was I jealous? No. May be sometimes when teachers were partial. By the way I was not bad. I was always just a close second/third to him. He was the first of any friend to get an invitation for my sacred thread ceremony. We would discuss certain aspects of our lives like career aspirations, JEE or Medical. He wanted to be doctor initially but then decided against it and I was as usual deluded. Then my father put his foot on pedal and suddenly I wanted to be an engineer. So the days went by and board exams were near. We would study hard, go to coaching daily, despite studying nothing at all. Within days board exams came. We would go there together. Our seats were together, sadly we could not cheat. Would have been better for both of us. Next two months we waited for our results to come. In between there were fun times. We joined this coaching for the purpose of pre-coaching of JEE. And we turned it into our school coaching. Where no one studied. Then the day came. Results were out. To almost everyone’s, including mine, surprise I topped. There was horror on everyone’s faces that we only got 93%. Better things were expected. But we being young students, we were happy with what we got. That’s what I crave those days. No hard feelings. No expectations, just a bunch of kids having good time.

So we were ready for bigger picture. JEE. It was supposed to be together thing. We went to Kota together. We got a flat together. Our rooms were side by side. Life was good. Then the classes started. Integration and differentiation. Calculus. Laws of motion. And what not. I was loving it. My friend too. It would be a time when I realized that he came from a poor family. It never occurred to me in school in those 3 years. May be hometown is a comfort zone. School is cool because you do not realize these little things.These things just do not matter. And beside many more things. So days went on and there was this calm. May be aptly before a storm.

So there were those whispers. Those little comments. Then first test. I got very good marks. Promoted to the first batch while my friend did poorly and he was not promoted. I guess that was the start. Then things started to go little awry. There was lesser time for “US”. Suddenly we had new friends. New company being in different batches. Then one fine day, we had a new visitor in our flat. So we were on the roof top. Discussing life. Getting to know each other. Then he mentioned why this guy (my friend) is not there. Then there was this answer from the mob, he does not like me. I was aghast. I was getting indications but never realized it was true. With the obvious change in our dynamics, suddenly the focus was on me. I could do maths or physics or anything better. People would come to me for doubts. It was strange to me. But poisonous for him. But it would not have turned bad but for the mob.

So who is this mob? They are the other people in your life. The other friends. The one who talk about others in front of you and about you in front of others. And I shall not question their honor for I am a part of that mob too. I am always involved with them. All of us are. So they can’t be bad or can they?

So I was now aware of this thing. Suddenly the whole flat resembled a TV soap opera. Poisonous. It was difficult to breathe sometime. I never woke up early to study but one day when I did, I got this comment: why are you following my routine. Enough I said. I was pissed. It was my fault. Suddenly I wanted to be better. My problem was that for last 3 years when you were good, it did not matter but suddenly when dynamics changed things got ugly. It was beyond my understanding. But it was not all bad. We would still go to cyber cafe together. We would have dinner together. After one month may be reality crept in. Things were getting better. He in fact even booked my ticket. Then finally we were going back home.

So we boarded the train. We, now barely “kids”, were super excited. So we reached Delhi. I went to my uncle’s home. Rest to their relatives and friends. So we had a train at 3. Train named “LIFE Express”. So I left at 1:30 and since I had access to metro where I stayed so I reached station by 2:15. And I was waiting for others as they had the damned ticket. Train was on platform. I called the rest (mob). Unluckily they got stuck in some Gujjar agitation. Meanwhile I packed my lunch. Suddenly it got to 2:45. There was no sign of anyone. One of them got to station as he was not with them actually. He had the ticket but his luggage was not with him. The mob had it. So out of nowhere I called him and told him to give me the ticket so that I could go home at least. Suddenly there was panic. I had money so I boarded the train in hope that TC would give me that seat. I again called and they were at the cloak room. It was 3 already. Train was about to go. Then I saw the guy who had ticket. He said that rest are on their way. If they are lucky they will make it. They were lucky indeed. Train got delayed by some minutes. Technical glitches. Thankfully.

But the real drama was about to unfold. May be things were not altogether right. So I was sitting by window and my friend was on the upper birth with the mob to give company as usual. I was as per my habit staring into the nothingness of vast fields of Indian villages and listening songs. Things were getting heated upside. Gujjars were being abused really heavily. But suddenly I was in the picture. Being blamed for demanding my ticket. Being blamed for not picking their luggage. Oh that mob. Now they were on his side. Such a fickle mob. Meanwhile “LIFE” was running on its wheels very quickly. But every moment inside was very long. Suddenly the mob with their powers brands me, yes me, “selfish”. I could not believe it. I thought mob was on my side. Which now I see they never take side. They seek pleasure. They represent human side of wanting and craving convenience. Where fun is, that’s where you will find the bloody mob. But who am I to question the honor of mob, for I am a part of it too.

Despite on other guy who gestured to me that it is okay. These things happen. Take a nap. Things will be fine. But he was not the mob. He being an individual was perhaps irrelevant. We being tired then slept. It was night. I had my lunch packed but amidst all the drama I forgot about it too. Then the mob declared that is was not courteous. Then they brand me selfish again. But who am I to question their honor, for I am a part of the bloody mob.

Despite all that I offered my share. It was lunch for one and sharing it would have meant eating pantry food but still I did it. Afterwards I was near door in hope to get some fresh air. Then I saw that mob again. So we discuss that thing again. Then the mob said that it was my friend’s bloody house that was so far. They too left at 1:30 same as me despite the distance. Oh the mob. How fickle yet so clever. And they offer me my shot at revenge. They tell me to call my friend. I call him. We share some jokes and school tales. Then I give the mob my eyes. They pick my friend up and throw him out. Out of “LIFE-express”. My “LIFE”. Bloody mob. But I shall not question their honor as this time I was a part of them.

So it took some months for things to get normal. Things never were same again. Dynamics once changed, are difficult to revert back to. My obsession with mob has since intensified as I have observed many more different dimensions of their character. They do not just throw out people. They cry with you. They laugh at your lame jokes. They appreciate you too. But when they are wrong, like I mentioned, who blames them. It has happened at least twice in my life (second turned out to be pleasant) What about times when they behave literally like mob. Are they relevant in our life? But I dare not question their honor, because after all I am “The Mob” too.

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