Continued from ...
Some marbles from an earlier game, Arjun had started, lay lazily inside the circle drawn for the game. In the background one child intently looked, while Arjun collected & cleared all the marbles in the circle, reminiscing at all the marbles he lost in the match that he had wrapped up with Arjun just prior to Arya reaching the game area.
For both Arya & Arjun, the game of marbles was an important part of who they were. Cricket & other common games seemed too insignificant to their marble player identities. For them, the game required individual precision, which seemed a much more challenging task like the games of tennis or badminton. Although both were exceptionally technical players of cricket & football, here they had something more - an arch-rival, someone who they defined their identities around. Legends were drawn against their rivalry often. One legend says, Arya & Arjun kept at a match of marbles for 18 hours at a stretch, and yet none of them could be a winner when suddenly Arjun pulled an impossible shot and won.
Arjun was 8, was no rookie & knew he had the experience advantage over Arya. Arjun could be likened to Batman, with his dark demeanour & deep entrancing eyes. He could switch from an endearing, flamboyant playboy to a supremely focussed and horror inducing vigilante. There always seemed to be two sides to Arjun. He took every challenge as was his last. He tended to dance on the souls of every contender because he had never lost. Every shot he took, ate a part of his contenders soul. With every marble he earned, his life force grew larger and larger.
Though dark as he may sound, Arjun had his reasons. His father & a younger brother was all he had. His mother took ill after his younger brother was born and passed away. Void of a mother’s touch & a younger brother to take care of. Arjun grew up as a bit of a hard-ass, in an attempt to prove him selves strong and not needing aid. Although, his father was caring but because he had to drag him selves through two jobs to keep the house & his children’s education going, he was barely available to Arjun & his brother. Arjun never took to feeling alone, he chose to be strong for his father & brother.
When Arya said, “Let's play!”, Arjun felt different, he knew this was not one of his regular inconsequential contenders. Arjun knew he had to raise his game. Arjun responds to Arya’s confident attack cautiously, “Let’s just chose to remember how incapacitated I was able to make you feel the last game we played!”
(To be continued ...)
Next: The Game begins ...