Both of them were popular and famous. Both were adored, highly looked upon, favoured by many, company enjoyed by all. He was smart and witty, good looks and height. She was the princess many desired to be, the beauty with the brawns. A match made in heaven, friends agreed. Simply perfect, the others chimed.
And both of them were debaters. The best in the college and state. Representing their college at national and international tournaments, they were more often than not paired together in the same team. The chemistry between them is simply amazing, almost magical. Where one compliments the other, and each one a master of their own field. He reads widely and is knowledgeable in a wide spectrum of motions, she is quick and her mind spins without making her dizzy. The golden pair of the college, even debaters from foreign land know of their partnership on and off the debate arena.
Beneath still waters there will always currents that those who admire the still surface will never see. Currents, precisely, can never be seen. It's only felt. By those who dive into the waters of their relationship and experience the currents. The current is from him. A current of jealousy, a current of vengeance. Even towards the one he loves the most.
He was made for war and from war. Man, after all, are either made for war, if not from war. He was made for both. He's a fighter, a soldier, and he never loses. What he wants, he gets it. If not, he grabs it. In the instance if both the earlier and latter fails, he fights for it. His fuel is not motivation or determination, and certainly not the desire to be better. It is the green in his eyes that burns with anger of being the loser, fury that pushes him to never lose.
The thing that he'll never understand, is why she would be getting higher speaker scores than him. While he's the one that strategizes their case, trashes out the points and spearheads their team, she was getting the greater glory than him. After every debate, the praises heaped on her far exceeded those he could remember. Adjudicators speak highly of her, and in contrast of him.
What's wrong? He asked. Was it that he was lesser charming than her? Was it because her voice sounded much sweeter than his?
He was angry. Frustrated.
And jealousy, like poison, seeped into his blood. Carrying the venom into the deepest chambers of his heart, he turned love into hatret, allowed passion for debates to evolve into a competition of who's the better speaker. He distanced away from her, secretly doing 'training' of his own, furiously reading up as much as he could, so one day he could beat her in the arena again.
Then I'll be invincible! The edges of his lips curved into an evil looking smile. Wiping it away quickly, afraid that anyone would see it, he turned back to his books.
There was, however, one particular thing that really left him peculiar. She never spent that much time in training, or engaging in debates, or reading. Instead she spent most of her time in church activities. She was a worship leader - an awesome singer with the voice of an angel - and a musician at the same time. She invited him to church before, and he enjoyed the service. Soon he was part of the worship team - he too was a musician by training - and they enjoyed worshipping together.
Until the venom striked. He started to utilize church time for reading and training. He taught that those lost time in church can be replaced back after he wins a tournament. Besides, he'll be in the college for a while - what's the big deal of skipping church for 2 months?
Days before the Worlds debate, which was the largest debate tournament in the world, the college held its selection competition. He did his best, he was proud at his performance, but the results sent shivers to his spine.
Your points were utterly disappointing. Almost irrelevant
Were brought forth by the opening houses, no new extensions presented
We sensed a slight shaft in your case
His scores fell even below some of his juniors'. He fell from the usual top team to almost the last team, barely making the cut. She on the other hand, was comfortably at the top. This time, another guy took his spot.
He couldn't accept it. He was fuming. How could he have beaten me?
It was by God's grace, that both her and his team made it to the semi-finals. His partner, though junior, wasn't as bad as what he expected. Beating tougher opponents from Australia and England, they were finally at the Everest of the debate arena. A first appearance in a major international tournament. Thus far, their achievement is something worth shouting about.
He, on the other hand, had an agenda in mind.
Beat her team. Trash them. Devastate them!
He turned to an evil scheme. While they were preparing their cases for their semi-finals, he sat close to their team and eavesdropped. Taking down notes as if as he was preparing his own case, he laughed in his heart knowing that his victory and her defeat was sealed. Another evil smile carved his face, and he smirked at the very thought of the looks on their faces when the results would be later announced.
And indeed, her team lost, and his won. He was jubilant. He was proud.
I did it!
Joyfully trotting past her team, he tried to be compassionate and sympathized their defeat, but he failed to somehow cover up his evil look. She look right into his eyes, and suddenly he was convicted. Fear suddenly floated from the depth of his heart, and he shivered. For a long time, he thought that he had nothing to be fearful of. And suddenly, that look from her eyes, and he was scared. Cold sweat.
Trying to walk off, an announcement came over the PA.
"Semi-finals room 1, may the opening government and the closing opposition approach the front desk to meet the adjudicators please."
It was his and her team. They both silently went up to the table. A sombre look on the face of the chief adjudicator. He was not in a mood to fool around anymore.
"You cheated didn't you?" the CA asked. I didn't! Why should I?
"We have witnesses claiming that you eavesdropped on her team while they were preparing. There's no room for forgiveness or leniency here. Your team has been disqualified and the victory goes to the opening government." Looking to her, the CA went on. "Congratulations, I'm very proud of you. You were the truly deserving winner. All the best in the finals."
The adjudicators left almost as quickly as the news were delivered. He was left, stunned. How short the victory, how hollow the win. What happened?
"I couldn't believed you actually cheated," she blurted out. He refused to look at her, but he knew that she was crying. She ran off to the toilet, her nicely straightened hair plopping up and down her back. He felt so ashamed of himself, he felt so disappointed, he felt dejected.
And all at that moment, he realized that his labour went all in vain. He was now reduced to nothing. Once the high flying and proud riding debater who partnered the girl he loved, now disqualified because he cheated. Not able to bear the burden of his shameful exit, he walked out of the debate arena and headed towards the open space.
A bonfire was set up. It was supposed to be for the grand closing ceremony later the evening. He sat there, looking at the fire, watching the sparks fly around. He grabbed a stick, poked at some ashes, and then threw it into the fire. The dry stick burned and was turned into a black carbon. He sighed. How simple can life be, yet how painful.
Burying his head into his bent knees, he sobbed. The fighter now cries, not because the pain is too great, but because he lost. Not just a defeat in the debate, but a defeat in morale and emotions. He reflected at his own action and himself. He turned into a monster, a blood-sucking creature that no longer loves even the person he was supposed to love.
Is there any hope left for me? He silently asked.
A hand wrapped around his shoulders. It was a familiar touch, and he knew for sure. It was a touch that he could never forget, despite the fact that it now seems so foreign and alien.
"I still love you, you know," she said softly as she took her spot beside him and tightened her hands around him. "Nothing has changed that."
From behind her, she pulled out a gold trophy. He looked fondly at the gold trophy, one that he has so badly wanted to win, so badly wanted to fight for, yet failed to get it.
"I've won this, but it doesn't mean anything to me. Now you can choose, whether you want this or not." She handed the trophy to him. Something tugged him in his heart to stretch forth his arms and take it, but he refused to. It no longer was ego that held him back, it was remorse. Gold, is now meaningless.
And she threw the gold trophy into the flames, and it burned slowly. The gold resisted the heat, but soon succumbed to it. Slowly losing its original shape, the gold trophy now looked no different from the other pieces of wood burning in the flames.
"The day I picked up debate, was the day I learned that gold was in a grasp's reach," she said. "Gold, and I refused to pick it up. I never allowed it to take first place in my heart, because it already belonged to God.
"Gold and God, and I chose God. I chose Him, and with that choice came the privilege of Gold. Gold, without God, is meaningless. The 'l' between the alphabets O and D, is merely a stick, another piece of wood that eventually dries up and burns up in the flames.
But God, always remains there. Is always more valuable than Gold. That choice I made, made all the difference between me, the champion, and you, the disqualified one."
He knew that she was right all this while. He left God for the gold, he left the heaven for the world. He left, and the blessings left him to. She stayed on with God, dwelling in His presence, and the blessings just kept flowing into her life.
At that crossroad of his carrier, he made his decision. It was a makeover, and a comeback. A comeback in the debate arena - as a consequence of his cheating act, he was suspended from all international debates for 6 months - and a return to the heavenly family. He turned back to God, and with that came the blessings he longed for. Blessings he could have never received. He became a champion again, the speaker he always wanted, he once again made top rankings with her, and both of them once again worship God happily in church. The currents were dealt with, other than occasional recurrence, he is back on the track, walking down the road that was long paved for him.
From there, he learned that when the gold may seem more lucrative than God, it is, at the end of the day, only God that has the power to give the gold to anyone He wants to. Only by putting Him first, will gold come much later in life. He chose God from Gold, what would your choice be?