Tap, Tap, Game Over
BY ROHANJI NOVAS
Trying to wonder what thoughts may be going through a person’s head is a difficult task. It’s even harder if that person is homeless and hopeless. The first time I saw him was in May, about three years ago. I was sitting in the backseat of the car with my eyes on my phone. Playing a basketball game which was getting pretty intense. Twenty points. Twenty four points. Thirty points. I was getting pretty good at it and I already had an unbeatable high score. Fifty points. Sixty points. As I was about to accomplish the impossible, my sister tapped me on the shoulders and soon I lost my concentration. Game Over, mocked my phone screen. I lifted my head with fury against whoever made me lose and noticed her pointing at my window.
There was a man sitting on the cold and wet sidewalk. He was covered with torn clothes, dressed in dirt and mud with a beard as tangled as a bird’s nest. One Nike shoe and a Christmas sock on the other with a toe sticking out, he sat. The traffic light was still red. The game on my phone asked me if I wanted to play another round. The man was still there sitting on the cold sidewalk. Staring at his hands. He was just staring, blinking and staring. He had a cup next to him. My guess, it had a dollar and seventy-five cents. Not much. I turned my phone off and decided that the man seemed more interesting. I soon forgot about my high score, about being angry at my sister, about being in a car. The man seemed more significant.
The man wasn’t alone. People were passing by him in a rush. I concluded that they probably had places to go, each with a ubiquitous attitude. The men passing by were probably thinking of what to eat the next day. The women, worrying if their makeup was runny. The students were probably in thought of finals months from then. They were all worrying, in a rush, in the future, in the next, in the tomorrow. Never in the today, the now, the present. I also concluded that when they least expect it, reality would tap them on the shoulders. Tap, Tap, and Game Over would mock death.
While the people were rushing by the man kept sitting there. I became aware of his pain and what he might have been feeling in a time like this with nothing to do and everyone rushing by. I started to wonder the thoughts that might be going through his mind while sitting there.
“In silence, devoured by darkness with thoughts darkled full of regrets and despair. Strangers passing by seeing me as an outcast, as an agelast and as someone whose feelings are frozen in a lemnis- cate. Me, a father, a son, and a human being treated the same way as a crumpled piece of bubble-gum wrap. I hope that one day my family could forgive me and that one day I might be able to pick myself up and make an improvement with myself. I would bet that every single person passing by me right now has had a dark moment. This is my dark moment, my nightmare and my reality. I regret every decision that made me end up where I am, I seek forgiveness but I’m not sure If I can find it. Not in this people that lack love, peace, and time. I’ll find it in me. If I can’t forgive myself, no one else can.”
He was probably a smart man whose life has gone not like he anticipated. The light turned green. My mother pushed the accelerator and the man soon faded into the distance. It was not the last encounter. Two weeks later my mother passed by a plaza. Me still in the backseat of the car playing the basketball game. My sister still next to me. Tap, Tap. Game Over. As I look to my right I saw a woman sitting on the cold sidewalk. The traffic light was red. She reminded me of him.