Wednesday, January 25, 2006

brief encounters

Eric Hobsbawm wrote a book called Interesting Times over which Hipflask swinger (find him, he’s worth the search) and I are always arguing about what precisely Hobsbawm meant by interesting. (Note: we are not drunk when we are raising a ruckus over this word). But even Hipflask swinger will have to agree that my Thursday to Sunday was packed full of so many interesting happenings that not only is that the word that covers it but the test of those times is in the fact I needed a Monday of supine solitude just to be able to stand on my two feet and a drowsy Tuesday to collect my thoughts and today to make sense of it all.

Thursday 19th January. DVD home theatre dreams shattered by Mark announcing his leg brace is off, he still clearly remembers my ATM pin code, should he withdraw for himself or am I coming down to Ntinda town centre to do it myself and congratulate him properly? Get there and Mark already congratulating himself with three chips-and-chicken-girls and of course Ntinda will not be world enough. Rocks, DV.8, Club Rouge later, he knows a quiet spot made specifically for us all just before Namugoona and the Special Hire Taxis are cheap. "Commuter taxis, are you mad, Iwaya?!?" "Yes, I'm, about my money." SMS on my second line cools me: Sam.

please buy

Friday 20th January. In the house of Sam with lovers living happily in sin. In a style of life many Ugandans are still too poor mentally and materially to live. To see with curiosity men kiss and discover I did not disapprove nor am i disgusted. To see Sam in love and happy at the same time for the first time and still joyously unable to believe this is happening to him. I remember something Sam said before he knew me well enough to wake me one night weeping a confession, saying, “I want to be in love with a girl, a girl with a laughing face.” M has a laughing face. Eyes that sparkle as he is thinking of a joke he is going to tell and gleam with pleasure when the telling was successful. M is that girl.

With a Remy-Martin between us I wondered why I had waited this long and decided that non drinking vow would have to wait a little longer, undecided which was more beautiful, the dainty encrusted glass of Remy, the startling huge yellow moon discreetly peering at us through the leaves of an aged tree, the drink on my tongue, the creaking white garden chair I was in, or M’s hilariously accurate mimicry of Ugandan journalists puzzled at a gallery opening, Owino Market women quarrelling, a taxi conductor flattering a radio call wielding policeman and me when I try not to look bored.

Saturday 21st January. Sat down to work and in ten minutes couldn’t bear it anymore. Hipflask swinger not helping matters by idly wondering about a jaunt to Resort Beach in Entebbe on such a good weather day that the sky was blue. That was it! I'm not spending another Saturday in the office! What happens? Afternoon tea on Undo’s office porch in non- biscuit silence so calming, Kampala on a Saturday afternoon is my new interest, beer in the evening in a Wandegeya a little different yet still the same passionately arguing about what exactly I can’t remember, then two hours later with a glass of liquor in one hand somehow me crazily wandering around on the rooftop of Undo’s house, Undo to say the least talking me down with his three pound cat. A sulkier cat I have never seen.

Sunday 22nd January. Open my front door and instantly stop despising distressed damsels in Victorian novels because I swoon at sight of Bruce before me, Bruce on whose funeral I made oratorical flourishes in the pulpit, Bruce dead at 21 in the forests of Congo probably eaten where he was on the run from the law and a one armed vengeful husband whose other arm Bruce had hacked off in self defence after being apprehended en flagrant de lit. Bruce, browner than ever, taller than I remember, brawnier, he was without the scent of dead decaying flesh about him and was very much alive and at my door demanding lunch is on me but he is paying. What the hell, nobody has to pay because we are going to eat at his restaurant. He owns a restaurant! Eight hours later these brilliant deductions are all I could summon from unbelievable tales of murders, kindnesses of strangers, gullibility of the wily in love, double crossing government agents, movement of spirits in thunder:

Bell Beer: water

Pilsner Beer: water with salt

Club Beer: dog’s piss

Ndume: slow effective poison

Royal Vodka, Liberty: assassin’s kiss.

Remy-Martin: morgue material

we're just getting started with a Bell! er...this by the way is Bebe Cool. big time in Uganda. we'll get back to him some time. he's moslem.


Darlkom said...

you were right. this book is amazing, this man writes so wonderfully that i cant use my words to describe it. i love it. one day would never be enough. i love it. thankyou.

Degstar said...

u r being like a sailor on shore leave! say, u read Man & Wife, sequel to Man & Boy? Brilliant book that, mon ami, brilliant.

baz said...

Iwaya, that book was PATHETIC! Pa-The-Tic!

(Sorry, Dee. But I have to hate everything he likes)

Darlkom said...

i know the two girls in the picture you posted. weird!

Darlkom said...

p.s.. I have man and wife in case u want it.