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Victory in Disguise Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Awais Aftab, Pakistan May 14, 2004
Child & Youth Rights   Short Stories
 1 2   Next page »


"Over a limit, everything becomes fatal, even triumph itself…"

Mark Swift paced slowly through the throng towards the entrance of the examination hall. Whispers began to emanate from everywhere he passed.
“Oh, my goodness! Isn’t he Mark Swift?”
“He is; and he’s gonna break all records this time.”
“Is he that intelligent?”
“He certainly is!”

Mark had been used to such comments since the day he was born. He had been an excellent student all his life. From kindergarten to his present university, he had proved himself to be the best; he had never known what it meant to be second. This semester he was expected to beat down all previous records. Suddenly he was stopped by Professor Joyce.

“Hello Mark,”
“Morning Professor,” he replied smiling.
“How’s your preparation for the examination?”
“Fine, sir,”
“Good; I am expecting a surprising result from you,” he patted his shoulder and walked away.
“It would be a surprise,” he muttered to himself, barely audible, “and a really nasty one.”

He entered the examination hall and walked to the table with his roll number. After a few moments, the question papers and the answer booklets were distributed. With a tired and weary expression he picked up his question paper and glanced at the questions. They were damn easy! He knew all the answers. He glanced at the other boys: Some were still reading the questions, their foreheads damped with perspiration; some were writing on their booklets and some were whispering to each other, their whispers on the border of being audible. Due to some unknown reason they all looked so dumb to him. He should have—like other students—started his answers by now; but he was tired. He was tired of being at the top; he was weary of his continuous success; this time he had some different plans. He smiled weakly and then the pen started flowing on his answer sheet.

The result was a tremendous shock; nothing less than a trauma for Professor Johnson, who had bet a few hundred bucks on Mark; ‘disaster’ in the words of Vice Chancellor. Mark’s answers were checked and rechecked at least a hundred times in the hope of increasing a number or two, but in vain: Mark had barely passed. The boy who was thought to obtain the maximum marks had just kissed the passing line! It was a surprise, indeed, a nasty one. Everyone was wondering what had happened. There was only one topic left for discussion and gossip: the unexpected failure of Mark Swift.

Mark was asked silly questions wherever he went, but he didn’t answer them. The next day he was moving in a corridor when Professor Joyce came from the front.
“Meet me in my office in a few minutes,” he ordered.
“Sir, I have a class…”
“Forget your damn class; that’s an order, Swift!”

Mark deserted all possible replies and quietly walked to Mr. Joyce’s office.
“Sit down,” he said calmly.

After they were seated, Mr.Joyce began:

“Look Mark, maybe you can fool others with your pathetic performance but you can’t deceive me. I know you deliberately did it. What I want to know is why?”

A pause ensued for a few moments and then the silence was broken by Mark’s voice.

“I don’t think, Sir, I can fully explain this. You see, all my life I had seen nothing but success. I had beaten my opponents a zillion times; and I had tasted not even once the bitter defeat. I realized that once I am in practical life, I would have to face failure at one time or another. A person who has always been successful can be shattered down into fragments by a single, small failure. A single blow can knock the hell out of him. I have noticed that for other boys nature provides them with a rehearsal. They experience different small failures in their academic career which gives them the immunity to survive even greater shocking defeats; but me? Nature never provided me this opportunity. It gave me nothing but victory—a defeat in disguise. Such constant success proves to be nothing but pyrrhic. As I drowned more and more in the sea of success, even a drop of failure was going to become enough poisonous to kill me. I didn’t want this to happen to me. Over a limit, everything becomes fatal, even triumph itself. Everyone thinks that by getting just passing marks, I have had a crushing defeat. Apparently yes, but it’s a victory in disguise. Now I know what exactly ‘failure’ is and I’ll be prepared the next time it comes. Now I am less prone to the damages of defeat. Before this I was incomplete; this failure has blessed me my completeness. It’s a great blessing in camouflage; a great coup. If only you had the eyes to visualize it!”

Mr. Joyce pondered over his answer for a while in silence. Then he said with a brief smile,
“Do you have any plans for the next semester?”
“The result would be a surprise,”
“Not another…” Mr. Joyce groaned happily.
“Oh, it wouldn’t be that unpleasant!”

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Writer Profile
Awais Aftab

Writing has been a passion, a love ever since I learned to write. For me, writing is a means of expression of 'secret tears and secret pleasures'. True writing comes from the heart and often it is the one to find you, not you the one to find it. Writing gives me power, the strength to carry on, the will to live and to live in a better way. It helps me find deeper meaning in the world around me and to understand myself much better. I can't survive without writing. For me, my writings are the whispers of life, in which the glory and sorrow of life echoes. For me, these are the glittering tears, whose every flash encompasses a thousand aspects of life. I believe that, 'I write; therefore I am.' However, true ease in writing comes from art, and I still have to learn a lot about that.

Sandra Musonda | May 25th, 2004
it's a good way to get varsity students especially high achievers to look at the other side of life. nicely written!

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