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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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.

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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!

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.

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

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.

Marketer’s Night: Don’t be a Mumu

I never miss Marketer’s night. Why?  Scrumptious food, good looking guys and seriously inspiring women. I also want to be able to rock a 10 inch heel and bombard keynote speakers with intelligent questions. As things are currently, I just tiptoe in, exchange a few cards, listen to the speakers as hard as my attention span will let me and wait for dessert.

Sometimes, I also dance.

Kona!

Kona!

The last topic was the role of the board in driving corporate excellence. There was some noise about what goes into the choosing of a board member, whether or not marketers need to be included on boards and other things. Maggie Kigozi disabused the audience of the fantasy that to be a board member is a lucrative thing. Apparently, they get zero pay for a truckload of work. Perhaps like writers, they get paid in ego and free meals? I don’t know.

The person I was eager to see and hear was Dr. Wale Akinyemi, a business strategist, consultant, author and inspirational speaker who had been flown in from Nigeria to deliver the keynote speech.

Now either Nigeria has some of the richest proverbs in the world or Nigerians have done a better job than the rest of us at preserving and incorporating their proverbs into day to day conversation and life in general. The multi-layered goodness of these phrases, the humor and power all packed into one short line.

Proverbs in a story are like spicy currants, treats that I look forward to encountering whenever I begin a story.

I have even been inspired to start collecting Acholi proverbs for use in my own writing.

Wale Akinyemi is loud, dramatic, eloquent and highly successful. He delivered so many wisdom bombs that night, some of which I will attempt to reproduce below:

You have the power of process. Of all animals on God’s green earth, humans have the most power of process. Don’t squander it. If you do, you are a mumu (fool).

Don’t confuse activity with productivity: Wale gave a wonderful analogy to describe this, but I can’t remember his exact words, only the sentiment behind them. I will make one of my own. Say you are tilling the land. If you are a mumu, you dig in one spot with all your might and sweat very much, but what you’re really doing is creating a pit that eventually you won’t be able to climb out of.

On the same theme, he said, “You think you are thinking. You are not thinking. You are a mumu, rotating blocks of ignorance around your mind.”

In response to those in the audience who had been demanding explanations about why young people are never put on corporate boards. His advice was: develop yourself. Study everything that you can in the field where your biggest dream lies and then you can truly use your intellectual power to progress. He summed this up perfectly with, “If your knowledge doesn’t produce tangible results, you are useless.”

Akinyemi is writing a book about the advice his mother gave him that didn’t work, for example: slow and steady wins the game. He told of how for the longest time he was going real slow, and real steady, frustratingly so, but nothing was happening. He was still losing. He abandoned that mantra and now goes with “Fast, focused and consistent wins the game”.

Clearly, that has worked for him. That’s right people. Cliches actually work.

I will end with the words of Sanaa Gateja, one of Africa’s greatest artists. He says, “The wonderful (and terrible) thing about dreams is that they all come true.”

Grow yourself to meet the capacity of your dream.

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?

How I Know You Are Real

If you are that wonderful breed of human being called a readeriticus of Apenyo’s blogoticus, you expect me to reveal a big secret today. I have been writing about the seven weeks during which I abandoned mainstream deodorants and went on a quest to find a natural substance that would effectively do away with body odor.

This blog is, among other things, a place where I archive the stories that get published my column. Unfortunately, my editor at Sunday Vision said he could not publish three stories about smelly armpits, three weeks  in a row. He ordered me to write about something else.

 If you haven’t roughly shifted your eyes to another blog in protest, know that I dig you and that (freshly harvested) aloe vera sap is the magical substance that brought my armpit woes to an end. The full story will be in your eyes next week.

Moving on, do you ever find it difficult to fully recognize the humanity of other people? I do hope it’s not just me who suffers from this. I think that human beings are generally inclined to think of themselves as the center of the universe. This begins in childhood (where if we are lucky, we actually are treated like little deities) and never really disappears. What I am saying is that to varying degrees, we all treat other people like they are stones.

We many not go around singing, “I’m berra than you, I’m berra than you”, not unless we are rappers, and we may not openly declare that we think that we’re the only ones deserving of satisfaction and happiness, but show me the person who hasn’t whined “why meee” when they fall into problems and I will show you a liar. Serpents and tenpence!

When you are being the office jerk, when you are trying to cut in front of another person in a queue, when you are being jealous, when a sense of perspective isn’t part of your psyche, you are behaving as if you are the only true human in the world.

The moment I noticed my tendency to do this, I was alarmed. I have always thought of myself as a very good person. So I began to write down the situations that made other humans realer to me. Here are some of them.

Dance: Oh this is my number one. I was around 5 when my mother came to life as a true human, as opposed to a food/hugs machine. She liked to tell me stories, and her favorite was one called Danzolo.

Danzolo lived with her father on a mountain. Because the nearest market was right at the bottom of it, he would sometimes have to lead their donkey to the market for groceries and other things. Unfortunately, her father was so lazy that he would burst into tears in the middle of any activity that required even the slightest effort. This meant that Danzolo was always having to follow him around and dance for him so that he could feel better and finish whatever he’d been doing.

Her dance involved a  bent back, swinging arms, a series of facial contortions, bum swaying and a hop from side to side. 

The above is pretty close to the Danzolo dance. (Thanks for boogying it up with me, Joel!)

To this day, seeing people expressing their feelings and desires through movement just makes me want to hug them and say, “You! You are human”.   

Taxis: When you are getting out of a matatu, you have to do a slow shuffle through the aisle, get to the door and then kind of stumble out. All the while, your bottom is swaying and shoving itself into peoples’ faces. (If human bottoms smelled terrible, taxis would have been made very differently). The whole process is so awkward and the people performing it are so vulnerable to butt-centered pranks that my heart always softens when I watch them.

Soli-da: When a person farts during a prayer or a yoga session, or a movie and everybody comes to a silent agreement to ignore it, warmth floods my heart. I think, “Look at all these human humans, accepting this gross smell. Let me even share my things with them”.

Food: I always fall in love with people the moment I learn that they love food. Foodies unite! And have babies together.

The running eye: Making eye contact with people on my jogging route, and having them smile or wave at me. This happens more with women. Guys oba get shy? I always feel like saying, “Dude I saw you checking me out from meters away. Just holla.”

Pull/Push: Watching somebody fidget with those push/pull doors, especially at the bank where everybody is putting on such grown-up airs.

My list, as you can see,  is a work in progress.

Do share the things that make you feel-feel the humanity of others, in the comment section below.

Daring To Smell #I

For a long time, I had a paralyzing fear of smelling bad. This is not the worst fear to have. In fact, if more people had it, using public transport in Uganda would be much more pleasant.  I can trace this  fear to a time in my primary school career, perhaps p6, when I earned myself a nickname for smelling sweaty.

This was something my parents just couldn’t work their heads around. To them, 11 year olds who incessantly begged for deodorants were just being bad.

This experience messed with my psyche. At one point as an adult, I had a deodorant in every bag that I owned, two different types on my vanity board and another two in my drawer at work. I couldn’t bear to go a day without lathering my underarms in gooey roll-ons and stinging sprays. On the occasions when sweat somehow broke through the layers of deo, I would become anxious beyond belief.

This attachment to deos wrecked my underarms. I have sensitive skin that reacts to everything, even certain fabrics. For years I silently suffered the discolouration, rashes, bumps and boils. When my underarms weren’t exploding with pus, they were as rough as a crocodile’s back! I had made peace with never having smooth and/or happy armpits.

 On the 25th of March this year, I came upon a tweet by a fascinating lady called Alokin Ikon. She had written that thanks to lemon, her armpits were as flawless as a movie star’s. I read that tweet at least five times.

I was excited, disbelieving and irrationally angry all at the same time. Had I been going about life with armpits that were as ragged as old lorry tyres when lemon could have easily given me the smoothness I so coveted?

After a short conversation with Aloikin, my mind was made. I was going to abandon regular deodorant and replace it with lemon juice. The likelihood of having armpits that would allow me to wave my hands in the air like I just don’t care was fascinating.

This all happened around the time when I’d decided to stop wearing bras (in order to force myself to love the dip and curve of my breasts and appreciate my body image, even without the lift of a bra). I was brimming with boldness and motivation. I threw my deodorants, all ten thousand of them out and embarked on stage one: research.

 I was determined to experiment with only natural deodorizing substances that were cheap and readily available. It was during this search that I learnt about parabens and aluminum, substances that most  mainstream deodorants contain. Parabens are preservatives found in food and cosmetic products. They have estrogen-like qualities and are easily absorbed by the skin. Estrogen is a female hormone known to cause breast cells (both normal and cancerous) to grow and divide. The link between cancer and parabens, if any, is still being worked out by people of science, but this information gave me even more gas to go natural.

My journey had begun with tweets about lemon, so I went to the market and got myself a large kaveera of them. To kill pesky odor causing bacteria, all I had to do was cut a thin slice of fresh lemon and rub it under my arms. I was ecstatic. I smelled like nothing. My sweat was lightly lemon scented. Unfortunately, this bliss was not to last.

Good in food, tea, alcohol and armpits.

Good in food, tea, alcohol and armpits.

I’ll be back next Tuesday with more about my quest to find the perfect natural deodorant.

Shame on my face.

It’s been two weeks and two days since I last posted anything. The excuse I’ve been clinging to is that my bosses have blocked wordpress, but seriously. There are like 5 modems at my home. I have allowed certain silly happenings (not so silly. Letting go of a living breathing person you still care for is fucking devastating) to paralyze me, to kill my motivation dead.

Um, some special stuff has been (and is) happening, so I’m just going to dump it all below. Yes?

  • I wrote an article about breasts, popular perception and beauty but I haven’t been able to put it up because I’m constantly rearranging my thoughts on boobs, popular perception and beauty. Really I could write a book.  I need this article to be perfect! It will be up by tomorrow, I promise. For now, stare at this glorious pair
Yea

Yea

  • I made a call for stories about bizarre/funny experiences had while using public transport in Uganda. Many of you responded with such great stories, that I didn’t have to write Stiletto Point Articles for two weeks. Thank you!
  • I entered a writing competition called Writivism a few months ago and the finish line is close. Terribly close. I like to pretend that I’m not at all anxious about the outcome, that whether I among the top 3 or not, it has been a fantastic experience, but I care. I care so much. I hope that when the time comes, you will read my story, fall in love and vote for it. Here is a video of me talking about why I write. Thank you Writivism!
  • I had the best pilawo of my life yesterday. Seriously. It changed my life. There’s nothing better than perfectly spiced meat and rice. Holla at these guys for a plate.
Is there anything better that perfectly spiced meat and rice? NO.

Is there anything better that perfectly spiced meat and rice? NO.

  • My weekend is going to be full of DIY. Today, I am meeting Akiiki and Liz, two lovely ladies from Arisu.ug to make accessories and maybe even skirts out of my lovely kitenge material. Check their work out HERE.
  • Tomorrow, I am meeting another pair of ladies who make shoes. Shoes! Shoes! They are going to help me make some pairs, using some more of my lovely kitenge. I have an almost unhealthy adoration for love people who can do great things with their hands. This is probably because mine ate the clumsiest pair ever to exist.
  • I’m going to be better about posting. I promise. In fact, here is a gift for you. A really good story by Doreen Baingana. Banange she snatches a chunk out of life and presents it perfectly preserved.Just…read it.

http://caravanmagazine.in/fiction/gorging