This is no return.
I had the time, I had the fancy, against all the rules Dante tagged me, Lulu-Phoenix made me laugh so hard when she said, “He cannot say Baby right and he insists on saying Baby. I can’t date a guy who can’t say Baby right.” I used to be told you will only ever love a woman if you learn to love her with all her irrationality and her irrationality becomes rational in your mind too. I must be in love! Bryan Adams put your guitar away, your sandpaper wall voice, don’t tell anyone ‘Summer of ’69’ was a favourite song sometime, I do not cringe at the memory, and I’m temporarily insane. Let’s go!
Don’t you love her madly?
Wanna be her daddy?
Don’t you love her face?
Don’t you love her when she’s walking out the door?
Like she’s done a thousand times before”
Six (not so strange-to me) Facts about Iwaya
1. I have conversations in my head with people that I take all the time to have happened, as Jack Bauer might say, in real time. That you should see the huh looks I often get when I begin recollecting these imaginary conversations to said persons that naturally they have no recollection of. To die for! Did you know that English dictionary writer Samuel Johnson used to be a parliamentary reporter in his hack work days and when he was writing a newspaper make up speeches for the English MPs that were so brilliant, the MPs were too embarrassed to protest and liked to pass on that they had indeed spoken as brilliantly on burning issues of the day as Johnson made out they had?
2. I read far more than I would like to be reading. I consume books at a pace that alarms me. I want to be one of those readers, boast that I have been behemoth lumbering through a novel, a biography from one end to the other end, for a month now, pausing here and there like ruminating cow to ponder an askew point of view not like a short sprint runner the way I go through books. I want to read slower, think more, intuit no less but it does not seem to be happening any time soon. Did you know that Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace, Anna Karenina and The Death of Ivan Ilyich (my favourite short story of all time!), died running away from home in a railway station master’s house, believing that he had wasted his life, dying at 82?
3. It’s not been a year since Juba, in Southern Sudan, became the city where I live and work more than any other. But every time I come back to a Kampala I had lived in more than 20 years, I find it really hard to think of a restaurant, a bar, anyway to go out with friends and hang out. It’s like am a stranger in Kampala! The map of Kampala I used to know better than the contours of my nose wiped clean out of my mind. I find it unnerving. Did you know that contrary to popular branding as a sickly, tormented artist oppressed by all his visions, Franz Kafka was a ladies man and there was hardly a time in his life when he did not have a lover with whom he enjoyed the delights of the city and beach life when that was becoming a popular pastime?
4. I have been asked by all my friends if I’m quite certain that I’m ready for the big score, the take over of my life, because they know me so well. No one was wilder than I was, at one time; no one was more opposed to being told you can’t do this, at one time; no one hated sitting at home when not writing like I did, at one time; so they ask me, are you sure, are you certain, how can you be? Yes. She makes me want to live. Did you know that Virginia Woolf committed suicide by drowning herself in the River Ouse, walking into the river with heavy stones in her pocket to weigh her down, and she wrote in her last note to her husband, “If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been”?
5. I have not listened to Tupac Shakur or The Notorious B.I.G in quite sometime now. Sure, from time to time someone will say a phrase that sparks in my mind a memory of a line from these two geniuses and I will try to begin listening to that song but my mind strays. I’m thinking that I’m finally ready to listen to all the jazz collections I have collected over the years that are scattered in my four homes and a hostel room in Kyambogo University. Something different. I never thought a time would come when I could contemplate living without Biggie and Tupac. Or maybe I knew and did not want to think of it. Did you know that Richard Wright was also quite a good jazz musician, was on a music scholarship before he started writing and wrote The Invisible Man, that jazz remained a lifelong love?
6. Is any of this interesting to at all? I’m just wondering. Coz I’m bored as fuck. Yeah, I swear sometimes. Why does that surprise people? To live is to care is to love is to be angry. I’m all this about many things from David Kaiza’s article about the overrated Chinua Achebe to the shamefully under celebrated Austin Bukenya who wrote the best Ugandan novel, for now anyway. I care. About politics, about false preachers, about how Kony has denied me ever getting to know a part of my country, about how we let Museveni destroy so much in this society and how none of us is innocent because we let him (yes, you and I) and how I constantly pray that maybe he is building something else in its place whose value will become clearer to us. That all the stunted lives will one day be redeemed. I care. My favourite book title is All My Friends Are Going to be Strangers, Catcher in the Rye used to be, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born is one I have failed to forget, The Outsider made me a Camus fan, The Duke in His Domain by Truman Capote remains my favourite essay and I get to tag! Shiver my timbers, I left out Kidnapped by R.L. Stevenson!
It feels almost not right to tag Cavalier (he has been mine for so long!), I have no idea if Undo (will wake from his sun dreaming slumber), Jay (I want to know everything like I used to), Keitetsi (I know you’re hiding out there somewhere and I miss you), Minega ( who writes about films and certain musicians the way I think about them in my head), Ninjaz Mind (Big Mama with the big Bessie laugh and lust!).
The Moon and Sixpence, that’s all we want!