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DateLine Sunday, 25 May 2008

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An Athleteís Ordeal

My ordeal was not yet over. I flew over the gate like a champion hurdler and in the process tripped over one of the gate frames and fell flat on my face. The fall was painful but compared to what I was confronted with it was insignificant.

In front of me was a formidable and well fed canine specimen. It was none other than Rover, the Alsatian belonging to my friend Sunil.


Rover was not too happy with my early morning display of acrobatics

Rover was not too happy with my early morning display of acrobatics and was poised to attack me.

I heard a distinct growl and felt a hostile canine gaze upon me. I would not blame Rover because it was Roverís job to keep intruders off its premises and I was an intruder who came flying in to Roverís territory.

Just then I heard my friend Sunilís voice. ďWhat the hell are you doing Ajith. The gate is there to be opened and not to be jumped over. You almost offered yourself as breakfast to Rover.Ē

He was correct; Rover had a rather horrifying notoriety of having bitten a chunk of flesh off the back end of one robber who dared to intrude into Sunilís home. Sunilís father was so kind hearted that he himself took the unfortunate robber to the hospital for treatments.

I apologized profusely to Sunil for my rather unceremonious entry into his compound.

Sunil grabbed his dog from its collar and tied it on a leash. I thanked Sunil for his timely intervention and for saving me from receiving a few nasty bites from Rover.

Sunil and I were school mates and we had planned to do some running practice that morning in the play ground near Sunilís home. I lived about a kilometre away and I left my boarding house early in the morning to go to Sunilís home. It was still dark and the road was dimly lit with street lamps.

After a few minutes of walking I hit upon the idea of breaking into a jog. I thought jogging would warm me up and I would be ready for practising by the time I reached Sunilís home. So I broke into a jog.

After a few minutes of jogging I realized that I was not the only jogger on the road.

Two dogs were running after me silently. I tried to ignore the dogs but I had the uneasy feeling that they were too close for comfort. So in order to put a fair distance between the dogs raised their speed and began barking too.

After another few yards of running I realized that the number of dogs chasing me had increased probably attracted by loud barking, but I did not dare look back to take count. Anyone watching this spectacle would have thought that the pack of dogs were chasing after a prowler who tried to break in to houses in the neighbourhood.

By now I was close to Sunilís home and had only about hundred meters to reach it.I knew that I was not going to get rid of the pack chasing after me easily and therefore decided to change gears to overdrive with the pack still in hot pursuit.

Somehow I managed to reach Sunilís gate in one piece and at the gate I had two options. They were, either to stop and open the gate and enter or to jump over the gate like a hurdler. I decided on the latter course of action because stopping to open the gate would have left me exposed to the charging pack of dogs that were by now highly agitated and perhaps were angry at being outrun by a two legged human.

I hurled myself over the gate and fell flat in to Sunilís compound under the vicious gaze of Rover.

After about one month our schoolís athletic meet was held and I was placed first in both hundred yards and two hundred sprint events. After collecting the trophies I walked over to my friend Sunil and thanked him for all the support and encouragement given to me during practices.

To the amusement of everyone within earshot, Sunil in his characteristic style quipped, ďYou should thank not me but the pack of dogs down our lane.Ē

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