Dear Kayla…

Dear Kayla,

It’s been three months since you moved into your own space, three months of you deciding what to eat, when to wake up and what time to close the house and settle in for the night. Oh how the time has flown! I’m so proud of you for holding out this long, to be honest I thought you would be running back to your parents within a month especially after that outrageous electricity issue that had you confronting the landlord, followed by few nights of darkness because even after he promised to sort things out, it didn’t happen as soon as you or your neighbours expected. I’m so glad that is all behind now, and you’re  lucky that your landlord doesn’t hold grudges otherwise I would have thrown you all out of my houses. I’m proud that you’re still standing and elated that you’re learning to appreciate how important it is to have your own space, in a way, I think it has helped you grow, I mean who knew that you would ever survive without Mommy or your siblings? I remember you being so nervous about leaving your youngest brother,

“What If he doesn’t want to share school stories with me anymore? What if he thinks I’m no longer cool enough and yet I have missed the whole process leading to me not being cool enough or the three of them form a secret circle that I’m not allowed to be part of?” you had asked, eyes welling with tears.

I laughed because there was nothing I could say at that moment to put your mind at ease, this was one of those moments where you had to trust yourself and the relationship you had created with your siblings to stand the test of distance and time. Besides, I think they too needed to progress to this level of growth.

“What if Daddy forgets me? You know how quiet he is, what if he doesn’t even notice that I’m gone? How am I supposed to survive without my mom?” you whined in your last attempt to back out of moving and I burst out laughing because oh my God! You can be so dramatic at times.

Who knew that you would ever take on a cockroach and not scream for daddy or your brothers to come save you? Well you didn’t go back to sleep even after three hours of winning that fight but the good news here is that you faced your fears and came out on top. I’m not sure how things are going to pan out from here on, but I’m positive that this is the star of the best time of your life.

I can already see big changes in your life and though you don’t have the material wealth and possessions that you badly want, I envy you because at this young age, you’re slowly achieving the sort of inner peace that many are still looking for in spite of their wealth. No amount of wealth, friends or connections beats the ability to have control over mental and emotional stability.

Keep blooming little flower!

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Job

A few weeks ago, I had my own Job moment; okay maybe I’m being a little dramatic, for I did not lose any children or thousands of livestock but I did lose the little I had and boy was I mad. I was mad at myself, mad at some of my friends for disappearing when I needed them but most of all I was mad at God. I remember getting home and wailing; no, seriously, I wailed like a spoilt child who couldn’t get her favorite toy from the store because daddy had said no. In my outburst, I asked God what I had done to deserve such evil, I had not killed, I had not stolen and I was trying to tame my lying but I mean the little white lies I had told time and time again surely couldn’t have been so bad to the point that God decided to punish me with a loss so big I would have to swim in debts for the next four months before I recover. So I turned and asked my poor mother who was trying (and failing miserably) to console me;

“Why me? What have I done to God?”

“Why not you? If a man as righteous as Job could be tested, why not you? What’s so special about you?” she asked

It was not the answer I wanted at that moment but I must admit it struck a chord, so I angrily asked God what lesson he wanted me to take from this whole experience. I’m still not quite sure (because all my prayers seem to be going direct to voicemail) but surprisingly I’m happy that this whole experience has helped me realign my life. That’s a story for another day.
Anyway this is for everyone who is going through a hard time out there, bad things happen, that is life sadly however it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, sometimes shit just happens (unless you rob from widows and orphans then you’re just messed up.) but still, the storm shall pass, you will clean out your circles and surviving the ordeal will leave you with experience that’s enough to make you a stronger human. Remember, if it won’t kill you, you will come out on top and much stronger, so hang in there.

Stillness…

“I wonder how she keeps up her bad mood every single morning,” Michael; her “work husband” exclaimed, secretly observing the receptionist through the slightly open door.

“It’s a superpower my darling, some fly, others have super strength and she has… that, whatever that is.” Nakato replied, sending both of them into fits of laughter.

“How are you my darling wife? Did you sleep well?”

“I did actually, she replied, saying it more to herself than him, “however this morning I woke up with this weird feeling, like something bad is about to happen.”

Ahhhh! Nakato nawe, do not speak like that, I am sure it is nothing. Maybe you’re just a little stressed.” Michael replied, pulling her closer to his side.

He smelled heavenly, he always did. It’s the first thing that drew her to him the first day she saw him, Michael was such a change from the other guys at the office that seemed to literally swim in tubs of cheap aftershave every morning before showing up to work. Surprisingly though for someone as handsome as he was, Michael was quiet shy and hated being the center of attention, she automatically knew they would be the best of friends.

“Maybe it’s Wasswa’s interview, I hope he didn’t over sleep.” She thought to herself, blindingly reaching for the beat up Samsung in her black bag. She had his number saved and yet each time she wanted to call him, she found herself manually typing his phone number. That has to stop; she smiled and made a mental note, before raising the device to her ear.

Three attempts later, Wasswa had not picked his phone and now with the forth being no different, Nakato started to panic. Where was he? Her palms began to sweat, she took another sip of her now cold tea and with shaky arms, and she punched in his number again and dialed.

“Hello…?”

Gwe fala, why weren’t you picking your phone? You nearly gave me a freaking heart attack.”

“Relax mother dearest,” he replied, his voice reeking of sarcasm, “I was on a boda boda.

“Did you use a boda boda all the way from home? What did mom tell you about those things Wasswa?”

“You know if you keep this up, the wrinkles you’ll give yourself will have people thinking you’re mom’s twin and I your son,”

“Oh shut up! Good luck today and take care of yourself, I have a feeling something bad is going to happen today.”

“I know, I saw you reach for your rosary this morning, what’s more scary is that I feel it too,”

“Wait, what? Did you…”

“I’ve got to go Nakato, they’re calling for me. We’ll talk when I get out.”

With that, the line went dead.

 

Stillness…

Nakato felt a strange unease looming around her that morning, her nipples were hard and painful due to the biting morning cold but that wasn’t new. She was however  exhausted, her joints hurt and the smell of the freshly squeezed minty toothpaste on her toothbrush got the insides of her stomach churning. “It’s a little too early for my period” she thought to herself; checking the emergency stack of Always sanitary pads in her bathroom drawer.

She tried to distract herself with the pile of clothes that lay on her bed, carefully trying to match her outfit for the day with the new headscarf her brother Wasswa had bought her for their birthday a few days ago.
“You must be the only person that lets headscarves rule their life this much,” he had teased, pulling her into his arms for one of his legendary bear hugs.
“It’s a trademark, my trademark. In fact one day I’ll be known for it,” She replied, pulling away to look at his face.

A smile played at the corner of her lips at the thought of her twin brother. She was not nauseated anymore but the uneasiness had grown deeper and so she did the only thing her mother had taught her to do at such moments. Nakato got down on her knees and prayed, clutching the beads of her rosary like her life depended on it.

Fifty Hail Marys later, she heaved a sigh of relief hoping that the prayers would take care of whatever bad mojo was about to cross her day. Nakato took one last look at the Virgin Mary statue that stood immaculately on her dressing mirror- a gift from her mother- and made the sign of the cross before dashing out of her house.

There were only a handful of cars on the usually jammed Entebbe highway; just as she had predicted. It was moments like this that had her looking forward to working on public holidays. To some of her friends, this was insanity, which is why every time she told stories of how beautiful the streets of Kampala looked when almost everyone had deserted the city for the festive holidays; they just shook their heads and looked at her with poorly disguised pity in their eyes.

“Good morning Diana, very beautiful weather we’re having today, don’t you agree?”

The heavily bleached middle-aged woman sitting behind a huge curved oak desk at the reception begrudgingly lifted her head from the magazine in her hands.
“I’ve seen better days,” she mumbled, reaching for the access lock beneath her desk to let Nakato through the glass door that connected to the main office of Sengunka Enterprises.

Nakato did not really care for the woman but she, like everyone else, knew that to ever receive any parcels or messages from outside the Company on time, they had no choice but to indulge her.

“Have a nice day Diana,” Nakato chirped, her voice sounding high-pitched and dry even in her own ears.

“Hmm!” loudly scoffed the receptionist, before Nakato disappeared through the now open door.

I DIDN’T INVITE YOU IN

This is not a poem… It’s simply the rumbling of a hurt woman.

I didn’t invite you in
You simply seeped through the walls I built so high
Like water against a brick wall, you slowly soaked your way in
You made me think it was okay to be scared.

I didn’t invite you in
You simply told your lies so beautifully
You made me believe that you would catch me if I fell
You made me think you were different, almost heaven sent

I didn’t invite you in
You simply wormed your way into my heart
And made me think that Love wasn’t that bad after all.

I didn’t invite you in
Yet it hurts so bad that you turned out like them
The one’s that came before you.
The one’s you despised for doing me so wrong.

DIARY OF AN OUTSIDER… Homecoming

Dropin-Pic I heaved a huge sigh of relief the moment I saw Irene waving excitedly through the arrival lounge’s wide glass doors at Entebbe Airport. For a moment, I was worried that my only friend in Uganda would not be there to pick me up, and then I would have to fumble with the little Luganda words I could muster to get a cab at a descent rate and hope I get to her apartment in one piece.

A smile broke out on my face as I watched the slender dark figure shoving its way past eager cab drivers whose arms  were reaching eagerly for whoever passed by, paying no attention to the polite rejection being thrown their way. She shoved past a stout sweaty man, finally breaking free.

“My darling,” she shouted, quickly pulling me into a tight, warm embrace, “I was worried you had changed your mind about coming.”

“I would never stand up a beautiful girl like you.” I replied, pulling back to take in the sight of her.

She had her beautiful dark hair plaited up in cornrows that looked a little too tight, large golden hoop earrings dangled from her ears, framing her heart shaped face and elongating her neck while her short purple dress beautifully hugged her boyish figure.

“You look amazing Irene,” I said as she wheeled my heavy suitcase to where her crimson red Toyota Rav4 was parked.
“The lord has been good to me,” She replied, signaling a bulky young male to help her get the suitcase into her trunk.
“Jesus! Olive, what do you have in here? Twenty bars of gold and a dead body?” she queried as the young male struggled to balance the suitcase between his chest and forearms.

“My whole life, I had to sell off most of the things and this is all I have to my name as we speak.” I replied, watching her pull two brown paper notes from her purse and quickly thrusting them into the young male’s open palms.
“You’re home now Hun, you can start over here.” She said, lovingly pulling me towards her for yet another hug.
“Welcome to Kampala,” Irene squealed excitedly as she drove out of the airport parking onto Entebbe highway.

Entebbe looked so different from the last time I saw it, the streets were clean and they glowed beautifully under the long rows of streetlights. The air smelled so fresh with hints of flowers and the occasional car fumes. I put my head outside the window and took a deep breath. Irene who had been silently watching laughed.

“You might as well stick your tongue out,” she teased.
“The air is so light and clean, I can’t wait to go running tomorrow.” I replied as we pulled up to an intimidating apartment building.
“Whose Kidneys did you have to sell to afford an apartment here?” I asked, folding my arms over my chest to look stern and failing miserably.
“The Lord is my sponsor,” She retorted, “You should seek Him out too.”

I rolled my eyes; we had had this conversation several times before and yet every now and then she kept bringing it up. I refused to take her bait and quietly followed her inside her cozy apartment. I could tell by how gracefully her hips swayed as she took me from one room to another-on a mini house tour-that she was proud of what she had accomplished so far.

“I know how much you love having your bed propped up against the wall; I did it for you here.” She said, leading me to my bedroom, “We’ll unpack your stuff properly tomorrow,” she continued, looking at me through the corner of her eye as I rummaged through my suitcase for my bath towel and the small bag that contained my toiletries.

“Thanks, for everything.” I replied as I firmly wrapped the white towel over my bony shoulders and moved towards the ensuite bathroom.
“Shut up! I know you would have done the same for me if the tables were turned. Good night Olive” She said as she disappeared into the dimly lit corridor that led to her bedroom.

“Good night honey,”

It was 11pm by the time I got out of the shower and as I entered my warm bed, I felt all the day’s tension leave my tired body. To new beginnings, I thought to myself as I gave in to the warm embrace of sleep.

Photo Credit: ingriddivkovic.com

We Used To Walk On Water II

In the beginning of time, the god of water and the god of land were best friends. Their children used to play together as their wives gathered fruit from the garden of life…

There was blood everywhere; my fingers, pajamas, and the bed were red. I opened my mouth to scream but nothing came out. I could see him standing in the shadows; staring and smiling like my pain gave him pleasure. I got up and tried to run but my legs buckled under my weight and that’s when he started to edge closer…

“Madam… I’m taking the orders for breakfast now.” Anita’s voice on the other end of my door filtered through my night mare. I jumped up from my bed and pulled down the covers, staring back and forth from my hands to the bedding till I was sure they were not crimson red.
“Madam?” Anita knocked once again sounding slightly agitated.
“I’ll just have a cup of black tea please,” I shouted out my reply.
I could hear her drag her feet as she moved on to the next door, like her slippers were too big. I sank back into my bed and blankly stared at the ceiling. An ugly brown moth in the corner next to the dresser caught my attention. It was struggling to find a way out of the room; the poor thing was trapped-just like me. It kept fluttering its ugly wings as it crossed from the dresser to the ventilators above the window and just as it was about to get to the small openings, it flew back to the opposite side and started the journey all over again.

After about five minutes of watching it, I threw my legs over the bed and moved to open the window, hoping that a little air would offer the direction to freedom that it was looking for. My feet screamed in protest at the on onslaught of the coldness from the tiles, however, with every step I took, they grew accustomed to the cold and my steps became firmer on the ground. A gush of wind blew onto my face as soon as I opened the window, not the type that would send you scampering back to bed for warmth, but the one that held promises of better time to come later on in the day. I stuck my face out of the window and deeply inhaled, Kesubu air was so fresh and moist, unlike the air in Kampala that was laced with fumes from the many motor vehicles that littered the potholed streets. I could almost feel my lungs rejoice as I exhaled and inhaled again.
“Last call for hot water” a deep male voice shouted from the hallway. It was followed by loud bangs as doors opened and sounds of footsteps clamoring for the door at the end of the hallway that led to the bathrooms. I dashed for my unpacked suitcase and rummaged through my clothes for a towel. The bathrooms stood at the start of a row of doors that led to an open area littered with dirty laundry and washing basins. I counted five bathrooms and five toilets that were crowned by a large mirror on opposite ends and two sinks below either one.

There was a group of four white girls on the furthest end of the bathrooms; two were applying make up to their pale faces as the third brushed her teeth. The last girl, a heavily tanned plump blonde chatted happily about something in a language I could not understand. She occasionally stopped and awkwardly gestured with her Arms, sending the other three into fits of laughter. I secretly wished I could understand what they were going on about; I would have loved to place each awkward gesture.

“Russians- a very misunderstood lot,” A thick timbre male voice said behind me.
I quickly turned and made eye contact with a compact light skinned chest and then my gaze traveled upwards meeting a fine set of white teeth exposed by a half crooked smile and honey brown eyes shielded by thick rimmed glasses.

“Do you understand what she’s saying?” I asked shyly, embarrassed that I had been caught staring and suddenly conscious of the flimsy material of the night shirt that covered my nakedness.

“A little, I spent a few months backpacking across Europe; Russia was my favorite stop. Let’s say hello,” He replied as he smiled and waved at the girls. They giggled and waved back then lowered their voices to inaudible murmurs.

The door to one of the bathrooms opened as I turned back to ask him about the slight accent that tainted his words and out came a couple of blushing males with their eyes fixed to the ground. They mumbled good morning and ducked into the hallway before making a dash for their room.

“That’s my cue,” he said as a second bathroom door opened. “I hope I’ll see you at breakfast Ms…?”

“Nakaye, my name is Nakaye.” I replied as I entered my bathroom.

“What’s your name?” I stuck out my head and asked.

“I’ll tell you if you have breakfast with me.” He smiled and winked before entering his bathroom and closing the door behind him.

Nakaye, really? A small voice at the back of my head inquired as I opened the shower and jets of water sprayed down my back. I had grown so accustomed to using my mother’s maiden name that I now naturally responded to it as if it were my own. I had been running for a while now and for some reason it felt like this was the only life I had ever known.

No one would have been able to guess that at twenty seven years of age, I had a life that many would call perfect. My little candy shop was booming; I had an apartment in Kampala to my name, a wonderful husband and a beautiful baby girl that seemed to grow at bullet speed. My husband Michael was ten years older than me and yet we so happily completed each other.

My mother always said he gave the creeps. She would stress how the hairs on the back of her neck always stood up whenever he was around, like he was surrounded by bad spirits. No one ever paid her any attention; we assumed she was being her usual dramatic self. Now I longed for her drama and kisses, I wished she was here to hold me and tell me that things were going to get better and that everything that had happened was just a bad dream. I missed my father and his stories about the gods but most of all, I missed my daughter.

My eyes burnt with unshed tears at the thought of my family, not even the jets of water bursting from the shower above could cool my heating face. The water had grown cold now; I was so immersed in my troubled thoughts that I hadn’t noticed the temperature dropping. I slowly reached for my towel that hung on a huge nail sticking out of the bathroom door and struggled to wrap the fuzzy cotton material around my naked body. My arms felt weak and limp like the ground was seeping every drop of energy from my body. I closed the shower and dragged myself from the bathroom back to room 112.