Julie, my first love
by Lalit Sharma
The match is down to the wire, it’s the last ball and the batting team is in a commanding position for a certain win. Best in-form batsman Amit is on strike, all they need is a single and they would be champions once again.
The crowd is going berserk with premature celebration. Whistling, hooting, jumping on each other.
The bowler starts his run up for the final ball. Amit is taking his stance and readying to hit the winning shot.
But!! Hey!!! There seems to be some problem with Amit, he is struggling. Actually, he can’t move his legs…
“What’s wrong with Amit?!!” the commentator screamed.
“Get off my legs, Julie,” said Amit, kicking Julie off from his bed.
Julie gave him a tough look and went away, to stretch herself. Breaking one more fantasy of Amit winning a cliffhanger for his team!
Julie, a three year old female dog was just a few weeks old when she was brought home by Amit’s father. Since then, the two had become inseparable. Had it been upto Amit, he would have taken her along to college too.
When Amit was out, Julie waited desperately for him and embraced him with full energy when he returned. The way Amit used to talk to her, it seemed like she understood each word he spoke. It was almost a divine connection.
“She will get a good beating, the next time she sleeps on top of me,” shouted Amit while his mother was in earshot.
“I’ve heard this plenty of times, you both can’t live without each other. If she doesn’t come near you, you will start worrying about her health and run for the doctor. Don’t do this dramebaazi,” said his mother.
“Okay, okay. By they way, tomorrow I am going to Rishikesh with my friends for river rafting,” said Amit. “And I am taking Julie along.”
“See, didn’t I just say, you can’t live without her!”
“Sorry sir, we can’t allow an animal on the boat. It is illegal, our license can be revoked,” said the rafting guide.
“No bhaiyya, nothing doing, she has come all the way from Delhi just for this. She is definitely going,” argued Amit.
Despite all his pleading, Julie wasn’t allowed and she had to remain in the car which would trail the boat by road. Neither Amit nor Julie were comfortable with this arrangement but somehow Amit’s friends persuaded him to go without Julie.
It was a 16 km stretch with many rapids on the way, the toughest river rafting route on the Ganges. There was a lot of excitement, as each one donned a bright orange safety jacket. The guide gave instructions to the rafters and warned them to follow instructions strictly.
“Masti nahi karne ka nahin to accident ho sakta hai,” he said gravely.
Amit waved to Julie, she wagged her tail from the car. The raft sailed forth, encountering the rapids at every turn. As it navigated the swirling waters, the boat start shaking. The guide became hyperactive, shouting at the top of his voice.
“Abhi bada fall aa raha hai… sab boat se girne waale hain… don’t worry, you have life jacket! But do not go far from the boat!”
Everyone shouted in excitement, the boat overturned and down they went – Chhapaak! – into the fast-gushing bone-chilling exhilarating stream of water!A few minutes later, they were bobbing up and down in the water.
“Ganga maiyya ki jai hai,” shouted one enthusiast, as he clambered onto the boat.
As they gave each other hi-fives, someone noticed that Amit was missing.
“Amit! Amit!!” they called out. He was nowhere to be seen.
The guide asked everyone to be seated in the boat and dived into the waters to look for Amit.
“Here comes the final ball of the match. Will Amit hit it for a six??” exclaimed the commentator.
No one had given them a chance this time as the opponents were a really strong side. But Amit stood steady between them and the trophy!!
The ball is hurtling towards him now, he is lifting the bat. In his mind he can see that perfect shot, high in the air. This time the ball is gonna go right out of the stadium…
And suddenly Amit is feeling uneasy, he is struggling, unable to lift his arms. Someone is pulling him by the collar… he is gasping for breath and THUD!!!
“Why are you licking me like this, get off me!! shouted Amit (coughing).
“Amit, Amit, Amit!!” his friends were calling out his name. “You okay bro? Shukar hai you are fine!!! All thanks to Julie…!”
Leaping out of the car like a rocket, she had jumped into the swirling rapids and dragged her master to safety.
Julie had once again broken Amit’s dream run.
But this time he hugged her close and whispered, “You can sleep anywhere you want, from now on…”
This piece was written during the Short Story Writing Workshop. It has been edited by Rashmi Bansal.