There is nothing that you are, nothing that you own, nothing that you know and nothing that you don’t-that will protect you from violence.
The memory of your love sits at the bottom of my heart, like the dregs of a good cup of coffee, long gone cold, almost bitter and now tasteless.
But still I swirl the coarse remnants, round and round, mixing the now too sweet sugar, water and saliva into something I’m convinced will taste like the beginning.
That this end will remind me of what hot coffee tasted like, and will help me maybe want to order another cup.
So I drink these dregs, I suck them in through my teeth like honey.
Like it’s the sweetest thing I’m having today, and allow the tepid bitterness to sit and swirl in my mouth until it becomes warm again, until the sugar mixes in with the coarse grains of coffee, and I swallow.
The emptiness of the cup before me echoes.
I want to spit the last bit of coffee back into the cup, but it stays swallowed, travelling down to warmer parts of me.
In an hour I forget that I had dregs of coffee.
In a day I forget how they tasted.
In two weeks I swear off coffee completely.
But six months later I still remember what that first sip tasted like.
Imagine, imagine that you never got on a plane, and never got paid, and never made a friend from New Zealand, or never saw the snow, never saw the sea, never moved to the big city,never owned a laptop,and never stood in a room of people you don’t know and spoke about your suffering,never sold a book, or a painting, never ate that dim-sum, never heard of Instagram, never left that hill that sits between you and all those other things in the big bad world. The big beautiful world that you’d never see. Imagine you didn’t call yourself an activist. Imagine that you never owned a passport. Imagine that you couldn’t flee if you tried. Imagine that everything you have on you right now is everything you will ever have.
Imagine that your oppression wasn’t your currency, your suffering your strength.Imagine that. Imagine that you carried your pain like a pail with a hole. A small hole, which dripped a trail in the sand and let the dust die down in just that spot.Imagine that.
What would you work day and night to change? What would wake you up in the middle of the night with a tight pain in your chest and send you into the ten square kilometres called home that you will never leave. What would put you to sleep like a lullaby knowing that on this day I changed that. What is that? That thing you do for no money, for no reason other than to make your neighbour understand. To make yourself understand.To make your lovers understand. To make anyone understand. That even in small places where nothing leaves and nothing comes, change happens, and that you are that change. That you dreamed a different way of being and this difference is you.
Dear activist, imagine that you didn’t call yourself that. That you are change made flesh and bone and that you never had to get on a plane to make us understand.
That you are beautiful
On rainy sunny days when the weather doesn’t know who to be.
That you are someone
To people who still don’t know where in their lives to place you.
That you shine
The way the sun shines even behind clouds and a blanket of stars.
That you are light
That fills spaces with warmth and let’s things grow and follow rays.
That you are angry
Because you are human and you’re allowed to see red even when it’s white.
That you are flawed
In that way that bruises and cuts have stories to tell.
That you are woman
In everyway woman is woman- you are her and she is you.
That you are here
Right now not to be or do or become anyone but you.
That you are mine
In that way that I am yours we belong to each other because we belong to the world.
That you are love
Because you couldn’t possibly be anything else and still be you.
In dark and light waking moments-before night ends and day begins-I think of you. I wonder, how you are. I wonder how you sleep. I wonder what fills your dreams. I wonder how you preserve the memory of me on you, when you share you with her. I’d like to think that there are places I touch that she doesn’t. Things I do that you don’t with her.
But that’s silly. I feel silly for thinking this. Because I’m on the outside-looking in, often through the window. Sometimes through a partially open door. A voyeur into your life. Part of me doesn’t mind, part of me does. Part of me feels lucky, to have any part of you. Part of me wants more. Part of me dreams of a different place-let’s call it a parallel universe. Where I am her-and I have you, all the time. It’s just a dream-a beggar on a horse really. But in waking moments I allow myself that.
In waking moments nothing is defined-it’s not day and it’s not night. In waking moments I am both asleep and awake. In waking moments I have impossible possibilities. Conscious contradictions that make sense. In waking moments I live. In waking moments I summon the memory of you into my bed. Already warm with the sleep of the night before, we cuddle. I bury my face in your breasts and breathe you in. You hold me. My hair tickles your chin. Our legs intertwine. We press up against each other. We breathe. We say good morning. We talk about fantasies and nightmares. We caress each other. We laugh about nothing.
In waking moments you’re in my bed. Your presence is real, your breath on my neck warm. In waking moments I summon you because it’s possible. It’s possible to have you here. In waking moments I have you, to myself. All of you. For maybe five minutes. Because waking moments are brief-fleeting almost.
The world is so polarised-things that lie between cannot exists in this world long. They can for a while. Not for long. Waking moments create grey of black and white. It’s in this grey of night and day, yes and no, here and there, warm and cold-that I find you. Often. Always.
Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.
To the child with the eyes like mine
The child with the smile like his
The child that came through me and from me
The child that is mine but not mine alone
He is ours
He belongs to the world and the world is his
The child that’s a sign of a future presently lived
And a true freedom, unshackled from birth
Allowed to live, exist, expand,
Allowed to be not like his mother,
Not like his father,
Not like anyone, but himself
The child that asks and answers
The child that knows-he knows
The child that, like all children
Is more than we see, more than what children are
More than just here
To the child that was born today
Thank you-for your life, and your light, and your you
Thank you for your here, for your now, for your yes
First. Remember. Remember everything. Remember the first and the last. Remember how good it felt when she touched you there. Soak yourself, your Self, in the feeling of losing yourself in someone. In something bigger than you could voice. Remember the first time you choked. The last time you screamed. Your shouts, your sighs-remember the silence. Flood yourself, your Self, with the memory of her. Of her being. Her skin. Her soul. Her Self. Drown yourself in every memory. Live it again. And again. Play it on repeat. Feel it with your fingers and your heart. Drench yourself, your Self, in her. In your memory of her. Every good. Every bad. Everything in-between that you still don’t have the words or the language for. Immerse yourself in that time-that time that the room spun just because she was in it. The time you stood so firm because she stood beside you. Inside you. Inside her. Recall what that felt like. When you watched her move to the rhythm you made her follow. Remember where she followed. Where she wouldn’t. Where you could not lead her to. Remember every detail of her. Her feet. Her hair. Her smile when she said yes. Her breath when she said…yes, yes, yes. Remember the cigarette you sucked while you spoke. How her nipples tasted when you sucked those. Remember you in the memory of her. Who you were. Who she made you. Who she made you be. Remember you with her. Remember you. Recall the memory of her in surrender. Her scent. Her smell. Remember her no. Her maybe. Bring it all back. Fill the room with her. Fill you with her. Let her memory spill out the windows and doors. Let her presence be felt by the shortest hair on your head. Remember the longest day you had with her. The day that would not end. Relive the laughter, hers and yours. Remember the journeys-and where they took you. Replay the light and the dark and the colours in between. The storms and the cold. Remember the warm. Bring back the hot. Feed off it. Let it in. Let your pores pour her out of you. Let your flesh marinate in her memory. She is there now. Everything that she is. Everything that she is not. Everything you wanted her to be. All of it. Call it back. Call it in. Her voice. What it did to you. What it didn’t. Remember every detail. Of the back of her neck on a cold day. On a hot day-everyday. We remember what we cannot forget. But we forget what we agree to remember. So remember. Remember it all. All the pain. The pleasure. Remember what she stood for. Remember the exact moment you knew. That you could swim in her sea until your limbs gave out. That you could. You just could. Remember everything-leave nothing forgotten. Remember it all. Then, say thank you. Kiss her eyes. Kiss her lips. Hold her hand. Look at her. Say thank you. Say goodbye. And now-forget it all.
So, after much hoping, praying, lobbying and fighting-the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was signed (with audience) by Yoweri Museveni. It has to become gazetted before it becomes law, but we all know that this counts for nothing, because people already have their knives out and ready to attack any person that appears different. And that’s really what is going to happen here-being different in Uganda has become illegal-with the advent of both the Anti-Pornography and the Anti-Homosexuality Bills. There is so much that has been said ad nauseum about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, but there’s also what has not been said. Which maybe should have been said first, when this morality circus began, but since were here now- let’s just take it from here.
What we don’t know, or what we refuse to see, is that despite the naming-the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is not an attack on homosexuals in Uganda, it is an attack on human beings. What the government of Uganda has essentially done, is now legally own all Ugandan bodies. Big bodies, small, bodies, gay bodies, straight, bodies, dark bodies, light bodies-all bodies.
We have been led to believe that Uganda, and Africa, and the world has a homosexual minority, and that the homophobes can sit safe in their heteronormative spaces and not be affected by this bill. We have been cheated that we are a sexual minority, and that our mercenary sexual identities and orientations can be put out as one would a candle-with a single powerful blow. We have been convinced that right now homosexuality is the sin that sees God and his celestial army looking away from Africa, and giving us our due blessings. Because God knows there is no continent that is more religious and more in-keeping with fundamental religious moral statutes than Africa. We kill each other for our God. We hate each other for our God. Surely by now God should just give us what we want, right? But these damn homos come in and make god angry and this is the best way to solve this ‘little’ problem.
But like Dr. Seuss said, think and wonder, wonder and think-what next when the criminalization of same-sex desire does not solve Uganda’s problems? What then? The homosexuals would already have had their turn-so who’s next?
In this event, your heterosexuality will not save you. Maybe the next offenders will be seen to be the Muslims. Islam will be social scapegoat number 2, and at that point it will matter less whether you are a queer, straight, weird or tall Muslim-all will matter is that your belief system will put you on the wrong side of the law. Or an independent body of dedicated religious professionals will wake up one morning and say, they problem with Uganda is that we have too many women. And a law encouraging femicide will be instituted. Where will you hide your two year old daughter? Where will you take your 80 year old mother? Where will men put their other three wives? Again, if this happens, your heterosexuality will not save you.
People that support these bills (the Anti-Homosexuality and the Anti-Pornography ones) do so confidently because they assume that these are not their problems. One thinks, I am a law abiding, church going, woman loving, meat eating, beer drinking, African man-these things do not concern me. This is not my problem, let them that deal with this kind of nonsense deal with it. And some women think the same.
But if a government can take away my ability to decide what to wear, to decide for me where to go and how to look and who to love, it’s a matter of time before your government tells you what to eat. Bread will be determined to be the source of all evil in Uganda and a ridiculous act later, you will no longer be allowed to eat bread. Your heterosexuality will not save you there either.
This is why, these bills, are by no means after a minority group of sexual deviants. These bills affect every single Ugandan around. And it is really a matter of time before some other, seemingly minority group of deviants, becomes the scapegoat for bigger, deeper issues. So, heterosexuals, Christians, Muslims and others on your moral high horses about this bill, consider this-if you let the government decide for you, then it’s a matter of time before you too, are some or the other minority being targeted for hate, murder and abuse. Think about that.
It’s another pretty day in N***, beautiful by any measure, sunny, clear blue skies and birds chirping away. Jackie, the newest member of my circle of parenthood help is on her way home from picking Shaka up. As I open the gate she says to me, “Mama Z-something just happened.”
Tuesday is rubbish collection day where I am, and we leave our trash at the gate so that the rubbish removal company comes along and collects it. We put our trash out as per usual. What happens is that the trash is collected all in one pile at the end of the street, then the trash collection truck picks it up from there. Jackie lives maybe 50 metres from where we are staying right now, and knows when the rubbish is collected. Jackie, who is no shrinking violet, but also doesn’t say much all the time, tells me that a little baby boy was put on top of the pile of Tuesday rubbish. I don’t understand. Where is the child’s family I ask? How do you tell a child to sit on a pile of Tuesday’s rubbish. Jackie says she doesn’t know. No one knows. All they know is that the little boy was wrapped in a curtain. A curtain. Oh it now makes sense. The little boy was aborted, and wrapped in a curtain, and dumped in along with Tuesday’s trash.
You see what happens is that, when we put our trash out, street children and street adults rummage through our rubbish looking for recyclable plastic. In so doing, a street child, or adult, found the aborted child. Jackie tells me that the child had everything-all it had to do was grow. She says that she reckons the boy was five months or more. Jackie laughs as she relates this to me. But I can tell that she’s laughing because she doesn’t know what else to do. Or say. The boy was dumped on top of Tuesday’s trash, which is right where all the little children walk on their way home to and from school.
I asked why no one had called the police. She said the police need someone to go there, write a statement, then they can come and collect the body. I want to do this-but with the law enforcement system here, chances are that I will be questioned, and suspected of the backstreet abortion. I’m a single mother, with no important surnames that can offer me some kind of protection. And no husband to come vouch for my moral worthiness. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong police officer will get me into trouble here.
I am quite emotional. That won’t help at all.
I want to go cover the body. I don’t want children on their way from school seeing such sadness, and people’s apathy in the face of a dead baby’s body on top of Tuesday’s trash. It’s still a sunny, beautiful day. But the issues and rights that I fight so hard for have been dumped on top of Tuesday’s trash, right outside my door. I am so heartbroken. When will a change come. When.
To love a woman
is to love your Self
To love a woman
is to love the parts
of your Self
that you were told
To love a woman
is to find
your Self inside
of boxes and squares
and fit right in
with your Self.
To love a woman
is to just love.