A panda among tigers

A panda among tigers

One day, Mangal came home with a black eye. Their parents were not home but Prithvi was there, asking questions his younger brother didn’t want to answer.
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Prithvi was 28, confident and self-assured. Growing up, he had faced bullies, body shaming and even name-calling. Living in a hostel, he had to fight his fights alone.

Mangal, on the other hand, was sensitive and reticent. He wore glasses and walked timidly, in short footsteps. His slight build made him nervous around the bullies. Being a fresher at college didn’t help. How much he wanted to be like his older brother, fearless and bold.

One day, Mangal came home with a black eye. Their parents were not home but Prithvi was there, asking questions his younger brother didn’t want to answer.

“Why are you so afraid of those bullies? They are cowards who target the weak. You have to face them with courage,” said Prithvi.

“They all look at me with disdain, disgust! They are all the same and I don’t know how to face them,” said Mangal in a broken voice.

“The day you will stop caring about what people think and start focussing on your strengths, no one will be able to hurt you,” said Prithvi. “And that day is today.” He told his older brother to apply an ice pack on his eyes, wash up, and come to the gym. He will meet him there.

Come to the gym? Mangal thought that was pointless. What, now he will train me to build abs and biceps? He wondered. Nonetheless, he went there later that night. At the gym, he saw around 20–30 people, though he couldn’t tell for sure. But many of them looked like his bullies, tall, broad shoulders, frowning and grimacing.

Among these Hercules-like figures, there was an overweight man, lifting weights all alone. Every time he lifted his arms, his tee would move up along with it, revealing his huge belly to the onlookers. Anyone in his place could have easily felt conscious and uncomfortable, afraid that people might ridicule him.

But not this guy. He did his workout without worrying about being mocked. His focus was sharp and ruthless. He was like a panda among tigers but equally fearsome. “You really are something,” Mangal whispered as he kept looking at his brother in awe.

Prithvi did not have six-pack abs or bulging biceps, but his self-belief was strong and steady. That’s what he wanted to show his younger brother.

And Mangal did. After gazing at his brother for some time, Mangal turned around and left. This time, his short footsteps were replaced by long strides and fear on his by a confident smile.

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