A Fiction
by
Vani Venkatesan

Chapter 4     The Great Match

Excerpts:


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``Was the man a criminal?" Varshi was concerned as her gardener claimed him to be his great friend.
Jacobs rose, filled another cup of coffee, stood still, and gazed outside the office window, refreshing his memory.
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``I am going to describe the story from the point of view of Helen. It does not mean I agree or disagree with her," Jacobs said thoughtfully.
The brief description aroused a disturbed feeling in Varshi though she had yet to learn the details. She nodded with mounting stress as Jacobs mentioned that the man could be a dangerous person and a criminal. ``I understand."
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``What sports was she interested in?" Varshi interrupted.
``Badminton," Jacobs said, ``and she was very good at it."
A strange thrill struck Varshi. All this seemed to be tangled with her family. She hid her emotion.


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``As they started the second match, the homeless man arrived, sitting under a tree and quietly watching them play as he did a day before. In the second match, Sangha won the first game but Helen evened out by winning the second one. In the third game, Sangha squeezed all his energy to run for the shuttle but soon he found that he was 7-9 behind and lost his serve. Sangha sighed, reckoning that he was going to lose again. It was at this moment that the homeless man rose, waving at him and signaled Sangha to call a time out....."
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``The homeless man said, pointing at a remote mountain, `Look at and learn from the mountain, which always stands still, in silence, not bothered by any wind, strong or weak, blowing north-south or east-west.'...."


Inspired by the Mountain

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Sophia didn't feel offended by his peevish reply, but Helen pouted, her face elongated.
Sophia saw his soft heart masked behind his anger.
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Helen watched the game with great interest and she was convinced that she was able to beat the stranger comfortably.
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Helen stood in the court in a blaze of glory waving her lovely hands. She then bowed to the audience thrice with relish. The crowd roared, clapping and stomping, giving her a standing ovation.
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Now this homeless pumpkin, much poorer, had an even much bigger ego, showing zero respect to women. She was indignant at the way this man spoke. He had the audacity to claim that he could beat her one-leg, only because she was a woman.
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She turned on him with scorn. `How ignorant and arrogant you are, you who wear this filthy clothes and shirts, wandering here and there without a home. Even the world champion has zero chance of beating me if he plays one-leg; in fact I would be surprised if I don't beat him by a large margin.'
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``Helen pursed her lips virtuously as she spoke, `Do you dream that what you are saying is true? No one, except perhaps the mental disorders, would believe your rhetorical claim.'
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Helen laughed coldly. `Best 2 out of 3. Fifteen points game. Sophia will be our referee.'
`Then we just need to play two games,' the man said.
Confused, Sophia interrupted. `How do you determine the winner if each of you wins a game with identical scores?'
`If in any one game, she could gain 5 or more points from me, she wins and I will bounce immediately,' the stranger said, his tone more solemn now, `but if she loses, I hope she can keep her promise.'
`Dream on, if you must.' Helen walked away to get her racket before her anger exploded. Never before had she met a person who was so arrogant and ignorant. He thought that women are stupid and weak, but he was actually the fool to think so.
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She was confident that she could beat him handily even if he played with both legs. She was zealous to beat this pumpkin 15-0 and 15-0 as a way to teach him a lesson, so that he would respect women more. But as she strolled along, her anger was fading away. Strong and unyielding as she appears, and wild and rough as she is in the court, Helen actually is merciful, and has a tender heart. Besides being arrogant and vulgar, an imperious man who is exceptionally ignorant about the world, this homeless does not seem to be a bad person, she thought. His behavior might be insolent, but he risked his life to save a stranger, an exceptional feat and then walked away without asking for any reward or return of favor. He loves orchid as does she. Unlike Sam, he lives a harsh life, destitute and desolute, sleeping on the streets.
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Such a twisted life would make him ignorant, self-pity, and arrogant. Ignorance and arrogance are always twins.
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She began to forgive his extreme arrogance and regretted that she had reacted too strongly to his insolent comments.
... but she did not need to beat him 15-0. She would play easy and dump some points or even a game so that he would retain some self-esteem even if its the minimum."
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Jacobs paused, trying to clear his thinking, and continued: ``She stood there in silence and a primitive instinct took possession of her. For a moment, a storm of voluptuous delight roared through her senses. The match imbued her with a new prospect of the world and unexpectedly, a new aspiration of art. Everything in her mind was shifted and entangled, and everything was sharply refreshed. She was grateful and somewhat astonished at herself and at this new unwonted, rapturous state of mind that this homeless engendered. She felt she owed him something and she must look for him to at least make an apology."
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After Jacobs had left, Varshi stared at her table and withdrew into deep thinking.
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