Balance

Balance

Be careful what you pray for, you just might get it.

For the longest time, I prayed for the job that I currently have because I felt like my contribution was not being appreciated at my older job. I didn’t want to waste any more of my life giving to an establishment that wouldn’t acknowledge my input so I set in motion an exit plan.I applied for other jobs in the same field and sat a couple of interviews. I was ecstatic when I got The Call despite all the warnings from my peers about the workload with my new employer. I told myself God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle and took the plunge. 9 months in, I see what my peers were talking about.

In the same manner, I have prayed for opportunities to work professionally on my writing. To be published elsewhere other than my own personal blog. Like He is wanton to do, God answered and instead of just the one opportunity I asked for with my big mouth, He granted two. Again, I was ecstatic albeit a little suspiciously this time. Between the 9-5 and the 2 writing projects, I’m lucky if I remember to shower (thank God for deodorant). I am clearly struggling with this work/life balance thing especially when it comes to honoring tea plans with friends. I have to stop myself sometimes and remember to live.

In the midst of all this, I found that when you have a passion for something, you won’t make any excuses. You would rather dose yourself on coffee and Rock Boom (tastes exactly like Red Bull by the way) than fail to meet a deadline. I guess that is the moral of the story in all this; find something you love and excel at it. I plan to.

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Dreams

dream_catcher_by_syccas_stockWhat dreams keep you up at night? What dreams, because of their magnitude, make you afraid? Those are the dreams worth fighting for. If something is going to come easy, it probably won’t be worth having. I’m blessed to have a friend who’s never been afraid to dream big. She wants to win an Oscar some day.

I want to see my writing take shape: a movie, TV series or a magazine. That’s my dream for this year and it’s a dream already on its way to fruition. I’ve been brought on to two writing projects that hold the promise of greatness. Watch this space.

To dreams and their realization.

 

 

 

 

Alternate Perspective II

He hated lying to her.He just didn’t want her to worry. At least in his head, that’s how he justified what he did. She was a worrier. Definitely her mother’s daughter.

“Nteeka’wo,” he had told the motorcycle rider when he felt his left jean pocket vibrate. Wasswa wasn’t one of those people that could sit on a motorcycle without hanging onto something, let alone answer a call. So he had asked the boda to stop. He could walk the rest of the way to the office from there.

“Hello,” he said as he picked up the call from Nakato.

Gwe fala, why weren’t you picking your phone? You nearly gave me a freaking heart attack,” she yelled when he answered.

Relax mother dearest,” he replied, his voice reeking of sarcasm, “I was on a boda boda.”

“Did you use a boda boda all the way from home? What did mom tell you about those things Wasswa?”

“You know if you keep this up, the wrinkles you’ll give yourself will have people thinking you’re mom’s twin and I your son,”

“Oh shut up! Good luck today and take care of yourself, I have a feeling something bad is going to happen today.”

“I know, I saw you reach for your rosary this morning, what’s more scary is that I feel it too,”

“Wait, what? Did you…”

“I’ve got to go Nakato, they’re calling for me. We’ll talk when I get out.”

He paid his fare and proceeded to walk towards his office building. He had lost a phone once like that. He was more careful these days.

She thought he had an interview because he had told her as much. He hadn’t meant any harm by it. But what else could he do when every day she got home, she asked him if he had heard of a better opportunity? It had become a song. Followed by the look of feigned hope when she told him that something would turn up when deep down she knew that might not be true.

So he had lied that he had an interview. He hadn’t counted on her buying him the crisp white shirt and the pair of cuff links. He dreaded having to see her face when he told her he hadn’t made it. He didn’t know what was worse; the monotony of her asking or the disappointment that would come after.

The guard on duty stopped him as he walked through the metal detectors saying,

“Someone here for you.”

This can’t be good, he thought. The only people that came to see him at work were his sister, relatives looking for hand-outs from their city boy who had made it big and Isaac, a friend who didn’t tire of having the next big idea for a start-up. It wasn’t Nakato, he had just spoken to her and this was January, he doubted any relatives had enough money left over to make the transport fare to Kampala. That left only one bad option.

“Who is it?” he dared to ask.

“Isaac Nalyali. He is in the waiting room sir”

This definitely isn’t good, thought Wasswa. In that moment, he didn’t realize just how right he was and how much that meeting would change his life.

 

 

An Alternate Perspective

What was it about those damned scarves that she liked so much?

To Wasswa, a woman’s hair was her crown of glory and to wrap it up in those kitenge things was just criminal. But when he thought back to those days when his twin sister would leave the house with her hair uncombed, perhaps the head scarves were a happy compromise. They made her happy and he couldn’t ask for more.

Argh. That feeling again. Like he’d gone to the shop to buy groceries but forgotten something that was on the list. He wasn’t a superstitious guy, but he had had the same exact feeling before Jajja Mwami passed. The hair on the back of his neck rose in reflex. As he left the room, he saw her reach for the rosary that hung by her bed. She felt it too.

Well, whatever life had in store, he would go at it head on.

It had been a tough first year after campus. Employers didn’t really know what to do with a degree in Development Economics. To be honest, he didn’t either. So he had walked from office to office in the hope that someone would take a chance on him. All the while exhausting what little savings had survived from his government student allowance.

It was only after Nakato’s friend had put in a good word with her father that he had been taken on by the construction firm. The pay was close to imaginary but at least it kept him busy.

The traffic from Zana was terrible and if he wanted to be in time, he would need to use a boda. It may not have been his ideal job but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t do his best. Besides, this was practice for when the big one came along. The UN job.

I must be the only one without a boda guy, he thought as he walked up to the motorcycle stage. It made sense to have a rider on standby, he had just never got round to it.

“Kampala meka?” he asked Musa, the sole rider at the stage.

“Manager sit and we go,”Musa answered.

Wasswa smiled at the irony as he got on. Manager? That would be the day. Nothing could’ve prepared him for what was to come.

Off the Grid.

The older I get, the more I understand people that walk away from it all. Love, work, religion, all of it. They just wake up one morning and their tea doesn’t taste the same anymore. It hasn’t for a while yet they remember a time when they were passionate about that first cup of tea in the morning. That cup that meant they could persevere, at least till midday, have lunch, then count down the grinding hours till 5:00pm so they could rush out into the evening traffic and just sit in that taxi that isn’t going anywhere fast. Get home. Eat. Shower. Set their alarm for 6:00 am. Sleep. Repeat steps 1 through 5.

Except the tea company, in trying to keep up with the competition from all the new brands from Kenya, decided that they could still rope in a handsome profit without curing the leaves (or whatever process they use to give it that flavor). Our ardent tea drinker presumes the change in taste to be something much more. A message from the universe perhaps. Something epiphany-worthy and so decides that this life isn’t for them anymore. They pack a bag. Try to explain their decision to loved ones and friends, most of whom don’t get it. This is just a phase. It will pass. How can you be so irresponsible? Grow up Kenneth! (Kenneth sounds like an ardent tea drinker) They don’t bother to pen a resignation letter because their supervisor hadn’t even learned their name yet. Even after 2 years in the same role, she still called him Amos, a far cry from Kenneth.

So, with their bag in hand and the last of savings which don’t amount to much, they set off for a distant place where nobody knows them and they know nobody. Rid of social obligations, routine, deadlines. Free.

How did your tea taste this morning?

Knowledge..

He heard her fidget with the key as she tried to unlock the door. He imagined it might have been easier for her to play pool with a rope in her state. She must have been drunk. She always got home so these days. After what seemed like an eternity, he rose from the sofa where he had sat for the past 4 hours waiting on her to get home and walked to the door. He drew the curtain and pushed the door open. It had been unlocked all along.

“Hi,” she said, managing a sheepish smile.

She stood there in the purple and white zebra dress that he loved seeing on her. Her motorcycle helmet hung at her side and in her perfectly manicured fingers, she held a collection of keys to her old place. The wrong keys.

“Hi,” he replied, but held on to his smile.

“What are you doing up so late? It’s 2am” she said.

“It’s more like 4:30am but who’s counting? Plus you know I have trouble sleeping without you in my bed” he admitted.

“Shit!” she muttered under her breath.

He stood aside to let her stagger in and she did, cracking her helmet visor on the metal door frame. She cursed again. He took it from her and placed it on the coffee table in the center of the living room. When he turned, she was right in his face moving in to kiss him. She tasted of cigarettes, alcohol and Redbull. She bit down on his lower lip and he couldn’t pull away until she let go.

“What’s wrong?” she asked as she held his face in her hands and before he could answer, “Don’t you want to?”

He wanted to. He wanted to so bad, but not before he could get something off his chest. Not until he had said his peace and he could breathe a little easier. Not until she acknowledged that he wasn’t crazy. That all this wasn’t in his head.

“I know,” he said and looked her squarely in the face, searching it for any signs of guilt. Remorse perhaps?

Was she smiling? Could she actually be smiling at what he had just accused her of?

She reached out and kissed him again. Deeply. Passionately, like she drew her very breath from his. Like her life depended on this solitary act. He didn’t try to pull away. He kissed her back. Over and over as he tried to numb the sting that came with the realization that she hadn’t denied anything.

When he stopped for air, she turned away from him, towards the bedroom and holding his hand, led him there. Her hand reached for the light switch and just as the room was engulfed in pitch black darkness, he heard her say,

“I know too”

Writer’s Block.

It was a lot harder hearing your call this time. Hearing your voice. I think I was too distracted by the loneliness of this place. By the sheer desolation of it all. The dry sand and the cactus and and the unrelenting desert storms..Oh, there I go again.

But there is no drowning out your call. Not entirely anyway. A little bit always manages to seep through. That little bit is always enough to make me turn around and walk back. Enough to make me realise what was missing and at the same time, make me forget why I wandered in the first place.

I’m afraid it’s going to be a little harder this time. Getting back in your good graces, but like you always say, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. You say all I have to do is pick up my pen and the words will flow again. I wish I could tell you how much harder it is, but I’m all out of negativity. 

So I pick up my pen and will myself to write. 

Absolute or Not?

Freedom of expression.

That is the theme around which Ugandan bloggers are expected to tailor their seven day posts for the second quarter #UgBlogWeek. Pause. Am I the only one that sees the inherent irony in telling people what they should write about while maintaining the theme Freedom of Expression?

If yes, then by all means, pay me no attention. If however, like me you feel that this unforgivable irony tickles you in certain ways then perhaps spare a moment to answer me something. Is Freedom an absolute concept? Is it an all or nothing arrangement? You’re either free or you’re not. OR can it be relative? Can you be relatively free? As is the case with this theme business. You can write about anything you like BUT it must be centered around freedom of expression.

If you’re leaning towards the former, then I guess there is no freedom of expression because even the slightest infringement undoes that freedom. Picture that hideous sweater you once got for Christmas, one tug at that string standing out of place and the whole thing comes unraveled. To your delight I might add. Not so much when it comes to the freedom thing. To achieve this absolute freedom, would mean that every one’s opinion would matter, which if you’ve been on Twitter or any other social media platform for that matter, you’d agree isn’t necessarily a good thing.

On the other hand if freedom can be relative, then maybe that’s a more attainable goal. The problem then would be how much of it are we willing to compromise to let us enjoy whatever is left.

Yes. Age makes philosophers of us all.

FREEDOM

 

 

 

 

 

This Or That Book Tag

The plan was never to post this, but I figured it might be a great step in the fight towards my writers’ block. So thank you Diamante for the nomination. I don’t know what you’re going on about me always being nominated but oh well, here goes. I won’t be nominating anyone though. I’m too lazy for that. I am a work in progress, but Jesus isn’t through with me yet.

Reading on the couch or the bed?

Hmmm. What if the couch is the bed? You know, one of those really uncomfortable ones that your parents told you will inspire you to greatness if you slept on them because you just had to make enough money to afford a king size bed. So I guess, bed. Wait..what if the bed is the couch? What if you haven’t yet broken out as the writer you want to be so the only real furniture in your house is the bed? That’s still the bed though, so yes, I’m sticking with my answer. Bed.

Main male character or female main character?

Have you ever realized how when it comes to female characters, we always put the fact that they are female before the fact that they are the main character? Yet, with the male character, it’s always main male character and not male main character? I think, we need to change this. But yes, female main character any day. It’s always enlightening to read what goes on in a woman’s mind when she’s dealing with a particular problem or adventure or an unrequited love.

Sweet snacks or Salty snacks?

A bit of both. Compromise is where it’s at.

Trilogies or Quartets?

Neither. Heptalogy because have you read Harry Potter? Now try to imagine all that awesomeness crammed into four books. No way Jose.

First Person Point of View Or Third Person?

First person. It feels a lot more personal. Like the story is being told by a stranger you’re seated next to in a bus as you head to the village for the holidays. Third person feels more like gossip. Like the person telling the story overheard it from these two people that were seated ahead of him in a bus. Coincidentally, he was also going to the village.

Reading at Night Or In The Morning?

Definitely at night, when the rest of the world has quieted down. I look forward to a time when I can read in the morning without having to worry about being late to the office. That would be the true definition of making it.

Libraries Or Bookstores?

Libraries. Complete with a bespectacled librarian that will shush anyone trying to pierce the silence with small talk. Isn’t small talk just the worst. I don’t think we really have bookstores in Uganda. At least not in the true sense.

Books That Make You Cry Or Laugh?

Any book that can make you feel things is worth a read. Books that make you laugh because I feel like there’s already enough sadness in the world as it is.

Black Book Covers Or White Book Covers?

Black book covers. They have that allure to them like you’re holding in your hand a manuscript on alchemy or some lost art of mind walking. White book covers are cool too.

Character Driven Story Or Plot Driven Story?

Plot driven story.

 

 

 

The Reluctant Muse

Reluctant Muse

She didn’t know why he insisted; buying her lunch wouldn’t change anything. Her mind was made up. She had said no already and the more she thought about it, the more ludicrous the idea seemed. She preferred the moat she had built around herself undisturbed. Thank you very much. And here he was, boat in tow trying to get across. Trying to get her to shed her layers by calling her things like “the diamond that wouldn’t let itself be discovered”

She loved her layers. They were safe and warm. But he had insisted and so here she was, if only to reiterate her ‘No’ She knew better than to trust the words that fell from a writer’s mouth. Her mother had taught her better. Why was he so curious anyway? Why her? She lived a pretty ordinary life. In fact, all she had wanted to do was go to her favorite restaurant and order herself some matooke and meat stew. The same thing she ordered all the time.

She could eat meat in perpetuity and never grow tired of it. That would be a noble cause to dedicate one’s life to, she thought. Not going about asking strangers to be your muse. No. You sir need a day job. She smiled at her inner sass. She knew she would never be able to say any of this out loud but her mental voice was enough for now.

Although, in all honesty, this was his day job. Plus her friend Ella said she needed to open up a little more. So maybe, she’d see what he had to say.

“I don’t know what I’m doing here,” she admitted, “I hate talking about myself.”

“This isn’t an interview so you won’t have to talk about yourself. Well, not directly anyway,” he explained, “We will just have a polite conversation over a hot meal and see if anything interesting falls out of the tree.”

“The thing about letting your story be told is that the author could never cover it all,” she lamented, “If I am this diamond, as you put it, then I would want for all my facets to be showcased. Not just the ones you deem worthy of the spot light”

“That’s the problem with you writers; you promise immortality but only to the versions of your characters that your audiences will be comfortable with,” she added then realizing that perhaps she was being a little harsh to someone she barely knew, retreated into her glass of passion juice.

He merely stared on. His eyes occasionally darted to the menu so he could avert his gaze from her large brown eyes that burned as she spoke her mind.

“I’m sorry,” she went on, “You probably expected some tale of heart break or scandal or something that would have a better chance of grabbing your reader’s attention. Not a reluctant muse.”

“Ahaa,” the writer exclaimed as he experienced his eureka moment, “I’ll write about just that and then we won’t have to worry about what you can and cannot reveal”

She smiled. She wouldn’t have to feel naked after all.