120 million. I need 120 million now.


I’m slowly drowning in my sadness as I write this. Father has just lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and it’s emitting terrible smoke thanks to the leafy mango tree branch that he’s just thrown over it. I feel exactly like that smoke; I feel gray and aimless.

There is a medium-sized house right next to ours. Despite the unfortunate shade of orange that covers most of it’s surface, it’s pretty and has a compound that’s perfectly sized for the kinds of herb gardens I like to maintain. Using charcoal, somebody has added the words FOR SALE and a couple of phone numbers to it’s décor.

As my aunt and I were passing by it earlier, she brought my attention to the fact that nobody lived there anymore.  I sleep next door everyday! How could I not have realized that the neighbors had moved?

She went on to tell me she’d heard the house is going for 120 million. Oh boy. The excitement I felt was insane. My mind went into overdrive. What can I sell? Who can I ask? What can I sell? Who can I ask? Until it occurred to me that I have nothing in my life that I can sell and nobody that I can ask for one hundred and twenty million shillings. What a shame.

That’s pocket change for some people, you know. There are Ugandans who go into 21 billion worth of debt and get covered for by our government. How rich do you have to be in the first place to accumulate such debt? Probably rich enough to lend a broke writer 120 million.

I escorted my aunt to the road, ran all the way home and breathlessly informed my people of what was going on outside the gate. With 120 million shillings, I could own a house right next to ours! Perhaps I’d move in there or maybe rent it out at an exorbitant price . I could even make my friends pay me to hold house parties in it. Father looked at me in the same way you would a kitten climbing a tree and said, “Mildred, that house is 40 million, tops. If Housing finance got a serious buyer, it would probably go for a bit less.”

That is the moment I slumped down next to the smoky fire and began to type this. People, I have no where to find 40 million (which is 80 million less than 120 million shillings) and have nothing but bad ideas.

The first is to write and here’s why it wouldn’t work: writers in Uganda get paid really badly. My only hope would be to win something huge like the Caine prize of African writing and whereas that is achievable, it’s hard.

Another idea is prostitution which would probably work if I didn’t have such strong inhibitions. I take this opportunity to thank my parents for doing a good job.

The third idea is to start a school. The only problem here is that I dislike long contact with all strangers between the ages of 11 and 19 because they are full of hormones and are therefore unpredictable.

The fourth Idea is to stop thinking so hard about this and start a donation drive here where anybody who gives me over ten million shillings gets a free biography. I have no idea how to write those, but Google is full of how-tos.

P.s My kidneys are in great working condition.

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