Games at Twilight

by Anita Desai

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What would Ravi feel like being "the winner among older, bigger, luckier children"?

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Ravi thought it would be thrilling to win during the game and the feeling motivated him to stay in hiding.

-and to be the winner in a circle of older, bigger, luckier children—that would be thrilling beyond imagination.

He looked forward to winning and being recognized by the older children as a champion because he was certain that the older boy would not find him. However, this was not to be because Ravi stayed hidden for a long time and the other children moved on to a different game. Ravi only realized his mistake after it grew dark and he had not touched the "den" to confirm his victory. He dashed out of his hiding place and made his way to the verandah only to find that the game was over and the other children were engaged in a different gave. Ravi tried to assert his victory, but the other children ignored him, much to his disappointment. The other children tried to engage Ravi in their new game, but he would have none of it, he was still reeling from disappointment.

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In a word: awesome. Ravi wants to win the hide and seek game so badly that he can practically taste the victory.  

What fun if they were all found and caught—he alone left unconquered! He had never known that sensation. Nothing more wonderful had ever happened to him. . . 

Based on the above line of text, the reader can sense that Ravi sees his victory as winning a battle of some kind.  He likens himself to a conquering hero.  He alone would be victorious over his hide and seek "enemy."  

To defeat Raghu—that hirsute, hoarse-voiced football champion—and to be the winner in a circle of older, bigger, luckier children—that would be thrilling beyond imagination.

Ravi's enemy is Raghu.  Raghu is a bit of a bully and can't stand losing.  He's the leader who dominates the decisions of all of the other children.  Ravi admits that being able to essentially say "in your face" to Raghu would be more exciting than anything that he has ever imagined before.  For Ravi, winning, and beating Ravi, would be the pinnacle of his existence.  

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Ravi thinks it would be the greatest feeling that he has ever experienced in his entire lifetime. The text specifically tells readers that it "would be thrilling beyond imagination." In other words, actually being the winner of the hide-and-seek game will be even better than anything that Ravi has ever imagined before. Ravi even smiles to himself at the thought of his coming victory. He believes that the other children will cheer and revere him like a conquering hero.

He hugged his knees together and smiled to himself almost shyly at the thought of so much victory, such laurels.

The thoughts of future praise and worship is what motivates Ravi to stay inside the shed long after the other children have stopped playing the game. By the time that Ravi claims his victory, the other children have long forgotten him. The story ends with Ravi facing some harsh realities. Not only do the other children not grant him victory and laurels, but Ravi also learns that he is so insignificant that the other children didn't even know that he was still playing the game.

He lay down full length on the damp grass, crushing his face into it, no longer crying, silenced by a terrible sense of his insignificance.

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How does Ravi think it would feel to be "the winner in a circle of older, bigger, luckier children"?  

Ravi thinks that winning the hide-and-seek game is the most thrilling and wonderful thing that he could possibly imagine.

Ravi can't even begin to describe how awesome winning would be.

To defeat Raghu—that hirsute, hoarse-voiced football champion—and to be the winner in a circle of older, bigger, luckier children—that would be thrilling beyond imagination.

The thought of winning and the feelings that it would bring are "beyond imagination." That means no matter how great Ravi imagines winning might be, winning will be better than that. He believes that winning will earn him respect and adoration from the other children.

Ravi is desperate to experience that win over Raghu. He is willing to endure for many hours in order to secure his victory. Ravi's hunger for the win is why he stays in the shed for so long. He must be in there for hours. The children rush out of the house sometime during the afternoon heat, and they immediately begin playing hide-and-seek. Ravi hides in the shed, and he doesn't come out until twilight.

Unfortunately for Ravi, the feelings that he has when he wins are indeed beyond his imagination. Ravi never once imagined that his victory would earn him disdain, but that is what it brings to him. 

"Stop it, stop it, Ravi. Don’t be a baby."

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