Caution: Touch the 2 year old at your own risk.

Every Wednesday evening for some time now, my father, siblings and I have opened our home to whoever will come. The line up is usually the same: tea, music and spiritual edification.

We have a resident 23-month-old who is as cute as she is dramatic. She loves attention and adults are all too willing to give it to her.

Also, she wears my heels better than I do.

Also, she wears my heels better than I do.

Kati the more attention she gets, the more dramatic she becomes, which makes adults pay her even more attention. It’s a cycle that when put in motion is almost impossible to break.  Sometimes I am tempted to sellotape a placard to her back reading: Pet this baby at your own risk. All tantrums that occur up to five minutes after your petting are to be quelled with with no expectation of help from the members of this family.

Our cousin Ashley lives right next door and so on one occasion, her mother thought it would be a great idea to bring her over for cell. Now these two girls have only one week’s age difference. They are like twins. They encourage the kawuka of madness in each other.

At first glance, they are the picture of perfection, sitting on a sofa gulping down milk, or lying on a mat, learning how to use crayons. And then you make the mistake of looking away. When you look back they are: Chewing crayons. Creeping to the bathroom. Pulling the cat’s tail. Trying to topple the sugar bowl. Tearing Books. Trying to fry themselves with electricity. Trying to jump off chairs. Licking the bottoms of shoes. Painting their bodies with lipstick. Laying waste to feminine hygiene products. You get the picture.

When Ashley arrived, that was the end of sanity. We weren’t able to concentrate for more than five minutes at a time because to two year olds, everything is an emergency. They demand all of your attention and usually have nothing to fill it with. They just want you to witness their lives as they happen.

A home-cell cannot withstand that kind of pressure and so it  turned into a five-person babysitathon and not even the tricks that I had learned during my weeks of leave helped.

Thanks to my broken leg, I spent almost three weeks at home and was able to really hang out with these girls. According to the internet, children’s minds are more permeable than sponges at this stage and so during the first week, I was all like, “I’m starting a nursery school!”

I tried to create a fun syllabus.The subjects were simple. Snacking, chasing chickens, counting, naming body parts and sleeping. They added secret-fighting, force-feeding one another and giggling to the list. Don’t get me wrong, It is magical when a two-year-old girl giggles but when she is out of sight, with another two year old, you’d better run to the crime scene.

AdorBable! Also, she'd just intentionally spilled the bowl of kaliisoliisos that I had painstakingly gathered.

AdorBable! Also, she’d intentionally spilled the bowl of kaliisoliisos that I had just painstakingly gathered.

At the end of the cell-turned-nursery school, mama Ashley and I had one main prayer request: For God to give us all patience and the grace to recognize that no matter what atrocities two year olds commit, they are not being malicious.

Actually, there are legitimate reasons why children around this age behave so erratically. Melinda Wenner on Slate writes that, “The frontal lobe, which is responsible for planning, logic, reasoning, working memory and self-control, is vastly underdeveloped at this age and because of this toddlers are really living in the moment, not thinking about consequences…a semi functional frontal lobe also means that toddlers have practically no sense of time and patience and therefore experience wanting as needing…” Look, just read the article HERE.

Her bigass Opwonya foot when she was a few days old.

Her foot when she was a few days old. Big is Big.

In two days, Daniella will turn two. My life, our lives,  would be dry and meaningless husks without her. Happy birthday, baby Danniebooboolocious. You’re proof that Opwonyas are born, not made.

My darling and I

My darling and I

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Broken Bones, Restructured Hearts and Other News. (Hello August)

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.

2013-08-01 12.38.30

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.

Yay essential oils

My hair smells like peppermint. My pillowcase has wild lavender tucked into it, plucked right off the slopes of Mountain Muhavura.

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

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.

whosaqueen?

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!

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

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.

On crutches, but still pretty.

Pretty crutches.

x

So I inhaled a bunch of catshit.

There’s nothing more disappointing than when your body fails you. I’m not talking about the times when you fail your body by wantonly eating junk and refusing to exercise and then it protests by contracting incurable “rich man” diseases. I’m talking about your averagely fit, young-enough-to-be-alive pillar of flesh deciding that some germ is stronger than it is, and recording this failure as illness.

I am ill, disgustingly so. I am so germy that I can’t stand to be near myself. When I enter a taxi, I mentally apologize to everyone who has to breathe in my carbon dioxide. When I enter a supermarket, I try to touch as few things as I can to minimize possibility of infecting some innocent. Well, that’s when I’m not feeling malicious. You see, disease attacks your mind too.
One minute I’m feeling sad about all the people I might zombiefy by accident and the next, I’m walking with arms outstretched, trying to brush against as many healthy people as I can. They just seem so smug with their shiny cheeks and clean noses.

I’ve also been having disturbing fantasies, for example: I imagine myself marching around office and punching all the healthy people to a beat of that Tutuuse track by Ruyonga. I Imagine calmly brewing a nice cup of honey-ginger tea, smashing it against my computer and then rubbing my face in the chaos while wailing about how nobody loves me. Mostly, I’ve imagined what my funeral will be like if I die of flu and how hard my enemies will laugh.

Some people are really nice when ill. Even from their sickbeds, they radiate kindness and consideration and do all within their means to appear a-OK because they’d hate for you to worry. I’m not one of those. I want a pity party complete with chocolate muffins and get well soon cards and this time, I kind of deserve one.
This is how I got sick. Last Saturday, I walked into the garage that my little brothers have been sleeping in since it was converted into a bedroom. Nothing could have prepared me for the madness.

Because they have a lot of space, we’ve been slowly filling their bedroom up with junk. A tall, wide bookshelf leaned against one wall and not one, not two but three bicycles were leaning against the opposite wall. The shelf was overflowing with cat poo, old newspapers, old clothes, old school books, clothes bought from the green shop…all kinds of rubbish. My heart wept a tiny bead of blood that pushed it’s way through the layers of my clothes and surveyed the situation. “This just won’t do”, it said, and so I got to work.

It took an entire day of constant arrangement, sweeping, wiping, dusting, burning and gagging to get the place looking as great as it does now. Because I was dealing with things that hadn’t been touched for years, I inhaled a lot of dust and powdered cat poo. I’m now disgustingly, stickily sick.
All is however well with my soul because during this burst of motivation, I discovered many awesome books; the best of all being ‘Conversations with African writers’ by Lee Nichols. It was published in the 1980s and contains an interview with one writer from every English speaking country in Africa! Although my body is sick, my mind is blown and that is good enough for me.

All donations, (pledges of ) chocolates and get well soon messages are welcome in the comment section.

Ululate, clap your hands, swallow fireworks. Apenyo is GRADUATING :)!

Life is like google circles. That’s a pretty deep, time conscious piece of philosophy I just came up with. You expose different kinds of information to the different groups of people that you fraternize with; for example you wouldn’t upload a post about the appearance of boils in your armpit where your heartless friends would be likely to find it. Information on its size and color would only be shared with a circle full of aunties who would flood the internet with sympathetic g-cooing and much g-love.

Circles put me in mind of phases and relationships. You can grow too large for a circle both intellectually and physically and have to leave it. You can start hating all the people in one circle and go find another one in which you’ll be less likely to turn homicidal. A circle can also outlive its usefulness of you and spit you out like a watermelon seed.

Makerere has officially had its fill of us 08’ babies (the ones who were sensible enough to pick three year courses) and from tomorrow to the 20th, it’s going to be spitting us and spitting hard. We’re going to be shoved into young adulthood dressed in funny looking gowns and a sash that is the most unfortunate shade of baby blue in existence.

I’m sad that I never got to live out my fantasy of participating in a strike dressed in a tiny tulip skirt made out of that red cloak that you’re supposed to get at the beginning of your campus career.

That skirt teamed with a cute vest and good running shoes is perfect gear for violently waving a branch around and yelling things like PUT SOME TP IN THE HALL TOILETS or WHY DON’T YOU USE ONIONS IN OUR MEALS or WHENEVER YOU GIVE A STUDENT 49%, THEY CURSE YOU TO THE FOURTH GENERATION into a megaphone.

What happens when you’re not a campus chick anymore? Do you cease to qualify for free drinks? Because the existence of campus girls is one of the reasons that so much alcohol is consumed in the country. They gulp the stuff down like a desert would consume a bottle of baby oil and people are all too willing to rain the alcohol on them. For free. So after graduation, when we walk into bars, will ‘NOT 22 and naïve’ be stamped on our foreheads?

Perhaps maturity shall possess us the minute we stumble out of that square in our too high shoes and the need to constantly be on facebook will, like our one time obsession with Pringles and gummy bears, fade away.

What else does young adulthood mean? A job, yes? Life is going to arrange itself into neat little packets of 9-5 boringness. Bosses are going to have floods of enthusiastic, if slightly inept young people pouring into their offices, begging for the opportunity to be used and even abused. If they’re nice bosses, they look forward to shaping yet another batch of youngsters into corporate robots. If they’re stupid evil bastards, they’re rubbing their hands in glee, salivating, waiting to gorge themselves on 22year old souls.

If you have a brain on your shoulders and resources, you’re tearing a niche for yourself in the Ugandan economy by starting your own business or company. And if you were so paranoid about becoming a poor, unemployed GeNext statistic after campus that you found yourself a job(s) which didn’t involve hawking your body at some point during the last three years, I salute you.

Have a nice life.