"Todays agenda, got the suitcase up in the sentra
Go to room 112, tell em blanco sent ya
Feel the strangest, if no money exchanges
I got these kids in ranges, believe them niggaz brainless
All they tote is stainless, you just remain as
Calm as possible, make the deal go through
If not, heres 12 shots, we know how you do
Please make yo killings clean, slugs up in between
They eyes, like true lies, kill em and flee the scene
Just bring back the coke or the cream
Or else, yo life is on the shelf, we mean this frank
Them cats we fuckin wit put bombs in yo moms gas tank
Lets get this money baby, they shady, we get shady”
Niggaz Bleed, The Notorious B.I.G
I had strange, inexplicable dreams all last night, woke up near the end of this never ending night to the first rains pounding a slumbering Juba, a dry land’s thirst slacking, could not sleep again. Maybe this all has to do with the fact that my first night I was coming to acceptance that my first precious camera had been cribbed from me, happened the day before, in a humid office in the center of Juba, trying to do what brought me here, work, everyone but me gone to bars for a view of the Manchester United versus Arsenal show. Alone. Oh yes, those classic American gangster films do not exaggerate, the robbers do come gunning through the door, with a rolling stone menace and hooded sureness, for my camera, two of them, and I have not been this helpless since I was a school going child, at the back of the class, silently tearing in dreaded Maths’ classes. In her week old virginity she was still on my work table, a feast for my eyes, planning to go out and take more memories of this Juba land, she’s gone forever now, my dreams too maybe.
Well these dreams that never cease, my dark night morning restlessness was not about my beloved camera only, I did not even dream of her who I did not think would ever leave me. Maybe this has to do with the fact that all cajoling failed until I was in the wrong and she asked me, now that we are no longer talking, can you be my FaceBook friend? It had been months. Oh CHOGM greed, I forgot her face, transfixed drooling in the money numbers of this deal, how will I ever apologize fully? I said YES! The least I could do in my happy Sudan exile, hiding my shame from her eyes, would be her FaceBook friend. It’s something at least. Serving my term. Oh bittersweet joy! She’s still one of the few people teaching me something new, like within every momentous Café Viva meeting with Kaiza, I should have been on FaceBook years ago! I’m spending even some of my working hours holding tight on a wild crest wave of the web, exclaiming, discovering new delights, oh so many friends and possibilities in these FaceBook connections. Shelfari, now FaceBook discoveries within fingers’ caressing weeks distances of each other, I’m blessed beyond what I deserve! Laughing, there are so many people I know here, maybe I’m not so alone in this world, like some moments standing in the darkening evening, outside our office, waiting for hours to be picked up by my colleagues gone reveling, I fall into sulky conjurings, the blue painted mosque opposite us, I think I maybe.
There is Savage on FaceBook with some pictures I will never forget, Ivan bringing back vivid memories of Pacino brutal young in that Scarface poster, aren’t we all waiting to see the rise and fall of Denzel Washington in American Gangster? Few movies have had me counting the down of months like American Gangster, Jay-Z was here too, there’s so much at stake, I want to know can creativity be sustained all my life or have I become corrupted beyond redemption, I could not sleep on this night. Maybe I will lose my job, maybe I won’t. Hemingway told me not to think too much about it now I cannot sleep but I’m not thinking about it. Went into Aristoc Booklex before I came back, last Friday of the month for me, boarding Zeraf Coaches later in the night for the bus trip back to Juba, they were all out of Hemingway short stories or novels except for A Moveable Feast, my stomach for a moment fell away, had Hemingway abandoned me too? I enlisted Mao, the Unknown Story and heard not a word from 27th Comrade since! Joshi clued me onto Savage’s pictures, hours after I was robbed, giving me reason to laugh, stand up choking on a swallowed bean going down the wrong way down my throat because I eat while I work—or look like I’m working—you made it better Joshi. You too Savage. It was from you the first thunderstruck realization sunk in that I’m now of the kyeyo band, Stephen Crane help me out, that cowering mass whose heart always misses a beat, breathless, will this police man be friendly or hostile? I have been thinking of us all in foreign lands far from home, I could not sleep, we are so many, the saddest Kampala evening for me was when I learned Dennis Matanda was of us now too. How many more of your prophets will you kill? Undo is holding on at least, Lira-lost to me, in Uganda still.
This is my second month in Juba. I have been robbed every month I came here. Lost the Nokia I was so proud of, had not been mine more than two months, the Kampala afternoon Ivan helped me buy it still vivid, preparing to leave Uganda for the first time in my life, Mutaasa Kafeero haunting. Sometimes idly rummaging about in my black leather bag she bought me, I still find myself, hope growing, hoping to find it again still there when I turn this folded black trouser just the right way, lying there, a photograph of her still my screen saver. I still miss my phone. I already miss so much I have lost; did it have to be my camera? I will try not to be bitter. I still love Juba.
Nobody told me this, expatriate musing and dreaming in the sitting room red sofa the windows open behind me on this morning when I could not sleep, the first three months in a foreign land are the hardest. It’s taken me so long to miss anything of Kampala, I was not missing her. But suddenly on this night of a night I did not expect to come, in a week when I had also seen with my own eyes, a pistol pulled out in an argument in a Queen of Sheba bar I was in and plonked hard on a dark forehead mule-headed, finger on the trigger, pistol puller one of my new Sudanese friends, I missed her more than I thought it was possible, desperate to hear her voice, she seemed to know I wanted hear her to say “Yay, yay” when I called her, shaken. I was so grateful for her voice. For her. Oh this expatriate loneliness. As long as there are certain people in this world, I will never be truly alone, thankful for this comforting illumination, I’m still in Juba for as long as I can remain!
“You ain’t harming me!”
Brooklyn’s Finest, Jay-Z & The Notorious B.I.G