Aren’t we all Rats? Scampering in our little mazes, sniffing for cheese at the corners, turning a blind eye to the perils of eventually finding it? Aren’t we all Rats for wanting a wanting for a delirious purpose which drives us. Similar or variant, dreams are made of sleepless nights. Daydreams, Of course, smelled specifically of cheese. Which tend to lead us to damnation and salvation.
B1 to C3
The boy was always looking. Curious for a mistake he could capitalise on. Even when he was a black Knight traversing the checkered floor. Safely and sincerely. The boy’s father had his customary signature move. Two steps for the pawn guardian. He’d show the Queen as one with an impending vulnerability. Dangling a carrot for the boy to fall for it, and attack her. The boy Of course after the last game and the burnt black scar on his forearm knew better to take his time and aim for the rooks instead.
E3 to D5
The boy pulled up his trunk onto the cot and started unpacking his things and thoughts. The curly haired roommate he was assigned with, one who was adamant that he be called AJ instead Ajay, had already taken the lower berth. His shorts and loosely flappy banyan made him look like a ghoul than a seventh grader. The boy threw his towels on the upper berth, and pulled himself up and rolled in.
“AJ, what does your Dad do?” The boy asked trying to figure a different kind of Dad.
“Oh.. Will he come to pick you up in Summer,” the boy asked staring crevices on the roof above him. The answer was in the form of a snore and a dull mumble. That’s when the boy took me out from his shirts pocket and kissed me at my base, as tears rolled down his cheeks and he sobbed uncontrollably..
H3 to E3
The Queen was a lure ofcourse. The rooks were circling. They make a double trap on either sides. The boy’s father had killed the boy’s Minister on a suicide mission. Remove his power by giving up yours. Power makes you bold and it also makes you stupid. Do away with the minister , Then you will truly emerge as a player. The boy knew he was going to lose. The last pieces with him were a pawn and me. Logic taught him to clear the pathway for the pawn. The white rooks would be looking for that. But the boy had to try. Moment next, the boy’s kept me inside his pocket and dutifully followed his father to the kitchen. The father turned on the stove, and placed a steel cheese cutter on it. Till it turned red hot.
C4 to G8
AJ and the Boy had explored themselves. They were sharing the same bed. They told stories about many things from the grainy stars to the starry gazes. AJ would pick me up sometimes and hide me away. The boy Ofcourse would shoot, scream and cry, till he found me. I was perhaps the closest thing to him in the whole wide world. As the twilight set in, AJ would ponder over random things, sometimes even rats and mazes. Their bare chests lay bear with cold dreams and crashing waves. Home meant something more to either of them. More than rats and mazes. That much they’d known for the past 4 years.
F5 to H6
Pawn killed sideways. That was the basic rule. Much like rooks moved straight forwards or backwards. And how the Queen, the game defining Queen, could only move one step at a time. Rules. Patterns. Fixations. Purposes. Delirious purpose. The boy realised something. He was playing the game to lose it. Turning at the corner at the slightest whiff. The boy remembered. He looked at me. Sometimes the winning move lay in losing spectacular. To be a rat beyond the maze. Beyond the limitations of the checkered board.
J16 to L19
AJ snored and mumbled as he always did. The boy sat beside him, tossing me up and down. Catching me by my stem one time and by the head the other time. Then when the next time AJ snored, the boy caught hold of his mouth and in one swift motion flocked me inside his mouth, and covered AJs mouth with the pillow. By the time his legs struggled and his hands beat wildly around, his throat choked on me. Breath grew thinner. AJ was done, and so was I. I could be replaced Ofcourse. I wasn’t sad that he used me. I was curious why.
L20 to K24
The white pawns were done with. The boy was finally finding some hope. A road into the fortress. The warriors remained. The powerful needed to be killed and sacrificed. The boy moved me around with a new found purpose. Me and my twin, covered quick ground and reacted dangerously close to our counterparts. Our move was not to move. They wouldn’t kill us either. A few steps away from what looked like a bloody victory.
P6 to R9
Three steps later, the boy reached his cell in the containment. He escaped the maze by creating a horrific sacrifice. Away from his father. Safe. But that was just half the game. During this period he didn’t have me by his side, to talk to or confide in. It was perhaps many months later that I saw him. The boy had become a man. At least the crude beard and the thick hair locks made him look one. The boys father had come to play a game with him probably out of guilt or plainly out of pleasure. Pawns moved first. The boy had Ofcourse planned. And this time the fear in his heart and seeped into his mind like a burning crystal.
Z10 to A7
One move was it all. The Queen, moved in to the trap. There’s an ancient saying which goes – Death is when you can see it, the darkness of the gentle night, but the question is what do you do when you see it. The moves were set, in every corner. Rooks, Bishops, Pawns all around. Everyone intact. The white queen all alone. The boys father had to make a move. Into his defeat after twenty years of winning. His eyes raged under the flickering light. He never got up and walked away. Never coming back. Never again in his life. The move remained incomplete and the board remained untouched. The boy picked me up and kissed me at the base. I was always his favorite. It was the Knight’s redemption. With wounded hands and a punctured heart, AJ had one. We slept in our bunker, like we had since eternity.