This is the second installment in the Viva Las Gidi project inspired by (a section of) an illustration by @88factor. See the first here.
Idris shoots. Stupid boy.
We discussed this before we started. “Don’t just be shooting anyhow o. Ees not only you daees playing.” And naturally, the missile he sent flying gets easily deflected.Stupid, selfish boy.
“Ah! Mo block e!”
Haha. This Peter is just a clown. His heavily igbo-accented yorubanglish is a tragedy to the ears but a comedy to the spirit… but the comedy is lost on me right now. Who wants to hear the braggadocio in the nonsense omo-nna’s voice when he is flailing one with it in such ill-timed mockery? Him and Abdul are leading us 3-0. Somehow, his deflection brings the ball my way and it is revealed to me from above the perfectly-timed opportunity to teach this Peter a lesson in how not to kick men… or boys when they are down. This is divine orchestration and I am the tool the almighty has chosen to use in humbling this wicked child.
I can see the opening I need to aim at and I swivel on my dunlop slipper-clad toes to take the deadly kick that will transport our worn and patched double-leather into the waiting monkey post. My target is the space between the pile of school bags which make up one upright of our makeshift post and Peter’s heavily-planted bare right foot. The space is barely a foot wide, but that is more than enough to shoot through.
As I move toward my missile, I hear the crowd begin to cheer behind me. They can see what I am trying to achieve and, impossible as it seems, they are cheering me on to greatness. All around the arena, chants of “Tolusky! Tolusky!!” are picked up and echoed on till they rise up high and crash down into my ears and spur on my growing momentum. The dust around my feet whirls up excitedly creating a cinematic effect. My left foot is planted firmly into the ground just behind the double leather and my right begins the drive for the deadly shot. This is magical.
The dunlop on my right foot is hardening and expanding to envelope my whole foot. Through the soles of my now shoed left foot, I feel the studs sprout out underneath and create a firmer rooting to the ground. My focus is still on the ball but I can make out from the corners of my eyes that there are now socks and shin guards on my swinging lower limbs. Flashes of light appear and disappear in the periphery of my vision distracting me momentarily. I glance up in the middle of my hyper-timed drive to realize that Idris is now clad, like me, in full gear; as is Peter in his full goalie regalia. The stark white upright has replaced our school bags and shoots into the ground a good yard, at least, from Peter’s right foot. My target has increased, but then so has the distance between us.
My right foot connects with the glistening Brazuca with a resounding thud which silences the entire arena. I can see the ripple effect that the impact makes on the lush carpet grass around me even though that should only be visible from some distance. As the ball sails away towards my target, it spins wildly, clipping and sending grass flying up and away from it. It slowly comes out of hypertime, its speed increasing by over a thousand times in the process. Peter’s eyes cannot even see the shot anymore; it is that fast. This is proven by the big ‘O’ his mouth is frozen in. But for his neck swiveling to allow his eyes follow the ball as it rockets past him into the net, he doesn’t move. The crowd goes wild!
“You dey crase! Why you dey shoot like dat nah? You think say na full field you dey play?”
I blink away the sounds and images from my mind’s eye to come to terms with the realities of Idris yelling at me for my correct lago. Apparently my shot went wide. Very wide. Sailed over the fence and into the next compound.
“Eyss! Amokanshi! Odabi pe like ees you dat will be climb di wall and bring di ball o. Daz how Baba Lasisi catsh me last week.” says Peter as he rubs over his buttocks, reminiscing on last week when he got a nice walloping for his sojourns over the wall.
I break into a jog to gather enough speed to make the leap and first perch atop it. Scrambling over the moldy not-so-high fence into the Ajagajigi compound is usually a simple feat, but not as simple as retrieving the ball itself. We always have to look out for Baba Lasisi. What are we expected to do? He won’t toss the ball back and he chases us around the compound with a stick every time we enter the compound, whether by gate or fence. This time seems easy enough though, no Baba Lasisi in sight. I grab the double-leather and also seeing the felele we lost just last week, make for it.
I am still bent over, arm outstretched and fingers wrapped around it when I hear a low, undoubtedly canine growl behind me.
Omo-nna – Yoruba slang for person of igbo descent
Double-leather – Soccer ball popular in the 90s designed with white pentagons and black hexagons and made from a layer of rubber and one of leather.
Monkey post – Makeshift miniature goalpost
Brazuca – New FIFA-approved soccer ball for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Lago – Slang for a missed shot
Felele – Small, single-layered rubber ball