Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Friday Evening in Kampala

I have had too many of these.

This post is for the person in your life still standing next you when you have humiliated yourself to depths you did not think you had in you, to the person who still loves you, cleaning your vomit off a floor that is not of the house you built, the person who will wake you up in the morning just before lunch with a brunchfeast with a loving smile, or who on nights you think morning is too far, you call up after midnight and they are not annoyed you’re calling. (I have been blessed with several). From my friend, Jack Mataachi, this is especially for the one reader who read KIM +14, the last of that series.


“I'm sorry for the things that I did not say
Like how you are the best thing in my world
And how I'm so proud to call you my girl

I understand that there's some problems
And I'm not too blind to know
All the pain you kept inside you
Even though you might not show

If I can't apologize for being wrong
Then it's just a shame on me
I'll be the reason for your pain
And you can put the blame on me

You can put the blame on me
You can put the blame on me
You can put the blame on me
You can put the blame on me”

AKON, Sorry, Blame It On Me


I have not had so many evenings that I went back home at the end of the day and I wanted to flip open my laptop and record what I felt on the evening in the company I had kept. I have had too few evenings like that I can still count them on my fingers of one hand. For the longest time, two bloggers had contributed to two of those evenings that now number four in my memory. But I had expected them to be memorable and I was not disappointed when at the end of the evenings, many Guinness bottles later in Garden City The Venue on some of my first visits, those nights, those evenings still live in my memory like I’m relieving yesterday night’s events, and the blurry headachy line is not because I have a hangover but am trying to recall every detail.

The memories of evenings I will never forget given to me by bloggers are upto three now. The third memorable evening by a blogger was by Dennis Matanda and he did not know what he was doing. Did not intend a 30 minute meeting that ended with me jumping out of his car opposite Cairo International Bank on an evening when he was rushing to present his show at KFM Radio in Namuwongo and the mechanic was rushing on a boda Dennis had paid for to his garage to pick his tools and Dennis thought it was absolutely crucial I read a book by...oh I could never keep those South African author names in my head, on an evening I was going to meet her after a whole horrible week without her presence and a friend was dropping into bankruptcy crying out for help and I could not help though I passed by his business everyday to survey the wrecking of his youthful dreams, I did not expect an evening of hope when I had packed hope in a suitcase, launched that suitcase of dreams on a sea of dreams and never heard from it again, Dennis on that Friday evening provided the first scrambled signal that the suitcase had not drowned, 10 years since I last heard from it, and I was writing novels for adults when I was 14.

It would seem that my sweaty boda arrival did not matter, that I had got lost so many times and I had not had enough money to beep him on my phone bought on debts I would never be able to pay until I left the job I had then, to Dennis all these ceased in importance, strode-led into a world he admitted happily was Ivory-Towerish, my Kikuubo sensitivities not aroused and the secret communist did not cock his AK 47, Stalin has betrayed us so many times, I had wanted to see more, Dennis so large hearted, I was wondering how someone in his 30s in Uganda could still be so innocent in his suppositions, old before my time, becoming young again as I listened to him describing how he had acquired one book like it was the day he realized he could read and how thankful I was you switched on that Air conditioner and you did not move your nostrils to show me that that the Fa deodorant I had worn earlier that morning had worn off, a banker who did not talk like one to me, you had me wondering, walking down to the Old Taxi Park, past Radio One that broke my brother’s heart years’ of service after but never mine, I’m Iwaya! The one possible breaker of my heart broke it before she knew she had broken it, I’m Juba wandering now, staring inside pistol butts and there is no fear in my soul, Patrick know what I’m talking about, ready to die before I was born. You made me have faith on that evening, Dennis, the scents of Hotloaf bakery next to Tourist Hotel not yet wafting my way to remind me of morning table breakfast realities you have probably never had to in Buddha sobriety contemplate on brought me back before I shoved and pushed my way into a taxi to a destination that makes the existence of Iwaya continually possible longer than I thought he would last.

How many times do you think I have heard it said that an intelligence like I reflected for you is rare? Anywhere in the world? I was 9 years old when I first heard that from a teacher who I sensed had more than maternal attraction to me and I was not wrong, stone seat sliding, Saturday afternoon, coaching day, she had nothing new to teach me. Except that. My Christian Lady of Regrets, I understand Catholic guilt better than you will ever fathom. You had me asking questions no one would ever answer looking me in the eye. I remember the Thursday evening I took shelter under Teacher’s House on Bombo House, certain of my canes from my father because I had not been the first in my class when we both knew it was not my fault, I never hated you like you though, the world cleared in the rain. Dennis, I have known facts you will never know, my last real evening in Kampala before I left, you gave me a reason to come back.

I have said this before.

How does one survive Uganda? You drink a lot. You need that facility-ability. The drink is not because you’re an alcoholic or because you’re looking for an excuse. The drink is not because you want to prove how much you can take and still function much better than most of your colleagues. The drink is to dull your reactions your country. To the waste abundant you have to confront everyday. A waste that begins with you because no matter how much praise you get, in the nights after midnight when all the rest are asleep and your restlessness keeps you awake, only you know how much your abilities and talents are not being utilized by a country and an environment that would most benefit from your services. And it is not vanity speaking but a dire need to be used for the functions for which you were created and everything in your being reminds you are supposed to be doing.

What drives you to drink is not because of your current unemployment where you know you are most needed. What drives to you drink, early morning tippling before you brush your teeth, when she is still in bed, and you bade the children a good day at school, is because you know you will never be needed. You will never be called upon by your own country to help build her. All your life she will not need you, she who you were built to serve at your best because for various reasons you are sure you were not born at the right time. It is what makes 11am come around and though many people would think you’re drunk, you can’t walk in a straight breathalyzer police line, you are more aware of your fall than you would ever be if you were completely sober. The sinner without original sins of his own except against his talents. What drives you to drink is the realization that begins around 3pm every night that not only will you never be called to serve your country, but that you will never be needed enough for your country to search you out.

I dream of death more than anyone I know. False visions of my demise, I have become an expert in spotting; I have been having these dreams since I was a child. Death does not stop me anymore, spurs me more.

Know this.

Iwaya cares. More than Iwaya cares, Iwaya is on your side.

“Enemies give me reason to be the last motherfucker breathing.”
2Pac, Breathin’

3 comments:

Jasmine said...

speechless.
...
everybody needs a friend like you.

Omutahinga said...

Only you can make the desperate lyrical.

I want to be you when I grow up.

lissingmink said...

you need to dump your day job!

what do you do?