So I promised Daniella some stories on my birthday

The Girl Who Wanted to be Good.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, there lived a beautiful baby called Kuch.

Kuch was good, great, grand! But also rather naughty.

She could sing Twinkle Twinkle Little star, which is good, so good in fact that,

Twinkle Twinkle little star,

how I wonder what you are.

Up above the sky so high,

like a diamond in the sky,

Twinkle Twinkle little Star,

How I wonder what you are!

At bathing time, she would go to the garden and pick red roses for her water, but then refuse to enter the basin.

2013-08-07 18.18.50

Once in the basin, Kuch would name all the parts of her body, like ear, nose, eye, mouth, hair, chin, teeth, hand, leg, bum-bum but then refuse to wash her hair.

At lunch time, she would eat all her food and say nyummy nyummy nyummy! But then refuse to remove her dirty clothes afterwards

2013-08-06 14.09.30

Kuch could even count up to ten in Acholi, which is good, so good in fact that

Achel, aryo, adek, angwen, abic, abicel abiru, aboro, abungwen, Apaaaaaaaaaa!

But immediately after, she would pull Salvie’s tail.

At night, she would drink all her chac, which is good, but then refuse to enter bed.

She was good good good and bad bad bad but that wasn’t too sad because everybody, even me, is good good good and bad bad bad sometimes.

Beautiful baby Kuch didn’t like being called bad, and would cry for hours if anybody called her that, so she decided to learn how to become good.

So she asked her sister, “Sister, how do I become good?” and her sister sang for her:

Tetete tetete, tetete, tetete x2

Kuch, kot u binu, ting com pa meru i teri ot yo.

Gidigidigidigidi! (while tickling her)

Kuch laughed so much that she forgot about her question. By the time she had remembered, her sister had gone to work.

And then she asked her bother, “Brother, brother, how do I become good?” and her brother began to sing for her

Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep little Kuchie,

Go to sleep…

But before he could finish, she yelled “Oh nooo” and ran off.

Mornings are not for sleeping!

Kuch then went and climbed her daddy’s big bed and asked him “Daddy, do you know how I can become good?” and he sang for her:

TIILE:                      Nyok Dyel miya wii

 NYOKDYEL:          Tiile wic yam kiloko bo Tiile

 TIILE:                   Nyok Dyel miya wii

 NYOKDYEL:          Tiile wic yam kiloko bo Tiile

 Hm Hm Hm! Tiile wic yam kiloko bo Tiile

 Hm Hm Hm Tiile wic yam kiloko bo Tiile

Kuch danced so much that she forgot about her question. By the time she remembered it, her daddy had gone to work.

And then finally she asked herself, “Kuch, how do I become good?”, and she thought and thought and thought and thought until the answer came to her.

Do you want to know what it was?

Really really?

It turns out that Kuch could rub away the badness by saying: I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart!

By saying what?

I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart!

And the badness would fall away like chillu and drop to the floor and she would run away from it saying eeew, dirty. Dirty!

2013-08-19 11.39.33

End

 

Hello. Happy birthday to me! In last Sunday’s Stiletto Point, I promised that I would write Daniella a short story. Oh heavens. This has not been easy, and it is still a work in progress. All too often when people try to write for children, they write like they are talking to idiotic adults. I’m not sure if I have survived that bar.

I just put in all the things she knows and the songs I want her to know and then edited like mad.

Anybody who can help me edit the Alur in the Gidi Gidi song, and the Acoli anywhere else, please help. All other suggestions are welcome.

Otherwise be well and enjoy this special day!

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

Herbs and indiscreet (happy?) vibrations

I met Godiva yesterday and it was wonderful. She’s a fantastic womyn whose tweets I find infinitely retweetable.  Our plan was to buy some herbs, actually, a lot of herbs and I’m pleased to report that we were successful.

The stretch after Mukwano Industries is lined with an impressive collection of plants and that’s where we finally convinced our bodamen to drop us. Ko these guys. Ever to throw us the most dubious of looks. Their tiny eyes were just swimming with lechery. I understand that we looked good, but that was some other level, punch deserving behavior.

Aaanyway

I got sage, peppermint, thyme, three lemon balms (my favorite), parsley, some lavender and a plant that you can burn to get rid of mosquitoes. Unfortunately, I can’t remember its name. When you bruise its leaf, you release a smell similar to BOB insecticide, only less toxic.

Kaka a.k.a tata herbs (0752927404) was nice enough to give us enyongezas plus boxes in which to haul our loot. He even organized bodas for us.

When I got back to office, I first of all:

Rapped to my herbs

They appreciated it.

Uh, uh, yo, yo, herbs, herbs, uh, uh.

Then I used them as an epic modeling prop

Wuluku! Who is that? It is Apenyo.

Wuluku! Who is that? It is Apenyo.

And finally, I achieved the ultimate: looking exactly like my mother

Anyayo's very own

Anyayo’s very own

My aim is to have a large, thriving herb garden and to convert all my siblings into sage burning, aloe eating, ginger/honey bath loving, plant adoring people. I’m on the right track!

In other news, earth shakes! Quake quakes! Who is mother earth’s new boyfriend/girlfriend? And can’t she have quiet orgasms, considering how many creatures live on her? I’m happy that she’s getting laid, but she needs to be a bit discreet about the way she expresses her enjoyment.

For serious, I was terrified last night. The first tremor was not so bad. I didn’t panic. My dad though. He went all: EVACUATE THE PREMISES! WHERE IS THE BABY?! WHERE IS THE BABY?!

Now I’d left Daniella on my bed, happily tinkering with the contents of my handbag. One of our helpers must have  grabbed her because I found the bed empty when I went to fetch her. You guys my terror was for world! For I moment I even thought the rapture was upon us.

Meanwhile, the tremor had ended but had dad’s panic decreased? No. It had just spread to everybody else.  I found them all outside the house, recovering from their craziness.

The second tremor happened at around 1am and it was strong enough to wake and abandon me in the land of the sleepless.

It’s OK for earthquakes/shakes/tremors to happen during the day. In fact, it’s awesome (when they’re not destructive).

But during the night? Nothing is allowed to steal the calm predictability of the night. That’s a sin right there! I’m waiting for somebody from the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness to say something. Abaaye, tell us if we need to migrate to the moon.

In unhappy news, I have missed the Stiletto Point bus. My last two weeks have been full of existential crises and soulless essays, making it impossible for me to write good stories. Naye worry not. My time and enthusiasm are back! I’m going to be sending my editor a nice bunch of articles soon.

Meanwhile, check his website out. He’s a cool dude.

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?

On Writing, Azania, Baingana and dumb rules.

Many people become writers because they have a burning desire to tell their stories, get famous and maybe even rich off them. I do it because it’s the only profession where you have the world’s permission to walk around drinking coffee, kicking things and behaving like a self-important clown; and also for the invites to fancy breakfasts, yoga retreats and other pleasant get-togethers.

Last month, I was invited to UCU for the Azania Experience, a monthly gathering of poets, writers and other artsy types. After making it to the gate of the university without dying of Visitor’s Anxiety (a madness which convinces you that you are hopelessly lost and are never going to make it to your destination on account of you not remembering where to tell the taxi conductor to maasawo), I got shouted at by a stranger in uniform to GO and change my clothes! This confused me because I was under the impression that I looked very nice. Turns out, there are certain fashions that UCU’s women are not allowed to rock. Like jeans.

How comes UCU’s men get to wear trousers? Has management not considered the dirty way in which their belt buckles draw attention to their groins? The only way we can save Uganda’s morals from slithering to hell is by making everybody wear kanzus, not so? No, I didn’t rush to a roadside boutique for more homely clothes. I smiled my way in.

One of the things I really enjoyed about being Azania’s special guest was seeing my name on a poster that wasn’t a sweeping roster or a list of debt defaulters. My boss is thankful to the organizers for making me feel special as my productivity has shot through the roof. He encourages everybody in the world to show me a lot of love.

Because I was under such pressure to give writing advice, I may have spewed a lot of fey gibberish.

To make up for that, here is some really good advice from Doreen Baingana (author of Tropical Fish and awesome woman) that I scribbled down at a Femrite session where she was reading from her book and mingling with her groupies.

She said, “Writing doesn’t get easier”. So get used to however hard you’re having it now. Nothing apart from the volume with which you voice your complaints is ever going to change.

She said, “Write whatever wants to come out. Silence the editor”. Learn to ignore that part of your mind that laughs at and insults you by turns. Don’t become fearful and inhibited as a result of people’s opinions. Use your head.

She said, “The biggest challenge for writers is that nobody is crying for your work.” So whether or not you give it your stories, the world will continue to revolve in that irritatingly slow way that makes it hard for me to use Google Earth.

Baingana is motivated by deadlines. I am motivated by the need not to be the kind of nasty, kennel bred heifer that hands work in late.

My mojo nearly exploded from the stimulation of being in the same space as Doreen that day and I felt ready to machine gun my stories at the world; stories in which I’d turn my best and worst moments into entertainment for strangers.

I hope that feeling will return soon.

Step aside, chocolate. Cuteness is the new solution to everything.

“The only rule is don’t be boring and dress cute wherever you go. Life is too short to blend in.” That’s right. I just quoted Paris Hilton at you. There are times when she makes lots of sense, or maybe it was just that one time. I don’t google her enough to know.

The essentialness of cuteness cannot be stressed enough, mostly if you want things to fall into place for you as smoothly as petals off a rose that is being roughly shaken.

Those S.V peoples can draw, eh?

It’s just as much a weapon as intimidating eyes and strong teeth and a black belt in judo. If your genes haven’t blessed you with features that make people’s eyes drool, don’t despair, for with the right combination of clothing and face paint, you can catch up.

Babies are born looking adorable to counter the violent feelings that they inspire in adults. Cuteness is their only defense against the likelihood of their caretakers karate kicking them as a direct result of their loud, insatiable, dramatic ways.

Some girls have even made it into a life philosophy. For it to work properly though, the girl has to be as cute as a teacup pig, as a bunny in drag, as a five year old in his mother’s shoes.

When she turns up with five annoying girlfriends to further delay the time that you’ll be partaking of her goodies, you pay that bill with a smile in your heart, because she is cute. When she soaks all your white shirts with all your black jeans in her attempt to appear ‘helplessly spoiled’ and ‘naturally unable to do housework’, you forgive her, because with your big shirt hanging over her sweet frame, she’s the cutest thing in the history of ever.

Take Sarah. Sarah went shopping at a boutique in equatorial mall manned by one of the cutest specimens on the globe. Strong shoulders, tiny waist, nice calves, amazing teeth and an endearing tendency to hug her customers more than once one they’re inside her shop.

It was a good shopping trip, with Sarah finding many gorgeous clothes, paying for them and flying back to office on a boda boda. Two hours later, she received a frantic call. “Oh nooo”, the voice on the other end whined. I’ve looked for the money every where. Could you have taken it? It’s not anywhere in my shop.” To which Sarah said, “Um. I have no idea.”

What was to be done? Was this shopper supposed to harden her heart and deafen her ears towards this cute, potentially shady girl? Of course not. Nobody but a total cretin that was brought up in the buttocks of a warthog can be unkind to a cutie. So she said, “Ok. When can I see you to pay you again?” and that was that.

There are theories all over the internet about how cute people are more likeable and how they’re more likely to succeed because everybody wants them to be happy. Well, of course they’re true. Who doesn’t want a cute president?

Even Japanese anime probably wouldn’t have become so popular if the girls in it weren’t svelte, large eyed, watermelon bosomed and tiny voiced.