Be Death an Option Because It Is Not

4 min
After nigiri, he took the black stone. He wins more when he plays black; I felt happy for him.
The game begins at half past nine. Each player has three hours. If they exceed the time limit, a two-point penalty will be incurred for each thirty minutes with a maximum of six-point penalty, which means that the game ends at half past six at the latest. I did not wish it to end that late, nor to start so soon for I must go shopping now.
But it was bound to be a surviving encounter. I know. He knows. He was facing an opponent very much like himself who, of a similar playing style, could easily foresee his next moves. The result must be very close.
Still, a solution was at hand. I could check out the moves on my mobile on the way.
I did not wait for long and the lift was empty. He had marshaled the stones to establish a firm and steady base: hoshi-komoku fuseki to secure the corners. White had chosen the same opening. A clean, symmetrical shape presented itself on the board. Typical mimic go. I was intrigued, but the lift had come.
I lost the network.
At home we have no mirror. The lift, on the other hand, is a perfect cell with four mirrors of wall.
Nobody shared the space with me.
My eyes were not occupied.
I studied a myriad of myself in the mirrors to the utmost, without missing the numbers on the floor display out of the corner of my eye. I did not want to be seen looking into the mirror when the door opened.
Time often feels short at such moment. And it was good for me, as for a moment I forgot the impatience to know the next move. Upon the “G” sign, I timely looked away and at the mobile, and walked through the doorway. The caretaker greeted the residents leaving the other lift. Spotting the chance, I mingled with them through the automatic gate.
It was an unexpected scene. Both players were peculiarly reserved. They cautiously kept a distance, and passively arrayed about the borders to fortify their own territories, which was opposite to their usual formation.
There are generally two approaches to win go: by enclosing sufficient amount of territory or by capturing enough stones of the opponent. He is notorious for his aggressive attack on others and strangling their chains of stones. The other player is well-known for the same reason. How could they launch such a drowsy and windless open? I was unsatisfied: the two lacked the spirit today.
I resumed the pace.
The street was void of people; the road was absent of cars.
I walked very fast partly due to dullness.
Every now and then, I flashed my eyes on the game without bothering myself to regard it for longer. My legs, vigorous and machinelike, took turns dragging the street backwards and driving me towards the destination.
The market, on the contrary, was a bustling activity. People in droves were busy around looking for what they wanted. But the space was wall-bound and chopped up by shelves as impediment. With a large basket in my hand, I pondered how to weave my way through without touching anything or bothering anyone.
An amateur player sees only the frailties of his rival. He is an expert at pinpointing the rifts and gaps of the opponent’s men. He loves severing the opponent’s squads, scooping out their liberties and squeezing his way out. Meanwhile, he is oblivious of his own hiccups and catches, extorted and exhausted bit by bit before he realizes that he has been kicking against the pricks.
He is not. I am not. To bear the pressure is to observe even myself from a safe distance. I shall adjust my posture, maintain my shape and mobilize my body. Very tactfully, I shuttled back and forth, fetching what I needed: noodles, eggs, buns, sweets, etc.
I got the chance to survey the board after joining the queue at the cashier.
It was a middle game in uproar.
Black and White scattered among every corner, thinly built but truculent. Their shapes were sharp, covetous of each other’s territory. War seemed imminent, but who would take the initiative? It seemed that he had the upper hand. By cold observation and calm judgment, he had occupied a vast stretch of land.
Yes. Both players were primed for battles. Deep inside, he had seen through the illusory peace. He knew it as well as he knew himself. But for some reasons he deferred facing it. He continued to please himself with inertness.
Was he too dewy-eyed about the status quo to give it away?
It was my turn, so I had no time to get to the bottom of it.
The cashier adeptly scanned the items and summed up the amount. I was prepared since I had done sums in my head too. Basically, I just needed to agree with the voice on whatever would be uttered.
As was expected, a number was pronounced. I was right, and I handed the money immediately. The whole thing was about to end when I would have automatically given my thanks and withdrawn.
Yet something else, distant but thunder-like, was said, like an attack. The syllables were short, compact and strong, clustered together in a rising intonation. I had to reply. What could I say? The sound was so obscure and sudden that I felt threatened and at lost.
I had to reply. This instant could not be missed. Otherwise, how slow-witted I would look! The clock was ticking, and the pressure was accumulating. The world was waiting for my answer and I should not disappoint them.
I smiled, and nodded as if to impersonate a dog happily swaying its tail, doing his utmost. The cashier was apparently puzzled. But he was professional and polite. In fact, everyone here is professional and polite, especially when it is their turn to condescend.
He said something as a kind acceptance of my atypical reaction, and wound up the interaction with a perfunctory motion.
This had been the case. White gave an aggressive offense. He was caught. I knew of it on my way home. I studied every move of him. Every move, resistant yet reluctant, was another scratch on his bleeding wound. Every stone was dropped on the board, shivering.
This is go. This is when one can do nothing about it. It seems to be haphazard at first, after which it shames you with its absolute causality.
I watched him making every painful yet definite choice, all of which leaded him towards the gyre of certainty. I still remember how long it took me to go home, how long it took him to give in.
The street was still empty, except being dimmed by the reddish radiance of the sun. I was burdened by my purchase. Nobody can be fleet of foot with their eyes on the phone, their heart on a person. Nor can I. I was still on the way and I could not walk properly.
What exactly do you want? If you do not end this, when would you begin to lose again? It is like home, or a mirror. You leave in order to arrive, look away in order to look back.
He surrendered at six twenty. I arrived downstairs ten minutes later. The automatic gate was closed. I needed to dial the password.
I entered the four digits. It was wrong. I entered again and it was wrong again. The caretaker opened the gate for me before I managed to panic. He smiled at me and told me that he had recognized me. I controlled my voice and thanked him. I skipped with joy towards the lift. Someone pressed the floor button for me because I could not spare my hands.

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