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

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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!

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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!

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.