​I will return to Bushenyi someday

Bushenyi shall be my permanent home some day.

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Beautiful blue butterflies twirl around in colourful circles. Fresh floral leaves drop down from tall dancing trees which sway delightfully to a light rustling wind carrying sweet tantalizing smells. The birds can be heard pouring out their early morning melodies in the small woodland nearby. Beams of golden light burst through the green foliage at the canopy and give the ground below just a peek of brightness. It’s a beautiful day and I can’t help whistling. I tread carefully creating my own rhythm as I let each foot sink into the bed of dry leaves and branches on the ground. 

This is the reward for each morning of hard labour on the farm that begins at 4:30 a.m when the shrill piercing sound of the alarm clock invades the silent night instantly awaking me from my slumber. It’s time to milk the cows or else the milk will ‘evaporate’ as they say. The moon is out and gives me confidence to walk in the lifeless night. The only sounds are the hooting of an owl somewhere or crickets chirping plus the thud of my boots as I scamper downhill. In 20 minutes, I am at the farm gate draped in a heavy jacket, warm khaki pants, rubber boots to protect my ‘tender’ feet from the dew and wielding a herding stick and a LED flashlight. The two herdsmen are already up, just waiting for me to start off the day. Quickly we fetch the pails and milking salve cream and the drops of milk accumulate into litres with each pull at the cows’ teats. The stubborn ones are milked from the crush. Within an hour we are done with milking and feeding the calves that still take milk. Then the bulk of it is sold to the community around. By this time, the sun is starting to rise from beyond the horizon creating a sight to behold.

As the first glimpses of daylight appear, we set the herd off into the grazing paddock for the day. It’s a fresh paddock. One that hasn’t been used in a week and the excitement is evident on each cow’s face; fresh sprouted grass. If any of them stays behind or walks sluggishly, the simple deduction is that it is sick and the veterinary doc is called straight away. Fetching water from the nearby stream to fill the 1600 litre trough (80 jerry cans) is the last and also the toughest of the morning labours. This has to be done early before the sun is out to intensify the job. It is after this task that come the reward I speak of; the short quiet walks in the pastures and woodlands soaking in the beauty of this part of the world from which I derive a lot of pleasure. 

The stream, full to its brim because of the November rains, happens to run faster at the eastern edge of the farm. It is a calm constant flow that you hardly imagine drying up in the dry season when the heavens are mean with rain and the dry grass is tasteless to the cows. The sun rises higher and forces me to think of returning home. The emptiness of my stomach has begun to make it churn. A few minutes after nine, I’m homebound with a bucket of milk in hand for a hearty breakfast. 

Deep in my mind, I know this is pure bliss. Deep in my mind, I know that these are beautiful days. Yet these are but the exceptional days that I enjoy on the sojourns to my village Bushenyi, the place of my father’s birth, which never last more than two weeks. For the rest of the year, I must bear the buzz and rush of the capital.

Bushenyi shall be my permanent home some day.

To My Former Fair Lady

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Dearest wicked one,
It has come to my attention that the way we parted needs an official notice since you have failed to see the signs or take note of the peculiarly cold shoulder I have been treating you to. You see, that is one of the reasons I decided not to add an extra day to the wasted eight months I have already stupidly shared with you-your obvious inability to read between the lines. It defeats even my own understanding how we lasted so long. Eight months, really! Count it on my great tolerance but if you could manage to get on nerves as cool as mine, then you left me no choice. I could only go as far.
I will never forget the way your eyes popped when my learned friend Lekdyang asked for your opinion on the under performing stock exchange. Similarly, I vividly recall the look you gave me when my old friend Okuku wondered what you thought was causing the plummeting price of the Shilling against the Dollar. It was a look that requested me to rescue you from matters of discussion that were alien to you. Only then did I realize how cleverly you had always dodged my attempts to engage you in such serious matters.
It won’t be hard to forget you. Only, I’ll tell stories of the horrid experiences you put me through to all of my friends and even grandchildren. How you gulped half a bottle of wine on our first date, or how everything we did was an open book to your friends-even how often we ‘did it’, and many more. I’ll tell them all, but to cut you some slack, I will spare your name.
I hate to admit it but the heady smell of your perfume hangs in my bed sheets like a ghost. It is the only thing you can deservedly take credit for, how particular and rare your choice of perfume is. The annoying (annoying because it reminds me of you) jasmine-rose scent must have been extracted from the wildest of flowers the makers could find. It keeps sifting through my nostrils each time I enter my bed. I’ve soaked and washed them thrice already in the strongest detergent on the market but that trademark scent of yours is clinging onto my sheets. Dumping them too will be my last resort. If that fails, I will conclude that it’s either in my head or you applied some evil charms on me. Now don’t you dare be fooled into thinking that I’m addicted to it, I’m not.
I wonder what took me so long to realize that the six inch heels that I previously thought accentuated your long legs instead seem to make you walk like the lame goats my friend Kaleeba talks about so much. I no longer have to tickle my head to imagine what a lame goat looks like.
Meanwhile, it is so refreshing to consider how many choices I have at the moment. It feels like I’ve been released from self-inflicted bondage. Rest assured that as for now, I’ll steer clear of all of your kind lest am wrapped around another grotesque finger. You can go on to your next adventure. But after all, you don’t need a blessing, do you? The adventures seem to find you. I am going to patiently wait for the fairest of them all. Ayi Kwei has been right all along “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born”
With bad blood,
I who was once yours.

Living for now

the beautyful ones are not yet born

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Often we deceive ourselves into saving the best for last. This idea works at times, but amounts to nothing. Here’s why!

You join secondary school and decide to quit reading for exams of any sort. Your argument- ‘you are saving marks for the finals.’ As the rest go for sports, you say you are waiting to grow big to go down to the rugby pitch. A beautiful song is playing at school on that only night in a year when you get to have a little bull dance and while the rest of your friends find it irresistible to dance to it, you occupy the seats alone and brush it off saying you are waiting for a better song to join them. Club functions are held every weekend and you convince yourself that you will attend only the social. You pass by this beautiful girl and refuse to say hi just because you imagine it is not the last of her that you are seeing. You reach university and immediately decide that all girls in your year are not worthy of your time. The next year’s girls come around and you wisely proclaim that they are even worse. Come third year and you make your final judgement “the beautyful ones are not yet born.”
Imagine if we were all to wait for the perfect things. How much perfection is there anyway? Which girl has got no flaw? Which song has stayed at the top of the charts forever? When was there a perfect time to say hello? Are you perfect anyway? And so life dictates that we catch every breath as it comes. That we awake each single day with the desire to be happy, forget the sorrow and even reach out for tomorrow. That we heartily live every moment, smile more and let out that loud laugh more often. For
“My candle burns at both ends
It may not last the night
But ah, my friends
And oh my foes
It gives a lovely light.”

Describing my teachers

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The new teacher of general paper
That morning as the class sat lazily conversing at the top of their voices, a big dark man stood at the entrance of the room blocking all the sunlight that came through. The loud chants and arguments that had previously occupied the class turned into whispers as all eyes turned to the new comer. His distinct shiny bald head looked like a patched football field. His eyes like round golf balls rotated in their sockets as they scrutinized the class. His gaze was so strong that nobody could look him in the eye for more than three seconds. His belly stuck out like that of a pregnant woman unable to be hidden by the loose fitting and old fashioned four buttoned jacket he wore. His throat was very huge and this obviously denied him the chance to tie his collar button. His whole ensemble was amusing. In fact, the yellow tie he wore which did not match the green shirt and brown trousers at all resembled a hangman’s noose.
“Good morning senior five!” he bellowed. “I am your new teacher of general paper” he continued in a loud confident voice such that no one could doubt him.

The literature teacher

He wore spectacles which lay precariously on his nostrils and not on the bridge of his nose like most people’s did. His neck had layers of flesh that concealed his Adams apple. When he spoke, he did so with hearty expressions forming wrinkles that crowded his face. Lines ran between his eyes making them look like a waterfall. He had a hollow laugh which hardly lasted more than a few seconds. Often, it sounded like an old tired car engine that had failed to start. The only quality about it was that it often transformed his lame jokes into sublime ones. Nevertheless, we enjoyed his lessons.