Hello August. I salute you. I salute your air with my lips. Here, mwa! Mwa! Mwa! On your 20th day, I shall be four digits older than my birth date. I shall be closer to the glory that my mid-20s are sure to bring.
I of course arrive with drama. My fibula is broken, so you will be my unfittest month of the year, August.
As I rest, I shall enjoy getting rounder, and I won’t even mourn my stamina too much. I shall throw back glass upon glass of water and tot upon tot of gin. I shall eat all of the livestock and some of the fruit. Perhaps I shall join a gym and tone my upper body up. We’ll see.
My 23rd year has been incredible. It saw me make a year in the most serious relationship I have ever had. I am not a commitment-phobe, now I know. And I am not incapable of loving or being loved! This year also saw me fall out of that relationship. It saw me in the lap of devastation and afterwards, in the face of excitement (and contentment) so bright and thick that I thought I had achieved Nirvana. I am now back to being normal just, so yea that wasn’t nirvana.
This year has delivered me into the arms of herbs and essential oils.
My hair smells like peppermint. My pillowcase has wild lavender tucked into it, plucked right off the slopes of Mountain Muhavura.
Eucalyptus oil blesses my water every time I feel pain. Moya (that some call shea butter) is stripping scars off my legs, scars that appeared because of the mubofu spider mites that tried to invade my herb patch.
I regularly bless my bath water with rose petals and mint leaves, plucked from my own plants. I have even gotten into the habit of thanking the plants when I take from them. In other words, my kwemola has reached insane levels, and I am happiest this way.
This year, I have stopped being so annoyed by some of the things my father does. I have come to love them instead. His tendency to befriend and invite complete strangers into our home for impromptu dinner parties. His loud way of speaking, my god, he shouts all the time, everywhere. He is so aggressive, even when he doesn’t intend to intimidate or annoy. I have come from flushing with annoyance to beaming with joy and acceptance. This is partly because I am so very similar to him. I intend to honor him in a Stiletto Point article soon, so let me not over spoil.
During this my 23rd, I have conquered the demons that made me so attached to deodorants (I would have 5, one for each workbag). I no longer spray those synthetic, paraben-filled armpitcides onto my delicate skin. I have made peace with the memories of bullying that went down in Green Hill Academy’s corridors and no longer pay that time of my life homage.
I am in love with my brown. Forget pretending that I am blind to all those times that weirdos have tried to make me feel bad, or lesser because of my dark skin. I have been at war with many demons-ooo!
I am an aloe vera gal. On three separate occasions, people have hugged me at the end of a day and said, “Oh wow, you smell so nice.” Do you know what they are smelling? Aloe vera + Apenyo. The gel mixes with my natural smell to produce musk like no other.
I have never had so many trips lined up in the same time frame as I do now. Last weekend, I was in Kisoro and Kabale drinking, dancing, climbing and breaking legs with the Kampala Hashers. This weekend (or possibly next), I am going to be exploring Lake Bunyonyi with a very lovely person, the best travel buddy in the world really. On the 24th and 25th of August, I am going to be in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Plans are all over my life like back acne.
I am also part of a competition that explores how stories directly affect readers after production. 46 of us submitted stories on the theme of identity and equality to Writivism, 14 of us got mentors, attended workshops and read to young literature lovers in many of Kampala’s schools. It has been an experience with many ups and downs for me, but ultimately, a great one. I would do it again. The shortlist is going to be released on the 3rd of August, and here’s hoping True to Nothing will be on it.
I am writing (haltingly, with a lot of procrastination and inertia in the mix), I am growing things out of the soil, I am growing myself, my mind, I am living as consciously as I can. You guys, life is good.
Forgive me for not posting last Sunday’s Stiletto Point. I was full of pain and self pity. My leg nanti.
See how I have cutiefied my crutch.
I don’t want to turn into one of those writers who endlessly bore their readers with whatever they are obsessed with at the moment, but this is important. For the last seven days, I have been scratching myself like a 7 year old with worms. But let me start at the beginning.
As you know, I proud mother to plants such as lemon balm, sage, thyme, lavender, strawberry, rosemary,two kinds of mint and a plant whose name I can’t remember, but whose special power is that it smells like BOB insecticide when you burn it. Because my energy is surpassed only by my kwemolar, I sing to my plants. I wake up very early in the morning, push my sleepy feet into sapatu and haul a bucket of water to my herb patch. The plants are doing very well, which convinces me that my croaking is making them happy. What I am not convinced about is whether this particular brand of kwemolar is sustainable.
See, since I began this little ritual, I have developed a most insufferable itch. It doesn’t attack. To say it attacks would insinuate that it follows a strategy to accomplish its goal of tormenting me.
This itch is an obnoxious squatter. It has built a house and grown crops and taken a wife on the landscape that is my skin. When I wake up, I am scratching. The last thing I remember before blacking out is manically raking fingernails over my skin. I am even developing sexy biceps from all the exertion.
It is worst around my feet and entumbwes but will many times spread to my arms and back. The amount of time I have devoted to daydreaming about rolling around in a pile of coarse sand is embarrassing. My doctor laughed when I demanded dewormers and then said that the worms which used to make children itch have gone extinct, and that what I have is an allergy. Me a whole Apenyo, having to pop cetirizine like one of those people on the internet who cannot stand pollen.
I have often felt smug about how at one I am with mother earth and now see.
To the best of my knowledge, I am not eating anything different, or doing anything new (apart from singing to my herbs) so I can’t even begin to understand this allergy business.
The itch got so bad at some point that I went to comrade Google for some home remedies. Squeezing my workmates’ lemon on my feet worked for a minute, and then it returned with a vengeance. Hand wash, air freshener and crushed garlic all failed to work. Fortunately for my legs, I had a small piece of aloe vera in my handbag. I cut it in half and rubbed it briskly over my skin. This toned the itch down to a background annoyance. Aloe saves the day again!
Now to go stock up on Shea butter (whose proper name is moya) to heal these dumb scars that are trying to colonize my legs.
If there’s one thing that has a bad reputation for no clear reason, one substance that is illegal because some people in the world dislike happiness, it is cannabis. I’m not advocating that people be high all of the time, but surely some jobs (like copy writing or being a member of parliament) require the mind expansion that occurs when you bake your brain in THC flavored smoke. I claim the right to be high!
Every Wednesday, I contribute an article to Muwado.com. I have many reasons, many of them terribly shady but the most important is that it is a promising space that gives me the freedom to write about whatever I want.
At the beginning of this week, I thought up the (brilliant) idea of collecting weed tales, anecdotes from people who have smoked the holy vegetable. We tried to source them from Ugandans in Uganda but were open to all. Click to read part one.
The stories have kept on coming and so I’m publishing more here. Get a drink (and maybe a spliff?), sit back and enjoy.
The Young and Curious:
Smoking weed is only half of the stoner experience, the other half, which can sometimes be the most momentous, is the process and manner in which you find/buy the weed!
My brother and I were seated on a secluded beach, south coast Mombasa, when we heard a whistled tune in the distance. When the whistling had stopped, without quite thinking about it, I whistled back the same tune, and to my surprise we heard yet another whistled tune in response. This back and forth continued until we made out a figure at the end of the beach. As he approached us he started speaking to us in Swahili, and we just let him talk on until he realized that we didn’t understand what he was saying. He smiled and asked us in English after a while if we wanted to smoke some weed. I told him we didn’t have any money, and he said he asked if we wanted to smoke weed, not buy it.
Now I had not woken up that day with the intention to get high, but when the chance came up in the magically random way it had, how could I say no? It was like a scene from the intro of an indie movie, a sign that the height was bound to be all sorts of epic!
We agreed and followed him into a small cave on the beach, under a huge coral rock. There was hardly enough space to sit up straight and we had to crawl on all fours under the rock. He then took out a little parcel from his bag and unwrapped a heap of fried leaves. This was my first time to ever see a real marijuana leaf, and the beginning of my obsession with the ritual like cleaning, preparation and rolling of my very first handmade joint. The weed was unlike anything I had ever smoked before, as light as the ocean breeze and as potent as the sting of salt water.
The memory of sitting there in a low lying sandy cave, smoking weed with a dreadlocked beach boy who called himself Bob Marley, with sand crabs dashing about us sideways and the glimmer of the ocean a few meters away, is so surreal if I was alone I would have thought it to be a dream, but my brother is my witness, and confirms that really did happen.
After the smoke, we said our goodbyes and he told us if we wanted anymore we should just ask around for Bob Marley, but we never saw him again on the rest of our holiday, and he became a bit of a legend between my brother, the likes of the tooth fairy or sandman. We spent the day floating on a cloud, swimming in the ocean and rolling about in the sand, needless to say it was the best weed I have ever smoked and the most spiritual high I have ever experienced. Moral of the story, if you hear a whistled tune on a secluded beach, whistle back!
I had to promise George beers before he spilled, but his stories were worth it.
There is this story, legend really, about guys drinking and smoking weed at dreamworld hostel in Kikoni. It was deep in the night and stuff. Somebody happened to ask what the time was and according to legend, one of the guys who was hell bent on knowing the time hatched a smart idea.
They all walked up to Wandegeya and stared at the street clock there. It was 3:15 am.
You really get Paranoid after taking weed. Once, I actually washed my face and hands with fruit juice because I had done some weed in a nearby bush and I had to go back to school (I was in S5). My face became sticky and then bees (they may have been mere flies) started hovering around me. At one point, I thought it was a whole swarm of bees coming for me…I actually thought I felt the buzz in the air, and heard it too. We were like four guys seated under a small guava tree. I suddenly shot up and started running while wailing. My friends who were suffering their own paranoia also woke up and raced in different directions. They had no idea why they were running.
The High Priestess:
Weed is a beautiful drug, it makes food taste better, colours brighter, feelings more intense and that ant crawling across your floor is now the funniest thing you have ever had the pleasure of seeing with your own eyes. Despite what the police would have you believe, weed alone never caused anyone to jump off a roof, or rape someone, or jump off a roof while raping someone. Hell, if you managed to leave the couch to go and scour your fridge for moldy leftovers to satiate your munchies you are among the top percentile of high functioning stoners.
That being said, it is possible to do much and find yourself in the worst THC-induced torpor; wondering if you are alive or comatose, or even worse, your mind trapped in a permanently paralyzed body, the only part of which you have control over being your eyelids like that guy in The Diving Bell and The Butterfly.
I enjoy making baked goods, and my friends enjoy the fruits of my labour. Consuming marijuana via your digestive tract is a little different, and this is what I tried to impress upon my American visitor. “It takes about an hour to kick in, and what everyone does the first time is eat the first brownie, then 30 minutes later decide nothing is happening and eat a second one. Then 2 hours later you’re higher than Felix Baumgartner without a parachute. DO NOT DO THIS” I told him, handing him his brownies and leaving him in my flat for the night as I went off to enjoy Kampala’s nightlife.
Fast forward to 1 am. My phone rings. It is my American friend, let’s call him Lance: “High Priestess…. Something is wrong…. I think something is wrong with me” Lance is speaking very laboriously, every other word punctuated by long silences like he is drowning. “What’s wrong Lance? … You ate both brownies didn’t you?” I ask.
“Yes, well I didn’t feel anything after the first one…” He trails off again. I sigh. “OK, so are you sure something is wrong or are you just too fucking high for life right now?”
“Something is wrong…. I don’t know [unintelligible mumbles] maybe malaria… Can’t just be the weed”
“Lance you’re just high, i’ll be home in a few hours and you’ll have come down by then and will be feeling very foolish…”
“I think I need to go to the hospital or something. I think I’m going to wake up your dad—“
“WAIT LANCE, DO NOT DO THAT. Stay where you are, I will be home in 10 minutes. I’m jumping on a boda now”
I got home and found Lance lying in his bed, rocking back and forth like a patient in a sanatorium. “Lance.” He moans in response, continuing his rocking. “Lance. Stop moving.” He stops, and seems surprised to find that he was able to do so.
“Lance you’re not dying. You just ate too many brownies and are now too high for your own good. You’ll be fine in the morning. I’m going to bed”.
Lance wasn’t even embarrassed by his behavior the next day.
My girlfriend and I once wandered around Amsterdam for what felt like, and might have been, many hours- looking for any falafel stand. We had the munchies and were convinced falafel was the only cure. We wandered past the same street corners over and over, maybe we expected one to suddenly appear. (happy ending- we eventually took a wrong turn and found one.)
My roommates and I once made plans to go out. I said “cool, give me 10 minutes to shower and then we go.” I came out of the shower to find the room thick with bong smoke, and my friends were all quietly crashed on the sofas watching the ceiling fan go around. I thought, “Damn, now I have to go out alone.”
Brad Nowell (RIP) from Sublime sang it best…”I’m too drunk to light the bong…I’m too stoned to write this song.” Thousands of times we were so baked, just laughing our asses off, but now…damn what was the question?
And this is where I’ll end for now. If the stories keep on coming in, expect some very fun Thursdays on this blog.
To the holy herb! If you have any tales of your own, don’t hesitate to put them in the comments. You can also send them to email@example.com, if you want them to appear in the next compilation.
I feel I should say Jah Bless.
Lately, I’ve been feeling guilty about updating my blog just once a week. Calling yourself a writer comes with many responsibilities, one of them being the regular writing of things.
So I am going to be updating my blog twice a week, on Monday and Thursday. Clap for me.
Monday’s post is going to be the story that has run in my (unfortunately named) column in Sunday Vision. I mean, Stiletto Point? I defy you to think up one thing that is less Apenyo than stilettos.
My last article was about learning to truly recognize the humanity of others.
I’m also going to be contributing a story to muwado.com every Wednesday. If you enjoyed my articles in Plan B and on ULK, I’m sure you’ll love these! I debuted yesterday with a story about the the first (and only) time I went bungee jumping. Yea, that’s something I’m not going to do ever again. The pictures though, those are epic. In this one, I am every Looney Toon that ever stepped off a cliff.
As for Thursday’s post! I’m not quite sure what I want it to be about. For now, I’m leaning towards giving y’all news of my writing + gifting you with links to wonderful short/long stories. If you’re feeling clever and have some ideas for me, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section.
On short stories: I’ve been hard at work, banging some into shape for a bunch of competitions. Here’s hoping that at least one of them will yield fruit. Send me your good karma by watching this video of me quite goofily talking about why I write.
More on competitions, I recently submitted a story to Farafina Trust, in the hopes of being granted a place in their creative writing workshop this year. It is crazily competitive, but the fact that one of the best writers I know gave my story a thumbs up, that goves me hope. Novuyo Rosa Tshuma (of the Shadows fame) was kind enough to go over my story. Here are some of her comments:
“Beautiful language, good control – love the ‘deceptive’ beginning (thought for a moment there that the protagonist was facing some mob), the mosquitoes writ large seem to work well, though perhaps a little overdone.”
“All in all, good scene, the mundane brought alive, the language pulled me in…very good piece.”
Fingers crossed that the Farafina people think so too!
I end with a gift! Enjoy this article about eating your feelings; perfect for all the food loving, over-feelers like me. I like how often wine appears.
And a gif
For most of my adult life, I have been on a quest to find the perfect bra. In my head, this bra is custom made to fit each of my ladies just right. It is pretty but not gaudy, colorful but not clownish. Its straps offer a bit of a lift without digging into my shoulder blades. The straps are also perfectly sized; not so wide that I will be mistaken for a nursing mother(unless I am a nursing mother at the time) and not so thin that I look like I have snake tongues running down my shoulderblades.
I have been failed by so many bras and dreamt about this super one for so long that at one point not so long ago, I decided to make it myself. I decided that I would start Uganda’s first premium bra making company. It would be called Apenyo loves Boobs inc. I would open a workshop where women of all shapes and sizes could walk in and custom make their bras, choosing the fabric, straps and accessories.
This dream is paralyzed now. I have become disillusioned. See, I can count the number of times I have worn a bra in the last 28 days. Why do you wear a bra?
My chest, like the chests of many other girls, began to do strange things when I turned 11. I was alarmed and prayed that these stones under my blouse would go away and leave me be. I didn’t want to be like those womanly looking P.7 girls! I didn’t want to start swishing my bottom and smiling with boys. For me, that’s what breasts represented.
The minute they noticed the mischief that hormones were wrecking on my chest, my female relatives started to give advice. One cousin told me to get a bra immediately, or else my breasts would “fall”.
I was told by an aunt to stay away from all bras and boobtubes, because they would make my breasts fall!
A fear of “falling” breasts was planted in my mind and no number of young talk pull-outs on the subject was able to convince me that heavy breasts, breasts that sat low were normal.
On to the next couple of years, nature and genetics took their course and I got the pair I have and love now. But then? I was ashamed. Why didn’t they sit high like mighty oranges?
When movies, mags and porn came into the picture, I became convinced that breasts were not breast-enough unless they were as large as melons and as high as possible.
So I ask again. Why do you wear bras?
I wear bras for support. I cannot do yoga, jog, jump or even walk swiftly down a flight of stairs without my breasts bouncing around like chuzzle balls.
I wear bras because I am too used to seeing myself looking a certain way in certain clothes and am still too uncomfortable to just go without.
A good bra can make you feel amazing, but what niggles at me is the root of this feeling. What drives me to feel confident when my cleavage is under my neck?
I asked singer and poet, Ife Piankhi for her thoughts are about bras and she said, “Growing up my mum would stress the importance of getting the right size of bra so that they truly support. I was measured for my back and cup size but I don’t see many women in Africa doing that. Since I came here, I have not found one that is ideal so at times I don’t wear them. There is a teacher by the name of Dr Phil Valentine who stated once that droopy breasts or breasts that hang are the honour of motherhood, I have breast fed 4 children and when I heard that it gave me the confidence to go bra less at times because I don’t care any more if they hang down because I know I have nourished my children. Of course like most women I’d like to change something about them but through my Afrikan Yoga practice I stay in pretty good shape and I’m happy with my body image.”
If you are comfortable with bras, then I echo the words of Ife’s mom. Go have your chest and cup measured. It is painful to see so many well endowed Ugandan ladies squeezing their breasts into bras that are sizes too small.
I was very excited when I found an article on Counselheal.com that quotes Researcher Prof. Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports science expert from the University of Besançon in eastern France as saying “Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity,” “On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra.” Click to read more–>BOOBS
Am I going to stop wearing bras completely? Not yet. Probably never. Baby steps. I am actively working on killing my biases and widening my world view to include all kinds of beauty. I mean, my breasts are big, so they curve and dip. I am not going to go about life being ashamed of my genes or of gravity and neither should you.
However, now that I have proved my point, that I can still look like a million bucks and more without a bra (I mean, 28 days), I am more and more considering following the advice of Ife’s mom and getting (or making) myself a couple of well fitting bras.
Church was once a staple in my life and slowly, I am starting to find true enjoyment in the word of God again. This article isn’t about my spiritual awakening (which I hope will last this time). It’s about the way people in positions of influence deliver their teachings.
One Sunday last November, one of the pastors at Watoto Church was talking about his wonderful wife and the lovely things that she’d done for him on his anniversary. It was very sweet. He even insisted she come up and sing the song she’d sung on the day to much cooing and clapter* from the congregation. He remarked on how beautiful she is and how more women need to obey their husbands, especially when it comes to how they look.
He then said, “But some women just cut off all their hair” while making a comical sweeping motion over his head.
I bristled with indignation, and not only because I have chosen to rock a nearly bald head.
The pastor’s joke made the entire congregation look around and eyes lingered on those like me with little or no hair. In that moment, I wondered what it would be like to be married to somebody like him and let me tell you, what I envisioned wasn’t a fun experience. I saw a guy who would whine endlessly and be very aggressive about letting you know how he wanted you to look. Just imagine if a Christian couple in attendance was fighting about style choices. On hearing Pastor’s words, whatever headway they’d made would be lost.
A lot goes into a way a person looks. Mood, emotional well being, fashions, personality, etc. Style is an intensely personal thing. Even in a long term relationship where you’re committed to loving the same person forever, both individuals retain the right of choice.
If you want to change your partner’s style to suit your tastes, don’t do it by shaming them or comparing them to others. Spitting Bible verses won’t work. Belittling them won’t work. Writing blogposts about them won’t work either . Give them a reason to want to acquiesce to your whims. Make them feel comfortable enough to adjust their style in a way that will make you happy. The way a person looks should be their decision, an act of service (to you, their partner) and not one that leads them to doubt themselves.
People in the Education sector are another group that need to be careful about the way they deliver their wisdom. Their job is to instill confidence, manners and a sense of decency in the children that pass through their system year in year out. Instead of doing that, our teachers and school administrations are filling young people up with their own warped sexual politics.
How can a school profess to be against trousers on girls or tight uniforms and then turn around and allow their girls to wear barely-there dresses during prom? If they really thought that trousers caused uncontrollable lust to surge in the hearts and minds of the males in the system, they wouldn’t allow girls to wear them during dances.
A school like Seeta High bars female visitors from entering school grounds if they are wearing trousers, causing much embarrassment and irritation, but allow their students to swim semi-naked in a pool which is not far from the staff room. Where is the logic? Selective morality is dumb and needs to end.
Our young need to be equipped with feelings of equality, self esteem and affirmations, not insecurities and hypocrisy.
James 3: 1 says Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
If you can’t teach well, go home.
*clapping and laughter
If you’re a firstborn and you know it, ball your fist and bump the place where my caricature’s might be. I begin by borrowing from an old nursery rhyme to make you madly interested in yesterday’s Stiletto Point. Is it working? If you’re a firstborn and you know it, say, “Oh yea.”
As far as I know, I am the first child of my parents. This has always filled me a disproportionate sense of pride, as if there was some race in which I beat all 5 of my siblings to the finish line and came bursting into the world with the word lovechild tattooed on my face.
There are many similarities I have noted between myself and other firstborns I’ve met, biggest being Lugezigezi. That sells us Kabisa. Know a loudmouth who wants to always be the leader? Ever sat next to a person who won’t stop telling the taxi driver which alternative routes he must use? You have likely met a firstborn.
We grow up calling the shots, being regarded as infallible gods and goddesses by adoring and secretly hateful followers and when we get into the real world, find it hard to shake that sense of entitlement.
Note that if you’re grown and your followers are still secretly hateful of you, your dealings with them haven’t matured. I used to suffer anxiety and flashes of anger about how my loyal, obedient and fearful subjects would eventually outgrow my powers, and they’d stop seeking my approval, but that all dissolved when I stopped having silly expectations.
Firstborns are protective, so much so that in school, we’re the ones who take on the emotionally wounded to try and make their lives better. Also, because we’ve always stepped up and disciplined our siblings when our parents are being slow about it, we are both confrontational and defensive.
A firstborn will usually have a savior complex. Is Martha lacking something? Is Joel feeling sad? How can I take his sadness away? Has Bosco eaten? And that extends to the rest of the world. This will be especially strong if one parent has died and the eldest is trying to make it seem like the gap isn’t as huge as it really is.
As we’re born to brand new, right-out-of-the-box parents, we receive the most canes or leniency, but usually canes. We were experiments, the ones on whom half-remembered teachings and directives from their own childhoods were unleashed.
We also come to see and know more than everybody else because we’re first companion to our very human parents. This little person they made has ears and often, all a human being needs to survive an ugly situation is a listening ear.
If lucky, firstborns get to be brash risk takers because of how much support they enjoy. Siblings are a protective cushion that lessen the disappointment of a project gone wrong. They’re also the first to brim with pride when one goes right.
Siblings who hate and sabotage each other, even after they’ve come adults fill me with alarm. I hate to imagine what evil situation exists that can drive a wedge between people with a shared childhood.
From Jacob to the people in the 21st century whose stories I know, all none firstborns feel honored and nervous when they somehow find themselves at the helm of the family. Being the one to steer people who trust you is as difficult as it is thrilling.
I love my siblings. They make me strong.
One of my favorite songs used to be Bad Day by…my God. I don’t remember. I can’t remember half of the artists that I swore I would die loving only a few months ago. It seems that when they slip out of my playlist, they fade from mind.
I can never properly classify a day as bad because of how changeable my emotions are. One minute I’m bubbling over with the joy of living, breathing, blinking!And the next, sticky annoyance is oozing out of my pores. To prevent myself turning into an intolerable grouch,I break my days down into 30 minute moments.
When I get shortchanged by a conductor or left behind by the pioneer bus or hissed at by a street idler, that’s a bad moment. If two or more motorists try to run me over in a given moment, it’s an unlucky one. If four irritating songs from my playlist show up in my ears, in a row, that’s a fake moment, because come on, out of all the hundreds…
This system has rules.
You are not allowed to carry unpleasant feelings from one moment to another but you can feel as nice about a happy occurrence for as long as you wish. You’re not ever allowed to swallow your feelings. Want to tear your leggings and fling them at a dumb workmate? Go ahead! Feel like jeering long and loud and then bursting into bitter tears? Do it. Similarly, if the urge to scream I LOVE YOU WORLD, I LOVE YOU comes upon you, express it. Put it on a social network for those unlucky people whose eardrums aren’t going to be blessed with your good feelings. Pat a conductor on the back. Smile at your boda man and tip him if he’s been particularly ninjarific in getting you to work three seconds before the morning status meeting.
There are, however ,certain occurrences that can’t be fitted into a 30 minute box. Tragedy for example. I remember wanting to punch the face of some person who, when I complained of depression after my mom’s passing, told me I had only a year to be openly sad about it, after which my friends wouldn’t be so tolerant of my gloom. What? Shya! You’re allowed to mourn as dramatically as you want for as long as you feel is necessary.
We’ve already established that the system allows for joyful feelings to be spread over as long a time as you want. Absurd happenings too can be spread out for puzzled reflection and quiet chuckling.
I was once walking (skipping) down Kampala road after bagging a fairly large writing deal. I was swollen with the promise of money. Dollars and shillings dressed in raffia skirts had started to do the Macarena inside my head when some woman stepped in front of me and said, “You look funny!” and then just stood there waiting for my reaction. Because of the high I was on, I smiled and glided away. She must have been confused by this reaction because as I was entering the computer shop that was my destination, I looked back to find her still staring after me.
What turns a day bad for you? Burned ground nuts at the cafeteria? Unproductivity? And how do you turn things around?
This week, I’m reading Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. One of the best lines in it is ‘Make something beautiful of your life’.
Do make something fantastic of your life this week.
A good deal of the world’s music and literature is about home towns. Cities and their vibes have been squeezed for inspiration with good results for both the ARTS and artists’ pockets.
I haven’t spent enough time in Kitgum Matidi to write anything sincere and/or impressive about my home town, and I identify more with Kampala by virtue of having lived all of my years in the place.
Before I was allowed to leave home on my own, I thought the stories in Saturday Vision’s Krazy krazy Kampala were made up. I just couldn’t reconcile the city I experienced as so normal and boring with the people that this column reported committing all sorts of silly acts, fornicating to death and all those dogs going on such undoggy adventures! All of it seemed like lies; until I started to use public transport.
First up were the idlers. Probably a quarter of Kampala’s population is made of people who wake up in the morning to stand on street corners either doing nothing or hissing and fondling passersby.Nobody is safe from their wet attentions; wet because gosh, have you seen the amount of spit they spray when they’re really into the hissing? If you stopped them waggling their tongues long enough to offer them 2bob to wash your car, they’d likely launch into a tale detailing the deaths of their parents and then ask you for money. Never mind your car.
The taxi stage next to my workplace recently acquired an interesting one. In the normal fashion, he pollutes my days with random eyebrow waggling, but when I get closer to him, he says, in a comically rising voice,“Mpulira njagala kusitula!”If the mpulira is do on the solfa scale, the situla is a so. I translate his words as I really feel like lifting you up! which sounds like something a person would say to a nursery school kid, so I always smile.
The people in this city are easy to please. One morning at around 7.30 am, an empty bus swung into the Ntinda stage. People rushed into it, some even abandoning their seats in nearby matatus. The bus didn’t fill up, so it idled for a while. A tutorial started to play on the little screen upfront, informing us of rules and regulations and when it ended, there was a smattering of applause. It played a second time and the clapping was even louder.
Two chatty girls got on and because there was only one seat left, they opted to stand, clutching at the dangling handholds for support. When the bus started to move, local music videos begin to play at a crazily loud volume. In the stead of coffee, Co Co finger, Twonjex and Bebe Cool jolted life into our still sleepy forms. The girls began immediately to dance. The mzungu one was very entertaining. First she bobbed her head and her knees in perfect rhythm then her neck jerked and swiveled first to one side then to the other. Her waist began to move in that way that was so popular in my senior two, bongo flavor belly dancing.
The overall effect was awkward and adorable, and made me realize just how boring I’m becoming. In her place, I wouldn’t have danced so freely. People started cheering them on and a couple left their seats to join them on the dance floor. The smart girls quickly occupied their vacated seats. Drat. My space is done. This will probably be continued.