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Arms crossed, he stood on the edge staring with utmost concentration and a raised eyebrow. Across the way lounging with his arms resting on the back of the bench, legs crossed lackadaisical but challenging, sat his opponent.
We noticed them from the top of the sprawling crumbling stone building that held far less interesting things than this spectacle below. We looked at each other and just knew. That kept happening in this place that was so far from home but felt as familiar as our childhood. Next thing we know we both turned on our heels away from the edge we were on and headed down the stone steps their way. What was it about them that called us?
Up close it was evident. The white pieces stood as proud as him on their board. Decisions were being made; this age-old opposition was clear. We didn’t understand the game but it was the observation of this war between them that kept us enamored. The entire plaza was quiet. The only sound that of some children playing off in the distance, their laughter dancing across the air.
We joined other observers, obviously at home watching the two at war, all oblivious to our scrutiny, and were captivated. They sparred, move for move. Each time one won a coveted piece of the opposite color, a younger man would scramble off his bench, shouting a word we didn’t know, again sounding like home. He would scoop it up to move it to the side of the board and then sprint back and sit with his elbows resting on his knees, just as intent as the two opponents on either side of him. Waiting for the next small battle to be won in this epic war.
Across the world, we watched. Though so different from us, it was home.