Tonight in Kampala, you turn off your light but open the eyes in your head: to see Liz finish her life in a struggle. You see her flapping her hands as the waters lap on her face, helplessly as you yelp for any help. None comes and so she dies. You wish you had contained her spirit before it migrated to a different realm, leaving her body—lifeless.
You see, the migrant’s tragedy is not merely displacement, but also the denial of their potential. Opportunities—once alluring mirages from home—vanish at the point of need, leaving only the echo of the cruel refrain, “Go back where you came from.” Each rejection carves another notch on the tally of our exile.
Your foot collides with the brakes and your car screeches to a halt. You lean your head on the steering wheel and begin to sob because, today, you don’t know where you’re going.
Mama will send you to school, and you will return to your room each day and hide because the other boys threaten to stick their hands down your throat and release the poor toad you swallowed. She will say, Touch this world a little bit; it might answer us. You cannot sit beneath your window and cry forever. You will try to obey your mother, but you cannot recognize your hands or this place.
Mfe, my brother now offers me stories and laughter in a desperate plea that I remember him, that in the upheaval of a new life, I should not uproot him from my mind or forget the memories that bind us.
Someday, Cletus will become ‘the Shoulder’ you lean on. He’ll express his affection for you, desiring more than just friendship. Because in your last skin, you have learned what he meant, you’ll accept it. He’ll tell you to meet him at his home. You’ll go and he’ll smile when you arrive, groping you, pulling off your clothes from the door.
And despite her fear that he had seen what she’d been up to, a warmth spread across her chest. This was her husband who laughed like Goofy from Mickey Mouse; her husband who, while they were dating, once came to her house by midnight with small chops because she couldn’t stop crying. Her heart clenched; she had to know if there was another woman.
The first image shows the effects of the Fall/Winter, when trees shed all their leaves, revealing naked trunks and branches. With the passage of TIME, and the coming of Summer/Spring, the trees are dressed up in glorious green again.
The signs are subtle, yet, they are deafening & blinding.
One of the difficult parts of moving was having to explain to friends and neighbours why we’d no longer be living ‘here’ next year. Saying goodbye and ending friendships you had forged. It was always sad to leave people behind.