TOO FAR. A short story.

Once upon a time?

Time time time?

There was a Princess And a Prince.   There was also a Queen. They lived in a palace.

It was bigger

One day, the Queen told the Princess, “You should get married in the holidays.”

The Princess said, “No. We shall not get married in the holidays. That is too far! We shall get married on Sunday.”

The queen said, “That’s a good idea. It’s night time. Let’s go to bed.”

They all went to bed.

In the morning, the Princess and Prince went to church and got married.

 

 

 

 

 

(Now married)

That’s the end.

 

Written by Gabriella Faith Laker.

Apenyo’s note: Yesterday night, I was writing a stubborn story. It was fighting me, throwing sand into my metaphors and spitting at my grammar. So when Gabby, my seven year old sister tapped my shoulder, I exploded. “Can’t you see I’m busy? Do you want me to stop being a writer? Who will buy you nice dresses then? mmh?”

She pulled a face and said, “You milo milo you’re fake. You’re always chasing me out of the room mbu you want to write. Now, I’m a writer too!”

My ovaries spontaneously exploded from the cuteness of the rough draft when I first read it, and I hope yours have too. If you don’t have any, grow a pair.

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Yea. Screw teeth.

There are teeth that are strong of nature and dazzling white of color. They are well spaced of look and good mannered of personality. They are tiny of size and wholesome of being. They rock and are category A.

There are also teeth that are shaky of nature and beige of color. They are scattered of look and sinister of personality. They are erratic of size and seem to be in a perpetual state of contrition for existing in the first place. They suck and are category B.

The category you’ll carry in your mouth for your entire duration of life is determined by two factors. Number one is your momma. If your momma’s genes are good and she passes them on to you, you can achieve category A teeth. If her genes are good but susceptible to intimidation, if they’re wimps, then they’ll defer to your father’s horrible ones and you will be stuck with category B.

Factor number two is your pocket. If you have money, you can afford to savor this experience that is the ownership of teeth by routinely studding, coloring, removing, tattooing, replacing, resizing and whitening them.

But if you’re so unfortunate as to have bad genes and a bad wallet, a sweet tooth and a wild space in your past in which you shunned toothbrushes, your teeth are going to rot in various ways, one by one, in no particular order. They are going to hurt in every damn way under the sun. Dull thud, sharp thud, tingle, burn, dull tingle, sharp kick! It is well within possibility that you’ll find yourself milking the whole dark business for a story at 1 am in the morning.

The decision to visit a dentist is not easily arrived at. In fact, most people do everything to end the pain for the moment and then go about life like they have category A teeth. Other even dumber people medicate themselves, not with pain killers and local home remedies but with the internet.

Shaking with pain, they’ll limp to their father’s room and beg for the modem, fix it into their fabulous new laptop and proceed to worsen their situation by trying out all the remedies that the internet suggests, even the really dumb ones like: ‘bang on the offending tooth with a spoon’ and ‘use a wooden fork to uproot it’. Some like ‘put a clove of garlic in a saline solution and stick it next to the hurting tooth’ and ‘apply ground cloves to the hurting area’ actually work but the best I’ve seen so far is ‘go see a dentist’.

When the devils of rot in your mouth stop deferring to home remedies and living starts to seem more like a horrible chore instead of the wonderful! Wonderful! experience it’s supposed to be, the time to make a decision has arrived.

The first thing you feel is excitement. “No work tomorrow!!” a voice in your head squeals.   You start to practice your sick voice for when you’ll have to call your boss in the morning because while, like other mortals, you can fall sick, your voice is not one of those that can elicit coos of sympathy. You always sound robust with health.

So you practice your sick voice and try not to be too excited about a day off, because dammit it, you’re only going to see the dentist and he’s not even cute.

DON’T PANIC around me.

Panicking is the act of collecting all the fear, paranoia and silliness that your body contains and expressing it at the people, animals and objects around you. It is the same thing as publicly shitting your pants or standing on a table in a crowded room to vomit.

It is not good form to panic because when you put your madness on display, you make everybody much more uncomfortable than you are. This is especially bad for the people that don’t care about you and your problems. While it stands to reason that you shouldn’t care about other peoples’ feelings pertaining to your wild and scary behavior because they don’t care about you, remember that humans are violent and can tranquilize you or hit you on the back of your head with shoes, or punch you in the chest, anything really to make you quit panicking in their space.

To protect you from your own lack of decorum and quietness in times of trouble, here is a list of situations in which you must cease and desist from all forms of panic:

House robbery: If, in the night, you are roused by sinister sounds approaching your bedroom, don’t panic. Screaming omubi! Omubi! will firstly, annoy the thief, because not even thieves like to be called thieves. Your shouts, far from bringing help, will scare the neighbors into firmly bolting their doors. If ever in this situation, send all your neighbors a series of text messages, with many exclamation marks to impress on them the gravity of things. If these texts are grammatically sound and coherent, your neighbors will burst in just before you get shot in the face and save the day.

Soulja boy and Kony: Many ugly things are born into the world every day. Most times, we remain happily ignorant and therefore unaffected. But occasionally, these twisted gargoyles will look for you and ram themselves down your ears; for example, that disgusting, full of pupu track that Soulja boy has just released called Stop Kony. In this song, he bleats the words stop Kony about 5000 times to a beat that sounds like dubstep dying of constipation. Before this track, I was indifferent towards this idiot musician but now, I have to include a rant about him in everything I write for the next five years.

Farting in public: This has happened to everybody. You’re walking towards a sexy person in the street, you fart. You’re walking in front of your uncle, you fart. You’re dozing in a lecture room, you fart. The only thing for it is to quickly convince yourself that you’re not the culprit. Somebody, anybody else, around you is the one that did it. No. No this doesn’t work. Farting in public is horrible. Panic about it.

One situation, in which you should panic, is if you’re being mugged outside a bar or your house or anywhere where help will come quickly. Don’t fight fiercely and quietly like I did once upon a time. The bloody thief will try to eat your fingers. Shout like your voice box just split itself into boom boxes.

So, what’s with that accent?

Swerncing is the act of sounding silly as you speak in an accent that your tongue just can’t be bothered with. Hello becomes helllorr, Stella becomes Stellarrr, go out becomes gorout.

Research shows that the moment the average Ugandan breathes in exhaust fumes of a place outside Uganda, even if it’s just Kenya, they’ll comeback swerncing, and more intensely if they’ve been to America or Europe (places associated with milk, honey and everything nice). A muzungu saying gyibarley nyabul is also a kind of swerncery, but of a more amusing variety.

English speaking Ugandans spend a lot of time analyzing, ridiculing, laughing at; generally being concerned with accents. You know a gossip session has risen on the scale of hatefulness when somebody says something like, “the way that heifer overuses ‘r’ to mbu Americanize her accent makes my ears vomit a little whenever she speaks”.

They’ve also made advertising agencies in Uganda rich. Whatever laughs can be squeezed out of Acholi and Luganda and Runyakitara accents have been collected and turned into money and now enough is enough. We shouldn’t even be reinforcing these differences in the minds of people, especially not in a country that’s a hop and a wiggle away from civil war on sectarian grounds. People don’t dig each other enough.

There are many reasons a person may swernce at any given moment, some more acceptable than others.

First of all, people are impressionable and even a little exposure to a different way of speaking can affect the way they’ll sound when they next speak. If you have friends with kiwi accents, you need to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the time your words curl unexpectedly. You will likely be telling a riveting story; all your friends will be nodding appreciatively, giggling in all the right places when BAH! your next sentence will come out in a strange accent and shame you.

People swernce to be ‘professional’, especially on radio. Most presenters sound like they’ve got a fungal infection in their mouth, which makes it impossible for us to hear what they are saying and is responsible for the recent trend of people flinging their radios across the room.

Really don't.

There’s also travelers swencery that happens to people who leave the country for long while. In a few months, the accents they’ve had their entire lives disappear completely. When they come back home, they never really change back. This swencery is slightly more acceptable because they’ve earned it by having lived in an environment where they were required to blend in if they wanted to escape the attentions of xenophobes. As long as they sound authentic, I reserve my resentment.

It’s those ones that leave for 48 hours and come back speaking like an American who has had all their teeth removed that irritate me. What are they saying? That they’d rather sound like a toothless person than sound like me? Shya. Those ones I dislike openly. If you insist on coming home with an accent, practice until you sound more like Denzel and less like you’re gurgling bile because while it is your constitutional right to speak funny, it is our constitutional right to say mean things behind your back.

It was Pablo the cable humping dolphin that did it

For five days last week, the internet in Uganda wasn’t enough to go around. The world ended, obviously. People ate their modems in annoyance, ripped out F5 buttons in frustration and rediscovered fresh air. They reclaimed their jogging shoes, dusted off socializing skills, decided they enjoyed the internet more and fell into a dark depression.

This is how the A4I (Activists 4 Internet) was born.

Our first decision as an advocacy group was to rubbish that story internet providers were feeding us of some dumb sailor with poor parking skills who dropped an anchor on the deep sea cables responsible for nourishing our souls with idioticinformation from youtube, 9gag, facebook and twitter that we need to remain sane.We dismissed this story because that’s what all decent activists do. Dismiss things as conspiracies.

Our way forward was to send a representative to the coast to take a good look at the internet cables and report what really was happening. This letter just arrived at Head Quarters.

Dear esteemed members of A41. Hi. It is I, agent Sarah, reporting from the deep seas.

As I write this, I am uncomfortable because it’s not very easy to breathe underwater. Now imagine how hard it is for me to breathe and write at the same time. Underwater. With a pencil. On a piece of coral.

This is what is happening to the cables. There lives a dolphin named Pablo. For the last four days, he’s been entangled in a mess of internet cables.

The moment he saw me, he asked me, in a very tough voice to sit and listen to him even though he could see that I was starting to get blue in the face from lack of air.

Pablo has been away from his family for many months in search of cables. This is because in the culture of dolphins, finding and laying claim to long cables like the ones responsible for our internet is considered a heroic and sexy deed. We all know how much dolphins like attention. And sex. Pablo the dolphin is not tanga tangaring with the internet cables out of malice. He’s doing it to gain acceptance and to get laid by the lovely Fromina, loveliest of all dolphins (and all her friends if possible).

***

I was unable to get the rest of his story because I passed out from lack of air. I’m not sure how I got back on dry land, but that night, the hotel special was fish, dolphin in particular and I found slivers of cable wire in my piece, so I’m pretty sure it is Pablo we were eating.

Oh well.

The internet should be working soon. Me, I’m going to watch a mermaid beach wrestling tournament from my balcony. My bet is on the one with a marine cut, obviously.

Good bye and happy surfing,

Agent Sarah.

On Writing, Azania, Baingana and dumb rules.

Many people become writers because they have a burning desire to tell their stories, get famous and maybe even rich off them. I do it because it’s the only profession where you have the world’s permission to walk around drinking coffee, kicking things and behaving like a self-important clown; and also for the invites to fancy breakfasts, yoga retreats and other pleasant get-togethers.

Last month, I was invited to UCU for the Azania Experience, a monthly gathering of poets, writers and other artsy types. After making it to the gate of the university without dying of Visitor’s Anxiety (a madness which convinces you that you are hopelessly lost and are never going to make it to your destination on account of you not remembering where to tell the taxi conductor to maasawo), I got shouted at by a stranger in uniform to GO and change my clothes! This confused me because I was under the impression that I looked very nice. Turns out, there are certain fashions that UCU’s women are not allowed to rock. Like jeans.

How comes UCU’s men get to wear trousers? Has management not considered the dirty way in which their belt buckles draw attention to their groins? The only way we can save Uganda’s morals from slithering to hell is by making everybody wear kanzus, not so? No, I didn’t rush to a roadside boutique for more homely clothes. I smiled my way in.

One of the things I really enjoyed about being Azania’s special guest was seeing my name on a poster that wasn’t a sweeping roster or a list of debt defaulters. My boss is thankful to the organizers for making me feel special as my productivity has shot through the roof. He encourages everybody in the world to show me a lot of love.

Because I was under such pressure to give writing advice, I may have spewed a lot of fey gibberish.

To make up for that, here is some really good advice from Doreen Baingana (author of Tropical Fish and awesome woman) that I scribbled down at a Femrite session where she was reading from her book and mingling with her groupies.

She said, “Writing doesn’t get easier”. So get used to however hard you’re having it now. Nothing apart from the volume with which you voice your complaints is ever going to change.

She said, “Write whatever wants to come out. Silence the editor”. Learn to ignore that part of your mind that laughs at and insults you by turns. Don’t become fearful and inhibited as a result of people’s opinions. Use your head.

She said, “The biggest challenge for writers is that nobody is crying for your work.” So whether or not you give it your stories, the world will continue to revolve in that irritatingly slow way that makes it hard for me to use Google Earth.

Baingana is motivated by deadlines. I am motivated by the need not to be the kind of nasty, kennel bred heifer that hands work in late.

My mojo nearly exploded from the stimulation of being in the same space as Doreen that day and I felt ready to machine gun my stories at the world; stories in which I’d turn my best and worst moments into entertainment for strangers.

I hope that feeling will return soon.

Don’t be a crazy stalker bastard.

We all like to be recognized. No one wants to just slide out of the minds of the people they have interacted with. We have all these people on TV and youTube and over the radio instructing us to make some sort of  impact on the world so it’s understandable why a certain kind of person with certain personality problems might feel very strongly about not being recognized.

What is unacceptable is the level of aggression with which they react when you fail to remember who they are.

This kind of person will approach you on the street or sit next to you in a taxi and greet you with a lot of enthusiasm. “Hello! How are you? I’m me and I demand that you recognize me right this instant!”

Really be gone.

You are confused. Who is this stranger and on what grounds are they invading your space? Because you’re having a good day, you stop what you are doing and smilingly attend to them. “I’m sorry; I don’t remember…what’s your name?”

They are outraged. Their eyes begin to insult you. Their lips moisten with saliva. They look you up and down and up again. “What is my name? How can you ask such a stupid thing? I’m me. Not only did I, on one occasion, pass you by in the corridors of Nana Hostel three years ago, I also knocked on your door a couple of times! We were friends! You think you’re too good for me now? Huh?!”

You realize that this person might not have all their crayons in the same box and if they are in the same box, they’re definitely not facing the same way. Every instinct tells you to ignore them and resume minding your own business, but no. You’re supposed to be learning tolerance from the weekly yoga class you attend and so with straight face and calm voice, you say, “I really don’t remember who you are. It will be easier for me if you tell what your name is. Otherwise, please stop shouting at me.”

From the way they lean into your space and stand on the tips of their toes and thrust their chest into the air, you know that things are going to get worse. “No wonder! You fake chick! I knew! You’re proud. Why are you refusing to remember me? We used to spend a lot of time in your room together! Anyway, no wonder…”

Angry now, you say, “No wonder what? I’d really like to hear what you were going to say. Your opinion matters very much because you are a little fellow and according to the internet, little people sometimes suffer from inferiority complexes. So please tell me all these things that confirm the way I’m behaving towards you right now. Tell me why it’s no wonder that I’m exhibiting this terrible behavior.”

They’re intimidated now, probably because they realize that this conversation might not end well for them. They motion for you to lower your voice. “Shhhh. Banaye. Anyway I just wanted to say hi because we used to be very close. Bye.”

You’ve been very reasonable. You haven’t disgraced yourself or your upbringing in any way; but by God you want to aim a flying kick at this idiot’s flat face. You want to demand an apology! How dare they bring ugliness into your day? But you take a deep breath and summon the inner peace that you pay for every Tuesday at the Acacia Yoga center and eventually return to happiness.