i swear it’s satan’s jajja #UGBlogWeek

What just happened?

Comprehension fleeing from my sense of reason’s ardent pursuit. I look up and a waiter is coming toward me with what looks like the bill.

Great! Just great! To add to all the commotion, the gudu did not have the courtesy to pay the bill for a meeting he called.

You must think I’m being petty and mean, after all I have never been pregnant. I have never had my water break. I have never walked into a restaurant looking for my baby daddy to make said water breakage announcement.

Yes, I’m allowing myself to get carried away, wouldn’t you? Aren’t I allowed this privilege? After all how many of you would interrupt a ‘friend’s‘ meeting to announce your broken water? All sensitive hormones aside, of course… and yes, at this point I’m doing a hard mental eye roll.

Cold air had hit her hand as he retracted his warmth from her. A sudden look of worry and horror awash on his face. That in itself was a telling sign. That was his child. He was going to be a father. I will not be a home wrecker.

A bitter chuckle escaped my lips as I picked my bag from under the table, home wrecker my foot. The guy wanted a website, last time the world checked, web development is not a contributing factor to home wreckage.

I place the money plus tip into the bill wallet pouch looking thingie and walk out. I’m making a mental note not to get caught in this drama again.

***

He has been calling every two days since 3 days after the meeting. May be it was a hard labour. Lisa, my sister had had one of those. She had been in labor for a week, till the doctors advised her to consider a cesarean birth.

All the more need to ignore these calls. She, the girl, needed him now more than ever. He has no business calling me with such frequency.

It’s been two weeks and I wish he would just stop. Almost as if on cue, my phone lights up, his caller id flashing clueless in kisementi. I turn off the volume and watch it ring until he gives up.

 

until two days from now, I mutter to myself.

I wonder what it is with the number two, why two days? He could choose to call every day, not that that would make a difference but I wonder why two days. A loud sigh escapes my lips, and Dee glances up from her desk.

Crap, mentally chiding myself for not having better control of my emotions. I smile at her then gaze outside the window. Dee knows. She knew about the ‘meeting’, we had oohed and ahhed and sighed at all the probabilities, but none of us had put Website in the realm of possibilities.

Has Jay called again? She asked with a genuine sympathetic look on her face.

Yes, I gave her a different name. No, it’s not what you think, I am not that insecure, that I would give my friend a fake name. No. It’s just that he is Jay, in my head anyway. My short form of Jared. The name that I would end up calling him, only now he will remain clueless in kisementi.

Yeah, he did. I answer while glancing at my phone.

Perhaps you should consider picking up next time. Just listen to what he has to say. She said delicately.

Dee was the proverbial fence-mender, always believing the best in people. That day two weeks ago, I’d barged into her house while gasping and sobbing so hard, she had feared the worst. Nope. Just it was another self inflicted broken heart. I seem to be getting good at collecting these.

Let’s go book shopping today, I say to her purposefully changing the subject.

She gives me a pointed look but I avert my eyes, my tears are closer than I like to admit. I am not yet ready to face or hear him.

I can’t. John has a friend in hospital, we are going to visit this evening. 

John is her boyfriend. They have been going steady for the last 3 months, sadly with my level of self involvement, I have never met him or inquired about him. I make a mental note to get more involved in her life once the Jay Jared matter is put to rest.

Okay. I respond. I’ll just book-window-shop for a little while to get my mind off this.

***

I’m standing by the elevators looking at the entrance of Aristoc. I’ve been standing looking at the entrance for the last 10 minutes. For obvious reasons, I’m failing to go in, a reaction which one half of me finds utterly childish. Almost as if I am stuck in a Disney movie.

I turn back and head back to the ground floor and there is another bookshop in this mall. While their books are expensive, they are a welcome distraction. Yes, I know there are people out there with more serious problems than mine but what gives you the right to sit there and judge me. How would you like to have a moment of crisis and have me tell you to suck it up and move on.

As I walk into New Day bookshop, I am reminded how the last time I was here, I was chased out because I was eating ice cream on a cone. The utter irony is that the place has a mini bakery-style-coffee shop in it.

I avoid the shop attendants, today I am in no mood for small talk. I find 3 Karen Kingsbury books and 1 old Frank Peretti. I made myself comfortable in one of the chairs and started the real book browsing. The two Kingsbury books were a little bit pricy, so I decide to do the Amazon-price comparison. Yes, Amazon plus a ridiculous bank exchange rate would be cheaper for two of the books. I wasn’t really planning on buying…

Paige?

I look up, slightly surprised and slightly guilty. Nothing like being caught amazon-ing a book in a bookstore.

Yes?

I’m Bosco. You don’t know me, but I’m Jared’s friend. He has been trying to reach you.

Wait what? His sentence took a moment to sink in. Jared’s friend. Comprehension and anger were doing a tag team thing, WWF was going down in my head. So the gudu is now sending his friends to stalk bookstores in Kampala? Glad, I didn’t enter Aristoc! He is probably seated up there waiting, in which case, serves him right!

Yeah. I’ve been a little busy with meetings and deadlines, I manage to say in a controlled voice.

Is he okay, I add, feigning concern.

No, he was involved in an horrific accident at the Mwanda-Mulago junction. He was with his …

Everything else he said faded into the background. Accident? The world was tilting precariously to the right, worry and guilt suddenly making my finger tips go cold and numb.

acc… accident… I stutter in a whisper.

***

This is part three in the dandelion series.

Dandelions or Satan’s Jajja as I used to call them in primary school are beautiful and almost have a certain ethereal quality. This, however, does not take away the reality that they are weeds, plain and simple.

If this is your third read, thank you for persisting on this story’s journey with me. As I wrote this, I wondered if Paige’s reactions were realistic – If you were in her shoes, would you have picked up the phone?

Part two can be found here

 

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day one: green does not define murky

There was no signage outside the gate and following the car ahead of us seemed like a good idea. Why wouldn’t a Beach House put a nice big sign post outside it’s gate, why isn’t signage something that is important to people of this country.

So I hop out of the cab and go talking to the bystander, who happened to be standing in the middle of the parking just staring at people who were driving into the parking – this seems to be another thing that we are good at, staring at people – random standing around and staring… Anyway, he confirms that it is actually the beach house and I desist from asking why the management did not put signs outside the gate.

My next order of business was looking into the lavatory facilities, after the night that I had, I am hardly sure if I have any lower intestine left. I zipped open my backpack and tried to discretely roll out an acceptable amount of toilet paper without getting any raised eyebrows from staring bystanders.

The place looked a little deserted save for three gentlemen by the bar, who looked like they were attempting to recover from the forays of the previous night. I spotted a young responsible gentleman already hard at work, doing what seemed like raking soil off the ground. He pointed me to the direction of the toilets at about the same time I heard a rumble.

I quickly shuffled along in the direction, mentally ordering all muscles responsible to tighten until I get to the destination. After a quick assessment of all four stalls and quickly establishing that the locks on the doors were effective, I quickly discover that the rumble was a false alarm. No manner of mental coaxing was working either; whatever was inside was determined not to come out. The worry came back, like the floodgates that rained over Noah, how exactly was I supposed to survive a sixty-minute boat ride with a poisoned temperamental tummy? I walked out of the stall and headed to the slightly dilapidated sink thinking, I might leave this place with more than an upset stomach.

I walked back to the car pleading with my tummy to behave, praying and speaking healing over her.

‘Hi’

Sounded like Helen, my one of my close friends from high school. She is back in the country now but we haven’t met in over a year. It’s almost like when we are in the same country, communication gets so much harder.

‘Are you here for the retreat?’

The voice was coming from the car we had followed in. Would have been another story all together if they were headed home and we chose to follow them assuming that they were headed to the same place that we were.

I smiled and nodded my head. Maria was her name, and it turns out we had met before this – her name on the eMail chain did seem familiar but I was too lazy to search through the mental archive of memories. We chatted for a little bit before I got back to the car, thinking to myself – hashtag try social. For an introverted introvert, the next four days are going to be some form of interesting. I do not particularly like being social – there I said it. People are bound to let you down, irritate you or get on your nerves in ways that make your eyebrow tick involuntarily. New things, Lynn, remember New things for 2016.

Jackee rolled in shortly afterward, such a bundle of energy, passion and joy. It felt nice being around such positive energy. Young energetic man showed up, lifting our bags onto his shoulders, like Popeye would have after a can of Spinach. We followed him onto the wooden rickety platform – okay, maybe the rickety was just in my head. The air had a funny stench that surrounded it. There was a scent of fish and something else that I couldn’t really put my finger one. Something stale. The water looked green and thick, would probably have been sticky if I had been brave enough to put my fingers in it. Green and thick but not the thick thick, the thick that forms as a result of form coming together. Like in the bath tub when you are rinsing your glorious African fro and the no-sulfate shampoo form curdles around the drainage. Perhaps this is the definition of murky, I wouldn’t know.

A couple said farewell to each other and I thought to myself, ‘Goals – these are relationship goals right here’. We had found him talking to the boatman, ensuring that the lad knew his craft and that his wife was in safe hands. In a way, this worked out for all of us, since we were travelling with Catherine – his wife.

I had to switch seats with Zahara, our uber talented photographer, which put me behind the Godfrey, our boatman. I was fine with this until I realised that he wasn’t going to sit at any point of the ride. Why had I assumed that he would sit, assumptions are never good.

On the random off chance that he had had the same night that I had had, and if by some quirk of fate farting had been his portion for that morning, I would have been one unhappy camper – or rather sailor.

As we sped off into the lake, I was reminded of another time, another place, another city, where I’d used a speedboat for the first time. Sure enough, in a manner that displayed our reaction to the finer things in life, we took selfies and posed in flow with the wind, trying to create our own titanic scenes. However, that would not be the case here – here I was to reign in all form or madness and conform to the pattern of professional creativity. As I listened to the conversation around me, I noticed that there were moments when the boat wasn’t touching the water. No – seriously. The boat was in the air every couple of seconds, I have no idea if this is how a speedboat is supposed to work but all I know is that we would make waves and then no waves; waves and then no waves. Much like the ways of life, there are days when making waves is all you do and then other seasons, you are nothing but another plastic inverted jerrycan floating in the middle of the great Nalubaale.

One minute away from our destination, Go presented to us the equator. All of a sudden it made sense why there was a campus on board. Being situated directly behind him, I’d wondered why he was turning where he was or forever taking lefts – it’s not like there are signposts on the lake saying turn here or two lanes ahead.

After a brief explanation of the lands on either side of us, I was particularly shocked at how close we were to Entebbe – I kept thinking how this would make for an excellent political thriller. As we turned toward our destination, it suddenly dawned on me – My temperamental upset stomach had been kind to me. No random involuntary reactions that would have caused a smelly scene. No need to ‘park’ the boat and have everyone look one-way as nature demanded attention.

As I staggered out of the boat, breathing a prayer of thanks before I realise that my vindictive little tummy had heard me and her response was a grumble that led to the instinctive clenching of my sphincter muscles.

As my fellow travellers stretched and congratulated themselves on getting to the island without incident – a cold sweat broke on my brow as I realised, said incident was about to happen.

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All photos credited to Zahara Abdul/SuccessSparkBrand. 

For more information about the retreat, visit this website. If you are not too sure about the retreat, sign up for the one day novel writing master class (yes, I’ve attended this one as well…)

day four: the dawning of normalcy

I stood outside among the purple and pink flowers. I have seen these flowers before – when we were younger, there were shrubs and shrubs of them. I wonder about the proverbial green thumb that seems to have disappeared with my parent’s generation.

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I watched as a bumblebee hopped from one flower to the next. I wondered if the taste of morning pollen was sweeter than afternoon pollen. I wondered if flowers were early risers or if whether they dreaded the fleeting embrace of the early morning mist.

It was my last day on the Island.

Like a fearful turtle or distressed snail about to be served up in some exotic cuisine, I slowly retreated into myself. The harsh brutality of normalcy was about to hit me hard.

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I listened to the lake and heard her hurried nature: Nalubbale’s waves were crashing into each other in a desperate attempt to get to shore. Or was it the wind’s fault, acting like a worn-out mother shooing her tardy children out the door?

This was my last day on the Island.

We came to the Island to unleash our writing potential (No seriously, it was on the flyer), we came to learn and unlearn some things; we came to learn to be authentic and vulnerable. We came because we felt our stories were so intricately weaved in the depth of our souls and we were desperate to get them out.

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Did we do any of these things, you ask? Were we all not told by those adorned in black-and-white wielding bamboo sticks, that talent couldn’t be taught? We either possessed the genes of the great or only aspire to be said great. A smile pasted her self on my face as read through this – these black and whites should have met Jackee.

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Jackee Batanda – to be exact.

She is the personification that dynamite comes in small packages – A bundle of energy, passion and infectious laughter. In spite of her obvious years of experience and training, she did not belittle some of my outrageous expectations. Hashtag, my dreams are valid.

Her company, SuccessSpark Brand runs a four-day writing retreat. Four days packed with learning best practices, structure, editing with just a hint of publishing. We listened to each other’s work and marvelled at the distinct style that each of us brought to the table. We had one-on-one sessions with the facilitators – talking through our expectations and our goals beyond the retreat.

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Today was my last day on the Island.

That Alex and his team were up to it again, the sweet aroma of freshly baked cupcakes was making my waistline flatline. Team Alex saw to it that the definition of culinary delight would soon take on new meaning for each of us.

I am guilty of slightly over indulging my imagination as we went on a nature walk one evening. Yes, I imagined the ghost kings of Safari ant colonies past, terrorising us as we loudly made our way through. We laughed so uncontrollably that when we came to the next colony on our path, jumping over them was dangerously hard.

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Solitude. Therapeutic. Serenity.

These are the words that would aptly describe my experience.

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And yet like an expectant mother being handed her baby in the theatre, came the dawning realisation that my child was here. I have always loved writing and now, I didn’t have to do it alone. After all, it takes a village, doesn’t it?

Which makes me wonder, will you be part of the village? Will I see you, at the next SuccessSparkBrand Writing retreat?

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All photos credited to Zahara Abdul/SuccessSparkBrand. 

For more information about the retreat, visit this website. If you are not too sure about the retreat, sign up for the one day novel writing master class (yes, I’ve attended this one as well…)

a year of harvest…

I like to write.

No.

I love to write.

I love the build up. I love the characters in my head. I love when it starts as an idea and then just floats around for a while. I love the fact that when it is in my head anything is possible. Anything can happen. Change is but a thought.

I love the finality that attaches itself to the story when the words hit paper. I love the diversity that reading a story brings – each see what their own imagination wills.

So much life. So much creating.

I love writing. I love the process.

But sadly, I have done nothing about it. And with each passing day, my characters lose their voice. My technique gets sloppy and I tire of trying. My inner voice drowned out by the exciting adventure that is found in the next hashtag.

I submitted to a magazine the other day, it was on a whim – not that I was interested or anything. Their non committal response crushed my silently hopeful heart. I still get the newsletter, I still open it hoping to see my name – or rather, the pseudonym.

But.

This weekend. It will be different. This weekend we plan a shift. Even with the papal visit and the decked out streets. We will be away, working furiously at creating and molding.

This weekend, this is where we shall be.

After all, we have 5 weeks of reaping left…

*** Image source – Google