A pile of shoes. Hundreds of them. The bizarre aftermath of a protest march gone wrong.

Did you know that when a crowd panics and then turns as one and flees, the first casualties are shoes? When people run their shoes always come off.

I stand there next to the photographer and the journalist, staring at boots, sandals, and shoes, and I wonder why it looks so very pathetic. The only evidence that a volatile, outraged crowd had ever been there is a sad pile of shoes.

The sun beats down from a noonday sky, the pavement around is glittering stone, the fountains in front of the steps are splashing, and we three stare at a neat, gathered pile of shoes.

Finally, the photographer adjusts his paisley headscarf, kicks at a beige sandal, and says, “Shit happens” and we walk on, tracing the path taken by an impi the day before.

© FIONA TIPPING. August 2001.

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