This Game of Soccer

Darkness had already descended on the bare cubic buildings of SM City, highlighting sombre yellow lights of more buildings under construction. They’re like gluttonous fetal monsters still developing inside their shells. I could almost imagine them drooling. Soon they’ll be devouring shovels of shoppers forever frantic for the latest cool touch-screeny devices and sweet, iced blobs with largely unknown ingredients.

Chemae and I were drained from a week’s worth of working and thinking about working when we walked into this group of boys — running, laughing, screaming, tearing the sleekness of the night apart. They were playing soccer just outside the mall; except they were neither kicking a soccer ball nor any type of ball for that matter. Their thin dark feet — some bare, some wearing slippers — were excitedly kicking a crushed soda can.

There was no time avoid them. Like a herd of wildebeests chased by a lioness, they ran into us and hit my shoulder hard. I stopped in my exhausted tracks and looked at them. Everyone was looking at them: Chemae, shoppers in line waiting for the night’s batch of opportunistic taxi drivers, “barkers” and other night-timers. But the boys had not enough decency to care about their raised eyebrows and pursed lips; not a care for my hurting shoulder. They were seriously competing — huge mad smiles on their faces — on whose feet had the right to kick the gleaming green soda can on the pavement.

Doubtless it was a game but for the boys to not heed the disappointed stares all around them, it was probably more than that. I won’t ever know. What I know is that with the pain in my back, and the pain in my feet, and the pain in my heart that night, and the pain in my purse, and the pain in my pain — I was clearly absorbed into something as dead serious. Whatever’s causing all my pain and laughter, it was similar in nature to that — a game of who kicks the can of soda kicks it a winner.

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