Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
And in my mind, I think I might be obsessed. The very thought of you makes me wanna get undressed. I want to be with you, in spite of what my heart says.”
Toni Braxton, You’re Makin’ Me High
I know how love ends. I know that well. I know love ends in the night in bed, when her thigh brushes against yours, and without even thinking about what you’re doing, you draw away, your heart racing afraid her beseeching palm is about cup your shoulder. Hoping, hoping, she brushed against you in her sleep turning by accident, in this night when there is no electricity and when her wavering voice whispers, “Darling,” you’re already quickly saying, “I’m thirsty,” stumbling out of bed, bumping against the door, running.
I know love ends with simple words when she declares, “I’m not sorry I did it,” the look on your face telling her more than all your furnace heated arguments will ever tell her because in the silence after, before the Tusker bottle mouth falls away from your lips, your face your eyes flickering with the shock of recognition like the look of dying under torture tells her all she will ever need to know. And walking in silence out of that bar, down the stairs of Garden City with the shops long shut up from The Venue, Kampala will never be the same again, changing.
I know that love ends with her phone in ‘Silent’ mode vibrating like a nestling jumping in her palm, your number a mute scream on the screen, before he tosses it back for her into her black bag and tells her her first lie to you, “Tell him you never saw it,” and because his hand is at the back of her head in her braids drawing her close in for the first kiss, afraid, not wanting this to stop, she closes her eyes, and accepts and love begins to end. I knew that already. But I did not know that love begins in fear. But it does. Love with Kim, unlike with Fiona, began in fear.
Now I know that love begins when “I’ve never been this afraid of being dumped. It would shatter me completely.” Now I know. With Kim. Kim.
It means I no longer have a heart. You have my heart. It means I want to spend every single second of my life in your presence and I can’t rest if an hour goes past and I have not heard from you, not received an SMS from you and when I have not got my yahoo IMs replied I'm thinking of transferring to MSN, through this slow Mozilla connection my email is clogged but it feels desolate and empty when there isn’t an email from you, and I cannot go through the day without retreating to a corner under a tree of our office compound to be alone to look again at you in the photographs of you I keep in my left back pocket. To remember every word you say and I constantly smile and laugh to myself remembering something silly you said, "Do spiders fart?"
I’m not sick of Ne-yo love songs and I think Silver Kyagulanyi is a genius CD playing him over and over and the cry in Juliana's Nkulinze, Iryn Namubiru's Nkuweeki, Sarah Zawedde's Kambere Nawe, Blu3’s Nasanyuka Nawe voices is my cry now. The taxi conductors on my stage know my name, the woman who sells fast food and whose takeaway closes last in Ntinda knows my name, and now the cosmetics shop woman who sells airtime also knows my name and knows its time to lock up when I jump out of one of the last creaking taxis into her scented shop, breathless with a receding look of terror on my face because she is still open and I can buy that last card of airtime she keeps for me to call you Kim in the night, after work. Walking up to my house on the hill you’re with me, in another part of Kampala, in another house, in another bed, you’re with me, on the phone, talking, walking up that gullied hill and I’m not afraid of anything in the world, laughing because you’re laughing, the smile in your giggle my existence and if your tone changes and I sense distress on the step of my house at my door, I turn right around, scanning for a boda boda as I hurry back to you to find out what has suddenly gone wrong and you’re not taking my calls and I know I’ll never be able to sleep until I know because of this I’m in fear tonight night is the night I maybe beginning to lose you and I do not want it to be tonight.
I want it to always be like the day when we were supposed to meet at the Uganda Wildlife Center and I was late and you told me to find you in the zoo restaurant. I had come in time to find that you had already chosen a table facing the lake, not sipping at your coke because you had distracting company, a guy with shades pushed back on his forehead in gray multi-pocketed shorts, slapping his arm away and irritatedly telling him, “Leave it.”
He laughing, “But it’s in your eye! Let me remove it for you.”
“Yeah, you leave it,” you saying forcefully, brushing the braid back into the bunch yourself.
“I have a boyfriend who is supposed to do that.”
Because every word out of your lips is Bible truth to me, my life is changing every day in every possible way, and in all my dreams it had never been quite as it seems, I know I have felt like this before but now I’m feeling it even more because it comes from you and the person falling here is me. And now I tell you openly again, you have my heart because you’re a dream to me.
Now I know what survivors mean when they say everyday is a miracle and nothing is bad, not even what hurts. Like the blessed Wednesday night listening to Ronnie Sempangi’s Capital FM Late Date Show in your house, the radio in the living room turned on loud, washing up after dinner in the kitchen, a girl failed to identify the voice of her official boyfriend and blurted out the name of her occasional’s and you said, “That could never happen to me! What kind of girl forgets the voices of her boyfriends? That’s like forgetting what it feels like fucking him!”
“Come on! You can’t tell me that even three years after you broke up with a guy you can still remember what making love to him felt like exactly?”
“You know you don’t have to call it ‘lovemaking’ all the time! Sometimes its just sex.
“Girls just have ‘sex’ also?”
“The best lovemaking I have ever had was ‘just sex.”
“We’ve ever ‘just had sex?”
“It wasn’t you.”
“Uhm, what, your ex?”
“Him? No way! That guy was lousy! He was breather. It was an in-between, a casual, with Luke, when we went to Zanzibar with my mum. We had fun!”
“Yeah! If I wasn’t with you, I’d be with Luke.”
So this is what it has come to. This is where you have got me. Me, unable to sleep, 4am writing emails I will never send because I don’t have internet connection in this house and Faisal down in Wandegeya behind El Shadai has learned finally what he never thought he would learn to do: switch off his phone before he drifts off into sleep because, “I’m beginning to dream of you in my dreams! I dream of you calling me in my sleep to get up and open the café so that you can send those emails you claim are for university scholarships. I’m not supposed to be dreaming of you!”
But I can’t help it. I can’t sleep for thinking of you. I can’t stop thinking of you. And every time I’m here I’m certain, I’m sure this is the last love ditty I’ll ever write because I can't go on like this. There will be no more love talk because the lights are going down on this ship and there’s no one at the stern anymore. But while we have today, let’s lose ourselves one time because you and I will always remember these many moments as some of the best months of our lives, changing me and you forever.
Me a doubter by nature you making into a believer with your love, writing you this love poem at 4am in the morning unable to sleep again because I’m so far from you, listening to this Bruce Springsteen song Brilliant Disguise, you on my mind just like you’re the screen saver on my computer, writing this love paean to you, speechless like a mute struggling to speak, the pen you bought me a talisman, on the table this computer has sat on, for weeks holding onto it whenever I begin to falter, writing for you, in my mind’s eye able to see you asleep with your arm under your head, unbeknownst to you that I awake at 4am, looking down at you in my mind’s eye, you are the whole world to me.
I have stopped pretending. Your name is a sacred prayer to me. I live for the Friday weekends when I step out of my office, 9pm, standing on the sidewalk in lungfuls sucking in the air and Kampala clearing and the center of the world is here outside Ban Café, the night denizens beginning to crawl out with a strange gleam in their eyes and I know why, I don’t have to go home alone tonight. I got a girl as crazy as me and she thinks it’s a waste to sleep before 2am and she’s down in Club Rouge already, waiting for me. I don’t have to sit pretending with an Observer newspaper in the taxi in the traffic jam I’m thinking of other things, like tonight, reminiscing in the unscrapped undertow of my mind, that moment, reliving it like I was living it again that first day when I knocked on your door and saw your face peering out through the glass pane before you opened your door and let me in. Tonight I would see you! But it’s not the weekend anymore. That’s why I’m here, awake at 4am, doing the next best thing to living, remembering living, living for the weekend, remembering what it all felt like.
How before I came in, before I rushed for you, to hold you in my arms, to be sure you’re not just words in my mind, your warm living body pressing against mine assuring me you’re real. Before my lips were on yours, in hungry inquiry confirming Monday to Friday’s nights’ long waits had not been mine alone, the spaghetti on the humming cooker unimportant, your vibrating phone on the table next to the radio with music unheard not interrupting, a whole world in four arms, four feet, two pairs of lips and a mind that can encapsulate everything. No one who seeing me on Monday morning knowing that I’m no longer a lonely pilgrim, camouflaged in pullover armour I have worn since I was 13, stunned seeing Susan holding Saul’s hand in the lunch hour like he was me at break time, no longer alone. Wanting to spend my all weekends with you, now that I have you. In love again, like it’s my first time.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Love ends in the night in bed, when her thigh brushes against yours, and before you can think about what you’re doing, you draw away, your heart racing because you think her palm is about cup your shoulder. Hoping, hoping, she brushed against you in her sleep turning by accident, in this night when there is no electricity and when her wavering voice whispers, “Darling,” you’re already quickly saying, “I’m thirsty,” stumbling out of bed, bumping against the door, running.
Love ends with simple words when she says, “I’m not sorry I did it,” the look on your face telling her more than all your furnace heated arguments will ever tell her because in the silence after, before the Tusker bottle mouth falls away from your lips, your face your eyes flickering with the shock of recognition like the look of dying under torture tells her all she will ever need to know. And walking in silence out of that bar, down the stairs of Garden City with the shops long shut up from The Venue, Kampala will never be the same again, changing.
Love ends with her phone in ‘Silent’ vibrating like a nestling jumping in her palm, your number a mute scream on the screen, before he tosses it back for her back into her black bag and tells her her first lie, “Tell him you never saw it,” and because his hand is at the back of her head in her braids drawing her close in for the first kiss, afraid, not wanting this to stop, she closes her eyes. Love begins with fear. Love ends with fear. Love begins with fear.
Love begins when “I’ve never been this afraid of being dumped. It would shatter me completely.” With Kim love begun in fear when I knew I could lose her, I was in love. Let me tell you how.
Kim +11 will be coming soon.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Thursday, November 09, 2006
“And in my mind I’m a blind man doing time, look to my future coz my past is all behind me.”
Tupac Shakur, Only God Can Judge Me
What is love now? Love is a green clipboard of my missed Sociology Paper 101 lecture notes copied out in your handwriting on my Nkrumah Hall bed 9:00am Monday morning. Love is pork at The Deep Saturday night 11:30pm in Wandegeya, my wallet forgotten in my blue jeans, you thrusting a crumpled 5000 shilling note in my palm, excusing yourself to the bathroom, before the waiter returns with our bill, me looking after you, wondering. Love is Nabinoonya beach, volleyball in the afternoon. Love is that night. Yes, love is that night.
Never is it clearer in my mind than tonight, standing in front of another girl on the brink of falling in love again. Standing tonight on Kampala road in front of Kim, watching a laughing girl so unlike you, leaving you behind. Leaning against this yellow MTN booth, for the whole world drunk, a Bata store guard watching me cautiously, I know now. You loved me.
Everyone could see that, from campus friends amazed at how quietly you used to respectfully hang back when you used to find me, an ass, pontificating to them leaning against the rusty railing of the Sociology department, before another mid morning lecture, more spellbound than anyone else. After that night, no one sitting in the seat next to you in those smooth wooden arm chairs in the lectures we shared because everyone somehow knowing that seat, like your heart, was already permanently taken. Five to nine, when I was in, no one knocking on my white suited Biggie Smalls postered Nkrumah hall door because they knew. Everybody knew. Everybody but me. I did not know. Until tonight, after that night, was that I did not know. Tonight, as Kim covers that distance between us to hold me up in time, slumping to my knees next to that booth opposite the Post Office on Kampala road, the insight comes. I know.
The night I won you is the night I began to lose you, a girl checking in with me on a Saturday March night after 12am with exaggerated dark shades, unaware that the cheeky, smiling receptionist was a back seating fellow undergraduate who already knew her, that night. A night surrendered to after mornings, afternoons and nights of sulking arguments for this night, a night granted in an excess of love from meeting two of your best friends, after five months of dating, and making them laugh until they were begging me to stop. That Saturday night in Wandegeya, after driving all the way from Jinja, Mary Stuart hall already locked, that was like any Saturday for the red eyed patrons we met at I Feel Like Chicken Tonight, students and fucked-up graduates in their third working year, horrified, realizing life in Kampala would always be like this; for me, a payoff Saturday for patient hours of listening to your dreams for us in weekday walks to Mary Stuart after 9pm, before those endless stairs of silence and pleading checking into that heavily curtained room. Until we entered that room and entered that fresh linen bed. In Wandegeya three years ago, you a girl, me a clueless fool despite all my experience. Until tonight, a clown for a posse of four girls, after The Rocks, being driven home to my house on the hill in Ntinda or somewhere else maybe, I finally know what you always knew even after years of reading all those SMSes on all my Samsungs that in varying forms codedly informed me, “iwanted to apologise 4havg wanted 2much 2meet you, ithought we were friends!? Am sorry 4havg intruded, nice time, still care," you pretended you read them only on the surface, as SMSes from friends who only happened to be girls.
I never told you before tonight but in my fumbling, mumbling mind in a dark corridor stumbling towards a bright light that could be love; Kim calling, I went in that room a hunchback with an invisible hunch on my spine, in my own way a boy still, because of you, coming out a man.
I could not figure you out, in that straight backed chair with black leather seat in that room, calmly and slowly eating the over chillied chips, chicken, kebabs with cabbage, even making me call reception for a proper plate and fork, disdaining the white disposable paper one, until we got into bed. You, irritatingly, insisting I lock myself in that tiny tiled bathroom with a glinting overhead shower before you get in bed.
I had come out of that bathroom undressed, in my blue boxers only, my teeth brushed. And I could not understand why you would not look at me, stiffly lying in bed like you were in your coffin, the thick green blanket pulled up your chin, fidgety in your fingers. Your voice gone, a child’s scared whisper there.
It’s been a long, long time now but I can still remember very clearly how suddenly happy I was to be there with you, like I used to be when I was a child allowed out by my grandmother to run and play in the rain with Yakobo, the ticklish drops beating on my upturned joyful screaming face like a glass window pane with my shut eyes pretending we were swimming. Incredulously wanting to jump onto that bed and hug you! Tickle and play like we were children! Tell you the story of my childhood there and then. Tell you about my grandmother, tell you about Yakobo, tell you about the mother and father I only saw again after I was ten, tell you about that village I grew up in and the school on a hill where I used to stand at break-time, a sweet potato as my break in my tiny fist, a child of seven on that hill looking down home at my grandmother waving back at me, every single day when I had to leave her side and go to school. I wanted to tell you all that. I wanted to tell you everything.
I wanted to tell you how beautiful you looked in that bed, your braided hair let loose. So still you could have been sleeping. Before I joined you, kissing your temple, then the tip of your nose, lightly, before you gave your lips. Kissing in a meeting of lips that seemed a merging of universes that would never part, leaving us trembling.
I remember, now with a wry smile, you doing that thing girls do, before we could kiss again. The edges of your finger tips on my forearm, you asking me softly, after that first kiss,
“Do you love me?”
Like a National Theater Comedy night actor who had temporarily forgotten his lines, I had paused, frowned quizzically and then like Philip Luswata’s boda boda rider character remembering his NIC Insurance backup plan like a streaking flash coming to his mind, replied,
“Yes, Fiona, I love you very, very much.”
I had been ready for that. How many girls have I replied without batting an eyelid, and replied looking like I mean it, “I love you. You’re the girl I have been waiting for?” I stopped counting after my seventh, lucky number who turned out to be the worst girl I ever rolled in the sheets with. I was flip entering that bed.
A friend, friendly, knowing me after my wild years recently said to me, jokingly of course, “If you bring me TK's hymen and place it on this table, you’ll be my hero.” Before you, I used to go in for bets like this, going through horrendous expenditures causing more hearts upheavals to prove I was not like “Biggie worrying about his pride in bed.” Crazy like that.
That night even before we made love, I could already hear in my head the words I would be using at our favourite Kireka bar ‘Oba Tufa Tufe. Here Since 1979’ explaining to Rodney, Christ and Timothy how I had finally ‘touched’ the Virgin Mary of their course they had said was imperious to normal feelings. Before getting into that bed. I did not know getting into that bed that you actually were a virgin. I did not know. Never suspected you could choose me to be your first and this night would be that night. With you.
All in my life, before you, coming second. The less loved second last born before the coveted girl last born, the hand-me-down clothes wearer, going to Uni only because I won government sponsorship, finding you there in my first year, and with you coming first in that room in Wandegeya on a night when I had no right to.
It was never sex we had that night, it was never just sex that night, after midnight, the curtains and windows closed so that the hum of cars and lonely calls of taxi conductors below was like a music all of its own, the locked door double checked, in the soft dark of that room your eyes never leaving my face, watching my every move, like a debutant auditioning. It was never just sex.
Making love to you suddenly I knew, I was sure you were the girl I was going to marry. Somewhere past the frozen Antarctica’s and dry Sahara’s of my mind and heart, I’m married to you forever, the mother of my heirs, whose pedant with your baby photo I wear around my neck instead of a ring.
Coming out of you, I had swung out of my bed, my feet connecting with the floor, shocked at how cold the floor was, to see by the dim light of the window, to be sure I had not imagined. I remember sitting on the edge of that bed, before I peeled off that condom, looking down between my legs, at blood, virginal blood, your blood. You had been a virgin and given yourself to me! Me of all the men in the world. You had chosen me. Unworthy, slutty, planning to fuck Shamim on Sunday in this very room me. Me. I think it was in that moment the frivolous misogynic playboy in me got up, seeping into his clothes, slipped out of that room closing the door behind him. Life no longer a badly scripted game to be toyed with. I knew. And turning back to you, I did not say ‘I love you’ but kissed you so deeply and so hard and so hard and so long until you said, “I can’t breathe! I need to breathe.”
My arm under your head, I kissed you again. Slow, lingering kisses, playing with your hair, whispering words I have said only to you, you laughing and giggling, wanting to look at me.
One ear on the door waiting for the pre-arranged room service knock on the door, one ear listening to you but all my eyes on you, seeing you see a man for the first time, trying to disguise your embarrassment and curiosity.
How hard I had worked to control myself! Rocked with an inner mirth, when after, you knew you should clean my penis but after drawing away the blanket, you ended up gazing at it, your face a Technicolor changing screen of many emotions; wonder, shock, amazement, disbelief, terror barely suppressed questions until you couldn’t hold them back anymore,
“He’s still big! Isn’t he supposed to be small when he’s flaccid?”
It would take me time to get used to your clinical directness when it came to intimate matters but that night I was too amused to be taken aback replying, “That’s how he is.”
It was not formality or breeding when you looked me in the eye and said with just a hint of relieved laughter in your voice, “I liked it! I really liked it so much! Will it always be like this?”
You were so earnest. Those luscious eyebrows raised, your trusting brilliantly brown pupiled eyes intent, your dark lips an open O of inquiry, with a 1st time lover’s intensity that I knew I’d never be able to tell you all my depraved years of experience that made me reply cautiously but honestly,
“When we both want it, yes.”
Your eyes were on him again asking, “Is he mine? Is he mine alone?” shyly but proudly.
I was so full of love, my throat choking, wordlessly I had gazed at you until more timidly you asked again, and with a deep swallow I had replied, “Always, yes, it is.”
I’m sorry I hurt you when I burst out laughing after and you thought, for a dreadful moment, I was gloating I had added you as another notch in my belt. Before you, I had forgotten how to cry. I did not know how to cry. I was laughing because I could not cry.
Sitting on the edge of that bed, after coming from the bathroom, with you frightened still in bed, full of knowledge about what you were supposed to do but the instinct yet to kick in.
But you remembered this was your first time and you were supposed to bleed. All shyness again. Insisting there was a ‘thing’ you wanted to do in the bathroom. I remember your wordless gratitude, face turned my way briefly, when you found Jik in the bathroom, I basking in it behind you, amazed at my own intuitions I never did tell you that that Jik bottle was in that bathroom not because I knew before hand that you were a virgin but because I had told Sula before, “Man, she’s a cleanliness freak. This is a chick who doesn’t like to leave any trace of herself behind: when we’re at a place not exclusively mine. It’s not like she’s ashamed of me. It’s more like she’s been brought up to believe that she was invisible, strictly behind the man. Sula had thought a moment and then said, “Maybe she’s a virgin?” We had looked at each other, like for five seconds in silence as if seriously contemplating that and then I shattered the mood by incredulously asking, “A campus girl?!”
I have been wrong about a lot of things with you and I have been very, very sorry but never was I so glad to be wrong about you as I was that night.
I remember standing by the window, looking down on Wandegeya at 2pm, the sluicing of your washing the only sound in the room, in my beating heart a joy more immense than I had ever thought capable of feeling. All my life before you floating past me like a movie in a projector remembering every detail. I remember what that night meant to me. Standing by that window, you washing and me by that window knowing we were going to make love again, falling in love with you in that room in College Inn in Wandegeya that night.
Making love again.
In the morning, different. Walking with you and walking you to your room in Mary Stuart hall that morning, through the rusted small University Hall gate, the ever grinning tie wearing éclairs vendor by the gate not yet at his stand, through the silent campus, up from Wandegeya, in the brilliant morning sunshine of that Sunday, furtively fingering my belt loop, trying to read in the smiles of the church going people we passed if they sensed what we had been doing the night before. To look at you, for the leap of love in my heart, was almost unbearable. Changing. In love with you and never knowing it. Unlike tonight with Kim, falling aware.
From the moment pressing the cute looking red button of Linda’s Rav 4 taking us all home after The Rocks and the door whooshing open to their screams and the tyres screeching the car to a halt, determined to make that girl of Patricia’s friends who had ignored me, look my way, crazy that the night was ending and I was failing again.
I would like to say I jumped out immediately. It was immediate, my exit. But it was more of a stagger out of the car. When my feet with a disorganized thump hit the tarmac, I remember a whole world tipping nearly over in my stomach before I quickly righted myself spitting two or three times sorghummy bits of phlegm, nauseous.
Kim was quick, next out of the car vehemently declaring, “You’re mad! Mad!” but laughing.
The Bata Store guard watching us, me, shrouded in his night jacket and the dark warily because I was staggering, zigzagging perilously close to his turf. I saw him, knew the implications and then something took my attention completely.
Steadying myself against the yellow MTN booth, I saw Kim. I saw Kim. Knowing this is a moment I’ll remember the whole of my life. Kim on Kampala road, at a quarter to five on Saturday morning, glowing red moon dipping beyond Jinja road behind her, clapping in delighted glee, laughing, at my prank. Me by that MTN booth, in disbelief, turning to the Bata Store guard for confirmation and seeing him seeing it too. Knowing in an instant but not yet understanding the price I would pay for Kim to be my girl, because leaning for support against that booth, the urge to throw up gone, knowing the search was over. The girl I had been looking for here infront of me, home again at last, with Kim on Kampala road, 5am on Saturday morning. Beginning over.