The way to the school seemed long and windy to Taibor. And, he had to wait for Dipen on the way. Dipen's father worked nearby in the Bata Shoe Company. It was a daily ritual. He would pick up Dipen on the way, go to school, and in the evening after the bell rang they would trudge back together.
Dipen was his best friend. But he did not like everything about him. Dipen liked to show off in front of the school girls. Even in those days, when they were just in class seven, Dipen had a scooter, and would some times take him for a ride. He wouldn't mind those rides though. And Dipen also seemed to have some money, he was generous and would sometimes treat Aibor to samosas in the Kalpana restaurant. What Aibor however particularly disliked was Dipen's projection of a hero like image.
As the years passed Dipen would mould himself into a film actor do up his hair, and imitate hair styles. 'Look at Dipen' the class mates shouted. 'Today he is Amitabh Bachan. Yesterday he was Jeetendra'. Aibor felt both embarrassed and hurt. 'Don't do that' he would warn Dipen. 'They are just making fun of you. I too feel bad. After all you are my friend.' Dipen laughed raucously. He had that irritating habit. 'No no, they mean it. Don't you see how they ask me of the latest movies that are shown?"
Moreover those girls from Pine Groves school always look at me. Aibor felt exasperated. How could he explain to Dipen, that they actually ridiculed him behind his back.
One day Dipen told him excitedly that he was chosen for the school football team as the goal keeper. The regular goal keeper Shyam was not playing, so the choice fell on Dipen. They were now studying in class ten. 'You better come and watch me to clap. Moreover it is an inter school tournament, and those girls also might come to watch'. Aibor nodded. He went to the school playground. The school was playing their arch rivals St. Joseph's. A big crowd had gathered to cheer their respective teams, and among them were a motley group of girls. Dipen looked as self conscious as ever, sporting a neat goal keeper's jersey, with his hair well groomed. He looks more like attending a party, than playing a football game Aibor thought to himself.
The match started with the whistle blowing off. Dipen made two or three saves, and everyone clapped. 'Come on Amitabh Bachan,' someone sneered. The match was tantalizingly close with both teams drawing level without scoring.
Suddenly Aibor spotted Dipen going to a corner of the field, beyond the goal keeper's post. What on earth was he doing? Suddenly there was a shout 'come on'. The dangerous striker was found alarmingly, whipping up a pace, and dashing with the ball. 'Dipen' Aibor shouted. Dipen moved in casually after a careful combing of the hair. Whish! the ball found the net. The boys from St. James were thunderous in their clapping, dancing to their tune of improvised music. You fool Dipen thought.
After that some of the school boys caustically remarked: 'He should be an actor, not a goal keeper'. Poor Dipen, Aibor thought. Now, that they have families of their own, they still keep in touch, recollecting nostalgic stories of the school in Shillong. But, that fateful day is never discussed!