Ratnam had every qualification needed for a sepoy role in UP police. It was his last attempt. He had no plans to follow the path of his elder brothers and cousins, who were successful gym trainers and part-time bouncers at clubs in Noida.

He had his dreams and wanted to pursue them at any cost. At first attempt, he got rejected in medical round after clearing written, physical, and interview. He skipped the second entrance because of a high fever.

I was on the way to Agra via Yamuna expressway. We had stopped for a while after crossing the Delhi suburb. It fascinated me seeing a 6 ft tall athletic-built guy with navy-cut hair and brown eyes running alone. While he looked malnutrition, at the same time reminded me of ultramarathon runners.

I waved at him and, he stopped. Blame me for screwing his tempo. I asked him if he was preparing for the Olympics, he laughed and said the Olympics is for a week, unlike cricket. I nodded in agreement.

Ratnam: Sirji, kahan se aaye? (Where have you come from?)
Me: Delhi
Ratnam: Akele, saadi nai ki? (Single, no wife?)
Me: No, aap? (nope, what about you?)
Ratnam: Naukari ke baad.(After the job, will be getting married)

Then he started walking. I gave him company. He told me how desperate he was for this UP Police job and about the money he has lent of high interest from village loan sharks to pay a bribe if it secures him the dream job. He told me about dozen others from his village who joined the police and how wealthy they became in no time.

He followed his parents’ ideals and principles of getting a job with merit the last few times and failed miserably. So this time, hook or crook, he needs to qualify.

I wished him luck and left.