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The ring of life

Sukesh Shekar | Monday, February 21, 2011

My heart pounded vehemently against the walls of my chest. I felt it would never stand still again. I tried to align my mind, my body, my heart, to face what I was about to. I had nowhere to stand and nowhere to hide. My heart told my head, this time no. My head told my heart, let it go. They applied some Vaseline on my face and treated my nose, to help with cuts and blood. They cloaked and hooded me. Yes sir, it was me. I went out back to get out my gun, and yes sir, you haven’t met me. A priest from the missions thanked us and blessed us in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I took my brother by the glove, stood tall and remembered what we stood for. I wished him good luck and prayed that we walk away stronger men than those who were about to enter the ring of life. On this mind and on this heart, I aligned myself to do what I had to. On my feet I looked out, night has always pushed on day. You must know life to see decay, but I won’t run. I’m scared of what’s behind and what’s before, but this we are — an everlasting vibe.

Every year the money raised by the Bengal Bouts serves humanitarian ends in country far away. The strong bodies that fight in this ring of life are not much different than the weak bodies that we fight for in that ring of life. Whisk away those petty differences — country, language, color and creed. Strip me down and you shall find that I am no different than you. We both feel the need to eat, breathe, sleep, love, be loved and find meaning. Au contraire, we are the same. We generate hypothesis to quell the imagination, assuage our curiosity and relinquish an ill-suited ideal. I am a pacifist; I think it is our true nature. If we were meant to fight, we would have evolved with sharper teeth and talons. Instead, we have evolved with immaculate brains: a hundred billion neurons with a quadrillion synapses. We must have evolved to think and I think the only reason we fight in the ring of life is in search of truth. How could I ever validate fighting another man? It isn’t me. Today was different though, I was not about to fight another man, but I was going to fight for another man, and that I can fight for.

It went so fast. I cannot delineate the details because it happened so fast. I did not give up, I faltered but was unafraid. Spare me your judgments; I stand alone in this winter as the clouds obscure my thought. I am on my feet and the water creeps to my chest. Raining down on me as I look over the hill, we shoot until we are still. Into obscurity we fight and bleed, but I will hold on, hold on ‘til judgment comes. I will hold on, I will hold on, I will hold ‘til my head rolls or the bell tolls. I did not win, but how could I have lost? These bloodshot eyes saw no good. Watch what you say — wasted times, broken dreams and violent colors so obscene, my heart knows no reprieve. Fists do not betray, dismay or enslave you, they will set you free. The beauty of a fist is that it is made to be. They said serve God, love God and your friends. Lived and bruised, we are friends. You know me and I know you; oh, man is a funny thing!

I walked away from the ring having indelibly etched the constitution of my moral fiber. The fears and faults melted away as I know to live my life as it is meant to be. I felt infinite. It is remarkable that we can ever know what we are, but rarely is it possible to determine what we can be. Often, I have to deal with three people: the person I think I am, the person others think I am and then there is the person I really am. The only person I face in the ring is my true self and I find the truth about myself. I was afraid of what I would find in my heart, but I found a truth instead. I am a fighter, not a particularly good one, but I am a fighter. In the ring of life, there is the one who fights and one who does not. I fought today and I am happy I did. I did not fight any enemy either, rather a brother. I was proud to stand with him as we stood by our namesake — The Fighting Irish.

What would you fight for? The Irish pugilists fight for education, health and subsistence of our less fortunate Bengal cousins. While our cousins may lack a few means, they are not short of spirit. I hope in lending them our sprit, they will lend us their spirit. What are you afraid of? Whatever it is, face it, and you will walk out the other side a better man. In the ring of life, there are no losers. Losers do not make it that far. We beat our bodies and make it our slave so that one day we may stand tall, our heads held high, not ashamed that we lost, but proud that we fought. The Bouts here are the purest form of competition there is, for the purest reasons there are. The man in the arena reigns supreme, but he is not alone in this. We will tell the night when you lose your sight and whisper to you in your corner — as brothers we stand to hold your hand, we are not alone in this. Go to the Bouts and stand by your man in his corner. He is not a timid soul who knows neither victory nor defeat. He stands tall and fights for us all.

Sukesh Shekar is a graduate student studying chemistry and biochemistry.. He can be reached at Sukesh.Shekar.1@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.