Pride

Ages ago, same-sex relationships were outlawed; decades ago, they were acknowledged & spoken about, and years ago, they were not illegal anymore. Even after all this, today’s youngsters are still affected by the past.


“Pride” by Nikhila Kotni tells the story of a boy called Abhiman who faces inner conflict when he realizes he has feelings for his classmate, Mohan.

 

As his sweat slowly dribbled down his forehead, he gazed into Moh’s eyes. His gaze shifted towards the ball in Moh’s hand. Moh crossed the ball under his left leg and sprinted towards the basket. He tossed the ball but before it could make a goal, Abhi caught the ball and ran to the other side. Moh wrapped his arms around Abhi and stole the ball from his hands. With a grin on his face, he hit the jump shot and made a goal.


“And I won!” Moh shouted in excitement.


Still unaware of what made him freeze when Moh stole the ball, Abhi stood in the middle of the court looking at Moh as the court lights behind him shone.


“The sun is already down. Let us go back to our dorms. I badly need a shower.” said Moh wiping his face with his t-shirt.


Abhi, who still looked like he was lost in some thoughts, suddenly started running towards the dorms.


Noticing him, Moh shouted, “Why are you running Abhi?”


“To cool my body down! The wind feels nice when I run,” replied Abhi as he ran as fast as he could.


“What? That will only make you sweat more when you reach the dorms.” Moh scoffed. A moment later, he muttered, “Whatever!” and started running behind Abhimaan. Laughing and shouting they ran towards the dorms as the sun slowly melted into the darkness.


Abhimaan was an engineering freshman. All his life, he lived with his parents and studied in a local school in Vizag, Andhra Pradesh. Since he was accepted at NIT Surathkal in Karnataka for his bachelor's, he had to move into NIT Surathkal's dorms.


Moh was Abhi’s classmate. He was from Mumbai however, his grandparents were from Andhra Pradesh who moved to Mumbai and settled there a long time ago. Having the same native tongue, their friendship hit off right away. Although they were from different floors, they would go to class together and play basketball in the evening. After playing, they would shower and spend the rest of the evening playing video games or doing assignments in Abhi’s room.


Today was no different. Just like any other day, but Abhi felt rather uneasy. He went to his room and took a blue towel. He made his way along the hallway and turned towards the common bathrooms. Subconsciously, he walked into the bathroom stall where he always showers and closed the door. Hanging the towel on one of the hangers nailed to the bathroom door, he undressed and hung his clothes. He turned back and turned on the shower. Stepping into the stream from the shower head, he ran his fingers through his wet hair. Leaning in, so that the shower water fell on his shoulders, Abhi stared into the blank wall in front of him. Flashes of his past started to run in his mind as he continued staring.


It was Abhi’s first day, he was carrying his luggage while climbing the stairs. Reaching the last stair, he looked at the floor number that read ‘Floor 2’. Completely out of breath, he leaned on a wall and his gaze fell on a boy in the room opposite the stairs. The boy was drinking water from a bottle and ended up spilling the water on his shirt. Unbothered by the fact that more than half of his white t-shirt was wet, the boy lifted the end of his shirt and wiped his wet mouth and neck with it. Amused by his act, Abhi smiled and started climbing the stairs again to reach his room.

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