How I learned the art of understanding my opponent more than the game
It wasn’t a Sunday afternoon or a weekend at all. Wednesday morning, bright and early, the doorbell rang, and multiple knocks followed. When I raced towards the door, I stopped for a moment as I picked up a peculiar scent that I usually get with the presence of my Uncle, Akshay.
My uncle was one of the most eccentric people I have ever encountered in my entire life. When I was younger, Uncle Akshay used to make jokes and pull my leg almost always, to an extent I used to detest. He was never exactly polite or kind to me; whenever he wanted me to do a chore, he used to order me to do it. He also used to tell me that consuming chicken and other animals is a sin, or having a shower more than three times a day would result in bad luck and landing up in hell. But I guess this is normal for an uncle to tell his nephew or niece during their youth years.
He currently lives about twelve kilometres away from our house; therefore, his appearance isn’t very frequent. When I opened the door, I was surprised to see Uncle Akshay with two big bags by his side. He looked at me with a gigantic smile, one which I did not recognise and started to give me the creeps, and yelled, “How is my little nephew doing?!” Right then and there, I knew something was wrong. Even though he told me multiple stories and entertained me immensely during my childhood, Uncle Akshay had never been this kind to me.
He rushed inside to meet my parents, almost seeming as though he intentionally left his suitcases for me to bring in. I thought my uncle had to collect a couple of clothes from my dad, however, little did I know he was planning on staying for a couple of weeks, or as he would like to refer to as “Until I’m fully satisfied.” I was in shock when my dad enlightened me about my uncle’s plan, and knew I needed to do something to get rid of him. I started brainstorming ways to make Uncle Akshay flee the house; however, all my approaches included violence.
I tried contemplating what he feared the most; nevertheless, I could not recollect anything my uncle feared. Later, I approached my dad and told him that Uncle Akshay and I living in one house for weeks is a bad idea, and addressed the concerns that I had. I thought my dad would have supported me on this point due to his past experiences involving his brother; but his response flummoxed me. He said he didn’t want to hear it. He reminded me that Uncle Akshay’s visits were infrequent and that we had to make him feel acknowledged and welcomed. I tried convincing my mom to allow me to sleep-over at my friend’s house for a couple of days, nonetheless, without her knowing the exact number of days, she disapproved of my idea.
It then occurred to me that I was all by myself. While I was trying to exit my apartment to contemplate other ways to segregate myself from my uncle, Uncle Akshay caught me and asked whether I would like to play a game with him. Reluctant to do so, I groaned and sat across from him. We played chess for a while, and then switched to monopoly. While playing board games, Uncle Akshay taught me multiple ways to know the tell and comprehend my opponent to beat them. He told me to understand and learn the player, instead of the game. We laughed and rejoiced every time I won a game and kept switching games constantly.
I then realised how much we both were enjoying, and that I was wrong for even considering abandoning him. Even though his actions in the past weren’t the best, he still was my uncle and he cared about me deeply. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and thought perhaps, I had finally mastered the art of learning the opponent rather than the game I’m playing.
Contributor: Zahaan Sabuwala
About our Writing Program Student
Zahaan Sabuwala (15) is a Xth Grader studying at Oberoi International School in Mumbai. He’s fond of playing the guitar and is a national-level lawn tennis player. During his spare time, he loves spending time with pets!