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“Don’t ever underestimate the power of a pawn”

“You want black or white?” He asks pointing his fists with eyes. No trace to guess which of it had the white piece. I choose one randomly. “Ah ha” he holds out the black pawn in a triumphant mood. “Lucky you! Always the lucky colour” he sniggers. “No regrets! Black is better, maybe this time I’ll be lucky” I murmur, thinking how mere a colour has made all the difference. Anyway, this is going to be another game where he’ll have the advantage of the first move. He moves a pawn to e4. I slide mine to e5. “Oh! You’ll be following the ‘Ruylopez’ as usual” he jeers.

     I remember my fresh start at the university. Every game starts alike, as we all do in life. But as soon as a move is done, there’s no turning back. I staggered along the corridors, shyly smiling at others to find my class soon. No one seemed interested in helping me, in fact, I asked for no one’s help. I finally found it, but there was no one except for the professor cleaning up the black board full of nonsensical writings. “Maybe I could explain the reason for getting late and get some help for today’s missed lesson” I thought. I stepped into the laboratory, but he seemed not to notice my presence. I took another step, but backward and ran out without a second thought barely managing to get pass a girl who was gaping at me in the corridor. Her face looked a bit familiar to me, but I didn’t dare look back because I didn’t want anyone to know about me.

     I ran pass the groups chatting and playing to my comfortable corner at the end of the playground. It was a sunny day with a gentle breeze cooling my scalp. Suddenly I saw the girl from before, coming in my way and it seemed that the situation I feared the most is about to happen, I didn’t want a recurrence of my past as a “loser”. Thus, my heart was thumping in a silent prayer. The girl looked at me, “Can I sit next to you? Today’s weather is too good to waste studying indoors” she laughed. I nodded in disbelief. I felt my ears reddening, her gentle smile made me want to shout out in joy and I felt no longer a “looser”.

    The game is now near end. My opponent’s face is a wry, he hesitates for a while and says, “You’re not your old self”. I look at my pawn standing tall at the rival’s end after a tiresome journey as a weakling. Yet another move and the pawn will be crowned a queen and what a surprise. My opponent moves his king in dismay. I move my pawn and now a queen saying triumphantly, “Don’t ever underestimate the power of a pawn”.

A short story based on youthful aspirations by Pavani Premarathne

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