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

Feel your feelings, read and travel.

First of all you guys, Chuma Nwokolo Jr. just followed me on twitter.  I don’t know. The world is so strange. My great grandmother, Apenyo the 1st would not be able to wrap her head around why a thing such as a ‘follow’, a little bit of finger pressure on the right space of computer screen would make a person so hysterical with joy. I barely understand it myself.

Chuma is the author responsible for Diaries of a Dead African, one of my favorite books this year.

Read this book

Read this book

It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me eat a lot. Give my mind a moment to explode with bright yellow joy.

Yes, it disturbed me that the few female characters in the book were two dimensional, but  Meme Jumai will always live in my head. I’ve made for him a special space where things like desperation and hunger and indignity don’t exist. His section was my favorite.

*

I’m still obsessing over what my Thursday posts should be about. Should they chronicle the little dramas in my life? Should they be about herbs? Sigh.

For this post, the first idea that came to me was: What to do when you’re contacted by an ex who you have very deliberately cut out of your life? This is probably the most used and abused subject in the history of the internet, but I wanted to add my angst filled voice to the choir, but then I actually met with him and my anger went away. How disappointing.

But maybe I’ll write about it when I feel less lazy.

I then considered writing about the process of finding your correctness and how you can get thrown off your path by hypocritical and condescending people who are convinced that they know you and the workings of your mind better than you do. But then I realized it would get too personal then I’d begin to over edit, then I’d just choke on angst and die.

Sometimes, an asshole is somebody you appreciate on other levels and it is better to shift your focus on to things that matter.  Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu and all that.

But maybe I’ll write about it when I feel less lazy.

*

You all know how much I love traveling. Travel writing is something I’d like to dedicate a large part of my life to.  Sabili Tours contacted me at the beginning of the year and together, we came up with a campaign called Around Uganda in 7 trips. These guys are passionate about getting young Ugandans to travel around their country.

This talk nti being a tourist is for bazungu is just lazy. People are coming from other continents to look at your baboons and to hike up your mountains and to rent rooms around your tea plantations and you’re here in Kampala choking on matatu fumes. People, tutravelinge!

Come and we model next to falls and such

Come and we model next to falls and such

Season 3 of Around Uganda in 7 trips is taking us to Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is going to be brilliant on so many levels (foh exampo):

1. Road trip!

2. Spending the night close to animals that you have probably only ever seen on TV.

3. Actually meeting these animals (from a safe distance).

4. Hanging out with some of the coolest people I know.

Click this link to see evi-da of how epic these trips get and then book your place.

In final news, Sunday is going to be a very special day in my life because Writivism is taking me to Hilton High School to read and discuss True to Nothing with the literature club there. Bless them.   

To find out more about my involvement with the Writivism competition, watch this video. 

Kawa Apenyo out!

See you on Monday 

x

Respect My Hunger.

Because food; the eating, growing, cooking, serving and wearing of, is one of my favorite things, I take the service I receive at restaurants very seriously. I feel truly betrayed when a waiter tells me that my order will be steaming in front of my watering mouth in 15 minutes and then 40 minutes later, he or she has not even carried the tomato sauce and cutlery to my table. I become overwhelmed by a  hysteria that, on a good day, will end with my leaving the premises, sobbing quietly into my palms, and on a bad day, have me assuring everybody from the manager to my fellow patrons how they are seeing me for the last time in their lives because I am never coming back! When it comes to food, people have to be truthful and honest. They need to have a sense of honor.

I have met some very interesting waiters and restaurant owners in my time, the most entertaining being a lady who owns a restaurant somewhere in Nakasero. Or is that Kololo? Anyway, it is located close to Fairway Hotel. 

This woman is a real character. It is without a trace of malice that I say she has the demeanor of a tall cockroach. How somebody like that is able to maintain a restaurant that has apparently been popular for years, I don’t know.

Anyway, on the day I encountered this lady, I was in high spirits. It was my graduation day. I had just gained a pretty good degree, considering how many morning classes I had refused to attend while on campus.

Three years down!

Three years down!

My father was strutting and swaggering, as proud as only a father whose first born is graduating can be. My Aunt Cherry was ululating every few seconds. My siblings were radiating awe, and I looked gorgeous. It was a good afternoon and we wanted to crown it with a hearty meal in a restaurant with good African food.

The first thing Madame restaurant said when she spotted us was, “You people who come many many like this! I hope you are going to be able to afford me!” She then turned to my father and said, “You you are bringing so many young girls here this afternoon. I hope you can pay for them all!” I was nearly passing out from the pain of standing around in four inch stilettos and so my focus was on finding a seat, and not this crazy lady’s words. For some reason, dad did not herd us out.

We were soon in line for the buffet. Aunt Sherry is a professional chef and so when I saw that she had declined to pick from four of the bakulis, I asked her what was up. She just shook her head and turned away with what must have been a giggle. It is when we brought our first spoons to our mouths that we realized why our aunt had been so reluctant to serve. Everything was off. From the beef stew to beans to the basket of fried chicken that the woman brought me as a “graduation present”, it was a spit and a lick from being completely rotten. We were all confused. This food was going to cost 25,000 a plate and it was just a few hours away from having maggots.

We left everything untouched and all stood up to leave, apart from my aunt who was, with a very determined look on her face, mixing everything together so that the woman would not be able to serve the same sauces to unsuspecting people the next day.

Food is sacred. People with bad manners should not be allowed to prepare or even sell it.

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.

Bitch. Woman. Lady. I’ll go with woman.

“They don’t see a paid actress, just what makes a bad bitch.”

Changing the way women are portrayed in the media is not going to be easy, but with rappers like Lupe Fiasco releasing songs that get people thinking about the labels they place upon their foreheads, we’re getting there.

(Who is as excited as I am about the massive dumps being taken on Minaj’s head? I see them and they make me happy.)

Thank you, Lupe.