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!

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.

Love in the time of mosquitoes

A short story.

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

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

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

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

Let it feed.

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

“Can you at least walk properly?

Sklat!

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

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

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

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

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

“And you’re a snob”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sklat!

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

Vengeance has been taken.

Now, for my reward.

End.

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

Tell me what you think, yea? Kawa.

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

And then when you’re done being happy and amused that a Ugandan has decided to make a living out of selling “game”, go Like the page.