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Adi & Praja 108

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Adi and Praja

Chapter 9

Issue 108: Motorbikes

Looking at such movies bored him beyond measure, but in order not to disappoint his friends he usually went with them anyway.


(motor bike competition)

The highlight of the year were the motor competitions. Weeks in advance every boy was talking about it and about nothing else. The motor bikes of these days were very strong and fast and indestructible, they could accelerate five times as fast as present day motor bikes, and they could jump as well as fly over some distance. The art was to race these bikes in the muddiest landscape, jump up, stay in the air for precisely fifty seconds (which was exact, due to the inbuilt computer), and in that time fighting each other off one’s motorbike. You needed all kinds of protection for your head and neck and knees and bones, but it was great fun. Your arms were free because they had to fight. Each couple got three turns in a row in quick succession, and you had to win two of them to be the winner. So the whole fight took at most 2 ½ minute. But the third time many would be so exhausted already, that is was became a trifle for the other. The fought like lions. Even the second round they were mainly recognizable as a ball of wet earth, and everything was demanded of man and machine. But if you had two really good and strong partners, the third round was the limit of what humans can perform in the field of strength, agility, and courage. The partners were selected independently by lottery, and when they came to the field they were fully armored and couldn’t recognize each other. Therefore every match was a new adventure, because you never got the opportunity to know your opponent personally. You couldn’t even see whether your opponent was a boy or a girl, but girls were far in the minority, so it would be a surprise, if you noticed at all, to find that your opponent was a girl. And because girls can have completely unexpected ways of fighting for boys, these got confused, and many of the girls won. Some boys were clever, and belonged to a particular group, and they had particular gestures to communicate. If the lottery brought such partners together, they could work according to agreements made beforehand.

The strongest boys, and some girls, of different age groups, would compete, and the winner would fight again later that day or the next day against a new partner. It took a week before the champion arose gloriously. Shano spend the whole week there with his friends – every school and office had holidays during the races. (But he had a suitcase full of books with him, to which he would take refuge whenever he could escape). Schools were also competing. And there was nothing much else to do in the city. Motor guys from many countries of the world came to that city. Some had driven more than 10,000 miles on their bikes to reach that spot, others had come by special airplanes and trains. Some of his friends were partakers of the match, but none of them reached to the higher ranks. Shano himself felt that he could have been part of it, but he had no money for a motor bike. So he looked on. Race followed race. Some young boys (you could take part from the age of thirteen) were crying when they were put aside even on the first day. Shano was more interested in the psychology of the riders than in the actual game, or who would be the winner. He had a good place, near where the actual jump-fights were taking place, and calmly watched, or rather felt – because they were completely armored, what was going on in the boys’ (and the girls’) feelings and minds. Some were only too happy that they were in the game, and didn’t expect to win. Still they would fight like bulls not to be kicked out in the first matches. There were others, who belonged to the best, who cherished the fight itself, not the winning of it in the first place. Even if you were winner nor loser, you could go again, repeatedly – with the same or another opponent – and some boys had formed couples or clubs promising each other to fight but not to win of each other – until the last match. These were the best to watch. They stayed in the air for a full 50 seconds, and used all fighting techniques one can imagine. But you could only win by getting the other in the mud, off his bike. So they always managed to let each other stay upright at the last moment so that they would lose nor win. Shano liked the psychology of these boys most. But others just wanted to use blind force, and win as fast and often as possible. If two of these characters met each other in mid air, they would attack each other head on in full speed and fastest acceleration. This wasn’t without danger, and many were wounded, because they could not withstand the crash, toppled over with bike and all, or simple were thrown of their bikes in mid air. Then the others would laugh, especially if you landed head down in the mud pool. This was humiliating. Despite the heavy armor and the soft ground, every year bones were broken, and twice a rider had been killed in former years. So there was a good amount of bravery as well as a good amount of fear. And because everyone wanted to hide his fear and show his bravery, strange things could happen. For example a motor bike would turn away at the last second, and thus got the other at full speed – that could be close to a hundred miles/hr – in his flank, and that was a most dangerous situation. Nobody would stay upright or on his bike in that situation.

There were also mean boys. There first (hidden) aim it was to really hurt and wound the other, or destroy his bike. These guys had special tricks – which were forbidden, but nevertheless applied. They could jump and accelerate unexpectedly to the height of the head of their opponent, and then give him such a kick that he would faint, or falter – and if it was only for a split second, that was usually enough to make him tumble of his bike. Others had constructed hidden hooks under their bikes and could, by some mechanism, invisibly hook them under the mudguard of their opponent, which caused that bike to topple over and land upside down on top of his driver. That could however hit the attacker also. And the attacker would immediately be disqualified, but was cheered by his friends, and as he hoped, made impression on some girls. The fiercest and meanest among them attacked a minor from above and pushed him on the ground, would then land on top of him and punch him wish his fist to bleeding and losing consciousness. The attacker was disqualified. Nevertheless some attackers did the same in subsequent years. It was their joy to hurt and to hate, not to win.

Shano found it disgusting. But he learned a lot about the psychology of violence among people. Some of the worst and meanest attackers were nice and helpful guys in daily life, but during the match turned into beasts. Others became confronted with their pushed-away fear – and reached into a state of total panic when it was their turn – but could not escape. They could, as a result of their insecurity and fear become severely wounded. Shano also saw that some where indeed kind and softhearted, and fought for the joy of the fight, all the time taking care not to hurt the other, and rather let him win than to wound him, or rather put themselves at risk than the other.

Apart from the friends with whom he had come, he knew nobody over there. The city itself counted millions of inhabitants, and there were also at least a hundred thousand foreigners. But one he recognized – one of the active partakers of the matches, who had already made it till the fifth day – and Shano saw him just before he put on his helmet. It was the boy who had attacked him and taken his money, the leader of the group. It was a shock for Shano. The boy didn’t see Shano at that moment, being busy preparing for the match. He belonged to the bad boys of the match, and so did his opponent. An extremely fierce fight developed between the two. Shano was looking with tension, and became aware that he was on the side of that same boy. He really hoped he would win. And he did. After the match Shano went to him to shake his hand and congratulate him. The first second the boy didn’t recognize Shano, or only vaguely. But the second moment he did, and his eyes opened wide: He saw the boy who he had beaten up not long ago, who had been so crazy to want to spend money on poor children. He swallowed, and said: “Yes, eh, thank you.” At that moment Shano felt real sympathy for him, and he smiled, and looked him straight in his eyes. The boy smiled back, though somewhat sheepish. Shano himself didn’t understand why he felt a warm heart for somebody who had recently been his real enemy, of whom he should either be afraid or who earned to be scolded in full public. It was just by impulse, and he had no idea where that impulse came from. That night the boys mind was more with Shano than with his victory. It had made quite an impact.

When the week was over a big party was organized all over the city, but Shano, who had an aversion towards alcohol, managed to sneak out and spend the evening with his grandparents.

The greatest joy these elderly people had given to Shano, and which he remembered throughout his life, was when they, very occasionally, would take him to a concert, …

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