The university was located towards the interior of a highway that ran towards endless forgettable villages lost in vast sloping plains and graceful rising hills, the young man had been admitted to the university, he was about to begin his education shortly. The young man felt nervous, there were so many people buzzing around, they all seemed to hum with a form of self confident energy that seemed to empty him of his own. But the young man had just returned from four tough years at a boarding schools where he had learned the ways of being an outlaw and a rebel, he firmly believed that he could sustain all the attacks that this experience would probably throw his way and also grow in strength and heart. But as he looked into the corridors with all their modern conveniences, the endless student activity that seemed to grow in size and expression he felt small, very small indeed. This place was different, he could not be alone here, this was a massive arena filled with all forms of subtle energies, complex personalities and different demands, there was nothing comforting about the atmosphere which catered only to the strong and the smart.
He soon adjusted himself to the pace of the life that was found here, as the days came and went, he felt more and more out of place. He learned things about the people who studied there, he tried to reach out but he learned the hard way that people desired a certain person and that whoever he was not that important, only what was desirable, glamorous and important could be befriended, and the more he tried to fit in the more miserable he began to feel. He learned that he could never be what people wanted him to be, but wasn’t that fine…? He could be whoever he wished to be, but there was something that kept pushing him in his heart, he had the desire to stand out, to take over, to conquer and to rise above all… But he found that he could not compete against all of God’s different equations that worked strongly in each individual that he came across… The young man had a warrior’s heart, he did not want to conquer so that he could gloat and flaunt his bounty, not at all… He wanted to win because all his life people had made him feel weak, inferior and unequal, and he did not like to be ruled by someone other than his own heart and mind.
So the days passed, and the fire in the young man’s heart lay hidden and away from the knowledge of everyone who knew or didn’t know him. There were no myths or fables in this sterile block of land, there was no magic and hardly did everyone agree, it seemed more and more like each man to his own, but the young man’s heart was different, he cared too easily for anyone… He did not care about the pain of failure whenever he attempted to reach out to someone in a genuine and sincere manner, but in this heartless fake town genuineness was to be mocked, ridiculed and held in contempt, only fashionable appearances and impressions were important, only greed, selfishness and an ambition built to exercise power, greed and heartlessness seemed important. So the young man faded away, every evening he would sit near the basketball court and watch, in some manner he felt an anger dictate all his observations, ‘ how foolish are these impostors…?’ he’d think…. ‘ How easy they have got it made…’ he’d often think in embitterment… But if he was sincere to himself he only felt that way because they often treated him like he was invisible and unworthy of respect and dignity… What on earth did I ever do them….? He’d think often in his lonely hours…. I want nothing from them apart from a chance, a chance to play the game… the sport that I love… For you see he was fast learning that Basketball was his one true love… But the young man wanted the highest level of competition, because basketball gave him wings, he had a knowledge of the game, he knew the game well and could play as well as anyone in that university…. But sadly we have to return now dear friend to that stone bench near the center court, the very place where the most flashiest players played much to the delight of the hungry crowds… an arena where substance was often overlooked and a subtle game of popularity was played, for too often the so called best players were the ones who came from wealthy families, who had supporters, and had numerous stories circulated about them just to prove how ‘ out of the world’ they were… But the young man was consistently turned down… He had repeatedly asked the others if he could play… but days upon days it was a cold shoulder, mocking rejections, cold indifference, snobbish overlooking, he remembered this one time when the guy pretended to not hear whatever the young man tried to speak in earnest about… Please sir, give me one chance… I can play… He reiterated his plea much to the amusement of all the onlookers and all the players themselves, they snickered to themselves… The days turned to months, so the young man played after they had all left, too often that meant that he had to watch from the sidelines for more than four hours and then play in the dark… For the lights were switched off when the ‘stars’ left…. Money ruled the world… and all the pretty ladies held the cards…. the young man found… The young man was constantly wounded and hurt, he did not know how much of it he could take, how much of it he could handle, how many sleepless nights he had to replay whatever transpired on the court, how much longer he could sit and watch a game when he knew that he rightfully belonged in that very arena…. ! But pride, selfishness and wickedness won whilst honor, truth and confidence awaited at the sidelines patiently as the hours passed by slow and hurtful.
There were probably five thousand students there in that university, they were not all bad, but they hardly knew the hurt, the pain and the curse of loneliness, the loneliness that comes from being unable to relate, from being unable to find a true good friend, probably they all felt that pain, and that hurt but of course, appearances are more important than truth and sincerity weren’t they…? The young man felt immense discontent and anguish, he found that he could not control nor let go of the rage that he felt deep within his heart, slowly he had been making progress in the basketball courts, there were two courts, on one court they played from 3 in the afternoon to 6… The young man made it his duty to finish playing the first half over there, he was the first to reach that court and the promptest to leave… by 6 he wanted to be on the main court, where the college’s most impressive players played… gradually he had been working his way, as the months passed he had played against some of the players and they allowed him to play every now and then, so he’d run from the other court, run across the university and reach that place just to get selected… And then the main match would presume, and boy would he feel ball there as well… but he realized that he was still movable, very often than not he would be changed in order to accommodate some guy who was more preferable to the others, possibly someone from their own sort of a crowd, someone more appealing, more perhaps qualified to play there…. and then the young man would have to retire to the stone benches adjacent to the crowd and feel that shame and embarrassment build heavily within him, he would never ever be seen for who he really was… All the countless times in which he had saved the team from humiliation, from a loss in an ultra competitive game, they were all forgotten, all the times when he had single handedly carried them to a win … or made the game winning basket… they meant nothing… they were not that important… they never saw the fury in his soul… In those sophisticated accents he was asked coolly to take a seat, he would be called when they felt like it… It was always never… The young man further retreated into his heart… The other people were later selected to a team, and though the coach saw his skill, he did not choose him because the others had been coached before, they were more worthy than he because the coach liked them more… The coach sought more to elevate his own self worth by associating with the talented and wealthy students, and pushing aside pure heart… And then he was asked to leave by the coach with a rough voice laced with a callous rudeness that broke his heart and made him feel like he was worth nothing and possessed nothing that would change the coach’s mind.
So the young man further developed deeper disillusions, the rage in his heart turned to pain, could they not see…?? He did not want to proudly proclaim his skills, he just wanted an opportunity, a chance, one shot to earn something rightfully… Was that too much to ask…? Was equal opportunity wrong…? He fumed through the hot tears that ran across his cheek, what hurt him more was that he could never have the opportunity to prove them wrong, he would never be more than all the players despite the truth of his success, despite his passions and his dedication and determination, in the end the victory would go out to the rich, the popular and the desired, the poor young man with all his dedication was only to be walked over and forgotten. These events broke something in the young man’s heart, maybe… maybe he could never hope in something… never dream about something… He slowly sunk to a life of incomplete actions, double minded drifting and moody obsessing.
He sought to distance himself away from the hurt, and the pain, and the way that he was forced to feel by the scorn, the apathy, the cruelty, the contempt and the selfish actions. He still played, but he played alone… with himself, with his fate and with what could have been… It was at that time, when he felt that life could not feel more unbearable when something happened… The young man had been standing by the stairs near his classroom when the newcomers for that respective year all walked in in a long line of crowded chaos, the young man felt affected by all the fresh hopes and dreams of every single soul, there was something that renewed his mind by all the naivete that he felt in all the vigorous and untrained minds that he experienced, as the days progressed, they’d change, become second hand versions and lose the truth and honesty that they exhibited on this particular day. He was not searching for anything in particular, there were many attractive girls and though he felt drawn to their beauty, he did not feel interested by them… He was more embarrassed by being caught in a place where he could not escape from, the ‘mob’ of first year students prevented him from walking away to the other side, and as the years would pass away he would remember this one moment again and again, everything else seemed to blur and his breath stopped as his eyes met the piercing yet deeply stirring stare of one of the girls, the young man felt something hit his heart… His knees felt weak, his heart started to race… The young lady did not seem thrilled at the intrusion of the young man, she seemed to be irritated at the fact that he could be so uncouth and not care about things like manners, like refinement and other grandiose yet important things… How could the young man convey to her that he had not meant for it to occur that way, but the longer he stared at her, he realized that he had lost his heart, and probably his mind… She seemed more alive in him than he himself, or perhaps it was his own heart’s starry magic that pulled the vision of her stronger to his own heart, everyday he rushed to get ready and make it as early as possible so that he could get to watch her walk to class, on some days she would sneer at him and comment as loud as he could hear to her friends that he was a manner-less thug, on other days she would just walk, there was no hostility and there was no defensiveness, she’d just walk on by… The young man developed strong intense feelings for this fine young woman, with her elegance, her sense of dignity, with the manner in which she demanded respect and chief of all with the sum of her that his heart saw but his mind couldn’t. In the nights he imagined her talking to him, he imagined charming her with his smile, holding her hands and telling her about all his theories on life…. He wondered why in her presence he felt light…? Why he seemed to dissolve into her intoxicating mystique, and he wondered if he would ever get tired of thinking those tender and sweet things about her. She was perfection, she had the skin of marble white, raven black hair that was pulled back into a pony tail and a body that curved in all the right spots, it was easy to fall for someone like her he would sometimes think, but the more he grew fonder of her, the more he felt torn by reality’s taunts and his dream’s wishes. He was her polar opposite, he was shy, timid, naive and laid back… She on the other hand was bold, worldly, aware of her goals and knew all the tricks of what it takes to survive in this world…. Beyond that was the arena in which the young man was placed in, in many ways he felt sidelined and reduced in size and importance by the nature of life in one of the so called prestigious institutions with all the sub conscious mental warfare and aggression’s that he was regularly subjected to… But staring at her reminded him that there was such a thing called love, but was this attraction…? infatuation…? a mere subjection of the senses? or something worth hoping for…? But did the external facts of life have to enter into even something as innocent as day dreaming…? The young man wished for something worth fighting for, he wanted the girl who made him feel alive in his heart, but at the same time he was terrified of losing her or even more horrifying being rejected by her, he would rather risk watching from a distance, but he was sure that she was not that interested in him as much as he was with her, he had learned enough from life to know that things seldom worked his way, maybe it was his self pity or what was it that his mother used to say, that in some way he was an ‘old soul..?’, that he had lived through these things before…?
So the days passed again, there were two scars that persistently ate away at his mind, his heart and filled him with all forms and expressions of sadness, he was never one to sit around whilst the flames seared and burned his most awakened parts, but the blows were mighty and the refuges were low… He wondered if he could ever move on…? Find something fresh and invigorating to feed his life on before these struggles demolished him completely, knocking him down to his knees and keeping him there. So the young man made up his mind, that he was going to go up to her and tell her about how he felt, what she thought did not matter, it was extremely important that he proceed and not lie around and wait… Time was of the essence, and so it was on that fateful day, with a fresh and eager mind, the young man rushed to the institution… He looked across the desolate yet occupied spaces of the land in whose grounds he had been begotten to a woman whose father was a poor pastor, all his life he had never felt a connection to this soil and he probably never would… The sun shone like an evil tyrant who obtained some sort of twisted pleasure in seeing the land suffer… As the young man walked preoccupied with the monumental task that his mind was fretting and pondering on, he wondered why certain people appeared so desirable..? Why having her was important…? She had never ever shown even an ounce of kindness to him, but the young man saw behind the facades, she was proud, he sensed that she was probably lost and very much into presenting a brave front… The young man felt a heaviness settle into his heart, all his life he had never known what something as simple as confidence contained, that raw essence of the future, the young man was too entrapped in his past and its prophetic messages to even consider the future, was this really that important he assessed to himself…? She was definitely going to humiliate him, he just knew it, pretty girls were like self obsessed despots lording over the land, narcissistic in their very core, I was the peasant who wanted to end it all… thought the young man, He was going to look her in the eye and release his inner poet, he quickened his steps, his palms were sweaty and moist… So caught up in his feelings was the young man that he did not realize that the young girl whom he loved like the half of his soul walked past him, hand in hand, the young man walked like he did not care, he walked on… He no longer felt life in him, his heart, his body and his soul felt limp… He had recognized the guy, he was one among the people who often asked him to sit out the next game on the basketball court… The young man walked on, his heart crumbled within him, there was something about the whole thing that he found difficult to bear, to understand and to process. Things changed so fast, time moved so fast, he did not care about things anymore… He felt his undying hope retreat into a deep alley inside, life was all about what was outside now, he would never let anyone else inside he said to himself as the tears flowed… He saw her afterwards, many times to be honest… But he never looked into her eyes, he felt betrayed, like someone had plunged a dagger into his heart, and it was not like she would know the difference right..? How could she…? He had looked into her eyes, he knew that he had felt something there, something that owed its presence to him… there was something there… but he did not care anymore… the sun had grown dark in his soul, darkness became his dear friend, tears his shoulders and pain his drug… He somehow got through the rest of the time there, it was not long… and then he moved on… got a job in the city… spread his wings and found reasons to smile… He even found a place where he could play ball… a place that was alone after nine … it would suit him perfectly… one day he was on his way to catch the 8 o clock non stop train, he was going home… His mom had wanted him to visit… His sister too… a different man, a different time… his inmost heart still raw from the endless nights where he had to nurse an ache that refused to die… The railway station was crowded, maybe it was the earthly version of hell, there were people in various states of discomfort and discontent… Same story, different day he mused to himself as he walked onward… searching the cabins for signs of space, he would have to stand the length of the journey… His ears were plugged to earphones, a soft jazz melody played… he fought the freedom that the slow music played on his emotions, his heart was dead for all he knew… but then it happened… on that humid summer night, with millions of strangers as witnesses , the young man ran into her for the final time in his life… Time stopped between their glances, she had none of her defenses and he had none of his apathy, for a brief moment, two souls who were meant to be met… But as it is often in this sad life, the young man could only see her as she walked away… She seemed … sad… Life had changed, years had passed… he knew much more about women, about their too often undecided hearts and their coldness, but as he had stood there.. He wanted to hold her against his chest, kiss her forehead and tell her that everything was going to be okay… That he still wanted her as intensely as he did three years ago… Would she be his…? But again the young man’s fears arrived, he saw himself in the very way in which he had been made to feel all his life… Love brings such sweet and unbearable sorrow… he thought as his eyes welled… he looked at her with tears in his eyes… She walked past him, her eyes were teary too, and into the maze that was her life, she was not ready then, she was not ready now… and he walked to the corner of the general compartment and hustled for standing space as the train horn blared and the train slowly left the dirty platform.