|All those waiting for the show to begin: it has.|
3: 18 pm and I wake up. What’s wrong here? I should not be waking up at this time. I have not had to watch up at this moment for almost a year now. Not even when I have taken my nightly cup of coffee & then in the Nescafe smaller glass mug sneaked another. I have known sleep for a while now.
But this waking is not in panic. Nor is it the dragged out reluctant going-to-‘prep’ table read. No. One moment I was asleep. The next, I’m wide awake. No pauses. No check out counters. Yet there is no nightmare in this waking. I’ve woken up too few times like this to remember what it is like. I imagine this must be how babies wake up-when the internal body clock ticks ‘Enough. Time for milk.’
I have longed for such waking. I’ve read them in some poems. I’ve watched them in some films, hard to find downtown Kampala, like Stoned. I’ve dreamed and tried to write such waking. But I have never woken up enough times like this to savour it, to know it, when I wake up like this, so perfectly timed that there is no panic or fear because it is early enough in the still night covered earth to revel in the knowledge I’ll go back to sleep sometime and I’ll have enough time still to sleep long and wake in the morn not yawning. So I can enjoy this dawn stillness, when the dogs are no longer barking, pointy claws marking the soft earth with Olympic sprints, the cats squealing backed against a wall or a tree threatening to fight rather than just be mauled; no cars rambling down the road beside my fence, or a boda boda and his passenger cursing, hurling insults at each other as they pick themselves up, the motorcycle tyre turned after running into the tree root sticking out of the ground. Just silence.
So I lie there. In the silence.
Then I understand what woke me up.
I can barely believe it at first.
I think I’m listening wrong.
I wonder if perhaps reading Langston Hughes’s Big Sea autobiography so soon after Walter Mosley’s Black Betty has affected me so. I’m beginning to think I’m a character in a book! Or that I could be this lucky.
I listen. Intently.
Yes, there is a drizzle. A gentle patter. It rains so much these mornings.
But that is not all that is there. Outside.
Could it be...really?
I dare not believe it. Listening as closely as I can.
When did I last hear that sound, soothing and peaceful? 5 years ago, four years ago? Where I was I? Somewhere in Rubaga, mid afternoon, when bodas were still a novelty enough, and I had taken one, on company money, to go find the great man & watched wide eyed as we weaved and passed through pounding cacophonies of local smelters and artisans until we reached the most unlikely location for the rehearsal home of Afrigo band. I had gone to meet Afrigo band’s leader Moses Matovu (electronic recorder-less, arrgh! Just pen and paper pad) and he said, “Let me play for you.”
Now...4 years/5 years later...in my bed, with a soothing drizzle outside...in a much better place in my life than I have been in a long time, asking nothing...I hear...
...the sweet sure wailing of a saxophone...going over & over a certain note, perfecting it, going back, playing it again, lazily doodling over others...then...short quick bursts...
Me listening, in my bed, wide awake, not daring to breathe too long I might waft it away...it can’t be real! It can’t be real...Oh my God, it is going on...
I wish, then I don’t have to anymore...
Her hand finds mine and squeezes it.
I’m 31 years old today.