The first time I ever impressed my parents was when I beat my elder brother Aito at Go. I knew I was onto something. Aito was nice about it too; perhaps he was in shock, since he'd always been better at everything. That was the day that I found my calling. Now, you might say that skateboarding is my thing; I've got the look, the kit and the skill. But I had Go before that and it will always come first.
I first learnt that Go existed at University! Impressed? No? I'm joking. I won't be going there to study, unlike Mr-future-lawyer Aito. But Mom works there and after school I'd go and wait for her. She does student counseling, so I'd take a manga and sit in the waiting room. I'd see all these worried college kids going for their counseling and looking like the world was about to end. Like I said, I don't want to go to college.
On the wall of the waiting room was a poster with a girl and a boy, old enough to be at college too, but radiantly happy. They were sitting outside in the sunshine, playing a board game with hundreds of black and white pieces. The girl had shiny chestnut hair and the boy had part of his hair dyed blond, which I thought was really cool. It was a poster for the Ki-in, the Go institute. I spent a lot of time looking at that poster and started wishing I was part of it.
Two years later, when I was nine and already thought I was pretty good at Go, my parents took me to the Go institute to get me enrolled as an insei. I'd won a local children's tournament and already saw myself becoming a professional Go player. They should have phoned the institute first. It was only when we got there that we found out I was too young to even take the entry test. I was devastated at the idea of having to wait until middle school to become an insei.
So there I was, blubbing in the vestibule of the Ki-in with the secretary being all apologetic but not changing his mind and my Mom and Dad and Aito there, just making it all worse. They took me to the Go institute shop to try to distract me. Mom said I could choose what I wanted: a fan, a book, or…a poster? Amazing - they had the same poster that I saw at the University. Well I forgot all about the insei test right there. Suddenly it was like having my dream to take home with me, even if I'd have to work a few more years to make it reality.
When we were leaving, I had to walk past to the secretary and look composed and bow goodbye and everything. But before I could feel terrible about all that again, I looked around and saw him; the kid from the poster, or I should say adult, because he seemed a whole lot bigger. I thought it had to be him because of the hair and I ran over to make sure. Aito said I should get him to autograph the poster and even went ahead and asked. He looked a bit uneasy when he saw the poster, but then he smiled, asked my name and then went ahead and signed:' To Hara Taigo from Shindou Hikaru 3-Dan'. Then he asked me if I played Go.
That was how I came to be Shindou Hikaru's student. What with all my angst over the insei test I'd run out of nerves, so, when he asked me to play a game against him, I was fully concentrated and on top form.
I'm the only one of Shindou-sensei's students with a chance of taking the pro exam this year. I'm trying not to stress about that. I'm really trying not to stress.