A short story by Arnav Diwan.
A warm, fuzzy evening over Vatika apartments found a most solitary scene unfold by the water tanks. Whereas the vast slab of concrete underpinning said tanks was usually a site for daring football matches (it was three feet off the ground), at the moment it was being used for a different purpose entirely.
The hunched figures of two boys could be made out by the pole-lamp, squatting opposite each other. The dim light tracing their silhouettes shadowed the object between them- a large aluminium saucepan. The boys, aged twelve and nine, were attending to this pan in a peculiar manner- willing at it as if trying to possess it with some sort of telekinetic force (which given their ages, might have seemed plausible). A shrill thud! suddenly rang out from the depths of the pan, followed by a noise not much unlike that from a sputtering drill.
“Told you,” said the older of the two. “No one can beat the Earth Eagle.”
The other, visibly irritated- and not only because the remark had been accentuated by a very boorish drawl- moved to inspect the contents of the pan. Within lay two unseemly objects – spinning tops with plastic trinkets clasped in rings of metal. One was spinning quite rapidly, while the other lay tipped over; a state which seemed to signal its defeat. The nine-year-old grimaced. He had spent the better part of his today trying to prove the indomitability of his ‘Bey’ as he called it, to the neighbourhood. It was his birthday, and his father had relented, on his mother’s instruction (though he would’ve never suspected it) to surprise him at midnight with a gift long asked for: a ‘Storm Pegasus Generation II’ Beyblade. He had been ecstatic, so much so that in a frenzy to assemble the thing, he’d misplaced its tip. It wasn’t that much of a problem, however; he’d simply added another one from his own ‘kit’. The kit was a square plastic box that was with him all the time. He never left home without it, and kept everything valuable in it. Even lost things had a habit of turning up, his mother always said, if one kept a kit.
The next day had been promised entirely to his whim, albeit with the clause that the boy be home in time for his birthday party. So right after lunch he’d found himself running to the water tanks. The entire neighbourhood was into Beyblade tournaments, the whole thing regarded as a rather serious affair. At 4’o clock every weekend, the children would religiously gather at the spot for the day’s batch of tournaments. There’d been much critique and commentary on the boy’s Pegasus, with expert opinions passed on its design
“It has a short height. That’s good for hitting below the metal.”
“Its blades are so sharp! It’s definitely an attack type Beyblade.”
“Ha! It won’t beat my Eagle!”
“So much stamina! Look at how fast it spins!”
“Still won’t hurt the Eagle!”
“It might be too fast though. What if it spins out of the pan?”
“The Eagle would never do that. It-”
“Why don’t you stuff that Eagle up yo-”
The discussion had been halted when someone noticed the lack of the original tip. That one was supposed to be a flat- bottomed rubber-red, whereas the replacement was a common curved metal one.
“Metal tips are better anyway.”, someone had declared with an air of self-supposed wisdom. “They give much more stamina. The rubber ones create too much… hang on…. Whatdoyoucallit?” He’d screwed up his face trying to
A girl, the one who’d first noticed the tip, had taken it in her hands and looked at it darkly. “I don’t think its complete without the right tip. That’s not the way Pegasus is supposed to be.”
“It doesn’t matter”, the owner had said, embarrassed. He snatched it back. “Let’s play.”
“Friction!” the other boy had finally remembered. He
“It isn’t Pegasus without the right tip.” The girl had
declared, ignoring the boy.
The business-like seriousness had dissolved when requests of ‘borrowing’ the Pegasus began to be made. The boy had assented to these requests for a later date; secretly he’d vowed such grants would never come to pass.
For the purpose of an arena, they’d been using a kitchen saucepan. While its small size ensured the Beyblades be forced to clash (the most important aspect of the whole business) it also made the latter prone to launching themselves out of the pan entirely, spelling the dangerous possibility of
someone getting struck in the face. A call for a larger utensil was made; but the aluminium pan had been so badly dented, that one look at its pock marked insides discouraged further such donation of cookware. The pan was thus all that remained, forever exclusive to its current purpose.
The tournament had thus begun. Players were paired and match numbers set. Everyone had huddled around the arena. The Rock Leone had first gone against the Pegasus, followed by The Flame Libra squaring against the Eagle, a battle which resulted- to everyone’s dismay- in the latter’s
victory. The L Drago (a piece held in high regard solely because of the phonetics of its name) was knocked out by a ‘hybrid’ Rock Sagittario (the hybrid part being its centre ring swapped green instead of yellow). In the midst of this, the Storm Pegasus had found terrible luck. Sometimes it spun too fast and catapulted out of the pan. Sometimes it spun too slow and was knocked out by a single blow. It had even managed to get stuck within the little craters in the pan. The Sagittario it was up against struck so hard that it broke apart and had to be reassembled. At the end of the day, the Pegasus hadn’t won a single match. The boy was confused. The Storm Pegasus was the strongest blade spirit there was, it was the one the hero from the show had. And hadn’t the hero won every single battle? Then why couldn’t he? He felt like crying.
It was 9 o’ clock. Everyone else had already left. The boy was supposed to be home an hour ago; but he couldn’t go. He had to win at least once, especially against the unbeatable Eagle. The boy analysed his opponent’s blade, the way he had seen the hero do in the cartoon. It had a purple power ring with a thick metal blade. The latter wasn’t sharp, but it resisted attacks because of its weight. To add to that, its tip was just as small as his, meaning his Pegasus couldn’t even hit it below the metal. The Earth Eagle really did seem invincible.
“Ready for another match?”
“MANU!” His father’s voice suddenly rang out from
their faraway balcony, “Come home now!
“Coming dad! Five minutes?”
“Now means now!”
The last thing the boy wanted to do was to go home; that would mean admitting defeat and accepting that his gift was absolutely useless. On the other hand, he did not want to be scolded on his birthday. With a sigh, he took the Pegasus out of the pan.
“I’m leaving. It’s late.”
“How about a last match?”
“No. You’ve won every time we’ve played. Besides, you heard my dad. I’m going home.”
“I thought you said you wanted to beat the Eagle.”
He did. Oh, how badly he did! But the Pegasus couldn’t have won against a latoo, let alone the Eagle. He was going to ask his father to return the Beyblade tomorrow. But the other boy was adamant. “Tell you what, if you
beat me, I’ll let give you my batting tomorrow- two whole overs.”
“We’re playing cricket tomorrow?”
He nodded, “In the park next to green belt. You could come
too- if you beat me.”
The boy considered it; but shook his head. There really was no point. He began packing his kit. In went the launcher, the ripcord and the useless horse- He stopped suddenly. Wedged in the corner was a bright red
something. He took it out. It was the rubber tip! The one he thought he’d lost.
“MANU!” His father’s voice came again, sounding more belligerent.
“Alright.” He said quietly.
“But I’ll take five overs.” said the boy. He didn’t know what had made him change his mind. Well, he did, but he couldn’t see how it mattered.
“Not five. Three.”
“Three and a half.”
“Fine, if you’re so sure, four.” the older boy said, though he looked more bemused than irritated. “But if I win, you give me the Pegasus.”
“Sure.” the boy said with his newly found, still inexplicable confidence.
“Dad it’s my birthday! I’ll come when I like!”
Realising that the remark had earned him a drastically reduced window to fulfil his bet, he hurried to prepare the Pegasus. The boy removed the metal tip, and fastidiously replaced it with the rubber one, as it was supposed to be.
“Alright. 3…2….1…. LET IT RIP!
There was a sharp whiz! followed by a CLANG! and the great battle began. The Eagle settled in a corner, but the Pegasus started spinning in quick, deliberate circles. They met in the centre, engaged in a flurry of clashes and moved away again. But the collisions boosted the Pegasus’ momentum to
prodigious levels, the scale of its spin now encompassing the Eagle. Further clashes. Presently the Eagle started to wobble- its blade tipping dangerously close to the surface. But the attack had taken a greater toll on the Pegasus; it was losing its speed at an alarming rate. The wobbling Eagle was still faster,
and drawing closer, threatened the Pegasus with a knockout blow…
“C’mon Eagle!”, the older boy screamed “Finish him!”
The Eagle suddenly jumped back, as if stung by an invisible bee. Indeed, the culprit was invisible; a crater in the pock-marked saucepan. Yet the Pegasus looked set to die of its own accord. The rubber tip had depleted its stamina. The boy resigned himself to the fateful wobble…
…. only it never came! Something strange was happening. The Pegasus was moving so slowly that one could see the markings on its power ring, yet there was no sign of it
falling over; the tip seemed glued to the bottom. The Beyblade spun quite erect, unlike its opponent, which was wobbling in a manner most delirious.
“What is it doing?”
Another noise like a sputtering drill; and there was the Eagle, tipped over its side unceremoniously. But the Storm Pegasus stood upright in victory- perfectly still and balanced- with a little bit of luck, a little bit of necessity, on its red rubber tip.