“The house supports lateral entry of individuals into civil services.”
“Hear, hear!” announces the Core Adjudicator, as his hand zealously thumps against the table. As he greets the panelists and participants, the round commences on a serious note at the slam of his hand.
At least ten pairs of eyes look to the left of the room. The Prime Minister, in all their might, stands up confidently, albeit a bit nervous. He walks on stage, and takes a minute to collect his things. It’s deafeningly silent; numerous vicious eyes boring through his skull like a laser. He suddenly looks up from his belongings, posture so predatory as if aimed for battle.
Suddenly, a strong whiff of air gushes past me, sand into my eyes and suddenly I am projected into the scorching heat of a desert. As my eyes adjust to the surroundings, I am suddenly not where I was before. As I adjust to the shocking light, my eyes widen at the scene before.
The Prime Minister Himself, with his comrade the Deputy, standing on an ostentatious carriage, armed with bows and arrows. Their carriage is surrounded by horsemen of all kind, wearing gold that shimmers in the heat, eyes fierce and brooding.
“Who are you?” his voice bellows, sending shivers down his spine. “Are you a spy? Did the opposition send you?” Loud, bold and demanding for an answer, my lips fail to utter a response. Instead, a million questions bubble in my head, why am I here? What brought me here? Am I dreaming?
“I’m not a spy, a-and the opposition didn’t send me. I don’t know how I got here, I’m just a d-debater.” I sputtered out, tongue and lips having seemingly stuck in place.
“I don’t believe you. Guards take him to the court.”
Before I have a chance to answer, the guards have secured me by the arms, their chainlink digging into my skin. Dragged away against my will, my beseeches were helpless in the end.
Dammit! I’m supposed to be a debater, not beg them to listen to what I have to say!
Huge white walls and stony silence surrounded me as the Prime Minister continued to accuse me of being a spy, insisting that I had to reveal information albeit me telling him the truth. It was when the creak of wooden doors made us all turn our heads, and hitched our breath. As the long wooden doors push open, cold air gushes inside. A woman, poker faced, crown perfectly balanced on her head and cape hugging the floor as she walks towards us. We part as she walks towards her throne. I could tell that her presence was strong, meaningful and was not someone to be taken lightly. Gingerly, she sat on her throne but when she looked up, her icy cold eyes matched with mine. It was like her eyes controlled my nerves and muscles, and soon enough, I was transfixed, throat dry and sweaty palmed.
“So, you’re a debater?” She asks once she is told of the issue at hand, “Prove it. I order you to debate with our finest debaters on the motion ‘This House wants to pay the wages of school teachers from the salaries the students make upon giving employment.’ You will stand for it.”
“Providing incentives will promote meritocracy, which in turn will motivate the teachers to teach better and promote moral values, thus creating a holistic society.” I fire, barely managing to not stumble over my words as I speak.
“This model proposes that teachers would be paid on the basis of the output and not the work they do which is wrong. Instigating an attitude of competition amongst teachers is not right as it generates a biased behavior amongst students!” Her majesty’s debaters shoot back at the speed of five words per second. One split second of distraction and you could miss a weeks worth of arguments.
The debate goes on and the Queen serves as the adjudicator. She’s astounded; she couldn’t believe I didn’t lie and wasn’t some common man like she thought I was. Impressed she asks me to join her in the battle.
She tells me it’s war.
The battlefront was between the Opening Government and the Opening Opposition, two parties who’ve always been at loggerheads with each other since time in memorial. Every year around this time, they come together for a face off in a long-time tradition, the ‘Deliberation Day’ – where both the opening and the opposition contend to stand as victor for the nationwide peace. The loser must provide at least a significant amount of their economy to the winner’s economy, as well as providing some men to strengthen their military and naval base.
They would be judged on their ability to define their arguments, deliver them with absolute credence and defend their statements as to not contradict or lose the essence of their speech. The adjudicator- a scholar devoid of loyalty or belonging to either of the sides – walks onto the field and announces the motion of the battle that could make or break either side. They get fifteen precious minutes to gather their thoughts and every second counts.
Deliberation Day was the mother of all wars. It invoked fear, trepidation and anticipation among everyone in the town and winning meant a massive amount of status, wealth and privileges. The opening government had sided with the closing government while the opposition had forged an alliance with the closing opposition.
“So, you’ll help us, correct? We could use a man as fine as you are, we’d have a significant advantage and if we win, you may be given a position in my court,” the Queen asked. “The war’s in two days.”I’ll
It had been two days. From ‘This House regrets the personalisation of Social Movements’ to ‘This house wishes that AdSense be the only source of montesiastion on Youtube” it’s been two perilious days of this ironically civil war, and apparently, I could be of help to give them an edge in winning.
I nod my head grimly, not fully understanding the situation. It seemed to be like an extension of Pro.Verb itself, but in prehistoric times? But this time, they’ve taken it to another level. This was undoubtedly crazy and unfathomable, but somehow I wanted to show the Queen and her subjects how competent I was. It was also to show myself, how capable I was as a debater.
For the next two days, I underwent rigorous training. Though the Queen had complimented me the other day, she mentioned to me afterwards that I needed to get my terminology right. Prehistoric debates worked a bit differently, after all.
On the day of battle, I was ready.
Erm, sort of.
Sporting a strong armour, I was led off to the battle. It was nothing like I expected- no open empty fields and strong winds- instead I was led into a court like building with towering white walls and an aura so cold it sent shivers down my spine.
This was it.
This was what it had all been leading up to- the core adjudicator walks amidst the crowd, flanked by soldiers and armed with a voice to command god.
“This house believes that feminism is compatible with transhumanism. You have fifteen minutes, good luck debaters!” she announces.
We rush to form our battleplans. A strategy can make or break you, and right now we needed the best strategy we could muster up.
“…” says the Prime Minister only for the Opposition to say “..”
Finally, it’s my turn- all eyes stare at me- I had the power to make or break our argument.
Time for the deliberation. We’re ushered out of the while halls as the wooden door is shut behind us. The adjudicators are deciding and they need time.
“And the winners are.. The closing government!” I barely register it over the sound of applause and hooting- I can’t believe it, I’ve won! I actually won!
Still in shock, I walk over to the stage- I’m the cynosure of every eye but all I can look at is the trophy- shiny and blindingly gold, the adjudicator holds it tenderly in his hands.
The queen smiles at me as I take it from the adjudicator’s hands. Suddenly the air starts to shift and flicker around me- it moves and bends and before I can register what’s happened, I’m thrown back into the present.
“Hey! You’ve been called to LH3, apparently one team has backed out. Go quick, we’re running out of time!” A shaky, irritated Agenda Management volunteer yells on my face before darting towards the door.
I stare at my trophy-less hands… what just happened?
Still disoriented, I try to shake myself out of confusion. I had no idea of time or how it went by, and I made my way through the sea of debaters, still extremely clueless apart from the fact that I knew I could put up a good fight.
Written by Shreemoyee Roychoudhry and Tanya Jain
Pictures: ProVerb Facebook album.