Crutch Me One Time (Say it with Reggaeton).

Crutches hurt your back, stress your arms and give you the gait of a scarecrow on stilts. Even though I was possessed by a strange excitement when I first began to use mine, the novelty wore off chap chap. Life changes when you’re so openly hurt. People you’ve passed by for two years on your way to work all of a sudden stop and with sympathy in their voices, ask you what happened.

First I thought I was being mocked and became angry, but the concern seemed genuine so I mellowed out. That’s one thing that comes with crutches: paranoia.

I was walking up Capital shopper’s parking lot with my sister when I noticed that a trio of young adults had turned to stare. I couldn’t believe their bad manners. I scowled and began to complain loudly about the stupidity of Ugandans nowadays. After listening to me rant for a few seconds, Jero said, “But you realize you have just shaved the back of your head, right? You have a ponytail at the top and shiny kipalata on the bottom half of your scalp. Sure they may be wondering about the crutch, but this attention, you deserve it for wearing that hairstyle.” And she is right. I am used to the doubletakes. Because of the new crutches however, I was convinced that these people were intentionally trying to make me feel awkward.

Crutches provide the perfect response to the kiss-kiss, sister-sister laced overtures that Kampala’s idlers so love to make. Now if I feel a person’s words are offensive, I stop and threaten them with my crutch. So far, both men have run away with real fear in their eyes. I understand that I am a fine specimen of a woman, even with my crooked walk but ssebo, have some respect. I am struggling to get from place to place on this wonky leg and really don’t need your lechery in my life right now.

Breaking my leg has made me unable to abide unkindness, especially from people who are supposed to be making my life easier. Last week I wrote about how traumatized I was by the service at (a certain) hospital in Ntinda. Be fair, people. If you are going to be bad to me, make sure it is when I am full of health and can chase you down.

If you like to look different, the opportunity to accessorize your crutch will fill you up with glee (well, when the thing is not making your armpit yell with pain). I decorated mine with colorful flowers made out of kitenge material and paper beads, making it a bit easier to tolerate.

Lastly, crutches infantilize you. You are not able to blaze out of a room or hop on a boda at will. Because I hate being idle, I decided to continue going to work after my fibula broke

(stupid decision). It is not a very important bone and if it wasn’t for the fear of never wearing wedges/ running again, I wouldn’t even be using this crutch. I cannot leave or arrive at office on my own so my father’s car is very important to me now. His time keeping too. Do you remember when you were five and you realized that you were the last person in class who hadn’t been picked up yet? Do you remember how the tears started forming from the pit of your belly, how they traveled up to your eyes making you cry and cry like you’d never stop? That’s how I, big woman as I am, felt when father picked me up at 7pm last Monday.

Crutches change your life completely. I almost can’t remember walking any other way (lies, I really really can).

Of course I tried to use it as a modeling prop. One day, my moceling career is going to take off. You wait.

Of course I tried to use the thing as a modeling prop. One day, my modeling career is going to take off. You wait.

I dared Mt. Muhavura and she dared me right back.

When I was leaving for Mountain Muhavura last Friday, I wrote a braggy facebook update daring the mountain to become steeper because I felt I needed a proper challenge to help me forget the week I had had. I got a challenge alright. As I write this, I have one cracked fibula and a body that is still bruised from the various ways I had to contort it as I climbed.

Well I wasn't climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Well I wasn’t climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Have you ever exerted yourself so much that even your elbows sweat? Has your body ever given out so deeply that your mind stops recording your life? This is what happened. Halfway up the mountain, I stopped noticing things. I placed one foot after the other like every zombie in every zombie flick you have seen.

If the journey up takes away all of your energy, the journey down steals your patience. I began to fast-walk, and then slow-jog down the mountain. I had become bored with my pace and also competitive. It gets old, watching person after person overtake you. I also wanted to feel fit.

When my knee cracked back and I heard that pop, I fell down and wailed like a heartbroken actor in a Telenovella.

OK like this, only less dignified.

OK like this, only less dignified.

My poor limb. First, it had been ravaged by the spider mites on my herb patch, making it scar so much that I look like I’m wearing polka dotted stockings, and now I had broken it. Central to my weeping was that I would not be able to dance that night. A trip to a new place is not complete for me if I haven’t jiggled my limbs to its music! I was full of despair. Somehow, I got off the mountain. Somehow, I danced. Somehow, my moves did not make my leg break clean in half.

Yea

Yea

When I got to Kampala, my first stop was a hospital in Ntinda that I have been asked to please not name. The medical insurance I have is tied to that place. With the help of my nkoni, I hobbled up the stairs right into a nightmare. I have never encountered such confusion or rudeness. I should have run right out when I saw that the doctor was wearing a tiny pink dress top leggings and strappy sandals. You guys, I work in Advertising. That is my uniform. When clients see me, they go, Oh! This one must be full of crazy ideas. That is NOT what you want to be thinking about your doctor.

Me on a good day, You would not allow me to treat you.

Me on a good day. Don’t allow any doctor who looks like this to treat you.

Fortunately for me, she didn’t seem to have any ideas at all, good or bad and after 30 minutes of spastic, disinterested and distracted service, I was sent away with diclofenac and instructions to return for a session with the ‘sonographer’. The next day, the receptionist informed me that I would need authorization from my office to see this sonoperson. After two hours, she snappily informed me that my office hadn’t called back with the authorization. Now I know the fault wasn’t hers and reserve a big helping of side-eye for my office admin, but surely she could have let me know an hour earlier. I shook my crutch at them all and limped out of their establishment.

I eventually had my leg scanned at Span in Kisaasi, and although I am sure I left with some damaged cells thanks to being X-rayed on a naked table with no protective clothing over the rest of my body, I was happy with their service. The doctor made me feel like I was going to be OK. To distract me from the painful massage (there was a whole lot of swelling but I have been informed that it was very stupid of him to massage my fractured limb), he called me an athlete and told me stories of how basket ballers sometimes have to have their fibulas sawed entirely off.

I finally hauled my ass to a bone specialist and he’s put me in a leg brace and scared me into using my crutch more diligently, because nti I will never run again if I fool around with the healing of my limb.

I feel like an autobot.

I feel like an autobot.

One bright side is that thanks to the fracture, my body requires for me to take almost three times as many calories per day in order to heal properly. You guys August is going to be gorgeous. Fooooood!

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

Attacked by Kilogologo (also known as the demon itch).

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. 

It looks about 10 times worse than this.

It looks about 10 times worse than this.

Matooke peels in mah pits.

I’m a sucker for experiments. Let’s eat catfish for a week! Let’s listen to Tyler the Creator’s entire album! Let’s make our own kwete!

Generally, I’m going to say yes.

A few months ago, Aloikin tweeted about the wonders lemon had worked in her armpits.  She said that if you put her armpit next to a Hollywood one, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  

My ambitions are a bit closer to home. Nollywood’s Genevieve is the truth. 

Walahi I was inspired

Walahi I was inspired

Inspired, I abandoned deos and turned to my pantry, the internet and some very strange substances for solutions to vubs.  I then wrote about my experience herehere and here.

On Monday night/ Tuesday morning, a rare and wonderful thing happened: my sister Jerolyn and I were insomniating at the same time! People call us twins on account of how alike we look and how in sync we are  naye adulthood has so much drama that even when you live in the same house, you can find yourself drifting apart from your untwin. Finding her in the living room felt like a trip back to childhood! It also felt like a heart attack because who sits so silently in the dark?

During my deoless weeks, a lovely lady called Yvonne suggested that I burn matooke peels, add water to the ash and rub the paste onto my armpits before going to bed.

All ready to burn

All ready to burn

There’s not much to do at 3.30 am, so Jero and I decided to try this out. It seemed like a simple enough plan. We had eaten matooke for supper, so there was no shortage of peels. A few coals on the sigiri were still hot, so I attempted to bring them to life, for the peel roasting. 10 minutes and a face full of ash later, I suggested that we try the microwave.

The next 30 minutes can be summed up thus: At least we didn’t burn the house down.

After 25 minutes of micro-grilling, we crushed the now brittle peels and ended up with what you see below:

2013-06-25 04.42.54

You guys, matooke peel ash has such a gorgeous, intimate, velvety, coffee like smell. It is so rich, so dark, so wholesome.

I realize I may have just described my ideal mate.  If you are rich (talent counts), dark (um, yea) and wholesome (like butter), this is for you.

We also made some  ginger/aloe water to use in spicing our bath water. We added some of it to the ash and made a nice paste.

I could eat this stuff. The smell!

I could eat this stuff. Smells like many heavens

Unfortunately, ginger is such a bully. Its flavor was all fronting, trying to outshine the matooke peel. On application of the paste, we both experienced a strange tingling sensation (thanks to the ginger I bet). I’m going to use plain aloe water next time.

On Tuesday morning,  I “forgot” to use deodorant, and am happy to report that I only started smelling shady at around 5pm. Win!

Here’s to experiments, new discoveries and deep smelling substances.

:D

😀

P.s: Late last year, I submitted a story to the Writivism competition. It made the long list and has been published on Short Story Day Africa and Reader’s Cafe Africa. It’s such a wonderful high, getting published.

Check my story out you fab person, you.

Dare to Smell: Aloe Vera gel Saves the Day

Aloe Vera is incredible. It is self healing, can survive with little or no attention, is anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, great for skin, hair, genitals, you name it. For a while, I have been writing about the weeks during which I abandoned mainstream deodorant and went on a quest to find a natural substance that would do away with body odor.

 Find Part one here and Part two here.

When I first decided to put freshly harvest aloe gel under my armpits, I was just playing around. I didn’t expect it to work, but it did. It eliminated the stench-causing bacteria in my armpits for three days. But on the fourth day it failed.

My theory is this: Aloe vera stopped working because I had become distressed. I know this sounds a bit of, but I am just recounting what happened to me (with zero embellishments). A person to whom I’d been quite attached passed out of my life quite abruptly and immediately, I began to smell appalling. Stress makes you sweat more so that must have been a factor, but this wasn’t regular stress. I took to applying fresh aloe vera gel thrice a day but still, I smelt like a dead snake.  The smell of distress is like a moan from the very soul of your armpits.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I didn’t care. I mean, who worries about vubs when their hearts is bleeding?  After all, God didn’t create the nose with special instructions to smell only perfume.

I only snapped out of my funk after what I call the Kisaasi bus incident.  It was the end of a long day and as I walked to the place at Kamwokya stage where Kisaasi taxis congregate,  I made a short prayer that I would find a window seat. It had been a rough day, worse than usual and I smelt both sweaty and distressed.

Alas, there weren’t any empty window seats and so I had to settle for a middle one in the back row. To my right was a lovely looking girl and to my left was a nice enough guy. He made space for me, even smiled. Nobody smiles at a stinky person right? Wrong.

My neighbor on the right was having a fit. She began by pushing the window as wide open as it could go. She then held her tiny nose between her delicate fingers and winced. I looked at the guy on the left and he was having no reaction! I almost asked her if I smelt weird, but I knew the answer to that, so I kept mum.

Eventually, I became irritated with what I saw as a gross overreaction on her part. She was practically holding her breath. Do you know how long it takes to get to Kisaasi from Kamwokya? To have somebody risk death, just so that they don’t have to breath your stink in, that hurts. I felt she was being overtly mean.

Eventually, she moved out of the bus. There’s nothing like a beautiful girl reacting with horror to your presence to help you pick yourself up.

I didn’t start using anything different. Rather, I began to apply aloe vera even in the night before sleeping. Since the smell had been brought on my my distress, I decided to proactively deal with my feelings of loss, denial, anger and fear that all break ups come with. Sadness is no excuse to smell like a he-goat.

My armpits have healed over completely. They no longer look fried by chemicals and are absolutely flawless. An added bonus is that even when I forget to apply aloe, I smell like nothing. 

Recently, I went to Forever living and bought an aloe deodorant. I am OK with most of its ingredients although tricoslan has many weird reviews on the internet. Many days, I’m happy to go without. Occasionally, I go back to applying fresh gel, but  I’d really rather eat the aloe that surrender it to my pits.

So what do you think of my journey? Would you abandon mainstream deos for more natural alternatives?

Breasts, Bras and Feelings

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.  

Staying out late.

The praying mantis lands on the boda-man’s jacket with a dry, final sound like a slap. Unbelievable. Lamaro freezes where she’s standing: to the side of the motorcycle with one leg lifted and hooked at the knee. Her hands remain clutching at the hem of her brown lycra dress-top, making it stretch it over her leggings; a thing she was doing to minimize the amount of thigh that would show when she settled onto the bike.

A long, brown, ugly mantis.

Her face is flat except for a twitching around her nose and it is with great calm that she straightens her leg and backs away from the man, his bike and his insect. A thin sound starts to snake out of her mouth.

The bodaman panics and whips his neck from side to side, trying to peer over his shoulder. Unable to see anything, he cries out for a passerby to please tell him what monstrosity is sitting on his back.  “Kongolomabere,” Lamaro starts to mouth, but then remembers the laughter with which Alex met her pronunciation the last time.

The passing man flicks the praying mantis off and she’s about to thank him when he kicks it at her jeering, “As if it is a snake. You, a big woman. This is just insect.”

Her reaction is rougher than is fair, but after exhibiting so much self-control that day, even towards the little bitches in school uniform that yelled NO at her as she was walking out of the gate, she verbally smacks the sneer off his face. “Tumbavu, what business of yours is it what I fear or not fear?”

Lamaro clambers onto the bike and closes her eyes to stop herself tearing at the tainted jacket. It’s now Konshens or nothing. Too late for anything else. If I die I die.

Boda rides in Kampala are preparation for death. Not death. For that moment right before it when you’re certain that your entire existence is going to turn to zero in the next second. You and your issues are only going to be fit for burying, perhaps cremation, or maybe you’ll have been ridden over by so many speeding vehicles that there won’t be enough of you left to fill a spoon.

No matter how often you use a particular rider or how big his boda’s seat is, you’re always a brittle hair away from death: a freak swerve, a mean driver, an absentminded pedestrian.

The rider who delivered Lamaro from Maganjo to her changing place in Kamwokya was both a novice and a fool. He had no knowledge of the shortcuts, no idea where he as a two tyre man stood on the hierarchy of road users and no rhythm or bearings. Such an idiot was he that it took a slap from her to alert him to a van that was driving straight towards them.

And now this. A praying mantis. The cosmos can’t be more clear in voicing it’s disapproval of her decision to attend the show.

Tucking her guilt away and ordering her mind to shut up, she plucks a phone out of her bra.

Text me, Alex. I’m terrified. 10 minutes away. Be ready with my ticket. xo.

Lamaro sees the crowd outside Kyadondo rugby club and immediately feels bad. So monumentally huge is it that it resembles a thick millipede with arms sticking out at weird angles as a result of something devastating like radiation poisoning. She feels fake about her choice of career. Had she gone with terrorism, she’d be one blast away from supposed paradise, virgins and the like. her lifework would be complete.

As advised, she scans the millipede for a police officer to help her pick her ticket from Alex. The music from inside is whipping the crowd outside into a frenzy of envy and yearning. No policeman in sight. Perhaps up ahead? But from where she’s standing, “up ahead” is just a myth.

Plan B. She adjusts her bra, unfastens her earrings, throws them in, sticks her elbows out, leans forward and pushes.

To the guy who delivers a sharp pinch to her ass, Lamaro expresses her sincere hope that his mother will die of tapeworm. At the police officer who lifts her by the shoulders and throws her to the end of the line, she spits her hope that his cock will dis-attach and land in a pit latrine as soon as possible.To the dude who cuts short her descent into the sewerage filled trench that is bubbling just centimeters from the stumbling, hysterical millepede by grabbing her waist and pressing his groin against her butt so hard, she can feel the shape of every sperm in his sacs, she expresses her sincere thanks. And also, “When you die, I hope it will be quick. Before then, I hope you never get the opportunity to repeat your actions against anything more animate than a wall.”

After 30 minutes of clawing, shoving and having at least one kilogram pressed off her on all sides, she is birthed, blinking and gulping air onto the show grounds.

She allows herself a moment of nothing and that is how Alex finds her, staring blankly at a coca cola drinks tent. When he taps her shoulder, it feels like she’s been plugged back into the socket of  the living. Lamaro throws herself into him.

They look. When the one in the red skirt and blue panties performs a convulsing downward dog with so much devotion that you can see her round, vapid eyes shining between her legs, they gape. When the one in a tutu with the thighs full of thunder starts to shake away all of the things her momma gave her into the crowd in return for its attentions, they practically bawl; she with her face between his shoulder blades, he with his palms over his face. This bawling quickly turns into outrage when the emcee tries to shoo thunder girl off the stage for being fat. Shya!

The shock of wobbling buttocks and sacred things being flashed at them wears off quickly. Dancehall is in their blood, infecting them with randiness, making their pelvises revolve of their own volition.

The looking goes on. Alex at the twitter page off his Nokia, Lamaro at the crowd and at his profile. Irritation is mounting. She’s starting to feel abandoned. A fight. No resolution in sight. Dancehall plaiting itself into everything. Is irritation real when you’re popping your ass and bopping your head?

More girls on the stage. Konshens knows what he came to Uganda for. The show is good. His refusal to dance with miss thunder is final. His preference of the small girl, ‘pretty gyal’ with the orange bra and black panties is clear. He slaps her ass. She waggles her tongue. “What am I doing here?” it seems to ask.

In the air: weed and noise. If there is tension between them, it’s getting ground to nothing between their bodies. Dancehall has won that fight.

Konshens knows how to read a crowd. He’s not stupid enough to try that crowd surfing stuff. A real Ugandan will move clean out of the way and laugh when he lands. When the crowd doesn’t know a song, he tells the DJ to skip it. When people start to lose interest, he brings Chamili on. When the sweaty smell of exhaustion begins to rise of the crowd, he tells them to wyeve some. They wyeve some. Hard to hate this guy.

It ends. Lamaro’s outfit is not the same. They’ve lost her belt somewhere. She took it off a little too quickly when Alex said, “It gives you two stomachs. One is better than two, in my opinion…but I don’t know about these things.”

Later he says, “What were you thinking? You looked like a clown!” Apparently, brown leggings and brown dress tops don’t go well with golden pumps and nappy hair.

Lamaro’s howls of laughter are laced with mortification. Were those stupid school girls right after all? What clothes does one wear to such things anyhow, where you spend all your time behaving like you have none on?

She shouldn’t be laughing, she knows. She ought to turn to him with a serious face, eyebrows lifted superciliously and say, “Even if I had decided to wear a sack, that should have been acceptable to you.” But she doesn’t.

She laughs and laughs and laughs.

I like to move it move it

Making the decision to work out is easy, but actually starting to do it requires the kind of mental and emotional preparation that can exhaust you without even making you break a sweat. You have to battle ennui, inhibition, those school memories of having to run cross-country and your natural fear of looking stupid before you’re ready to get on the road to fitness.

My jogging kit remained in a bag under my desk for two months before I carried it outside, kicked it to expel any snakes and started to use it. Partly, this was because I wanted to exercise for the right reasons.

Sure, my waistline had expanded to meet the flesh below and above it so that if I felt the desire to wear a waist, I’d have to superimpose one using a belt, but I preach the gospel of self-acceptance. What if age or motherhood makes me permanently larger and rounder? Will I resent time or my child for stealing my figure?

The second reason was that after a year of working around Kamwokya, also known as the HQ of street hecklers in Uganda, I’d become timid. These men were so bold about shouting obscenities, staring and even getting physical that I wasn’t sure I wanted to call attention to myself by jiggling around in a vest and tights.

And then one night I awoke with what felt like a pig of exhaustion lying across my shoulders. No amount of stretching could unseat it. I was lying on the floor, thinking dejectedly about the old days when I’d sleep like a baby after yoga when, get this, I heard the invisible pig chuckle.

My jogging started the next week.

It was hell of course and after 3 weeks, my knees failed. If you intend to work out, do some research. Find the necessary stretches on Youtube and buy a pair of proper shoes because the pain that runner’s knee comes with is stupid and terrible.

I posted an update on facebook asking for advice from other runners and was devastated when all the comments were variations of ‘take some time off’ and ‘do low impact exercises’ because as terrible as the first few weeks were, an intense, unbelievable balloon of excitement would explode in my brain after every run.

My understanding of the scientific explanation I’ve read regarding this high is that your body computes increased physical activity as a fight or flight situation and produces dopamine, serotonin and endorphins to lessen the shock/impact , thus making you very high.

The idea of going back to a life of sleeping with invisible animals around my shoulders filled me with so much dread that I hugged the computer screen when I discovered Zumba. Zumba is a combination of aerobics, dance and fun. It’s great, but made me feel like I was cheating on jogging. I found myself saying things like, “Jogging and Zumba occupy two completely different spaces of my heart!” and “Jogging is my spouse but Zumba is my favorite gigolo”.

We’re in an open relationship now.

Working out will make you more confident. I know this because I don’t get heckled anymore thanks to the scary eyes I learnt to throw the gigglers on my running route. Your memory improves, your productivity increases and you learn self-discipline (if you can work-out every day for 7 weeks, you can do anything).

I’ve dropped 10 kilograms, look like a goddess-complete with emerging abs, and this new vanity will probably drown me.

Love in the time of mosquitoes

A short story.

I stand surrounded. They approach drunkenly, wheezing out their battle cries. They’re smug in the knowledge that I can’t win for I am one and they are who knows how many.

My hand tightens around Kiboko, the red and black electric racket that we bought as a by-the-way when we were moving. Ha.

Our foes are of two kinds: the hungry and the full.The hungry are fast, light on their wings, flitting from curtain to curtain and wantonly singing their intentions at us. I am silent.

One lands on my back and sinks its proboscis into flesh. I let it. Screw the stinging. I have become addicted to the smell of electrifying blood.

Let it feed.

If two human beings had to exist in the room we’re in, together, forever, they’d kill each other. Not enough space. A galaxy of mosquitos however… I walk ponderously, with a purpose, in slow motion to a curtain on my right and

“Can you at least walk properly?

Sklat!

“What do you mean walk properly? I am Van Helsing. Why would I walk properly?”

I lunge to my left and catch three mosquitos of the full variety. I breathe in deeply.

“Then cut the narration out. I gave up on those bastards a long time ago. They’re too many. Come.”

“I wonder why they don’t smell like nsenene, or at least fried white ants when I hit them. If they did, we’d probably eat them.”

“That would be cannibalism. If you eat a mosquito that has my blood in it, you are a cannibal”

“And you’re a snob”.

We’ve been awake two hours now. It’s early or late, or whatever time it needs to be to ensure we’ll be dripping with annoyance and sleep when our alarms go off.  He’s lying with his face to the ceiling, wearing his hand over his eyes. That’s all he’s wearing.

Somebody told me once that when you can be naked in the same room as your lover and your immediate response is not to jump their bones, you’re in a relationship. We’re in a relationship.

He feels my gaze or my smile and pulls a sheet over his waist. I laugh, turn and sklat! 5 more dead. I’m enjoying this maybe too much?

I fly around the room, beating and kicking at the clusters of hanged clothes. They offer protection, asylum to our enemies. Whenever I make impact, the mosquitoes fall away; thicken the air with their numbers. With pops, sizzles and zaps, my racket welcomes the black, undulating cloud. The sound their bellies make as they explode makes me glad.

The racket eventually runs out of power so I jam it to a wall socket and it’s as I am lowering myself to the carpet that my knees remember they’re supposed to be suffering from runner’s knee. They start to burn and creak. I look at his face to see if the creaking is as audible as it feels. Apparently not.

Fuck these mosquitoes. I detest them but dig the opportunity they’re giving me to show my new body off. With every turn and lunge, I’m saying, “look at what my running has given me. See how firm my belly is, the one you used to frown at whenever you thought I wasn’t looking. I’m trimmer! I’m slimmer!”

As a woman of the new world and a feminist, I’m not supposed to care about such things. I’m a warrior for acceptance and expression. I preach that if a person’s way of owning their body is by letting it get bigger, rounder and streaked with stretchmarks, their decision should be respected, just like the decision to get a tattoo is respected.

But I[often] care. I want to look something like the half-starved girl I was at university. How ironic that when you’re at your vainest, just aching to show yourself off is the time you aren’t getting laid. At all.

My 9-5 lifestyle has come with a slowness that my body refuses to accommodate. It’s refused to expand in what society considers all the right places (certainly not arms, bellies and backs).

Sklat!

Our foes become bold again, leaving their hiding places and dancing around my ears. I jerk the racket off the wall, jam my thumb against the red depressor on its side and swat the air, killing them one by one, two by four, seven by infinity. I take them out swinging and skipping and screeching  until I am spent. Then I return to bed and stare at the bumps on his arm, each representing an attack, blood stolen from his, my veins.

Vengeance has been taken.

Now, for my reward.

End.

This should be on the new blog I opened for my short stories, but I’m too attached to apenyo dot wordpress and I’m trying to post everyday so. Here you go.

Tell me what you think, yea? Kawa.

For more on love (but not mosquitoes, click this link. )

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