Hello there. You haven’t seen me for a while, have you?
Well, a few things had changed, such as the fact that I went back to the shaved head. And remember the phase in which I used to wear almost only black clothes? Here we go again. Not that Deq’s statement influenced me in any way, but…
Yeah, you see, it kinda did.
I realized how much I hated wearing colorful clothes and picking matching contacts for them. It was such a completely excruciating, painstaking job and somehow I no longer cared enough to do that. Nor did I want to style my hair anymore. Not even in this tiny bun at the back of my head. No, I changed my value system, I guess. Er, if I ever had one, that is (who am I kidding…).
Writing is getting harder for me these days, you see. Fuck that fucking fuck, I really should stop acting like I’m talking to anyone who is not this damn diary which never responds anyway. But I want someone to listen, so I went back to writing after like…these five last years that I mentioned passing by in my last entry, I think? Oh yes, that’s right. Martial arts are really eating up my time. And when I say it I definitely mean it.
This is when I stop being awkward; I hope.
Adaeze was determined to wear me down as always with these constant trainings at this crazy early hour I never quite got used to. But she had been even worse ever since she was given the black belt and she developed a very strong desire to prove how great she was. She acted like a lioness during our sparrings and although I was definitely better than I used to be, she was still the number one there.
But Adaeze was no longer my only opponent.
I wasn’t getting it when she told me about some sort of a tournament that takes place in China, where you fight to be ranked a certain rank ranging from one to five–with five being equivalent to becoming the Grand Master. You were supposed to fight with the opponents with different belts and you weren’t allowed to fail a single match or you would lose your rank and have to start all over again. She told me that Deng Weng was the current Grand Master and that no one could beat him. Adaeze said that she didn’t believe I would be able to kick Deng’s ass, but that I had potential for a great rank.
“You could do really great, Sam,” she ensured me, for once with a smile plastered to her face. It all seemed too fishy.
“Why do you suddenly believe in me and all? Why the sudden change?” I asked, not quite understanding what she was getting at.
“Okay, look…I just thought that this would be good to take down those conservative people here who think they know everything the best. It’s time to show them that not only the foreigner, but a member of the LGBT community could be that good in their traditional art…Something I didn’t manage to achieve,” she looked at me and I knew she was sincere.
“Wait, are you a foreigner?” She sent me a small smile – for some reason she was pretty bountiful with them that day, as opposed to usual.
“Born in Sunset Valley, yes. People here don’t really speak Simlish that well,” she said curtly.
“So Adaeze’s not…” I began, suddenly eager to find more about the, by that time, enigmatic Adaeze.
“It’s a real name. My grandmother was a local and she engrafted the love for China in me. And so I decided to settle here. Then I met the lost, troubled girl, Biyu, and the rest is history…” It was apparent that she didn’t really want to let on to me.
“So what went wrong?” I continued dwelling on a subject.
“I was told that my grandmother died and it was like my whole world came crushing down. That’s when I started losing matches and you should know that nothing stays a secret in such a small town…Of course they said that a foreigner (it’s really hard not to be one in their eyes and after several generations they’ll still treat you as one), and especially someone who debauched the innocent Biyu, would never be able to earn the title.” Even someone who didn’t like reading other people’s emotions would find it hard not to notice the depth of disappointment and grief in Adaeze’s voice. Maybe that was why she practically always grimaced?
Anyway, even if I didn’t care much about what Adaeze wanted to prove, I agreed to take the challenge, partly because I wanted to show her how I was better than her, but mostly because with every passing day I was growing more and more fond of martial arts and these feelings were quite surprising for I had never grown this type of attachment for anything in my life before.
I previously said that I changed my value system. What I meant by that is I stopped caring about relationships and I realized solitude suited me for I was experiencing a new sort of appreciation and it was much better than the unstable one you receive from your partner. I never loved my partners anyway, so my relationships didn’t have any point besides keeping me physically stable with the sort of appreciation I was getting. But let’s start from the beginning.
As I reached the blue belt, Adaeze started carefully introducing me to the tournament in the way we wouldn’t overlook anything. We had to work out the right strategy that would get me far. Technically you are allowed to take part as soon as you reach the green belt, but Adaeze wanted me to get the thorough training before I attempted fighting with anyone other than her. That’s why we sparred so much and she told me to meditate before every sparring. It was all supposed to prepare me. After all this hassle she signed me up for the tournament. And finally, the big day came and I was introduced to my first opponent.
Lin Hua was good, I must admit. She kept grimacing but not in the familiar way Adaeze did and she was very determined to beat me badly, but I managed to win after predicting her moves and making good use of the stuff Adaeze taught me. I was proud of myself and so was my teacher. It was just a small step toward the title, though.
Soon enough I fought with my next opponent- a man called Li Yuan, who, to my surprise, wore the green belt. I had no idea why he was picked for a ranked match with me, but I managed to easily win, so I couldn’t complain. In all honesty, the fact that he was wearing socks cracked me up.
Zhan Su wore the blue belt like me and he was really experienced, but I was well-prepared. Huge smile lit up Adaeze’s face as I told her that I managed to win this sparring as well. I was truly on a roll.
Sima Zhi, the fat, but surprisingly experienced, female fighter, was my next opponent. These people were all rather good and Adaeze was right to have devoted so much time into my schooling before she introduced me to the tournament. I am not sure if I would beat people like Sima if I didn’t get such a thorough training from her.
As I won my match with Xi Yuan, the fifth match I won in succession, Adaeze told me I needed to take a break and more trainings not to fuck the whole thing up (maybe not exactly her choice of words). I was eager to go on, but she told me that it would be unwise without further preparation. And so I spent more time on my other “hobby” that I did for money.
As I spent more and more time in Shang Simla, I kept on exploring the town and found a lot of dig sites with some ancient rubbish. There was usually rather destroyed and unattractive stuff there, but I managed to trick some collectors into believing that they were worth much more than they did and I used my previous position’s as a con artist experience to make them look even older and more expensive. After all I had to find a way to earn money and this proved to be rather efficient.
Still, during that time sparrings were my main concern and ever since I got into the tournament thing, Adaeze practiced them with me almost exclusively, omitting all the other martial arts connected training. Due to beating some people I started making my name in the town and that’s what I believed to be better than any relationship. Not only was I appreciated by more than one person, it wasn’t that tiring and all they expected in return was for me to continue winning. I loved the challenge and the competition and nothing mattered for me more to me than to win. As I trained more and more and my muscles hurt and my body was as though I was some superstar athlete, it still was nothing. Adaeze wholeheartedly supported me. We needed to show them who’s the best. And I would do anything to prove that the only winner was me. That’s what I was doing throughout the next two years.
Note: It’s there, it really is! Well, I spent my entire evening doing this and I feel nauseous and I have a major headache as I’m writing this on a late Friday evening. Therefore please forgive the quality of this chapter. I’ll most likely be ill. Take 2: it’s 3 hours before publication and I cleared a few things, so hopefully it doesn’t suck as much. Here is the bonus in case anyone missed its publication on Wednesday.