a friday, in the life of this ‘techie’…

Three successive deep breaths.
Five seconds fluttering my eyelashes.

No.
This was not a flirtatious advance directed at the object of my desire. Although, quite honestly speaking, are we still trained to flutter our eyelashes as Betty Boop trained us; compared to the trendy sub-tweet directed at hashtag oomf?

No.
It was a successful attempt to slow my heart rate. To keep my slowly simmering emotions in check. You know, akin to opening the saucepan cover to keep the milk from spilling into the sigiri; an action that would have left the entire house reeking of burned milk.

I’d thought about running to the toilet, also known as, the throne room of all things private… Except when it came to acoustics, muffled cries are one thing, muffled farts – a whole other ball game.

No.
Surprisingly, I was on a troubleshooting streak and couldn’t afford to step away from my task. Yet, in that moment, my entire being was awash and painfully aware of the absence of my dad.

No.
He didn’t just pass away, so this is not a fresh wound. It’s been 3 years and 3 months and I think I have been doing well so far. Well not I alone. I think my family has been doing well with his absence. My immediate family and our greater family.

No.
This is not a rookie coming face to face with the shapeless shifting wraith named Grief. When you master the art of waking up, you begin to comprehend that corny adage: take one day at a time.

I already took the day and woke up. I should be over this. I should be past this. Instead 3 years in, I am still having moments. Worse still – in public type of moments.

Something had just happened; my personal life was beginning to leak into my professional life. There I was, silently trying to draw deep breath without breaking the train of thought my troubleshooting task needed. For all of fifty seconds, the energy was sapped right out of me. I was tired. Tired, when I could not afford to be tired.

In a cosmic attempt to authenticate her existence, Fate shook her tail feather at me, almost as if it was 2003 again. I was one of the lucky winners of the Father’s day competition. Why is it Father’s though? Is there one Father who owns the day? If not, should it not then be Fathers’, representing the Fathers everywhere owning the day? Or is Father actually in plural already?

Still, this is not what brought on the brimming of salted liquid.

Actually, what did is inconsequential when compared to the lesson that I have learned as result of the entire episode. They say, a parent should never bury their child, again who comes up with these adages?

I have learned of a hidden response from the child who buries a parent; naturally the departure causes a void that needs to be filled. And, who else but a grieving child to assume the responsibility and attempt to fill this void. With a brave face, they drudge on, propelling themselves into an unintended destiny.

No.
Not for me.
Not for us.

To the one who has dealt with the loss of a parent.
To the one that is filled with the burden of protecting the one you have left.
To the one wandering helplessly in the wilderness of an unintended destiny.

stop.
take a knee.
and pray for strength.
gasp out loud and let the tears roll.
then stand up and keep walking, it may have been unintended, but I heard a rumor… Something about all things. I am guessing that all means all…

Some promises are worth holding onto, with all that you are!

Yes.
This is for me.
This is for us.

rom828

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[#UGblogWeek – Day 7] suubi…

I’m clutching my chest again, the pain is back. I double over, but the thud is muted by the woolen carpet in my room.

It stays longer this time. short breaths, I remind myself.

The tears that were already welling up in my eyes, begin their journey to my chin. I grab the large pillow and bury my contorted face into it. With a loud gasp, my wretchedness begins all over again. The pain is still there, but my sorrow overwhelms anything physical or else.

Now, I can feel the dull ache begin it’s throbbing – my God, what did I ever do? Will I never catch a break?

I let the helplessness consume me, with groans of agony in between sobs, I bury the numbness into the whiteness of my pillow.

It wasn’t fine, nor was I myself for a very long time. I spent many nights like that, it wasn’t my choosing – it never is our choosing. I retreated into the darkness of my own shadow, preferring it’s comfort to the the glaring hopes and will-be fines that kept attacking me.

It was like that for a long time, somedays, it still is like that. But you know eventually, the midday sun shows up – then we have choice: to remain frozen in time, staring into the void of all that could have been surrounded by the ghosts that keep us company; or we can try to wake up every day, and take one more step.

One more step further than where we were the day before. One more step in whatever it is that we do with our lives. Teach one more student; take on one more company; solve one more problem; listen to one more story; hope for one dream.

One more dream that will see us lifted out of this bleak existence; one more dream that will return the smile in our voice; one more dream that we know will restore the pride in our children’s eyes.

Soon the ‘one more‘ becomes like the hopes and the will-be fines; all we want, is to be done with the process – ye, who signed us up anyway?

This time, I signed myself. I walked into it with full knowledge of what I was doing.

As the eleven o’clock sun breathed fiercely upon me, the pain returned. An overwhelming helplessness crept up my spine – as sudden realisation of what was actually happening dawned me.

This time would be no different from before – Oh rather, this time would be worse,  for before my very eyes – my ignorance was robbed of me.

But I’ve we’ve been here before, our one more dream will come again.

togwamu suubi.

phoenix_rising_1

the glamour of humble beginnings…

He woke up to darkness.

His eyes were swollen shut.

The two year old was clutching her daddy’s hand like his life depended on it. Guiding him around the scarce furniture that made up their sitting room.

His friend had come to visit, he had heard about the diabetes – the loss of sight. He didn’t want to see his friend vulnerable, but he had to come. He had to show support.

She guided him to the other chair – “Thank you, Princess.” he said as he released her hand. She sat at his feet incase he would need her again.

It was her duty, daddy needed her.
She had a mission

>> 9 years later <<

*ouch*

Blood began to pool under the slightly elevated skin… I quickly put the finger in my mouth to try and stop the bleeding. It stung a bit. It had that slight taste of that divider that used to be the mathematical set.

The place smelled of paper, if you can imagine what clean paper smells like. The lulling drum of machines filled the air and their attendants seemed to be bustling about busy paying no heed to me.

booboo

I followed him up the stairs to the one room windowless office that he had just rented. I smiled excited as I examined the space and gave him an approving thumbs up.

I hid my hurt finger – He had said, ‘touch nothing’.

>> 16 years later <<

 

Windowless offices were only memory in his mind.

A persistent nudging that made him want to spur his children on. To them it probably came across as nagging but they didn’t know what it meant to fail and have no fall back.

Uganda-landscapes-161-1024x683

They probably had the concept but they did not really experience it. They could always come home. Home was in Kampala not some little scenic village located at the ends of the earth.

>> 3 years later <<

You probably have your own version of this story.

Your Dad. Your Uncle. Your Aunt. Your Mom. Your Shwenkuru. Your Mukaka.

handsThey had the one roomed house and they never let you forget about it. They had to walk to school barefoot. They were laughed at by people who did not mean them well.

I have been thinking about this a lot this week, how many of us are the first generation that moved to Kampala. That started from scratch. That had no fall back because the village was too far.

We like saying ‘don’t despise the day of small beginnings‘ – but a lot of us, our definition of small beginnings would make our grandparents laugh. Our small beginnings are the stuff that they dream about – we have shifted our perceptions and our definitions.

We, however, fail to embrace it.

We still prefer our Kaka’s small beginnings, because we relate it to a certain authenticity. It seems like such a glamorous journey and we convince ourselves that we are ready to taken on this selfless adventure.

Then it happens… It dawns on us that it might take 30 years to get to our destination. It’s not even a certainty, it’s just a might – suddenly, we are not as willing as we once were.

It is such a curious circle that wrap ourselves in.

2016 is here… Well, almost here. Remind yourself that circumstances have changed and your context is much different. Heck, even the economy is different. Gwe, I remember a time when the dollar was not 3k.

Wake up and realise that your small beginning is going to be different. You are going to need to redefine it… Then enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

Here is to your new ‘small beginning’… May you live to smile at your great grandchildren’s definition of it!

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ps: all images are sourced from Google.

(UGBlogWeek) The Commute Series: Familiar Faces

When you stay in an area long enough, you begin to notice patterns. The condition of the taxis that are on your commute, the people at the stage, the drivers of said taxis, the conductors and the people at the stage. You know, the ones the conductors snob after their taxis are filled with commuters. The people who cling the taxi door until the conductor tips them and normally, it is not a respectful exchange, more of dropping a coin onto the road and him shouting out to the guy through the window saying, “Tuja komawo”. In the rearview, you see the disappointed look on the tout’s face.

The year is 2015, and I have recently notice two of these said touts rise up in through the ranks – so to speak.

One elevated to conductor status – but him, I have only seen drive by.

The second now appears to be head of other touts and can often be seen wearing one of those hazard jackets, and his own version of Ray-Ban. Why did I notice him you ask? Well, I will tell you.

There was a tussle in the park – one driver was vehemently stating how unfair it have been for another taxi to be filled before his. The person in charge of allocating the order in which the taxis were to be filled was not having any of it – in fact, it would be safe to say that they guy was rudely ignoring him. This obviously served to further infuriate the driver. At this point other drivers were now adding their version of salt to the injury – none of which was helping anything.

In saunters our Ray-Ban, speaking calmly and trying to defuse the situation. The angry driver now deferred to him, in a manner almost as if seeking him to be on his side.

“Well, this is definitely a turn in events… How did this happen” I wondered silently to myself.

And within minutes, calm had ensued and Ray-Ban is looking over the books and inspecting them.

***    ***   ***

One random thing, I do not know the politics behind the different governing transport bodies, but I do respect the fact that these guys are trying to organise themselves.

** Image from Kirabo Byabashaija #KoiKoiUG

Did you see them?

She couldn’t be more than 5 years old, clutching her 3 year old brother’s hand, she got to the road and then glared at us.

Only after we motioned for her to cross, did she relax her face. She dropped his hand as soon as they got to the other side and walked on ahead. He wasn’t happy, in fact he wasn’t interested in walking – he stood and stared at the cars. With his finger in his nose and one hand clutching a book, he attempted to walk and start at the same time. It wasn’t work, so he just stood in one place and watched.

She turned back and couldn’t see him, she yelled at him, not happy about his progress. He picked up his feet and hurried toward her.

***

She looked about 6 months old, he was clutching her as if his life depended on it. Today, she had a little hoodie on – making me wonder if he had dressed her. Was this his daughter? Where does he take her every morning?

Today, she was a wake and looking about.

***

She had flats on… The comfortable walking kind. She was typing as she walked, her fingers furiously going to work.

Would she able to see the manhole if she happened upon one?

***

Take a moment to glance out of the window of your morning commute. You might find familiar faces…