Train to Surpass the Strong
The next day they began their training wearing the weighted gears. The gear consisted of two wristbands and two shoes. Indra found them lying in the storage room where he kept all the things they did not use any more.
“I want you guys to start wearing these things all times from now on!” Indra had said firmly with folded arms as if he was not going allow “no” for an answer.
“Ugh!” Ondine moaned and her shoulders slumped.
So, they started the next day off by wearing the gear. Moving under the extra weight proved to be tougher than they expected. First they had to wear them and then try moving around the house.
“This is tough!” Lakshman had exclaimed when he struggled to move his feet forward.
With each step, he paused before moving his other leg. This almost looked like he was having leg problems. Fortunately, there was one person in the house who saw the funny side of this.
Lakshmi, his mother, saw him moving slowly as he struggled and roared with laughter. She actually began to cry as she attempted to smother her laughter, but it was no use.
Lakshman paused in his walking attempts and asked “Mum… what are you laughing about?”
She was finally able to smother her laughter slightly as she said “Watching you walking around like that reminds me of your first few steps when you were just a baby.”
“R-Really?” he asked in amazement. “I walked like this?”
“Oh yea,” she said with a chuckle. “You’d used to walk a bit. Then fall to the ground and find your way back to your feet again. You were an interesting baby.”
Lakshmi smiled as Lakshman stared at her in amazement. He began to chuckle as he imagined himself from what she described. Although he felt it was close, he could not remember what happened so long ago.
“I don’t remember too well,” he said and scratched the back of his head in embarrassment.
Then they both laughed happily and Lakshman continued his training. While they and everyone was cheerful, there was one person in the house that was not happy.
“This is painfully difficult!” Ondine complained at the end of the day.
She threw the heavy wrist bands and shoes off and collapsed on the chair in exhaustion. Throughout the day, she had the most difficulty with them.
First she couldn’t lift her legs, so she was forced to slide her legs to move forward. Then she could not lift her arms effectively to do the daily swings with her swords. She continued to persevere, but the difficulty of it made her give up on the sword and focus on her legs.
“Master, this is hard!” she complained to Lakshman sitting across her.
Lakshman simply smiled. He took off his shoes to ease his legs, but he continued wearing the wrist bands. Then he leaned back in his chair and sighed contentedly. Ondine watched him in muted silence for a few seconds before speaking again.
“You don’t see to be complaining, master.”
“Ah, I don’t think this is bad,” he said and shrugged.
“But master, I am unable to lift my hands any higher than my shoulders!”
“Oh,” he said and he blinked in surprise. “Is it really that hard?”
“How is it for you, master?” she asked seriously with narrowed eyes.
“Well…” he hesitated slightly before continuing to say “I will admit they are a challenge, but doesn’t it just mean we just need to overcome it?”
Ondine sighed and clutched her head with her hand as she said “You take things lightly, master.”
“I would disagree,” said a voice from nearby.
Looking over to the entrance of the living room, they saw Indra enter. He was smiling as he walked over to Lakshman and sat next to him. Then he proceeded to rub his son’s head and Lakshman smiled happily.
“Lucky has the right attitude for this training, Ondine,” Indra said as he turned to face her.
“What are you saying?”
“I am saying that you should probably imitate him.”
“Huh?” Ondine said in surprise. “Why should I follow in the footsteps of my master? He’s a human and I’m a water spirit.”
“I’m not talking about racial differences,” he said with a sigh if exasperation.
“Then what do you mean?”
“I mean, go with the flow. Think of this as a challenge that you must defeat,” he said with a wink.
Ondine stared at him with a strange expression for a few seconds. Then she shook her head and said “I doubt I can do that so easily.”
“But you know… this is to enhance your training to make you strong, right?”
“I know!” Ondine snapped irritably.
“Then you must know this is essential for your training,” Indra said as he pressed on with his logic.
Ondine grimaced with a pained expression on her face. Watching her, he sighed and shrugged while he spread his hands out. It was as if he could not help, but wonder about her attitude.
“Give it a rest,” Lakshmi said when she entered the room and carrying glasses of drinks for them.
“I’m only encouraging her,” Indra said as they took a glass each.
“Really?” Lakshmi said in a wondering voice.
“What?” he asked as he took a sip from the glass.
“I wouldn’t call it encouraging… more like… how do I put it… pestering?”
“Huh?!” Indra said and he began to choke. After clearing his throat, he said “What do you mean ‘pestering’?”
“It’s just as I said, you are constantly telling her the same thing over and over again,” she said with a shake of her head once she sat next to him.
“What else do you expect me to do?” he asked with a puzzled expression.
“Try to be creative, engaging, motivated.”
“I am motivated—!”
“But now creative or engaging,” Lakshman cut across him sternly. “If I have to say so, then you’d be a bad instructor.”
“Uh… um… I guess there is some truth in that,” Indra said after hesitating slightly.
Lakshmi smiled and nodded approvingly. Then she turned to Ondine and grinned.
“Ondine, I know it is difficult right now, but persist. Okay? Don’t you want to be as strong as Lucky?”
“I…” Ondine began and paused as if she was thinking.
Without waiting, Lakshmi continued speaking.
“Don’t you want to be strong so as Lucky and be useful to him? Things might have happened for this or that reason, but you finally got the chance to get stronger, right?”
“Y-Yes,” Ondine said with a slight nod of her head.
Lakshmi nodded and then said “Good! Now please persist with this hard training. You will eventually become accustomed to it and, soon, you won’t even feel it anymore!”
“R-Really?” Ondine asked suspiciously.
“Naturally!” Lakshmi said confidently.
She turned and, in an instant, pulled Indra’s shirt open. Indra became flustered and swatted her hands away in a panic.
“What are you doing?!” he asked, but Lakshmi already turned away from him.
“See that black shirt he is wearing?” she asked Ondine as she gestured towards it.
Underneath the shirt Indra was wearing, there was yet another shirt. This was completely coloured in black and had no pattern or design. It looks quite dull to wear for any fashion sense.
“Yes, but… why do you wear a shirt inside another shirt?” Ondine asked with a curiously.
Indra opened to speak, but Lakshmi forestalled him.
“It may look like any ordinary shirt, but it is actually a weighted shirt,” Lakshmi said, not giving Indra a chance to speak.
“What?!” Ondine said sharply as her faze intensified from looking at the black shirt. “That’s a weighted shirt?”
“Yes,” Lakshmi nodded and turned to ask Indra “How much does it weigh?”
“Well… I think… a hundred kilos?” Indra said tentatively.
Ondine mouth suddenly dropped when he finished and Lakshman’s eyes widened in disbelief. None of them could believe the number the shirt weighed. Then they saw Lakshmi nodded with a serious expression as she looked at each of them.
“S-Seriously?” Ondine asked uncertainly.
“Yes!” Lakshmi said firmly.
“Wow…!” Ondine exclaimed while Lakshman simply gawked at his father.
Feeling embarrassed, Indra closed his shirt front and buttoned it up. Then he turned to give his wife an incredulous look as if he could not believe what she just did. Lakshmi, on the other hand, was grinning broadly.
“And how much does Felix wear?” she proceeded to ask Indra.
Indra suddenly shouted “That guy is insanely strong! I’m not going to compare how much I wear to his!”
“It’s for their benefit,” she said and gestured towards Lakshman and Ondine.
Indra hesitated for another second. Then he relented and said “If you include his two wrist bands, weighed shirt and shoes, it would add up to around five-hundred kilos.”
“That’s insane,” Ondine muttered as she slowly shook her head in utter disbelief.
“That’s why I said that guy is insanely strong!” Indra said with a frown on his face.
There was a few seconds pause in which Ondine was speechless and Lakshman was awestruck. Lakshmi timed it right and decided to break the silence once more.
“Anyway, I think you two realise how much you have a lot to train from now on.”
Lakshman and Ondine did not speak. They simply stared at her as words failed to enter their brains. Lakshmi sensed this and knowingly smiled at their difficulty in grasping the difference in powers. Then she took a deep breath and spoke one final time to them.
“However, don’t give up! I know you can do it! It took Indra and Felix almost fifteen years and they started at the age of sixteen. Compared to them, you are way ahead of them!”
“Y-You think we can become as strong as them like this, mum?” Lakshman asked hesitantly.
Lakshmi looked at him seriously and firmly said “You can do it! I know you can!”
Then she smiled at them. A few seconds later, Lakshman smiled back as he became more motivated to train.
He jumped to his feet and exclaimed “I will train. I will become strong and surpass dad and Felix!”
“That’s my boy!” Lakshmi said happily and gave him a thumps up gesture while Indra was looking aghast.
Ondine was surprised by Lakshman’s outburst. Then she smiled and also joined him in standing up.
“If you are willing to it, master, then I will do the same!” she said firmly.
Lakshman and Ondine looked at each other and smiled happily. Lakshmi nodded in satisfaction at the development between them. Then she suddenly remembered something and clicked her head tongue, annoyed at herself.
“Good, but warriors need to eat!”
They were surprised by her words and nodded in understanding. With that, Lakshman and Ondine left the room to head for the dining room. Once they were gone, Lakshmi leaned back in her chair and turned to smile at her dumbfounded husband.
After a short pause, he asked “Did you plan this?”
“Not exactly,” Lakshmi said with a shrug of her shoulders. “Originally, I wanted to motivate Ondine to train and show you how it’s done. In between, I got an idea to encourage both of them to work together to become strong.”
“I just didn’t want Lakshman feeling lonely.”
Indra stared at her and shook his head before saying “You are cruel!”
“How so?” she said in surprise.
“You do realise that now I need to put more effort to keep them from beating me!” Indra said seriously with a pained expression.
“Oh, come on,” Lakshmi said with a small smile. “What’s wrong with getting defeated by youngsters?”
“You don’t get it, Lakshmi. A man’s got to keep his pride, especially when he is a warrior like me!” Indra said seriously.
“Right, right,” Lakshmi said vaguely and rose to her feet. “Now let’s eat before they beat you to it.”
Shaking his head at her, he also rose to his feet and, together, they walked out of the living room.