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Some time in 1996:
I was in the second round of the district Chess championship and playing against a 3rd std kid in the 2nd round. I almost took it as an offence, for being asked to play this kid. As expected, I beat him in 15 mins, only to see him cry for as long as I was there. His elder brother, who must be in 5th std then, challenged me for a match, which I politely refused. On my way back home with my Chess Mentor, Mr. Majumdar, I asked him, why was that kid crying so much. He told me, you just beat the junior Chess champion of Gujarat. His name was Neville. Next year, I happened to meet his elder brother Kevin, in the quarters. That turned out to be a marathon of a match, lasting 14 hours spanned across 2 days and finally decided via a 30 mins timer. His entire family had gathered around us that day. With the timer ON, I lost from an almost winning position. Kevin was ecstatic and told Neville that he finally beat me. It was a sweet revenge for him, but I too felt at peace, seeing those 2 kids happy and smiling.
Some time in 1997:
I was standing at the gates of my school and watching my friends and their parents with bright happy faces. A couple of them walked up to me, seeing me arrive. They were so ecstatic telling me their marks especially what they scored in computers. I felt as though they were looking for some kind of an acknowledgement from me, about how good they were at computers (you can think all kinds of weird things as kids ;)). I was the undisputed master of computers in my class over the last 2 years, having topped all its tests and exams. But the boards turned out to be a different ball game, and almost everyone scored more than what I did in that subject. Surprisingly, I didn't feel bad about it, but was instead rather at peace. I remember being so very upset once in 9th std when I didn't score the highest in computers, in one of the unit tests. All that was gone now.
Some time in 1998:
I was in the finals of an Annual Badminton tournament, and playing against my partner and best pal, Ritesh. I had also reached the finals of the Chess competition. Since I was already going to get 2 prizes, I unilaterally decided to let my friend win without even putting up a decent fight. He completely slaughtered me in the first set and it was over in less than 10 mins. After the first set got over, he walked up to me during the changeover and said that if I continued to play the way I am playing right now, he would forfeit the match. Either I give him the fight of his life or he will just quit. I was dumbstruck! What would someone want to blow up a final like this? The rest of the story goes like.....The next 2 sets lasted more than an hour, and even though I lost at the end, I was much happier now :) and we embraced each other after the match.
Some time in 2002:
I was barely out of hospital, having spent a month there due to a bout of Dengue. I was hardly able to walk any distance, and used to watch my friends play badminton, from the sidelines. I would sit there during the evenings watching them play my favorite sport, wondering, when would I get the chance to play again. I tried my hand once, but almost fainted after playing for 5 mins, due to extreme exhaustion. That's what a month in hospital does to you. Nevertheless, I participated in a badminton tournament that was one month from then. I reached the finals and was playing against a friend who learnt to play badminton barely a month ago. But goodness gracious, that kid was super talented. Our match lasted for almost 2 hrs and I might have fainted on more than one occasion, during the match. Finally I lost, but not before we earned each other's respect.
Those were a string of disconnected moments in my life which might have left you wondering, what do I want to convey. Observing closely, you might realize that I lost on all those occasions. But, perhaps, me as an adult has a lot to learn from the kid in Me. In today's world of cut throat competition, we live by the phrase "Winning is not everything....its the only thing!" or people at the opposite end of the spectrum say that "Participation is more important than winning"....just as feel good factor.
However, as a kid I didn't think that way. Back then, what mattered to me the most was that, I give my best shot, and if I loose, I would surely be disappointed, but if I loose to a worthy victor, I would acknowledge his feat. And it is only the stature of the one who stands defeated, determines how sweet the victory tastes to the winner.
So lets celebrate not just our own achievements but even of those who vanquished us and put a better foot forward...because its only in acknowledging them that we learn and take a step forward.