Friend in the Hood

Came back from playing a game of basketball, had a shower, and am now waiting for my food to heat up in the rice cooker. It's a beautiful night, and the full moon is shining brightly in the sky. That reminds me – I have to measure the diameter of the moon using trigonometry for my science lab report due Monday.
That's the kind of things we do here at the U of A I guess. Though seemingly pointless, it's the application of theories that so interests me. Now I see how things are used, abstract ideas made concrete. And for those of you who know me really well, a game of basketball always gets my thoughts going about life.
It's not the academic thinking that gets triggered. It's funny, but every time I come back from a game, I get very introspective. I begin to see clearly, about my life, about God, about my relationships. I know that basketball has little to do with these, but it always brings me back. I remember first playing basketball when I was 13. I went to school six hours early, in the wee hours of the morning, just to shoot hoops. There in the cool of the morning I often prayed to God while shooting my three pointers, and I remember committing the basketball game to God. It seems that He speaks to me every time I come back from a game. It's a most blessed thing.
Basketball at the U of A has been an eye opener. They play the game so differently here. They play much more competitively, and therefore the skill level is higher. Actually, it's not a higher skill level, but a different mindset that differs from basketball in Singapore. Back home, it was just a game. Here, every time I step on the court, there would be some session of arguing about a call – often including vulgarities and dark countenances. It seemed that every time I stepped up to play, my love for the game died a little.
I make stupid mistakes I never do at home. I fumble the basketball like I first played the game. I cannot play with that mindset – that if I were to do something wrong, my teammates would be upset with me. It's just too unlike my game, where shots were innocently fired, and friends made. Here, there was always a tension looming over my head like a cloud, waiting for me to make a mistake, to take a bad shot. A glare here, a sigh there, all these just throwing me off, every time.
Today was not such a day. I played full-court for around two hours. Oh, I made those stupid mistakes all right. I missed a shot right under the rim with no one guarding me. I passed the ball to the wrong person twice in the space of two minutes. The person I was guarding was a good foot taller than me. I ran back to play defense after my mistakes – and whispered "my bad" – which apparently means "my mistake" in these parts – to no one in particular.
"Hey no problem man…", I heard him say to me. He ran up and down the court with me, sometimes shaking his head at my mistakes, not in despair, but in jest. I may not have scored any, or done much. But I could feel it coming again, the love of the game that made me put so many hours into the game. Thank you, whoever you are.

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