And yet she wasn’t ugly per se. No, that would be unfair to the many heads she turned. She was one of those girls whom makeup helped a lot-especially when applied the right way. One of those girls whose selfies appeared stunning when taken at an angle. Her practice and research on Instagram based on likes of her own pictures, had revealed that a slight tilt of the head to the left, with the lips pouted downwards towards the camera, eyebrows raised beguilingly and braids tied down one shoulder always accentuated her cheek bones, enhanced her full lips and hid her prominent forehead. All seven of her latest selfie uploads on Instagram confirmed this. The number of likes and followers had sky rocketed ever since she discovered this new trick. All she adjusted in the subsequent ones was a change of an outfit, or expose a little more cleavage or change the colour of her lipstick.
But when Lisa turned up to take a real portrait at my room based studio in Lumumba that day, she had done an awful job with her makeup. A really awful job. Either she did not have a look in the mirror before she stepped out of her door, or she had very mean friends. The kind of friends who praised you yet in fact you resembled the Clementina Okot P’bitek had described in Song of Lawino. The one whose red lipstick made her look like a wild cat that has dipped its mouth in blood. The only things that deserved credit were the line of studs on each ear which looked like rows of street lights and the hair, which I still credited to her hair stylist.
After failing to gather the courage to say what her friends should have told her, I picked up the camera and clicked away looking for all the right angles momentarily forgetting about my predicament.Many praise Photoshop but hardly ever know about the grudging and dreadfully long hours photographers spend applying masks, filters and more to retouch photos.
Photoshop helps, but the camera never lies. Even Charles Dickens wrote as far back as 1838 that painters make out ladies fairer than they appear, but as for photography, the trade is a tad too honest.
the beautyful ones are not yet born
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.”
only God knew whether worms would have the courage to bore into her flesh when she died
She was not the kind of girl you towed around hand in hand along Kampala’s dusty streets. No! Hers was a kind of beauty to be stared at, admired and preserved. In fact a friend had suggested that if it were possible, I should put her in an aquarium and place it in my living room. Then each day as I returned home, I would stare and behold the regaling goddess in the glass case, unblemished and pure.
Only God knew whether worms would have the courage to bore into her flesh when she died. I doubt they would. Ten days after her death she would still be as intact in flesh as a newly born. I was convinced that God would let her into heaven in her earthly form. He too would be hesitant to let this glittering creation of his hands to rot away into soil.