Thursday, August 09, 2007

Driftin'

From time to time, I lurk in the background. I let my language go and are content to use words like thingy. I relax and while chilling out, I seem to forget old acquaintances, I do not pay visits forever. Or it seems like forever. Yeah! I get random. Thoughts, memories, moments drift back, I’m a child again. All in my mind. Who cares?

A perfect day. A friend of mine in pain told me of his perfect day. A day spent with me, well! I did not know it had been a perfect day except for we laughed a lot. We talked. We were silent. We walked. We bought those ices kids in primary school still love from a man who cycles around with them. I thought we do this everyday? How strange, his perfect day.

Like a post that was supposed to make no sense but lingers. I’ve been back to reading Eddie Echwalu’s blog again. He’s one year old in blogging and he is marking it by linking to all his favourite posts over the year. He took me back to nuggets I had forgotten I had read, it’s like watching a cloud out of the corner of your eye drift past your open window!

I have not lost the wonder. I still love reading. Sometimes I still find an article on
www.aldaily.com that moves me so much I have to print it so I can read it over and over again. I still want to read but what is worth reading is harder and harder to find. I have cultivated certain tastes and it is hard for me to just read anything. But if a true line stands out, I will slog through mush and purple in hungry search for its partner. I know that partner is there. I still do that. Reading in taxis in the back seat, I pull the window nearly shut begin on my print outs.

Some of the best moments of my day are when I’m in taxis in a moving traffic jam with nothing to read but driving past a street full of human activity. I’m a watcher not in the skies but right here and now and I have seen some people I will never meet and wish I could. I have seen faces that were registers of living in Kampala. I have seen women so beautiful I caught my breath. Sitting in taxis is not wasted time to me if for a moment, as the driver is revving to, the lights changing, I see beyond my day into a face, a beauty that will always be with me.

I love boda bodas. I use them all the time. I have had some interesting conversations with some of them. I think I would not mind a taxi driver too who talked too much like some of the boda boda riders who are my friends, if I can call it that, now. I have listened to some life-stories whizzing through suburbs where taxis do not venture. No extraordinary stories, nothing sensational, just stories of lifetime dreams, of wrongs unfairly done, of trials and tribulations and triumphs that made me wish the ride was longer. No story has remained on my mind like the boda boda rider who told me, “I’ve been riding boda bodas for seven years now and I have never thrown anyone…”

I know Kampala has many problems. I know there are sometimes things in the water that should not be there. I know there are more fences coming up and much green going. I know that our formal morning greetings have become briefer, that an old friend who had not seen me in a long time was shocked when I asked for security from him before I lent him money but I still love Kampala. I still enjoy eating downtown more than I do in any hotel and I enjoy my drink the most outside a kafunda than in any sports bar with karaoke. Wandegeya, Kikoni, Kisenyi, Kisekka Market, Owino, Nakawa, Bweyogerere, Kireka, I have eaten and drunk there some memorable evenings, some sunshiny afternoons and though I have dined and wined from Serena Hotel to Grand Imperial Hotel to some wonderful coffees but I have never found a match for the downtown waitress who senses when a lone drinker needs company to talk and when this drinker just wants to be alone with his drink. Or the mute bar owner looking up, remembers that I like my drink super chilled not just cold and distracts me with a meaty beginning nip of roast goat meat while I wait. Or the waitress who knows I like my chair to face the street, my drink with a clean glass, I will pay and pay well if I get what I have asked for the way I have asked for it. No fuss.

I have not been as angry as when I read, "The men are too busy running after money, politics and drinking beer in bars in the evening," said Mr. Austin Ejiet, a published writer, newspaper columnist and former literature teacher at Makerere. At first it was hot indignation, now a certain weariness has come over me. Alberto Moravia is not one of my favourite writers for nothing. To write well is to live well and this so much harder in Kampala than in many places in the world but I don’t know if Scarlett Lion would know what I’m talking about here.

Why Driftin’? I’m listening to Jimi Hendrix.. "driftin’ on a sea of forgotten tear drops…on a lifeboat...sailing…for your love…sailing…home…” Thank you, Magoo.