Monday, November 02, 2009
When is it okay to tell someone that you are leaving them? Does anything like the perfect moment to break up with someone exist? Yes, I think it does. I believe in moments because all the most important events of my life have hinged on fortuitous moments when I did something else instead of another and that moment unveiled yet another chapter in the life I was going to live.
Like a day, a morning when I woke up, my traveling bags packed, notice of intent to travel to all I knew already served, got back into bed and decided I was not traveling that Friday morning. I would travel on a Monday. In that moment, saving my life because the people I was supposed to travel with would all be dead by that Monday and when I got to see them, it was helping to arrange road and plane travel of their corpses. So yes, I believe in moments and that perfect moments exist.
I have been in the inside of perfect moments. Like when an awed girl tells you, “I didn’t know this could happen to me too,” saying it not for your benefit, but more to herself. I have been on the inside of perfect moments, stone-drunk on Smirnoff Triple Distilled, barechest on a stool outside a green tent on a Friday afternoon, talking politics with a man who turned out to be a president and had been living in the next tent. So yes, I believe in perfect moments.
But still…when and what is the perfect moment to tell without unnecessary drama (because I was so over that 2 years ago), or false humility (you’ll never appreciate your own worth if you are always talking yourself down), that you are through. This is your last ride, and like many things that you have been so sure of lately, you know for definite this is your last blogging year. Everything you are writing and putting on is but leading to that grand finale post you have been planning to write for four years since you started blogging. Your grand encore to this space and invention that got you back into the writing, rekindled loves you had become estranged from, sustained you in the haphazard madness of dealing with furious betrayals, downsizing to blow up again.
A lot of things have prompted this out and out confession instead of my preferred muted twilight vanishing. Ambrose Bierce’s way of going out still the legend in my mind. It’s you, this blog’s loyal reader, who I don’t want one day wondering, “Whatever happened to that Iwaya dude?” somehow I owe you this. Nothing haunts me more than false expectations and disappointed hopes and I expect it’s the same for you. Iwaya was a phase for me and after this year I’ll be done with Iwaya and go back to who I’ve always been-JM. Who I was even when I did not how to be. This is no Kid Fox-King Fox metamorphosis, a laser skin graft that can be reverted, a mirage smoke and mirrors play- it’s just a statement of fact. Laced with thank you’s for emails received over the past, verbal loving comments that often left me in stuttering gratefulness for all the happiness your notice often gave me—and an early notice that the end is nigh. Every post this year brings me closer to the last post I’ll ever write here.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Vista was my first love and it broke my heart, badly. Tore it into shreds and sent the pieces floating in the planetary ether like rocket debris. I still have strong feelings about my first experiences and encounters with Vista which happened toward the end of 2006. When I used my first work laptop that was to be my work station for the next two years, that bulky Dell laptop on which I blogged some of my best Iwaya pieces when the love for blogging was as pure as a Scottish Christian missionary’s zeal, penned yahoo messenger messages that nearly came back to haunt me.
Ha! How I experienced the first joys of Windows 11 Media Player, learning from Pete’s Mama first that as my windows system was genuine, all I had to do was upgrade. For many months delighting, like a child seeing the phone coloured screen, in the shiftable templates on offer. The yahoo messenger free over the internet phone calls that began a continuing interest in hunting for the perfect headphones. Damn, those beautiful desktop tricks. I loved Vista!
Until the disappointments. The endless ‘hanging’ while processing multiple requests. The endless start-up wait that got me addicted to sauntering out to begin an addiction to coffee, learning the art of making a cappuccino, the foamy mountain reward half consumed before my Dell Vista would let me access my documents. The extinction of some beloved programmes Vista declared beyond the pale and not worthy of use while it was on that Dell. But always, the intolerable slowness like I was waiting on never arriving royalty that anyway turned up with nothing especially spectacular. I was sick of Vista by the time we two parted, several time close to hurling that blames Dell at the wall that survived with me dangerous voyages, journeys on which things happened I have ever yet been able to come to terms with.
Excuse me therefore I’m still underwhelmed by all so far I have read and heard of Windows 7. I have been listening to and following the Windows 7 gospel since July this year and I’m still far from conversion. Chrome Google, Explorer failed to convert me and Firefox has remained my legitimate lover. I’m a lover of snappy beauty but Mormon functionality operates the everyday and this is what I need the most above all. In the chaos of my many universes, I create order in the world of my laptop. Windows XP is not about to be usurped until I know Windows 7 is not just another Microsoft flash in the pan.
Monday, October 26, 2009
There is fiction in the space between
The lines on your page of memories
Write it down but it doesnt mean
Youre not just telling stories
There is fiction in the space between
You and me
There is fiction in the space between
You and reality
You will do and say anything
To make your everyday life
Seem less mundane
There is fiction in the space between
You and me
Theres a science fiction in the space between
You and me
A fabrication of a grand scheme
Where I am the scary monster
I eat the city and as I leave the scene
In my spaceship I am laughing
In your remembrance of your bad dream
Theres no one but you standing
Leave the pity and the blame
For the ones who do not speak
You write the words to get respect and compassion
And for posterity
You write the words and make believe
There is truth in the space between
There is fiction in the space between
You and everybody
Give us all what we need
Give us one more sad sordid story
But in the fiction of the space between
Sometimes a lie is the best thing
Sometimes a lie is the best thing
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I have fallen out of seeing so many good, old friends because they live in Kampala and I live in Entebbe and they think the best days to meet are over the weekends—Saturdays and Sundays. I will not make the pilgrimage but for Biggie, for The Notorious B.I.G…tell me that Lil’ Kim has made a secret personal visit to Kampala and is on her way to one of our numerous game parks. I will visit my first national game park if that is what it will take to meet the woman who probably, after his mother, knew B.I.G in ways few other people ever got to know him—to meet her and ask her what he was like, what did he sound like in his everyday conversation, what did he like watching on TV, well, I will just about do anything.
But that is about the closest I can ever hope to get to Biggie, apart from the endless versions of playlists of his music that I have made. Finding even songs worth listening to in Duets: The Final Chapter, and damn Biggie fans if you have never listened to Biggie and Pac collabo in the House of Pain song, way, way better than that other celebrated collabo-the Jay-Z Biggie Brooklyn’s Finest—House of Pain is guttural, raw, cutting to the bone like intimations you get from Cadillac Records what it must have felt like to first hear Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and the originals wringing art and song from terrible circumstances that had seen their mothers and fathers leave the South, go stark raving mad in trying to prove I’m also a man.
I’m that Biggie nut. But I also used to be an Eminem fan. Okay, you know I can never just be a fan. Because I just don’t listen to the music. Once I get into some song, some artist, it is all consuming and I got to watch every documentary, every movie they have been in, I got to have the photos and know the lifeline curve and where these songs were recorded and where possible, what was on the brain---genius coruscating, ideas sizzling, like corn popping. That is why I find it hard why some people think music is like polite chatter, something you can put in elevators and pay not much mind to. Music is like the literature I read, life saving. Eminem was and is a life saver.
This is for you who was told that your generation is shallow because you think Eminem is just as important as Shakespeare. For daring to say you think Eminem is the greatest poet of his generation. For trying to articulate how like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, Eminem gets your pain, rage, outrage and desire to survive and overcome. Refuse to be broken and that raised middle finger is not just an obscene gesture for you.
Have they not listened to Rock Bottom, If I Had, Guilty Conscience from the Slim Shady LP? Kim, Stan, Drug Ballad from the Mathers LP? I mean don’t Mocking Bird, One Shot 2 Shot, Like Toy Soldiers from Encore speak for themselves? Norm Mailer was right that obscenity and its sanity saving blessedness and you intuitively got it though they are trying to tell you that Eminem is a misogynist bastard, gay-basher, intolerant KK white, and you could not believe it. You have to go through the darkness to get to the light and for you Em was the only one holding the light like no one else could--- so no need to apologise for idolizing him---for the musical hand that got you to bite your lip through a barrage of virulent verbal opposition but hang onto your ideas, put that vodka sachet down and instead outline that business plan you carried around in your head for nearly half a decade, turn away from the betrayal of a brother and the impending one of a lover without rancour and continue climbing instead of letting it drag you down and embitter you age you. How many people can claim to have saved even one life? Em saved yours. It’s enough.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….
You’re not as fat as you imagine. Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing everyday that scares you Sing Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Floss Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements. Stretch Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own..
Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.
Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will
Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than
But trust me on the sunscreen…
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I hope it was Somerset Maugham (ps: no wiser writer’s handbook than his Summing Up exists) who noted that even the most courageous general is but a whimpering bundle of human fears before the most timid of doctors who examines him with objective, impartial scientific eyes. For all the general’s honours, he is no more distinguished before the doctor than a slab of meat in a butcher’s shop in Nakulabye. He is there to be studied.
I’m trying not to grumble. I know they say that a prophet will never be accepted in his homeland, but I’m not that ambitious. I’m just wondering if it is at all possible to impress one’s own family members. I have impressed all sorts of people, left quite a few wordless with wonder, but I swear I have never seen any of my own family in the least surprised by anything I do. Even things I thought were wonders I were able to pull them off. Not even the lifted eyebrow of surprise have I ever got.
I mean, is it really possible to impress one’s own family? I’m beginning to think it is not possible!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
In other news, someone accused me of promoting mediocrity and second rateness in my other job when it comes to the local Ugandan musicians I promote. I can't even begin to tell you how much effort it is taking for me not to vent here while defending some of our Ugandan musicians who are not entirely crap and unoriginal as I was being lectured they are.
Anyway coincidentally on the same day, I discovered that it is 20 years since "François Luambo Makiadi (6 July 1938 - 12 October 1989) was a major figure in twentieth century Congolese music, and African music in general. He is widely referred to as Franco Luambo or, simply, Franco. Known for his mastery of rumba, he was nicknamed the "Sorcerer of the Guitar" for his seemingly effortlessly fluid playing. As a founder of the seminal group OK Jazz, he is counted as one of the originators of the modern Congolese sound," passed away.
I just thought I should mention that too.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
IPod your playlist getting you through the day, lunchtime is not too far when you know with the smokers slipping out the building it will be there to carry you till the evening when you can get away once for the night hours that are all yours. Past the shuffle mode chances that you hope will unfurl a song that satisfies the craving of that which you will not allow yourself even think of, though them all is still possibility—you can still say sorry and begin all over, get courage in these walking feet to the person you wronged so badly.
Somewhere in this seemingly childish activity is a deadly seriousness. Music and poems and stories, they tell you, do not change the world. But they are the same people who say there is nothing like the soul or spirit, post mortems have proved it. But you know it’s not true because independence begins in the mind and those ear plugs are not just a fashion accessory for you, they are your secret mass badges of resistance too. You have taken their power and subverted it.
With Biggie, 2pac, Nas, Jay-Z, Philly Bongoley Lutaaya, Tshila, Bobi Wine, Jose Chameleone, Leonard Cohen, 3rd Eye Blind, John Lennon, Moses Matovu, Navio, Jamal, and East African Bashment Crew. You have stopped not just dreaming, you have found your own trenches that will help and even if no one understands right now, it does not matter because you believe in something again. You thought you were broken, you have discovered yourself stronger. Now you know that your greatest victory will not just be refusing to accept what they said was your fate, or enduring, or surviving. It will be thriving and claiming.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Monday, October 05, 2009
I keep these photos of you, like a mental wedding ring.
Friday, October 02, 2009
I don't often go falling over myself because a new blogger is on the block...but I love photos and Echwalu's is one of the best out there satisfying that hunger! I wish there were so many more, or at least I knew where to find them! You have a photo blog, especially one with African content, hit me up. But meanwhile...savour the Afro haired talent at http://echwaluphotography.wordpress.com
Few people believe me when I say have no emotional investment in what will happen at their respective album launches. I know that whatever happens over this weekend, Bobi and Bebe’s music careers are not going to die overnight. In fact unlike most people, I think that this rivalry they conjured up to spark interest in their launches is a good thing.
You might cynically think that they are doing solely for the sake of getting as many people as they can through the gates. You would be right but I think both musicians have a deeper motive. They need this rivalry to stoke the embers of their creativity, to remind themselves that though it might look like they are atop the heap of Ugandan music, they still have more to prove.
It does not matter that you make the best music or you made the most creative video. You must be able to pull in the biggest crowds to prove your financial worth. They will have none of this snobbish, wrong headed prissiness of artists like Maurice Kirya who claim to be content to appeal to a few. They must be colossuses creatively and bank balance wise.
This is why I find it so strange that anyone should demand I must be a loyalist of one and throw banana skins at the other. Bebe Cool is a self marketing phenomenon in our local music industry whose complexity has never yet been adequately expounded upon and probably never will, at least in what we have passing for newspaper commentary today-shallow politics obsessed. Bobi Wine is a richly unexplored model for what we could term the Ugandan dream come to breathing life and embodied in his life story and the psychological wheels on which musical creativity revolve amply proves this but where will I ever get the chance to tell you in riveting detail the naked fear I have seen in his eyes and heard in his voice, away from the madding distractions he surrounds himself with?
I guess that’s why I’m not one of those who wants to be a flag waver and surrender my fence sitting spread of the land view.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
But when you said that you were obsessively listening over and over to Bob Marley’s ‘You Can’t Do That To Me’, I totally understood. The song that gets you, that soothes, and on its lean wire frame carries nuances and baggage you cannot bear on your shoulder just now. Want a little rest; see your face reflected in the glass of foamy Club beer. ‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’ by Leonard Cohen was that song for me.
When you look at the total scheme of things, what is a breaking heart but a private matter of little consequence? Six months from now you will still occasionally remember her smile, once in a while hear a phrase she liked using coming from someone—but the wild grief that consumes you now will be more than a distant memory that is not even dignified by a scar that will never entirely be erased from that joint you used to break your fall. The Fuse on Sanyu FM, your transient favourite radio programme, religiously tuning from 8pm-9pm when the house she helped you rent is again yours alone, ghostly in its seeming emptiness, you fill it Nina’s arbitrary music loves.
But even if you know all this is temporary, the pain remains there, it remains real, unavoidable like a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is real to you and you need someone who makes it real, when your own words have faded like parched strugglers in your dry throat. Leonard Cohen was my man then. The song as beautiful and demanding as the title itself, ‘Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye’
I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,
yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new,
in city and in forest they smiled like me and you,
but now it's come to distances and both of us must try,
your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye.
I'm not looking for another as I wander in my time,
walk me to the corner, our steps will always rhyme
you know my love goes with you as your love stays with me,
it's just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea,
but let's not talk of love or chains and things we can't untie…
Unafraid like you are afraid now asking, “But will I ever be able to love like that again?” while I tell you to stop thinking like a banker, love and your heart is not a bank account from which if you continue to give out your heart, you will one overdraw and become bankrupt. Listen to the wise ones, a heart is the last thing to burn in a fire, you will be fine.Come live in my world a little while, friend.
We no longer walk without looking over our shoulders, and when we walk in the night, we are sure to be walking in the middle of the deserted road because we know who waits in the dark places. We have learned fear does not let you think clearly but caution keeps you alive to continue the fight. This is why we don’t like to eat in restaurants and if we do, we do not finish the food on our plates.
It is not paranoia that makes us drop out of the lives of the people we love the most for months on end. Love is our greatest weakness and the enemy knows this and uses it against us without mercy. We refuse to hate though we will let misunderstanding reign so they can stay alive, safe in the eggshell of unknowing.
Listening to her, I remembered a song I used to listen to all the time and I still listen to, when I’m weaker on some days, send texts I should not to persons I have sworn should never know these dangers…
When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender,
this I could not do;
I took my gun and vanished.
I have changed my name so often,
I've lost my wife and children
but I have many friends,
and some of them are with me.
An old woman gave us shelter,
kept us hidden in the garret,
then the soldiers came;
she died without a whisper.
There were three of us this morning
I'm the only one this evening
but I must go on;
the frontiers are my prison.
Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we'll come from the shadows.
Les Allemands e'taient chez moi, (The Germans were at my home)
ils me dirent, "Resigne toi," (They said, "Sign yourself,")
mais je n'ai pas peur; (But I am not afraid)
j'ai repris mon arme. (I have retaken my weapon.)
J'ai change' cent fois de nom, (I have changed names a hundred times)
j'ai perdu femme et enfants (I have lost wife and children)
mais j'ai tant d'amis; (But I have so many friends)
j'ai la France entie`re. (I have all of France)
Un vieil homme dans un grenier (An old man, in an attic)
pour la nuit nous a cache', (Hid us for the night)
les Allemands l'ont pris; (The Germans captured him)
il est mort sans surprise. (He died without surprise.)
Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,
through the graves the wind is blowing,
freedom soon will come;
then we'll come from the shadows.
No one says it like Leonard Cohen…it is the reluctant revolutionary’s song. If you have the internet, yotube was created so you could hear this.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Still even when I was taking round about routes around Kampala where all the deadly tear-gas action was, when I was first speaking to any boda boda man I was going to use in Runyakole or another western Uganda dialect to make sure they would not lead me into the center of the maelstrom where I would meet a bloody end with a car tire secured around my waist, still I felt like I could understand where the mob was coming from. I was in sympathy though my proffered hand would have been broken had I offered it.
I guess I can see why they would hate this President because he is one of the most cynical, duck-and pretend presidents we have ever yet had. I can understand their outrage that he reneged on agreements they were foolish enough to come to as gentlemen and they thought all along they were dealing with a man of his word, a man whose word is his honour. I know too many people who have learned too late after they had made horrendous sacrifices that he was not that sort of man.
Is it my frustration with the weak kneed members of parliament that pass for politicians in this country? I do not call them representatives because I sure know they do not represent me at all! One of my favourite essayists Gore Vidal once said that politics like journalism is not a profession of the truly intelligent and too few of the truly gifted ever go in for politics. In Uganda’s case, it is sadly, glaringly too true. I digress, and you must be weary of all the sudden seriousness up in here, but there are watershed moments that make a man realize he cannot continue to live like he has lived before. Those violent riots surely were not just a watershed moment for me but I’m certain for many thousands out there in Kampala and in Uganda.
We have a crisis on our hands and they ban the only public forum where ideas can be exchanged and mulled over in radio bimeeza?! We talk about freedom of speech and assembly and no one blinks an eye when radios are summarily closed without proper procedure or anything like that? Does no one become alarmed at the gathering of power in the hands of one very fallible human being who we know is too prone to emotional outbursts? People go out with all intentions of murdering people from another tribe and few eye brows are raised. Instead we all check the expiry dates on our passports, wire more money into our foreign bank accounts and apply for a gun license? Getting ready for a bloodier showdown even as we reassure ourselves no such reckoning will ever come because such things just do not happen in Uganda.
The solution is so obvious it will never be taken by the leadership we are saddled with:- Talk. Go back and remake where the founding of this country was warped. Start to care and go out in the street, demonstrate for what is your right and refuse to be bullied or guilted into giving it up. Stop being threatened by the people questioning what is happening to your country. Regard Uganda as your country and care about how it is ruled, the laws that are passed, what happens to your neighbour. Above all things, believe in something! Believe in Uganda! Refuse to give it up.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
2. I miss how much I loved this space, this forum, because it was a validation for so much. That some of the things I thought you had all already thought, that some of the dumb things I did were not so dumb because you had done them too and told me in comments and face to face.
3. I miss (and I know how crazy this sounds) late nights in the office, the last to leave and locking up, lost in the blog worlds you all unveil in your spaces, being inspired to pen one last post to leave. Outside after locking up, sniffing in the night air, suddenly invigorated, joyful that my faithful readers will have a reward when they log on in the morning that I left, caffeine fueled, last night. Walking into the night, ignoring taxi callers, happy at these creations, happy you will be happy.
4. I miss (again I know!) not being ambitious. Content. Wanting nothing more than being here. I sit here wondering where all my simplicity has gone, the delight in smallness, unfazed by towering offers, turning away from all that tempts. This blog my one weakness.
5. I miss being able to afford buying a movie once a month, careful the movie I buy, when it was still the in-thing to buy a 5-in-1 DVD and I knew this place on Dastur street that satisfied my craving, where I went the day I wanted to buy the first DVD to show in my first desktop what four years ago. Today I go through five movies, series in a night and think who would want anyway to read my take on them and stash the thoughts away, like the texts I never send or the calls never make just because.
6. I miss having the time to comment on all the blogs I still read, the time to update my list of blogs that I read, the internet connection speed to adjust all that I wish to adjust on my own blog and start an argument in someone’s comment box---regulars, you know!
7. I miss putting up weekend posts. Crazily strolling from home into an internet café because I just thought of something, or read something or saw something that I know the blogren would enjoy knowing about too. I miss having the zeal to share all that I still see, think of, read and know as I grow older, learn more, correct some of the things I never thought I would have the chance to correct.
8. I miss being certain that blogging is the new literature and that we are writing down will one day be quoted and referenced like they do authors of books you can hold in your hand, and dog-ear their pages.
9. I miss wanting to wow, wanting to impress, thinking all that is important, convinced there was a point to it all. Well all that seems gone and while it never seemed to matter, it does now, and I find myself so surprised at how much I miss it, desperately miss it, more than almost anything else but one thing.
10. I miss caring.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better
New York is cold, but I like where I’m living
There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.
I hear that you’re building your little house deep in the desert
You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record.
I guess the truth will out. Now that we have both lost her and you hate me and I have not owned a wall mirror in many months. Many months since I stopped holding a shot glass in the air and clicking with the phantom of you when she was gone, at roadside bufunda in many towns this job takes me, on evenings when I did not know if I will be going to my motel room alone or with paid for company. It does not matter. Drinking from as close to the anarchic chaos of the bus parks and the taxi parks of these towns as I can get, sometimes on the balcony of my rooms. My second Johnny Walker bottle delivered with a certain smile from the serving girl who will tell me without my asking that her work shift is ending in a half an hour’s time and she pauses at door’s edge waiting for me to look over my shoulder.
Waiting until I have said the same line I had said in so many times in so many places to the faces of so many girls I cannot bother to remember their names but the names of the towns I had been with them in and I do not care anymore how it sounds, “Bring the speakers, bring yourself a plate and bring six packets.” Watch her leave giggling, protesting that she is not that sort of girl. Then between half past midnight and fifteen minutes to one, hear her hushed whispering at the door, waiting for my invite, “Come in! I’m in the shower.”
I did not know your weakness and I have since been in search of you since I knew. I did not think she could have meant that much to you. When you said, “Take everything you want but don’t take her from me,” yes, I had taken, promising not to take anymore. But nothing was the same without you a part of the work we had begun and you had abandoned. I know I should have stopped coming over the first Tuesday evening I came to see you guys in two years. But I was so shocked at how withered you looked that I had not been able to help myself but come over again because I had wanted to help you, I had thought. But you were never fooled; I was fooling myself to steel myself to deceive you. Or perhaps myself.
What happened happened. I wanted to give you half of everything we had earned since you had left but I could not find you anymore. She had told me what would happen with you if I took her away from you. Her exotic looks, her accent, the delicacy of all things her, I had laughed. “He’s a man!” I had told her. “You don’t know him,” she had said. You were right, I hated her. She ended up saying the same thing. I have her scar on my neck where her teeth missed an artery which is why I like to button up now and I have yours where no one else can look.
I listen to Leonard Cohen all the time. That would have made you laugh. Because oh how much I used to hate “that old stuff” I used to find wafting in your house Saturday mornings when you were cleaning and washing and I wanted us to go down to Kyadondo rugby ground “to catch one.”
My eyes might have looked like they were glazing over when you were raving about Famous Blue Rain Coat but I was listening. It is all I have of you left. The Leonard Cohen you gave me, “If you ever have to thank me for one thing, thank me for this.” We played In My Secret Life that first night, she insisted. At her sister’s house in Seeta on the road to Mukono because, “You came marching through the night,” she had joked. Telling me the life stories of all her sister’s neighbours. Certain she had me. Before she was crying and asking, “Why do you hate being loved? Why?”
We used to laugh and call you the Bird on the Wire. But when she was leaving she loved that song and hated In My Secret Life because, “You’re a creep like that guy.” Something you already knew. Your faith was the last thing I had. So I’m looking for you. I’m searching still, in these motel rooms, from town to town, In My Secret Life on, as a girl shuts the door to my room behind her at half past midnight, curtains bellowing in the night air, the door to the balcony open.
On Permanent Replay: In My Secret Life, Famous Blue Rain Coat by Leonard Cohen
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
We listened to Leonard Cohen...Famous Blue Rain Coat....eyes on each other
And In My Secret Life was about us....
"In My Secret Life"
I saw you this morning.
You were moving so fast.
Can’t seem to loosen my grip
On the past.
And I miss you so much.
There’s no one in sight.
And we’re still making love
In My Secret Life....
Thursday, May 07, 2009
You often ask me, “Why me?” I do not tense and catch my breath like I used to when I knew why you were asking. In the months, the years when I could not stand going into Nandos on Thursday night or Saturday night before we could go home, and they would come to our table to greet me, you wondering if I knew everyone. And the Saturday she came in with her friends; and you saw who I had left to be with you. You could not believe there was nothing anymore there from the look in their eyes or the strained three minute conversation she had at our table, “Why did she keep looking at you when they were at the counter?”
You could not believe I had not noticed until you pointed it out after and I knew. Or that it never mattered to me at all. That I did not care at all. Your pride insisting we carry the early Edition newspapers she had ordered for our table as they had gone out because, “She knows how much you like reading newspapers, maybe there’s a note in there for you, take them!” The question from then on not to be lightly brushed away, that terrible night a searing monument to how tears can soak a pillow, it was the first night I saw you fail to sleep, the first time you wondered at the life I had lived before we met like I had wondered about yours all along.
But this don’t even feel like falling…
I could not tell you that night was also one of the most wonderful nights I ever had, you having no idea how high is the bar for me to have a wonderful night or the places I have had them in. For you that all that night was were the tears, my sullen refusal to be baited, the first time I saw you throw my music CDs at me, and I saw hate in you for the first time and the depths it could plumb from love turned, if I ever failed you. I did not see that night like that though, and your pain never gave me the chance to tell you.
Tell you that it was the first night I knew you loved me, and I did not need you to tell me, I knew. It was the first night when I did not in the night have to seek comfort and a lifeline to the dawn mixtaping on that old desktop to amuse myself until my temples were throbbing. And every word we said, I could feel, drop like a stone let go by a dreaming child, down the darkness of a well to plop into the waters of our revelry. The first night together watching daylight coming, staring at the curtain edges, I was not half mumbling to myself lines of Philip Larkin’s Aubade or trying to register on the cornea of my mind, the morning sky, smiling when you asked, “Is this what you see every morning? It’s beautiful.” I almost told you of my morning slip-outs to walk in the grass by the lake, the chilly silver dew jangling on the veins of my striding bare feet.
I Found a Way to Let You In. But I never really had a Doubt.
So caught in these fancies I could not talk about, you complained that it was no use putting the socks I was to wear on the bed because I would move them, forget where I had placed them, and then accuse you of having moved them. It was the first night of the many to come when I was the one who wanted to drink from your cup when we got thirsty and you were asking why I had not brought myself any water from the sitting room. Talking till morning, in the halo of your love, finding a way to let you in, not because tear-stained, you were begging for entry. In amazement I realizing that nothing hurt me more than knowing you were hurting and wanting to stop it immediately, letting you in, into places I had never let anyone, the squeals of your delight my reward, hearing for the first time on some wing the voices of the children you will bring me. Lifetime stances dropping away in heartbeats holding you. The recklessness of those confidences ensuring that your safety would always be my first priority, and no girl would ever charm me like the dimple on you charmed me. Still does. So I find myself thinking of you all the time, in moments when I least expect it, sometimes bored to near yawning, waiting for it all to be over and be there with you again. The insularity of you and I. When those walls came up again, you were inside and you are all I need, will ever, and I started to build again and everything was about you. Still is.
It’s like I’ve been awakened. Every rule I had you breaking….
Taking you through blasted landscapes where we could find blooming cauliflowers, before my Prospero wand went missing, I brought the festivals in my heart to where you were. Pantomiming old dance moves, unfolding before your rapt glacial gaze an Iranian brocade of my life before us. Learning the story of each scar on you, exchanging birthmarks, beginning rituals, feeding your chocolate hunger, in the hangovers of each other with kisses that remade rooms we had forgotten we were ever in.
Say Strawberry and I still catch my breath like I still do when I hear your voice on the phone. This Enigma Yardley perfume is you for me. Cotton white tee-shirts, girls in black hot pants, you were surprised I remember what I first saw you in--- or that I got that hard backed armchair you used to wait for me in, late as usual, coming to see you. Offering to walk with me to Nommo Gallery from Makerere University in the evening, “Why should I be afraid when I’m with you?” I could not bear to be in your hostel room because to leave it would be to leave you in there, worship with an upward glance whenever I would be walking past that hostel; it was the little bits of you that got to me.
But that was far from enough. So I had tossed aside the duvet, sat up and said, “Let me tell you.”
On permanent replay: Halo by Beyonce Knowles
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
"I knew it from the start
You would break my heart
But still I had to play this painful part
You wrapped me 'round your itty-bitty finger
With your magic smile
You kept me hangin' on a lovers cross a while
You put your spell on me
Took my breath away
But there was nothin' I could do to make you stay
I'm gonna miss you
All the love I feel for you
Nothing could make me change my point of view
I'm gonna miss you baby"
Girl I'm Gonna Miss You by Milli Vanilli
Thursday, April 30, 2009
“The one thing I cannot do without after my family are my Firebase Boys. I need to know that they are fine every time. I can’t live without them. They give me reason to work harder. They are my constant reminder that life can change and that I can change someone’s life. “
Bobi Wine, Ugandan singer responsible for such songs like Mazzi Mawanvu, Kiwani, Taata w’Abana
Casual Ugandan Speak
“Baganda, ha! They are total hypocrites. Me I can’t trust them. There is a way they are not straight people. They can pretend and greet you but in their hearts, you know they hate you as long as you are not a Muganda. They wait for an opportunity to turn on you. The day this government goes, you wait and see. They are bad, bad, bad people! Me I can’t trust them. I know them! As long as you are not a Muganda, you can never be one of them. They wait and wait until the time is right for them to strike you down.”
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
And check out World Leaders on Facebook for laughs!
Monday, April 13, 2009
I have been a Navio fan since way back when I was a broke, struggling hack at a weekly newspaper called The Sunrise whose offices are still in the National Theater. Amazed that, unable to afford my own mobile phone handset then, had called on a public payphone, the whole of Klear Kut would turn up at The National Theater to be interviewed by me.
When you have been as poor as I have been, you can smell money and you never confuse that smell with the smack of class. They are two things you spend your musing nights striving to think up new ways of attaining and spit-polishing your tired shoes to help you aspire to. Now a meeting of money and class can be overwhelming and that is what had happened during that first interview when in the midst of this bustling, frat friendly Klear Kut group, I had their attention. There have not been many times when meeting someone I’m supposed to interview I have been dazed into forgetting what I’m supposed to be doing there. Meeting Klear Kut for the first time was one of those rare occasions.
Looking back now, looking at the photos they posed for in front of the National Theatre, prancing, strutting, mugging, five years ago, the start-ups and upstarts we all were, make me smile. Exactly the same smile that crept on my lips as I heard Kid Fox begin No Culcha, off Navio’s solo album Half the Legend. Kid Fox sounding like some bygone 19th century European explorer and anthropologist summing up the results of an African adventure, probably at the court of Kabaka Muteesa I, portentously announcing, “What we found was a completely uncultured society barren of any true culture.”
You want to smile and shake your head in pity at those fools who thought being African was spear carrying and it seemed uncoordinated native dance we broke into without seeming prior notice like we were in an earlier musical film of sorts. You want to bunch your first, shake Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, and declaim, “We showed you! We are still here! We have refused to die like you wanted!” No Culcha is that kind of dangerous song! It makes your blood boil and it makes you hold your head high, and it sends your heart gleefully somersaulting like boys enjoying their acrobatic athleticism. You want to be in a night club when this song comes on and ‘cut’ some strokes like before you had any cares. It revives!
No Culcha made me listen to that other gem I have never had time for, I confess now, Kid Fox, never mind I have ridden in his battered Toyota wondering if my career was on the right track. Reminding me, No Culcha, when great voices tango like lovers, outside the booth concerns discarded, how watching or listening or reading or loving and you happen to witness to giftedness unfurling you can never be a pessimist or hate life however much suffering you go through. You know without a doubt that you are in the presence of divinity and you do not need anymore to have been there but you know how pacing up and down trim and slender Museveni must have felt when the soldier came and saluted and announced, “Kampala is secure. Kampala is ours, Sir!” after twenty years of active sabotage and fruitless planning, because that 27th comrade was in actuality saying, “Here is Kampala, it is yours at last,” and he could look into Janet’s eyes and see no more scorn at his underachievement anymore. The days of dreading terror over.
That kind of immensity, that is what we have when you hear No Culcha for the first time, and then pause stunned as Kid Fox trails off. You wonder if in replay two hours later, the magic will still be there. Will parts of your heart that had not throbbed in joy since you gave up on so many things throb again as the opening bars of No Culcha begin with those calculative drumstick snaps? Can No Culcha possibly be as good as my emotive ear made them, and then you click the play of that media player and it is better than you remembered!
Now if you listen closely, No Culcha might not only be one of the best club bangers you have listened to, it could also be one of the most controversial songs in a long time released by a Ugandan singer. There is a line or two there I suspect Navio was chuckling as he rapped into the mid section of the song that I think you should find for yourself instead of me prejudicing you against the song. Bound to make some people clap rhythmically in delight and some howling for the temple walls to be torn down and the bastions breached. I was five hearings into No Culcha before I caught my breath and I was like, ‘Wait, did he say…hell, he did! Balls!” The slyness of it all!
Thank you Navio, for No Culcha. I would have rhapsodized about Robbery, also off Half the Legend, that chiller for all the cool kids who are often stunned to find themselves unmasked and in love for the first time, hey tell us about it! But No Culcha with Kid Fox featuring, don’t let no man doubt you! Set the sky in my mind on fire. I want to blow the last good ear I have. No Culcha overdosing. The path to heaven is through a rasta’s garden.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Monday, April 06, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Of late I write less not just because my life is that uneventful, but because life has been overwhelming. Not to alarm you, overwhelming on the whole in a good way. I have known joys and happiness that I did not think I would ever know.
I have been so altered that two little boys from a houseful of bending cooing uncles, remember my pet family name before all others. When I’m the uncle who forgets their birthdays, I have to be dragged to their Saturday afternoon birthdays, and we set off on sojourns from Entebbe to where they are at 10am, though in the night before we had agreed by 7am we should be in the taxi there. They call my name when whoever is trying to teach them new words and in baby talk asks, “Uncle where?” It brings me close to tears sometimes, to hear down the phone, these stories retold to me, as I travel from one appointment to another, numberless cars, automobiles, settling back into a Kampala I’m falling in love with again.
I thought the dreamer was dead. I once held mental funerals, commemorations and created mementos in bitter months, years after efforts seemed fruitless and vain, and all I laboured with seemed to produce moon-faced still birth demons, how I wept! Parliament Avenue evenings, walking eternally with worn collars, shoes with smirks at my efforts, and 200 shillings in pockets that jigged their loneliness, trying to learn how to harbour no hopes, dream no dreams, go for the money only and be content with beach Sunday afternoons, Bell gulping, oily chicken wings choking, to forget the dreams and the hopes and grow my second fat chin, the fat pork necks, be a success conventionally. I had to go away and come back to find the dreamer not dead, into years of brooding hibernation a refugee, triumphantly arising! To see you, child again, you will never know, hiding this face from the world for the happiness was killing me!
Collect these moments and treasure them, find a Long John Silver chest, a place for what is most precious to you, and you need a smile, a laugh or to look back again once upon a time when your timetable is not so hectic and from morning till night, you wonder how the hours rush past like flitting kisses from the wind, look in. Kayunga Police Station and the four friends, their own obligations thrust aside, rushing with concerned faces in time to help; and remember the ten pondering minutes, pen over torn Police form paper, considering who to call for and who would respond in this emergency, and how they all did, even if it had been months since you laid eyes on most of them. 8th October, 2008, what she said, when you thought she had been kidding, did not mean it, it had all been a joke, and your gratefulness, a first time realization of the endless possibilities with her, a deepening new respect and the wonder of how love never stops growing, never stops changing, never stops surprising, and reaching inside yourself for a new gentility you did not think you had, because this was a precious gift beyond all the precious gifts she had given you before.
Because some of you might not know what he looks like but might want a sneak peak…
The great Okot P’Bitek is the guy up there!
Deds: Melt the Snow by Shayne Ward
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
It is the inexplicable lethargy that warns something is wrong, at first. The lack of desire to simply get out of bed. The greater lack of desire to mumble even the politest of greetings you are known for. The world beyond these car windows passing by in clichés, all freshness gone, to where no idea. No sounds register to make a difference, no faces are welcome moons in the motionless inertia of your planetary stillness.
So this is it. The stillness before the leap. The frightening silences amidst the endless chatter. The need for new vistas to distract from the thought of what must happen. To sit on a park bench with a little stream under a tree watching tadpoles, not thinking, back to the busy road with zooming vehicles, getting away.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
As we down here, struggle for as long as we know
In search of a paradise to touch (my nigga Johnny J)
Dreams are dreams, and reality seems to be the only place to go
The only place for us
I know, try to make the best of bad situations
Seems to be my life's story
Ain't no glory in pain, a soldier's story in vain
And can't nobody live this life for me
It's a ride you all, a long hard ride
Somebody wake me I'm dreaming, I started as a seed the semen
Swimming upstream, planted in the womb while screaming
on the top, was my pops, my momma screaming stop
From a single drop, this is what they got
Not to disrespect my peoples but my poppa was a loser
Only plan he had for momma was to fuck her and abuse her
Even as a little seed, I could see his plan for me
Stranded on welfare, another broken family
Now what was I to be, a product of this heated passion
Momma got pregnant, and poppa got a piece of ass
Look how it began, nobody gave a fuck about me
Pistol in my hand, this cruel world can do without me
How can I survive? Got me asking white Jesus
will a nigga live or die, 'cause the Lord can't see us
in the deep dark clouds of the projects, ain't no sunshine
No sunny days and we only play sometimes
When everybody's sleeping
I open my window jump to the streets and get to creeping
I can live or die, hope I get some money 'fore I'm gone
I'm only 19, I'm trying to hustle on my own
on the spot where everybody and they pops trying to slang rocks
I'd rather go to college, but this is where the game stops
Don't get it wrong 'cause it's always on, from dusk to dawn
You can buy rocks glocks or a herringbone
You can ask my man he's a mind reader
Keep my nine heated all the time this is how we grind
Meet up at the cemetery then get smoked out, pass the weed nigga
That Hennessey'll keep me keyed nigga
Everywhere I go niggaz holla at me, "Keep it real G"
And my reply till they kill me
Act up if you feel me, I was born not to make it but I did
The tribulations of a ghetto kid, still I rise....
Friday, February 06, 2009
Sometimes I’m afraid I’m killing off who I used to be. I like to tell myself then that any change comes with fears and these are my fears that still inspire these backward glances, yearnings to return from where I’m fleeing. Caught in the between of who I’m becoming and who I have been and this mixed bag I currently am.
I used to have this gift of leaving the past in the past, people, memories and all the things I did. Meet a person with whom intense experiences were shared, struggling a few months down the road to recall this face, the hurt expressions in the voice, because they could not believe I had forgotten. It was not callousness but a simple driven desire to keep moving forward, to keep going and what held me back I simply discarded and expected no hard feelings. Affecting and never affected.
A thousand lies have made me colder/And I don't think I can look at this the same/But all the miles that separate/Disappear now when I'm dreaming of your face
But this is different. This forward propulsion is in many years the final kind I will ever make from where I stand and when I begin to go forward again, it will be all new again in a new league learning new rules, barriers erected between the here and now and what is going to happen. Insurmountable like the divisions that separate Ages, one lover’s lips from another on your own, like the lock on the door has been changed and no key you have now will turn it to open.
I have accepted changes I never contemplated even contemplating, without so much as a raised voice in anger, quibble or doubt. Adjustments that were not asked of me happening before I even thought about what exactly they mean and who they are affecting. I have stopped thinking of the everyday in terms of what I can no longer do and in what I will soon be able to do. Reclaiming heart portions from muses so long in thrall of; rather shocked at the paltry invested affection or lack of desire to continue the back & forth.
I've heard this life is overrated/But I hope that it gets better as we go
I know the exact day when this began to happen. I know where I was and who I was with. I remember what we were talking about when the fade-outs became something I could no longer ignore. I remember wanting suddenly to be somewhere else and with someone else completely and brusquely terminating the meeting to do so. I vividly remember Kampala slipping back, the gratified sigh the enchantment of these solitary night lamps and lit windows regaining their hold, the back of you receding, and the complete knowledge and security of a cherished nook accessible once again with no guilt at all.
It won’t be long before I get you by my side/ And just hold you, tease you, squeeze you, / tell you what’s been on my mind
Quitting these phantoms was the hardest; racing against standards no one else aspires almost breaking me. It has taken me this long to set my own race, realise how far ahead I already was, accept what I always dreaded about myself as perhaps the most vital of who I will be, take it and be unafraid to show it off.
I want you to fly with me/I miss how you lie with me/I just wish you could dine with me
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Monday, February 02, 2009
"A hundred days have made me older
Since the last time that I saw your pretty face
A thousand lies have made me colder
And I don't think I can look at this the same
But all the miles that separate
Disappear now when I'm dreaming of your face
I'm here without you baby
But you're still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby
And I dream about you all the time
I'm here without you baby
But you're still with me in my dreams
And tonight it's only you and me
The miles just keep rollin
'As the people leave their way to say hello
I've heard this life is overrated
But I hope that it gets better as we go..."
3 Doors Down, Here Without You
Thursday, January 29, 2009
At Sax Pub on Kampala road, the waiter knows I like my Tonic with a lemon and I do not have to come with one in my trouser pocket like I sometimes have to in other places. The waiter does not ask me to order with cash, which actually is pay cash before you can get what you wish to drink. Best of all, he will not hover around distracting me, rudely reminding me that now I’m done with my drink or food, I should vacate my table. I have heard many dreaming afternoons at Sax Pub, sometimes on my own, often with company but not until this past Tuesday had I ever dared bring someone there I was not so sure of. I took a chance on this company and my head’s still spinning.
I’m almost certain that you have not heard Abakyala Bazira. Abakyala Bazira by Jamal. 2008 was not a great year for Ugandan music and the only highlight I remember was hearing the rhyming flowing prowess that is GNL Zamba. 2009 is going to be a fantastic year for Ugandan music. I have heard three young musicians on the cusp of capturing mainstream Capital FM Radio kind of attention and equally appeal to the exclusive clubbishness of Sanyu FM Radio sing and Jamal is my bet that he is going to the biggest of the three.
Do you remember the feeling you first heard when you heard for the very first time Brenda Fassie’s Mama, or Bobi Wine’s Taata wa bana yani or Lord Knows Ngoni’s Nasima Gwe? The thrill, the excitement, the throat gripping sweep of the emotion in the song, the unbelievable euphoria that you were alive and able to enjoy this? Abakyala Bazira knocked me the fuck off my seat like that!
Yeah, I know, you might have heard his Obawuwo that is getting quite some airplay and maybe Anavawa But you have not heard Jamal until you have listened to Abakyala Bazira. This non-casino goer has been made a betting man by Jamal!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
The last song that inspired this kind of awe, this kind of love, and turned into a whole album worth of great tunes was Bleeding Love, falling hard for that song in a little Juba internet café I used to frequent for the incredibly fast connection Kampala has yet to get and the obscenely witty owner whose idea of a drink was an Overmeers can of wine, Friday night to Sunday morning partying. Bleeding love on the flat screen opposite my preferred internet café seat, the montage on screen replayed everyday before my eyes as I saw love and lust confused-blooming, seeing last chance hopers tumbling off the Nationdit buses that plied the Kampala-Juba highways, the hopelessness of the muck-shoe swallowing of Konyo Konyo Market with denizens relieved to be lost in a part of the world that did not exist on any geological maps, through these hells in the dysfunctional wonder of our black Rav 4 revving.
I have not loved a song, a singer even, since all those months ago. A year it is coming to almost. Guilty admissions in-perhaps not allowed myself much to care, or love—still learning to live with the stranger who slipped across the border with me that July Sunday panicked flight back into Uganda, and all the dishonuor and honour. Battling the baying for blood demons that came with me, my fear turning to coruscating rage-Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde battling, no longer a danger to myself only, Jinja-riding on a boda after 11pm—only her tear-stained face bringing back from edges I was determined to scramble down, scrapped and bleeding knees ignored. A bad time I did not want to consciously go through and began to undo all I had painstakingly created, confidence and ego gone.
“Man, I’m gonna put my money where my mouth is.”
It was Usher Love in this Club without you, Entebbe nights when I was in town and you did not know, frenetic clubbing nights that failed to induce desired delirious unconsciousness, mirror-staring in the toilet cubicles starting the journey back. Beginning over in all sorts of ways, finding forgiveness when it was least deserved, that the unlikely recovery began. But something still missing. Till this Sunday, you Kampala-going alone, I sauntered over to Kenneth, the video-lib guy with a stuttering crash on you who amuses you with his fumbling in your presence, found Jesse McCartney-Leavin’—video and song perfection.
All kinds of firsts tumbling through. The first wonder being how I could on a Sunday noon when I was going to be home alone with that temptress next door, I was borrowing music videos, not having found any music worth listening to for months—the old classics appeal stale. Wonder 2, two weeks since I gave up the coffee my fingers tingling to flow with an onrush of inspired wordage and doubting it would be yet another flat squat, strolling up from The African Village bar that neighbours Kenneth in the Entebbe sun and this is my town once again, in the comfy blue tee-shirt the woman who has appointed herself your Senga has asked you who it belongs to. Wonder 3, not since Timmy T’s One More Try and R. Kelly’s Slow Wind and to an extent Justin Timberlake’s What Goes Around song and video watching and simultaneously listening to a song, poppy, and loving it and knowing that a year from now I will still want for sentimental reasons to listen to it again, white boy with a near Jay-Z swagger, this is how to win the girl of your dreams.
“Just tell him you’ve found somebody who does it better than he can.”
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Abbey Mukiibi (Tuesday, 13th January, 2009)
Film actor, CBS FM program director, radio presenter, drama group founder
Monday, January 12, 2009
I did not tell you I was afraid. Right up until the day I left, I’m quite sure I showed no weakness. I know you hated it but I would not talk about it. I would not let you ask what you wanted to ask the most, question though was in your eyes all the time, and I could see it when you were folding my shirts, instructing me what I would have to do to make sure that they would not look so creased when I got to them wear them, you were so sure I would not bother to try and find somewhere to iron them. There would be no dobbis where I was going.
Leaving the next day, a week day, I had a day at home to myself I did not want to spend at home so when you had left in the morning, I also left for the gardens, to look at the lake once more, sure in my aloneness, planning for the loneliness to come, and the madness of what I was going to do and would have to do and whose dangers I had minimized so you would all let me go, because I knew I would have to go. It was just something I do.
You will never know the welling in my heart when looking over my shoulder, I saw you coming along the path to where I was seated, in those blue jeans I loved on you, and the blue jumper with pink puffs I gave you. Doing something I had never thought you would ever do because I knew you, I thought, as well as you knew me- “I asked for a day off,” right in the middle of the busiest season at your office, which you loved so much, to spend this day with me.
I wanted to say thank you for our last weekend and then coming back Monday to spend another day with me. Thank you for rice sorting jokes in the evening dark with no electricity, seated on the carpet in the doorway. Thank you for that silly chicken dance to my phone ringtone. What you said after we watched that ridiculous Jennifer Love Hewitt-Peter Nicholls If Only movie. The blue tee-shirt. Not minding about your lip gloss. Thank you for the gift of you and our weekend. A whiter shade of pale by Annie Lennox. I knew I would be coming back then.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
But he is a writer, for a brief while, I loved passionately. Some mad months of intoxication when I could not get over the ‘banging’ stylishness of his solitary novel and read it, mused on the title and read it again, totally enthralled. I read his book in adulthood so he was no teenage infatuation like his one novel is often defined as a teen classic, favoured book of teenagers at an age before they learn that you cannot live with your ideals intact as you advance further and get entangled with the messy thing called life.
He became 90 this January 1, and though in December 2008 I had long planned a quick pleasure jaunt through The Catcher in the Rye, my copy remains on my shelf unread almost two years now since our last encounter. I still cannot understand how I used to love this author’s work so much. I have been wondering too about the writers we love, read everything they have penned and the interest becomes so much so you want to know what they were like in real life.
I know Mark Twain liked to write with a fountain pen. I know the brand of cigarettes Fitzgerald used to smoke. Honore Balzac was a coffee addict and his manuscripts have the round bases of the cups he used to drink his intensely black coffee in. I know things like that about so many of the writers I have read and loved and then gone as far as trying to own an omnibus edition of their work. I own quite a few of those. The first I owned being James Joyce’s, capping a dream ending to my secondary school education, I bought it the very day I wrote my last exam on Kampala road, walking a friend somewhere I have no memory of now.
A friend once told me that he did not want to know anything about an author apart from the work the author deemed worth publishing. He was not interested in what is his favourite designer label, is there a mini series he looks forward to each season the TV companies unleash the latest seasons and he damn well did not want to know what his favourite author looks like. I suspect the cringe factor emanated from a fear of being let down once he met an author he had idolized and put high up on some pedestal.
Salinger is 90 and there is little chance I will ever meet him. I would have loved to meet him and even if I do not think The Catcher in the Rye is as great a book as I once held it, I still would have liked to commend him on excelling in the difficult art of writing catchy titles. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters remains up there with some of my favourite titles be it a song, movie, painting or short story title.
Happy birthday, Salinger! You may never read this but for some months a few years back, you were tops with me!