Friday, August 01, 2008

At 28

There was a time when what is happening to me right now would have happened then, I would have broken down and wept. Wailed and perhaps allowed myself to be broken. I have not.

I have lost everything. Or nearly everything. I’m the land lubber who has been tossed into a fast flowing river and I have never swum a day in my life, I do not own a life jacket. I used as a child to have screaming nightmares of dying in water, drowning, watched one of my brothers nearly drown when we were crossing a river as a child, and I’m in the water fighting for my life now.

I knew 2008 would be a pivotal year. I did not appreciate my knowledge until right now. There are a few years I can never forget. Years of significance, years that changed me, years that took away or gave me, years that brought certain people into my life and saw the exit of others, years in which I loved and was not loved, years in which I was loved and did not love, years when I did not learn anything and years when I opened my mind.

1989. 1996. 1997. 2004. 2006. Now 2008. These have been my defining years. In each of those years, I changed. I was changed. I might have changed others too. The greatest change yet though must be this year’s. If you knew me before 2008, you will know that I’m not who you used to know. It was a frightening realization for a time but I’m getting used to it.

A friend in grief asked me if I thought those who are going to die young do know they are going to die young. I said yes. If a day ends and the hours do not seem many enough for all you wish to do, you’re going to die young. You’re also going to live more.

When you’re young, you’re wiser than you know and then you grow older and you meet people with no dreams and they want to take away your dream. Sometimes without even knowing that they are doing that. They shake you. They leave you doubtful and you forget the wisdom you had as a child and it will be very many years before you’re as wise again. If ever. Lost in the desert for more than 40 days and 40 nights. Weeping, searching, hungry in permanent night.

All the Princes of darkness will descend with their allure. The friends you lose now will cut to the quick. The lovers you meet will remain on your conscience. Your wrongs will not leave you alone. All the old solutions will not work anymore. A question of your early 20s will demand an answer; Fight or Run?

I have lost a lot of things in 2008. Precious carry-a-longs’ that I used to pack first. Promises I started living before I had ever made them. Dreams that came unbidden. Decades’ treasures in less than a day eternally lost, Sunday 13th July 2008. Heaven and hell are not that far apart. Residence in either is sometimes a choice you make without understanding what you’re doing until you’re inside.

If Entebbe is home then Jinja is Mecca and that three hour night riding boda boda man John the Baptist with the ragged jacket he gave me as a present. There are people who save you and afterwards ask no price. If you’re lucky in this life, you will meet them in places you least expect. Like a year ago in the waiting lounge of Entebbe International Airport about to board a plane to Juba, Southern Sudan, for the first time. We do not choose our saviors, our saviors choose us.

It took Jinja, three weeks, and residence in a house with only the clothes I had traveled in to realize that I had lost the things I needed to lose at 28 to become a man.


Jasmine said...

"The greatest change yet though must be this year’s. If you knew me before 2008, you will know that I’m not who you used to know. It was a frightening realization for a time but I’m getting used to it."

i'm right there with you. something snapped and it will never be the same.

going to read this again, and again, and again. Thank you.

Sybella said...

sorry about the losses... do you feel that it was a fair trade off since you now feel that you have become a man?

Mudamuli Ntikita Ntikita said...

When I think about the passion I had ten years ago and how it has all gone, I’m afraid for what I will become by the time I’m 40.