THIS ISSUE OF SIZE. We stone it.

“This was why Kiki had dreaded having girls: she knew she wouldn’t be able to protect them from self-disgust” is a line from On Beauty by Zadie Smith (Good book. Read it). It has built itself a monument and stuck its flag into the soft flesh of my brain.

From knowing many people of the female variety, I’ve come to agree with Zadie that whatever a girl looks like, she will, at one point, look at her reflection in a full length mirror, stare long and hard and hurl something at it.

Why is this? Welllll, we could blame TV and ‘the west’. Nothing pleases us better than a good rant about how once upon a time  African women and men were totally contented with the generous serving of curves that God had given them until the west and globalization invaded our lives with silly ideas. Those TV, fashion shows and magazines have partly contributed to us judging ourselves by an unreasonable standard, but the ‘west’ doesn’t stick fingers down your throat to “make all the extra food come out” or put you through unhealthy diet plans.

It’s not to blame for the willful starvation,  the silly, misplaced pride you feel for being able to skip lunch, the mock-wailing tones in which you boast to your girlfriends about your lack of appetite or of the way your boss is stressing you into smaller clothes. This ridiculous behavior is on us.

If your rounded figure is going to make you hate yourself and feel abominably fat, you don’t deserve youth and beauty and whoever is in charge of that stuff should hasten your wrinkling.

Do you remember the OOHing and AAHing internet revolution that happened when Adele appeared on Vogue’s cover? Opinions were zipping around the internet like hyper ticks. The people who really irritated me were the angry ones. They said things like: Why does she always make references to her weight during interviews?  She’s pretending. She’s not secure at all! She cares! She’s fat!” Idiots.

She’s a big girl. We can all see that. Stop screaming about it as if you’re the only person who subscribes to sight. If Adele feels like making (adorable, charming, wonderfully phrased) references to her size, take it or stop reading/ listening.

I totally agreed with the ones who put Vogue on the spot for using only headshots of the woman.  Adele is not a bust. She’s got a body that is just as beautiful as her face!

The people who kicked me into a bottomless pit of disgust were the posers (I’m not angry anymore. I’m ZEN now). Before Adele stole the whole world’s hearts, eyes  and ears, back then when she had one album and a smaller but steadier following, a certain acquaintance of mine very disgustedly refused to entertain my squeals of ,“she’s awesome!” because of Adele’s size. That’s right. She said, “That chick is too fat!” and now she’s one of the biggest Adele posers in existence. It doesn’t help my irritation that this disgusted girl is not what exactly what you’d call svelte. She has side bellies.

How you feel about your body comes back to the standards you judge it by. Obviously, obesity is a horrible thing but fat? Flesh? Those are no more beautiful or ugly than naturally small.

Women. Yum.

We’re all allowed our preferences, but people please. Desist from concussing us and our sensibilities with ugly references to size.

Remember that you are young, and beautiful. Princess Ikatekit said that.

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Halloweeeeen. Click me and have a blast. Don’t and don’t :)

Its baaack. The holiday that Ugandans snub and look forward to in equal numbers is back. Yay! I want to say that I’m above wearing ridiculous clothes to attend pointless parties, but good journalists don’t lie. The only reason I will not be attending any parties is that my curfew is 5pm.

 As Halloween falls on a Monday, I am not at all jealous of you non curfew-ed people. You will stumble into office on Tuesday morning exhausted, with traces of clown paint of your face and then the boss will wrench away your senior position and give it to me.  

If you don’t score, kick the bull in the eye, get laid on a wild, stray, free-love night like Halloween, you’re either the one person in Kampala with morals or you smell. On this night, people will be accepting of any and all surprises that evolution has sprung on you. Have three nostrils? Bring them. In the spirit of Halloween, the hottest girl in the room will chat you up.

Are you as ugly as sin’s sin? Don’t despair. It’s within possibility that the coolest guy at the party will sidle up to you and say nice things about your “wonderful choice of costume and mask”. Don’t burst his bubble by angrily informing him that you are in fact wearing your prettiest sundress and no mask at all. Go with the flow.

These are the things you must tawdaleey do if you want to have a BLAST:

IF you’re still having reservations: Gwe. Halloween is the most humane and well meaning holiday in the world. Forget those Hollywood movies that associate it with dark, demon-ish, ghost-y things. It celebrates differences and allows people to express their most secret wardrobe fantasies.

Have you always wanted to wear a dead goat? This is your day! Has testosterone always come between you and your love for lacey under (and over) garments? This is the day to indulge yourself.

Costume idea: Go as Benny Hinn.

Comfort is key: Wear comfortable shoes because these parties tend to get wild. You’re going to want to be able to bolt if the zombie in the corner gets it into his head that he really IS a zombie and as such, would really like to taste your neck.

Halloween gives us a license to look hideous. This means that people have to drink more than usual to make their beer goggles form faster. This Halloween, be the one sober person in the room so that you can ably take pictures and videos of your friends doing horrible and amusing things. Blackmail them into buying you lunch for the rest of the year.

Costume idea: Go as a corrupt member of parliament. This involves wearing whatever you want plus a pillow under your stomach area. Stick 50 thousand notes to your face to make it even more authentic.

Be hungry: Don’t eat anything before you go for your party. This will make you get soused faster than usual and ensure that you have a MONSTER hangover on Tuesday morning, which is a good thing because the boss will hate your guts and love mine. This will make him give me your position for sure.

Costume idea: Ripped leather. But only if you’re cute.

Do not do that fake stuff of: trick or treating. Are you mad? Do you think this is America? We don’t give away candy for free in Uganda. Even that business of borrowing cups of sugar from the neighbor ended when we decided that we loved the environment more than diabetes. Yes. This is supposed to make you think about the Sugar vs Mabira debate. Has it worked?

Anyway; if you want sweets, come with money. Unless of course you’re cute and are wearing my last costume suggestion.

Things that can kill your love dead.

I was there, you people. I witnessed it. If you haven’t watched love get killed dead, mercilessly smothered, stomped out, erased and given a strong kick into its next life, you’re still young and innocent in the cruel ways of the world.

This love didn’t see its death coming, nobody did. One minute it was skipping across meadows, holding hands with fairies and getting high on fairy dust and the next, weee wooo weee wooo it needed an ambulance.

Location: Coffeeshop. Mission: Observation.  There I was, sitting one table way from a young, attractive couple, eavesdropping. To make my mission easier, I pretended to be reading a book (and because I’m almost always reading a book, it all came natural) .

First of all, context. I’m not a creep who goes to restaurants to watch random couples fall out of love with each other.  What I am is the world’s biggest matchmaker. Shoving these two in each other’s amorous direction had been my project for a while.  I was even getting ready to bill the girl (my services are not for free, please. Love costs money)

All was going well until silence descended, and we all know how dangerous silence is for budding romances. I was even considering tripping a waiter to give them something to talk about when the boy started chewing his cheeks. What? Yes. He started to munch the skin inside his left cheek. Eew. Why would somebody chew their cheeks? What level of hunger is that?

As if to counter his weirdness, she started, with a practiced hand to pluck her eyelashes off. She didn’t even seem to know what she was doing. Now she wasn’t tearing them out, no. she was methodically plucking, one by one. Twick! Twick! Twick! I was alarmed. My eyelashes had even started twitching in sympathy when a menu bearing waiter came and broke their party of disgustingness up.

After poring, ordering and sharing a few shy smiles, they realized that they had nothing to say to each other and so went back to showcasing their individual weirdness (es).

He kicked it off by tucking his tongue between his teeth and proceeding to chew it. Her reaction was indescribable. Rather, it’s too describable and I’m too lazy a writer to do it justice. She literally folded into her frame like a polythene bag on top of a sigiri. He was totally, happily oblivious until she started to blow air in and out of the gap between her teeth.

The waiter returned with the food and broke up their grossness party. Again.

As they ate, she began to do something that I had never, in my 10 years of knowing her witnessed. She started rubbing her belly. Now this rubbing wasn’t random. It coincided with every revolution of her jaw. So munch, rub, munch, rub. It was really very disturbing but not more than the loudness with which she swallowed her food. Such an audible swallower was she that people around their table started debating whether or not it was possible for a human being’s oesophagus to be too narrow for food.

How, I asked myself, did I know these absurd people?  I’d just decided to withdraw my services and affections from the both of them and hightail it out of there when she recognized me and started to signal, “S.O.S” in that universally recognized way.

So I think it’s safe to assume that that love was crushed under the buttocks of bad etiquette. The moral of this story is: Don’t be gross.

What happened to your hair (OR: Yelling at my head won’t scare the hair back out).

Three weeks ago, I shaved my head. I went to a barber, bullied him into starting his generator and told him to have his way with my dreads.  I could say I did it because I feel I’ve reached that wonderful and comfortable place in womanhood where I no longer depend on hair, books or looks to define me but I’d be lying. I’m still a kid, people; a very lucky kid because I actually look gorgeous without hair.

I’m bald. Is that why people are gawking at me as if I have a latrine in the middle of my forehead, or as if a kilo of beans just poured out of my nose?  Am I imagining that slight gasp that casual acquaintances try to swallow when they meet me in the street? And is there a name for that odd look that I saw in my EX’s eyes, a mingling of shock, horror and amusement that made him look like a lecherous grasshopper?

I’ve also encountered people who angrily demand explanations saying, “How, eh? Why did you chop? The dreadlocks were nice. You’re fake! Hair is supposed to tweak the appearance. You’re…you’re…UNTWEAKED!” And then they jeer. Goodness me. It’s my (emphasis on MY) hair, not my legs that I chopped off, people. Don’t be dramatic.

On one of the blogs that I read religiously (mbabaziannet.blogspot.com), there’s a post about a hair revolution. Apparently, a lot of women, mostly those of color are putting their stilettos down and deciding to wear their hair in more ‘natural’ styles. Many women are bravely chopping their tresses off.

What? How dare they? Just when I decide to go bald is when the world kicks off its hair revolution?  Am I now to be grouped with the yuppies? Are my peers and the people in my head going to be justified in calling me an abominable follower of fashion? Argh! This is exactly what happened when I went wild about blue hair in my second year. Two months later, blue braids were all the rage. To birds and passengers in planes, Makerere must have looked as if cheeky aliens had tipped a bucket of blue paint on all the campusers’ heads.

It also happened when I got obsessed with ribbons. When I’d just twisted my wild afro into dreadlocks, I was deathly afraid of looking too ‘rough’. I felt I needed something pretty to somehow soften  the look, which is when I stumbled upon the prettiest little clip-on ribbons in Harvey’s, an accessory shop on top of Quality supermarket in Ntinda. I bought six of them in different colors and was quite proud of the look I achieved. Whenever my girlfriends would demand to be taken to my accessory shop, I’d yell, “No! Feel the nugu. Feel it!” Despite all my efforts, ribbons became widely owned and extremely popular 5 months later.

To my complete and total dismay, every dress, shoe, bag, hair accessory, name it, had a ribbon. What makes the whole world obsess over one thing at the same time? Is it aliens? Whenever I try to direct my obsessions at ‘different’ things, the world starts wearing the same stuff. Is it the moon? Are aliens controlling us, beaming tastes and preferences out at the world? Not cool, Aliens.

So back to hair matters. Dear people who gasp all the air out of the atmosphere and into your noses and gesticulate as if you’re are having terrible fits when you see me, I’m tired of flashing a nice-girl smile and saying, “Long story” when you ask me what happened to my hair. Don’t mention my head, hair or lack thereof unless you’re going to tell me how gorgeous I look. Deal?

In defense of the PSYCHO *ITCH

I was conducting a small survey the other day and eight out of the ten guys I spoke to professed a deep fear and loathing of dating. This is not because they’re spineless cretins who are only as interested in females for as long as it takes for them to have their next orgasm, apparently. They are afraid of dating in Kampala because the women here are, wait for it, psychopaths (their words).

One of them even said, “It must be the weather. Or maybe the electricity going on and off and on and off that has made all our chicks mad.”

Extreme, right? Because all the girls I know in Kampala are not at all insane and/or psychopathic. They’re stable, wonderful, warm and wholesome with prospects and big dreams. And yet these boys all had real fear in their eyes.

After asking for and receiving various (silly) descriptions and anecdotes of and about this psychosis, I’ve decided that I quite understand it and that we should all give these women a chance. I mean, I don’t approve of women causing bodily harm to cheating partners or bashing cars or setting upon their ex-boyfriends with stilettos, but we shouldn’t disregard the fact that they have a story.

Here are three situations in which a woman might justifiably lose her calm and bite your eyebrows off:

Rosa was ecstatic about the sweet facebook and phone messages she had been exchanging with a friend of a friend of hers. They were getting along like an old hut on fire when he all of a sudden went quiet on her. Confused and more than a little angry, she bullied him into meeting her up, and confronted him. His excuse was that a mutual friend of theirs had made it clear to him that she was bad news and unavailable besides. Rosa understandably lost it. She had found love (or at least a whole lot of LIKE), and it had been snatched away by a rumor that wasn’t even a little bit true. This mutual friend was just smarting from her rejection of him. So she paid him a sweet little visit and suffice it to say that if he still has eyes, it’s because he’s an alien who can grow extra eyes. Everybody now calls her a psycho.

Brenda was supposed to meet her boyfriend at his house. She was quite excited because she hadn’t seen him for a while. This is the boy she had staked her heart and even career choice on, so she went out and bought new lingerie with money she had been saving for a certain gorgeous pair of shoes. She really wanted to make him happy. When, on entering his house she was greeted by two very scantily clad women and not the big hug she had expected, she understandably lost it. When telling this story, her biggest concern is that she wasted shoe money on lingerie, which she’s never going to wear because its officially tainted. With bad luck. He now calls her a psycho.

Michele isn’t very stable. She knows it. Her friends know it. Her facebook name even has the word unstable in it. Eddie knew this before he started paying her attention and acting very love struck. She smugly told her friends that finally, her prince charming had come. Eddie however didn’t want to commit to anything definite. He called her his “girlfriend figure”. When, after a month she started acting up and telling everybody that they were dating, he got angry and cut her off in all ways that there are to cut somebody off.  She went properly mad. He’ll never forgive or forget her. Hehe. He now calls her a psycho.

So there you have it. Kampala’s women are not insane. Some of them may lose their minds occasionally but only because of cupid. Besides, this behavior is not exclusive to women and is exhibited by just as many men. Those 8 boys don’t have a good reason to avoid dating. They’re just commitmentphobes!

Let us defuse the word FAT.

You know what would change many lives and save many cheeks from hot slaps? Removing the stigma from the word fat. On its own, fat is a nice word. It’s short, easy to say, no complications really.

It has the letter a, and I challenge you to find a prettier looking letter than a.

Fat is considered attractive on babies, cats and bottoms, although the love of fat on bottoms isn’t shared by everybody. If you watch coupling, you remember this conversation:

Sally: We’re women. There is nothing above bottoms on the crisis scale. Bottoms are our natural enemy.

Susan: Sally, please…

Sally: They follow us around our entire lives, right behind us and constantly growing. How do they do that? I’m sure mine’s back there secretly snacking.

LOL.

So cats and babies don’t receive any grief from the world, but woe unto the woman who lets fat accumulate around her midriff, for she will be judged harshly and made ashamed of her muffin top.

Definition: A muffin top is that tiny (or maybe huge, depending on the woman) overhang that you see at the top of your pants/ leggings/ jeggings.

It is I. Your muffy.

Having one doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re wearing smaller clothes than you should be. It just means you have more fat on your belly than your body knows what to do with.

Plan B feels that there’s something the world is missing, because the muffin top has a lot of potential. We’re of the view that if women only knew what to do with them, they’d never again try to diet their muffies away or feel ashamed of wearing tight leggings and tight dress-tops together.

How your muffin-top can change your life:

  • Use it to grab things that are sliding off your lap. You know how you can be in a meeting with two pencils and four notebooks on your lap, eh? Well, when they start to fall off, as if they can’t see how disorganized you are already, just contract and relax your muffy very first and I assure you that your pencils will stop rolling and your notebooks will not fall.
  • It can be a dance partner! You’ve seen these pregnant women on TV dancing with their babies, right? Why should you, the owner of a nice cushy muffin top be denied the same pleasure? Grab it with both hands and sway. Make sure your eyes are closed. Haven’t we just found a solution to loneliness on the dance floor?
  • Again on dancing:  you can use a muffy as a whole other dancing tool. It can even be trained to do a different stroke from the rest of the body. Do you know how extraordinary you will look? How many hearts you will steal? Accept your muffy and then steal the world’s heart.
  • Some outfits just aren’t complete with a bit of belly. Seriously. I can’t imagine a girl rocking a high-waisted skirt without a muffin top to hold it up. The extra belly is necessary. Right?

    Ai! They can be sexy, alo!

  • Finally and most importantly, a muffin top can be used as a taxi-seat grabbing device. Never again do you have to be left behind by that taxi that you had set your mind on boarding. Never again do you have to stand there, choking on exhaust, cursing your luck because you have the ultimate, the unbeatable MUFFIN TOOOP! Brandish it like a sword. No, a shield. Hit people out of the way:  Doof. Doosh. Pow!  And voila! You’ll have a seat.

ACKNOWLEDGING DEATH.

What you feel right after the overwhelming horror, the hopelessness, the pain, the madness of grief is gratefulness. You’re grateful to the people who have come around, who’ve lent their ears and cheeks and shoulders to you and your barely coherent ranting; who’ve dragged you away from the brink of self destruction and have held you and wept along and let you ruin their smart clothes with drool and snot and pain.

You’re grateful most of all to your enemies, the ones you had closed your life off to. Those people you’d killed off in your mind and heart and soul, who you had cut off completely. When they, after hearing of your pain come around and hold you regardless of the ugliness that passed between the two of you, there’s nothing stronger than the gratefulness that you feel towards them.

My mom died on 21-09-2011. She left. She vacated her body. She broke up with the world. This has left me devastated. This has left my family devastated. What I can’t stop asking is, does this happen to everybody? Is this what everybody goes through? Is this what we’re all destined to experience? TWICE? Life is a beautiful thing. Death is a horrible thing. Don’t let any make-a-quick-buck rock band tell you any different.

R.I.P, my ma

Mummy was a really cool person. Mummy was extremely funny. She had an opinion on everything under the sun (the president, nibiru, the ozone, catfish, even the lengths of my sundresses).

She was really happy. In general. Of course, it was general knowledge at my house that when mummy got angry or even slightly irritated, the person who didn’t make it out of the room fast enough would have to sit through a yearlong lecture that would start, stop, start again; her scoldings had lives and personalities of their own. She always made rabbit-y face right before one of those lectures, so we all had plenty of warning.

Mummy was playful and funny and naughty. She used to play Sankarai with us. She used to tickle and giggle and run. She was always game. For anything.

She was really beautiful. In school, people would ask me, ‘What happened to you?’ and I’d say, “Give me time” or I’d poke them in the eye, depending on my mood. Mom was a beautiful but oh so modest woman.

She loved God so much and always told us to stay close to God, not to forget God, even in our happiest, most contented times because he’s the author of everything. She always urged us to pray. She could pray for hours.

She loved daddy.

She loved flowers. There was this flower that used to grow in the front yard. None of us knew its name, so it became the mummy-flower. This flower would bloom red, but with one white petal. Or pure white with one red petal.

Exactly. This one. What is it called oba?

These flowers used to make mummy so happy.

She loved color. Her wardrobe was full of life and color and beauty.

She loved her garden. Her plants. Her house.

She loved matooke. We were the matooke duo, ma and I. Mummy never ever cooked matooke without thinking of me. I never fried matooke without thinking of her. That was what she cooked for the last meal I had with her, that Wednesday. Matooke and liver and peas and greens.

She loved pretty things but was always willing to make ridiculously big sacrifices for her babies.

Mummy loved fish. We ate fish almost every day for 9 months when she was pregnant with our baby, our precious, our beautiful Daniela.

Mummy lived aggressively. I don’t think she ever once put hand to brow and complained about ‘depression’ or ‘hopelessness’. This is maybe because she was big on prayer, but also because she believed in doing things. In getting up and finding solutions. She loved life and always prayed for long life.

She called herself her children’s’ champion. Our number one defender. Our refuge. Mummy was like a mother chicken when it came to us. Her love. Her love was almost smothering. She did nothing half half. When she loved, laughed, yelled. When she teased. It was always in great measure, running over. There was too much life in ma. Too much.

The only reason I know and love words, the only reason I’m interested in stories, the only reason I’m a writer is mummy. From before I could understand, I remember her voice steadily weaving story after story after story. She even created dances to go with these stories.

She showed her love as often as she professed it.

It’s going to be a hard life in which I cannot call ma up after a bad dream and have her lull me to sleep with a looooong prayer. It’s going to take some getting used to, not having her to talk and talk and talk to after a hard day at work, a heart break, a quarrel. Her stories. It’s going to be empty without her many many stories.

I want, need, hope to be like my mom. I want to be her.

Mummy knew laughter. She knew dedication. She knew extremes. She knew love. She understood it all. May mummy, Mary Jessica Opwonya Rest In Peace.

A Day In The Life Of death(<–no capital letter for you, msw).

By the way, I’m not amused by the way you plan B people just be there not being afraid of me. How dare you be brazen enough to ask me, death, for an interview? Me? Ender of all things? Patron saint of the shit-in-my-pants and the cold sweat? Msssw. Kamanyiro. But since you asked, and I’m a lonely, jealous and restless loser, here is how a day in my life goes.

6.00am: I wake up. Yea…who am I kidding? I can’t sleep. I’ve been trying to harvest sleep from the world for ages. How? This is how. I take your loved one. You cry and cry and cry and cry, and then I come and try to take the sleep which your eyes have manufactured; but I fail! Every time. I have never slept in my life. Do you know what that can do to a person’s looks?

6.01 am- infinity: I spend hours looking at myself in the mirror. You humans think that I’m skinny and skeletal because I’m over trying to be scary. Not so! I’m as thin as hungry-horror because I can’t eat. I’m maddeningly, desperately hungry but I long gave up on those things of thinking about food. The kiosks in my neighbourhood have even refused to even sell me snacks, because I hear that whenever I tip, something bad happens. Sniff.

By the way, Me I can’t do day in the life of. I want to talk about myself. So quit breaking up my jazz into time segments. Its annoying.

*I’m convinced that those anorexic girls are making fun of me. Mocking my size. I always run to my bedroom and slam my door and fall on my pretty pink duvet and weep into my pillow whenever I see one of them. They’re trying to bring my self esteem down. I know it. But I won’t let them. I’m a survivor and hips are not everything.

*I really hate Bukowski. For 25 years of his life, the guy wrote and wrote and wrote nonsense that really pissed me off. I remember wanting to die when he wrote that thing of ‘Sex is kicking death in the ass while singing.’ I don’t even have enough of a backside to kick and I have never lived that one down. I even got dumped because of it. Somebody should put that guy dow…wait. muahaha. I dun killed him already. Smiley face*

*Another thing that really hurts my feelings is when people mistake me for bikalabanda.

 

Kakalabanda! Msw

 

 Can you believe? A guy like me? Nearly as old as existence itself? And people are heartless enough to mistake me for that drag queen with a bad taste in shoes? Even in my hood, when I’m walking down the street, minding my own business, 4/5 times a kid will yell, mummy, mummy, look. A kakalabanda! Dude, I don’t even wear high heels.

*It annoys me that people get better after I come and wreck havoc on their lives! Do you know another person I hate? Yann Martel. That writer with the stupid hair who wrote The Life of Pi. He says, “The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity; it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud…”

Being Death has left me so very sad and lonely. Seeing as you’ve stuck around long enough for this interview, how about you…maybe, um, send me a fb friend request? I promise not to kill your account.