‘O’ Level student-inmate from institution TM1 3rd Prize
I am a prisoner of fate. To be more precise, a prisoner of the two players who are the masters of my fate. They orchestrate and engineer every single event in my life by playing their vicious and cruel games. They hold me captive, mobilising me, making me prey to their carefully planned, unlimited psychological tortures. I have no choice but to pay them ultimate submission. My destiny would be decided by a game they play, the winner forging a path that I am to take. Their favourite game is chess.
The players would sit at either end of the board, moving the pieces of my life. Every move has a purpose, some might be unnecessary for the moment, but each move inevitably forges a link to another, like how every event leads to another. Every move on a tile marks a specific occasion - a time or place. Some pieces stay on a tile the entire game while others are constantly moving about, appreciating the perpetual permutations of a game of chess. I tend to defy fate sometimes by moving the pieces myself. The players would only look down on the board and laugh at me sardonically. No matter how the game is played, the outcome would still be the same. The pieces are all placed strategically intended for their different objectives. Every game varies in duration. Some represent the ephemeral periods where the different people of my life enter in different episodes.
The vulnerable king and the formidable queen show the importance of their relationship. To be protected by a queen, the strongest in the field, gives a sense of safety and security. To be a queen, intelligent and powerful, on the other hand, signifies pride and power. The pawns, although not as useful or powerful as the other pieces, could be exchanged for a piece of preference after reaching the other end of the board. An extraordinary twist of fate, turning weakness into strength. After every game, every piece no matter how powerful or weak, ends up in the same box.
The frequent exchanges of the pieces reminds me of certain sacrifices I had to make in life. I would never know what I have forgone, what the other outcome would be if the game is played differently. There were no ends to the players’ sadistic mockery. The occasional checks are the harbingers of omens. The player receiving the check has to be very careful, avoiding any wrong move that could lead to fratricide or the decoded checkmate. It could mean erasing an episode or creating a whole new chain of events.
There were some games where one of the players’ pieces outnumbered the other like a ferocious pack of wolves encircling docile lambs. Things could turn out badly or it could take a magnificent turn of events where the outnumbered pieces take off their sheep’s clothing and reveal beneath them as even more barbaric breed of wolves. These savage beasts turn their predator into prey. A player has to be a master dissembler, or ironically, in an adwit simulator and dissimulator.
Looking back at the past games of my life, I realised that no two games are ever alike. The players worked my fate differently for every game. I sometimes have the chimera to restart some of the games, changing the moves so that the whole game, every event that affected me up to this point would turn out differently. I wonder what would happen if I had the chance to move the pieces of the current games, changing the course of my fate. I also wonder what the players have in store for me, what the future holds and which pieces are the players going to move next. It fills me with maudlin melancholy but nothing could prevent or alter what has been ordained by fate. No matter which road I take, it all leads to Rome.
We are all puppets of the players, prisoners bonded by an imaginary, unbreakable chain. Growing stronger everyday only gives me the impression that one day I would be strong enough to break the chains of slavery to be free and to be the master of my own fate. But as I fail every day, in the deep recesses of my mind, I could hear the players’ hysterical laughter.