It happened on the last day of 2017. As some Homo sapiens were ecstatic about the end of the year, some planning to go out to watch the sky get lit and decorated by the colors of flamboyant fireworks, others planning to make love from one year to the next and others not caring a rats tail about any shit, I moved. Packed all my earthly possessions, went to the trading centre, hired a rectangular truck, carried my stuff, said my goodbyes, sat in the vehicle, watched it get stuck in traffic around Kasangati and stopped at the door of my new place in Kisaasi.
This is it, I said, stepping out of the truck.
Homely estate with the cool of plants; cacti, bamboo, guavas, umbrella trees and a bunch of exotic species. A student doing a course in botany will find this home. Each block has a catchy name. There is a volleyball court, organized parking space (not that I have a car yet but yes, you can drive your here and not worry about parking space even if it’s for years), a man-made river with boulders on the side and a simulation of a waterfall. Dogs – the size of Vitz cars – with their canines kept away during the day but are not jokers in the night if you are an intruder with ulterior motives, a canteen with a pool table, loud music booming.
The door to my house has a papaya tree with three fruits hanging down its stem. Maybe that’s how I’ll be directing people.
“Walk straight, go past the volleyball court and you’ll see a green gate,” I’ll say. “Keep your eyes straight for ten seconds, don’t reach the green gate but look to your right and there, just before you turn to a corridor, you’ll see a papaya tree with three fruits. My door is under those fruits.”
The person will laugh at my directions, rolling on the floor. Then they’ll come looking for my place and discover finding it wasn’t as puzzly as I made it sound. And if they find the paw paws ripe, I might just share it with them.
I was on the phone with someone and I mentioned about my move.
Wait, you moved?
Yes, I did.
How is your brother going to survive? (For those who might have never heard about my brother, I wrote something about him here.)
He’ll be just fine.
Oh no, he’s going to miss you.
Don’t worry. He’ll be alright. Where’s your faith at?
The funniest reaction I got was from a long time buddy whom I’ve known since 2009. Shot straight up with no brakes, pulled words right out a corner and dumped them on me without warning.
Ernest, you’re going to get laid in that house.
So I sat on my bed, looking at the cream and purple wall, reflecting on the blessings the almighty was kind enough to bestow upon me in 2017. Many good things and thoughts played in my mind, “Those rosaries mum said were not in vain at all.” It pays to be catholic and most importantly, to have a praying mother.
Bikozulu Creative Writing Masterclass
“I need to know this,” a female friend said to me when we met. (She’s a massive fan of Jackson Biko, just like countless chics.) “Does Biko really have a big forehead?”
I wore a straight face.
“Nope, he doesn’t have a big forehead. The guy has a full blown case of foreheadiosis,” I said, rubbing my hand on her forearm. “I’m sorry to say this my dear if it breaks your nails but dude needs to see a cranium surgeon to fix that thing. He needs a head job. Do you still want to meet him?”
I thought it was a lame joke with no forehead but it worked. She laughed her ass off the ground and called me silly. Ain’t nothin’ so good like making a woman laugh.
Anyway, I had a window of about six weeks to prepare. Made the payment in two instalments (MTN and Safaricom have a good mobile money working relationship), rode on a bus for twelve hours (booked for me by UgaBus.com, a convenient online bus ticketing service) and was picked up in Nairobi by Mercy, an amazing friend from my days at Makerere University. It pays to have friends across the world. (I’m not saying Nairobi is the world. Kampala is.)
What did I learn from the class?
Read. Write. Have fun. Repeat.
What lesson can I share with you from the class?
To write well, do it consistently. Build the discipline. Write every day. Write a story of two hundred words daily. But have a progress goal in mind.
Gosh! That sounds like a cliché for an answer. Is it?
What do you think?
Let it pass.
Cool. Let it pass.
Words of wisdom from there?
Don’t believe your own hype.
Any new words I learnt?
Google is your buddy.
Any other word?
Is that even a word?
It wasn’t only about the words. There was also a teacher called Bett, the Masterclass Admin. That’s how we go to the next thing…
Craft It has allowed me to explore Kampala in ways I never thought of before. It has shown me that deadlines can set your ass on fire and work your brain to the sun and back. Whoever invented this deadline thing should be condemned at the court of public hearings, stripped to the bone, hang under the sun, legs shooting up and tickled until they can laugh no more.
Deadlines are torturous. It doesn’t work for lazy butts and uncommitted minions. I’m now starting to think this deadline thing is the real deal.
So yeah, I correspond for Craft It.
My YALI Family
It was five days into my birthday number twenty-eight. I’m in one of the meeting rooms at office, typing away on my laptop, a story whose opening line had played Ping-Pong in my mind that whole morning.
My YALI friends – part of the Alumni Chapter of Uganda – plan something secret. They orchestrate it like an attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, except this time what they carry is a birthday cake with candles. They come in, singing birthday songs to me (at my workplace). It is merry. And for the first time (for as long as I can remember), I was dumbfounded for hours.
It is true what Maya Angelou said, people really don’t forget how you make them feel.
I might not type out all your names but you guys rock. Thank you.
Barack Obama would be proud of all of you.
A YALI alumnus too hosts this blog.
Then I wore spectacles
The optician told me I could go on without glasses if I wanted to but it would end up damaging my eyes real bad.
The worst case of bad.
Are you serious?
Do I sound like I’m joking?
That is no way of speaking to your patient.
What does my patient know about his eyes?
All right boss, I’m in. You win.
Then I wore spectacles and almost fell off the pavement trying to cross George Street. And for the first time, I could read the Brussels Airlines signage – blue and white – on Rwenzori House from over one hundred meters away and see the stars twinkling in the night with the clarity of a mirror.
It’s not a bad thing after all.
Happy 2018. Have a blast.