Friday, April 07, 2006
"My house is carpeted wall to wall! Have you seen it?! Wall to wall! The best carpets you can get! Wall to wall! You can sleep on them. I slept on them many nights. I have marble tiles on my floor. The best also. My wife chose those tiles and you know she has taste. She chose me. Hahahahaha! yes, she chose me and she didn't have to choose me. I wouldn't have chosen me the night she chose me and she chose me. yes, my wife chose those tiles and I haven't seen them in five years, they last more than a century the manufacturer assured us and they are the most beautiful in the world and I haven't seen them in five years and I don't miss them. Sarah won't admit it but she doesn't miss them either. I like carpets. Carpets are easy. Anybody can clean carpets if you they have a vacuum cleaner. Did I tell you how many vacuum cleaners we have? I have a special room for them. I buy every one of them because I test each one myself before I put it in that room. Technology is so wonderful! We have a house help but I like to vacuum clean our house myself. I’m good at it. I’m very good at it. One time I was certain this was going to be my job for life, the way I was going to earn a living. I have much experience with cleaning floors. Any floor I can make it clean enough to gleam. I’m better than the house help we have and I can clean better than any woman! I’m good at floor cleaning. I was good and I keep in practice in our house. Yes, I have said it, I cleaned floors. What's wrong with it? I cleaned floors. On my knees callusing my knee caps, stooping my back, I cleaned floors. I cleaned floors. I cleaned Kawunga's floors.
I was only 20 and the best years of my life were already behind me. I was old before I was ever young.
The hardest part to sweep in that building was the corridor to the studio. coming here to sweep Kawunga's studios I thought I would best be able to write my songs again. I thought being near music again would make me musical again. I was wrong. I would sit on the steps outside after cleaning and instead of the words for my new songs coming to my mind faster than I could write, I would simply sit there tired and remembering. remembering. that mango tree in the backyard of my father's house, in the middle of the garden of my mother's sweet potatoes, tall and slippery, how come I could climb it so fast and effortlessly yet no one else could? how did I use to do it? God, I could run fast. I did not steal on the street I was better off. some mornings being barked at by that woman to come and sweep that house, I used to wonder if the street life was not better. life was hard there but the kick in my ribs from surly askari on the changing of guard in the morning was once and it was not unkind.
After living on the street, you can't help but smoke and drink. I was smoking and drinking a lot. To be able to go and beg Kawunga for a job as the cleaner of his floor, I could not be sober doing it. Coming to Kawunga's studio, I did not think I would sweep his floors for more than a week. I thought he would see. I was sure he would see me. I was sure he would recognise me the instant I appeared before him. I thought he would look up and say, welcome we have been waiting for you a long time. I thought he would know me. I thought he would know who I was. I thought he would know I was Mesach Semakula. He did not. I cleaned his floors from 1996 to 1997. In 1998 you would hear of me."