By Tolu Ogunlesi
At a beer parlour, patiently waiting for Nigeria
to put Argentina on the flight back
to Buenos Aires; loud discussions on everything
from ash clouds to Diego’s immortal hand
of Goddamit! The TV proudly wears dark glasses,
drawing technicolour mockery
from the crowd, booze swirling
in our brains like a million Messi
own-goals, scored all at once.
Imagine watching the World
Cup in tones of grey! Then,
just as the match is about to resume,
she shows up (sandwiched between beer ads)
to face a berlin wall of leering eyes.
Not our fault, really. She is cute, plus
the beer. Before we can wonder what
cream or soap she wants our wives
to compel us to buy for them, she
has dropped it, her 250-kilo bomb.
She is positive, has been for five years.
But she is coping positively.
She wants us to stick to our wives,
and if we can’t, to sheath our strikers
in rubber jerseys.
“This thing is real man!” says one man
to another. “Look at her. You could never
tell who’s got it. If I saw her on the streets,
I’d pick her up in an instant!”
We laugh wildly. The way of men. Let
the match begin! But it is a man that rises
slowly from amidst us; to tell us it is no laughing
matter. “What is no laughing matter?”
The virus. The dreaded one. He should know
because he has carried it for two years,
the way we carry our prejudices, our love
for the game of the round leather; for
beautiful girls. Silence seeps from the cold bottles
in our hands, from the single fan blowing
heat upon us like an angry deity.
He is not done yet. Chuckling,
he tells of how, after discovering
his status, he began to count time
anew. B.V – before virus, A.V – after virus.
He says it without bitterness.
Then he sits down, quietly as he stood.
By this time the second half has started,
and King Kanu is strolling with the ball,
into the Argentinean goal area.
Only most of us no longer see the conquering King.
Instead, on that flickering screen, are roving shapes,
(out of a high school biology tome)
advancing swiftly, into the 18-yard box
of what looks to be the human body…
Kanu is unstoppable. Kanu is unslowdownable.
Kanu is unstoppable. Kanu is untackleable.
It is therefore yet another award-winning GOOOAL…