Sacrificed Pawns in a Bishop's Gambit

Ezra Azra


© Copyright 2023 by Ezra Azra

Photo by Achraf Alan:

by Cole Keister:

Photo by Achraf Alan at Pexels.Photo

by Cole Keister:


by 100 files:

Aleghan and I were enrolled students at a University, in the 1950s. In different Departments.

I met him through his girlfriend, Sarojini. She and I were enrolled in the same class. Although Aleghan was not enrolled in our Department, he took a lively interest in our class work, because, of course, he was so in love with Sarojini; everybody was; me, too. Especially, me, too.

Sarojini was perfectly, exquisitely, beautiful. Outwardly, and in personality.

Aleghan spent a lot of time in our study group. We were impressed and surprised at how much our group benefited from Aleghan’s contribution to our area of study, which was far removed from his.

It could have been my imagining, merely, in noticing at times Sarojini was irked by Aleghan’s being so immersed in our group discussions that he was totally oblivious to her sitting next to him. Nobody else seemed to have noticed it.

To this day it puzzles me that, as much as Aleghan’s love for Sarojini was genuine, and undisguised, and certain, he was yet capable of being totally unaware of her sitting right next to him.

It was Aleghan who apprised us of a radio-play contest being run by our Nation's principal radio Station. The Station’s topic was “Rainbow Nation.”

Aleghan had come to know about the contest because, with the probable exception of Sarojini, he was the only one among us who had a radio at home. More than likely he had access to a radio in any one of the many homes of members of his large and wealthy family in the City.

We eagerly set about working on a script. Among the Station’s suggestions, or, as Aleghan phrased it, “obligatory options,” was that the plot include reference to our Nation’s multiethnic citizenry.

Aleghan surprised us by proposing that, into the multiethnic theme, we weave the story in the Bible about Joseph’s many-colored coat.

We were surprised because both Aleghan and Sarojini were practising Hindus. I remember that none of the rest of us in that study group practised any religion.

On Aleghan’s suggestion, our group began by reading the Bible story, at one of our meetings.

At the time, we were so excited about the possibility of national fame, that none of the rest of us, not even Sarojini, suspected a hidden purpose to Aleghan’s proposal.

It was many, many years later, long after all of us had gone our individually separate career-ways that I stumbled on Aleghan’s hidden purpose.

In his University courses in that other Department, they were learning about the Tenets of Renaissance Fiction Art. TORFA. Aleghan surmised, rightly, that a national radio play would be an excellent opportunity to put TORFA into practice, if only to learn if that once almighty, but nowadays practically obsolete, approach to the art of fiction story-telling, was yet workable.

I am certain none of us, totally ignorant of TORFA, would have objected, had Aleghan informed us of his purpose. We might have admired him more for thinking us worthy of being linked so immediately to the Renaissance. I know I would have.

We eventually completed the play and mailed in our entry. Aleghan insisted on paying the entry fee, although it was Sarojini’s suggestion each of us donate a share. In those days I could not have afforded to donate a share. My admiration for Aleghan increased exponentially. My secret undying love for Sarojini suffered; just a little.

We did not hear anything about our entry, nor the contest. We forgot about it.

Years passed. The group naturally broke up, each going their separate way.

I was in another country when I read an account of Christian Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Prize winner, having originated the phrase, "Rainbow Nation."

According to all the easily available information about Desmond Tutu, he was living outside our, and his, country at the time of our group's University studies. We had never heard of him in those years. He was an insignificant priest serving in some minor church building.

After hearing the claim that Tutu had coined the phrase “Rainbow Nation” I scoured Internet sites to find out precisely when he was supposed to have invented the phrase. I tried to track down that national radio Station that had run that contest; no success.

In our student group, none of us ever brought up Desmond Tutu's name, simply because none of us knew he existed. I am certain that if Tutu had been in any way associated with the “Rainbow Nation”, Aleghan would have mentioned it.

Just when it had become obvious to all of us that the next step in Aleghan’s and Sarojini’s friendship was marriage, Sarojini suddenly and silently broke down into tears at a study session.

Our first interpretation was that it was because Aleghan was not in attendance. We were right, but as a beginning, only.

Their partnership-towards-marriage had come to an end.

We were flummoxed! Sarojini suggested our group suspend studying in the classroom, and adjourn to a place in a nearby Community Park where we frequently met to engage in academic studying in a healthy outdoors environment.

Long before the end of her explanations, all of us were in tears.

Sarojini had a twin sister, Molly. Years earlier, Molly had defied her Hindu family’s Cultural tradition by choosing to follow a professional career in School Teaching, instead of marriage. Molly had not been deterred by her parents’ willingness to forego the strict Hindu prescription of arranged marriage, and to allow her to choose for herself, a husband.

Molly emigrated-escaped to another country, where she became very successful in her career choice, and where marriage was a minor and often irrelevant option. She had not stopped communicating with Sarojini by mail.

Sarojini, while not in full agreement with her twin's choice, was yet fully committed to joining her eventually in that other most enlightened Nation, overseas.

Sarojini had not given serious thought to either romantic involvement or marriage, until Aleghan unexpectedly entered her life; out of nowhere, as it were.

Aleghan was the last child in an extremely wealthy family. The family owned many businesses in the City. Aleghan, mysteriously, was the only sibling who had been allowed to choose to become a School Teacher, instead of becoming the owner of one of the family's businesses.

This strength of will in Aleghan was admired by all of us. This was not Aleghan's only character trait that made us happily be continually on the brink of allowing him divinity status. Had he and Sarojini married, none of us would have hesitated going Hindu.

Sadly, and quite inexplicably, Aleghan would not emigrate, married or otherwise. Sadly, and fully explicably, Sarojini was determined to emigrate, married or unmarried.

Had one of them been willing to either sacrifice, or to compromise, there would have been an infinity of joy spread throughout our group and throughout the City, far beyond, forever. Both were such beautiful persons; and, too, most fittingly, created from start to finish, in our rainbow nation.

I am forever painfully puzzled why, with Aleghan out of the way, I did not attempt to take his place. Not as much as a sliver of a thought in that direction entered my mind. The nearest I have been to a credible explanation of my eternally regretted negligence is that the shock of their breakup caused turmoil in me far deeper than the pain I was experiencing.

Aleghan and Sarojini were special persons in my life. To me, they were perfectly matched. Had I been Hindu, I would have not hesitated in seeing in them a mirroring of Rama and Sita.

If disaster could befall them, I was destined for nothing worthwhile.

Our University years ended. Aleghan was not present, of course, when Sarojini invited all of us to visit her and Molly overseas.

While extending her invitation, was Sarojini looking pointedly at me?

I came by information on Sarojini and Aleghan, sporadically over the years.

They had been living far away from each other for years when Sarojini, unmarried, died in a car accident in that enlightened Nation overseas.

I have not been able to find out if it was before or after Sarojini's death, that Aleghan, unmarried, gassed himself to death in one of his family's luxury vehicles.  

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