19 Oct 2018

 

Lugala At Large: "Etchings On My Inner Wall"

"Loneliness imposes writing or reading on me. To others it imposes robbery on them or other forms of subversion...Football stadiums have been radicalised by the female gender. Football is no longer a male domain or the preserve of people with balls."

 By Victor Lugala

 
I slept and dreamt throughout the long journey of self-discovery.  I’m bored of the past. But the past keeps haunting us in the present when we maim and mutilate fellow human beings.
 
Today is a bright day. Now I can no longer draw the borderline between poetry and pure prose. I'm a wheelbarrow volunteering to carry words to the heartland. Imagery and the thought process tear me to pieces. What lovely rupture! Out of the ruins and rubble torn down during the deconstruction and reconstruction process, I build my citadel to bask in its glory and splendour only known to me.
 
Only another person inflicted with fine madness and living in empty spaces and between book covers, can make sense out of this stomach of an elephant. In any case, the world is not built on a straight line, or is it? Architects are wrong. The tower of Pisa still sways in our imagination waiting to be shaken to its foundation when a tsunami hits.
 
When the thought struck I was alone, as usual.  Fair enough, the opportune thought gave me company. I drew the curtain and created a prison for myself to ruminate about life. It depends on how long you have been on planet earth; life is the same prison.
 
You rotate around the same boring, worn-out orbit. You go to bed at night, hoping to wake up in the morning to start all over again, and continue with the same daily grind. Some nights when you are bored and dog-tired you don't give a thought about tomorrow. Tomorrow is another story with an unknown or no plot at all.
 
While going through the same routine people who call themselves creative will come up with pastimes, pastimes that do not proffer anything new. Take love making, for instance, which is expressly done for fun and chance procreation and romantic recreation – every life lived seems to rotate around a repeat performance or aping.
 
Yet when some people are caught up in a love triangle - I don't know how geometry comes in here - can kill a fellow human being who caused them sleepless nights and heartache.
 
I contemplated about life but there wasn't anything I could recreate or anything offering to be recreated, other than making the life prison bearable to live in.
 
Loneliness imposes writing or reading on me. To others it imposes robbery on them or other forms of subversion. Each one of us is assigned duty or assign themselves duties based on what best can occupy their minds and hands and intellect.
 
 
 
 
 
I part the curtains and look through the window, down the busy world: the streets, the clogged alleys, bustling marketplaces etc. Mechanics in oily clothes and hands are busy in the garages repairing cars. They are like surgeons whose hand gloves are full of blood, trying to save a life in the theatre. Me I'm a prisoner of life writing about life that I know or don’t know.
 
The other day someone nominated me on social media to name and show the covers of seven books in seven successive days. The instructions didn't specify whether these are my favourite books which I have read, planned to read, or dropped reading midway like Wole Soyinka's The Interpreters. It was like a digital game in the practice of futility. For instance, which social media junkie will read James Joyce's Ulysses, that tome? I ask myself.
 
So what, after playing the social media game of just naming and showing beautiful covers of books? Will people read them? Or put it this way, do books change the world? Maybe not, other than perpetuate the same obvious things of life, if not make life more unbearable in the process of competing to outsmart each other in this goddamn prison.
 
The rain has just stopped. I need pit-fire warmth to inflame my creativity in my prison. I need some coffee, actually. I can smell brewing coffee in my mind. Ethiopian coffee, Arabica coffee, or the real thing: South Sudanese coffee, freshly harvested in some virgin gbondo with spear grass curtain by a cool stream where bird songs capture the airwaves, somewhere in Ondokori, Iwatoka, or even our very Pisak.
 
It is 4 am. I feel sleepy, or rather, I feel I should sleep. The prison world around me is fast asleep or making love. I’m the only wizard awake, bewitching no one but my very self with pen and paper. If I choose sleep, I'll have to suspend this convoluted writing altogether and it will be difficult for me to pick up the thread later. Or else I'll end up like Dambudzo tearing down my citadel after labouring on it. The choice is mine.
 
Bilal in his wakefulness will soon call the faithful to prayers. It is only lazy people who live by writing who are thinking of going to bed at 4 am when the real people who move and shake the world are waking up to chop up meat, onions, wash the veggies, light the fire to cook breakfast.
 
 
Others wake up early to wash the toilets, rev the engine of the early commuter bus, or think of the Toronto boys of Juba warming their bodabodas ready for the day, in addition to scheming to reap where they did not sow. I don't envy that Darfuri or Nigerian businessman napping on a cold leather seat at Dubai airport at 4 am waiting for a connecting plane to China or to the end of the world.
 
For the obvious excuse I'm told presidents all over the world don't sleep because they are shepherds watching over their flock 24/7. Retired Uncle Bob only dozed off at political rallies when a boring speaker was at the podium.
 
I’m in my room barricaded with a stone-wall. And I have a bed with covers and a duvet. What can prevent me from sleeping or else I continue with this seemingly endless writing, if I want to.  The rain has just stopped. It's cold. I want to sleep and dream of being in the warm embrace of nature.
 
I had an appointment this evening. I haven’t met the person I was about to meet. Or, in fact, I might have seen the person in another life, in another world but didn’t know we would meet formally someday, shake hands, introduce each other and talk about the market, oil, peace, and what brought us together: writing, books, and fashion. We laughed at everything except ourselves.
 
As the evening wore off we stopped short of reading our poetry aloud to the empty hall, only invaded by flies which couldn't reach the about-to-fall chandeliers. The old-fashioned chandeliers hung from the high ceiling like bats. What animal instinct exactly stopped the quarrelsome insects from trying to burn their legs in the mugs of hot cappuccino? The rays of the pale evening sun tore through the diaphanous curtains the colour of creamy milk that when a fly perched and skidded on one leg you would assume it was part and parcel of some dexterous Chinese collage.
 
And we signed our slim books jam-packed with weighty words, while studying the covers like new species of grasshoppers. Although we were meeting for the first time we went on and on talking and laughing like old buddies. There was a trajectory some place. Minds met at a certain junction where ideas form a solid monument. Words unite more firmly than symbolic handshakes.
 
There was a tantalising smell of roasting coffee beans and popcorn. The smell of shisha hung heavy in the air. And the flies buzzed around us almost interrupting our chat.
 
We met in this restaurant where nobody was host to the other, the annoying flies notwithstanding. We were just patrons who chose the convenient venue for our meeting. The lady started talking about football but realised that I was not interested. The world has changed. Football stadiums have been radicalised by the female gender. Football is no longer a male domain or the preserve of people with balls. Besides Pierluigi Collina, Messi and Drogba – the few people I remember very well in the world of football, I’m more entertained by football commentators than by the footballers themselves.
 
“You don’t look enthusiastic about football, don’t you love football?” said my interlocutor.
I had no excuse. There are some things in life that I don’t have excuse for. I had to make up an excuse, anyway.
 
“Well, not that I don’t love football or sports, but I don’t go with the crowd. I walk. I jaywalk. I jog, for instance,” I said. She nodded, not convinced. Out of courtesy she didn’t want to push me against the wall, after all, we were meeting for the first time and we were getting along very well.
 
For some reason or other, I feel nostalgic about natural hair, especially when worn by a modern woman, and not as another natural feature of poverty. My interlocutor wore her hair natural without combing it. And she looked great.
 
Hair on the head make a statement about the wearer or owner. Office people or executives, judges, business people, doctors groom their hair nicely as if they were always at a wedding party. Footballers especially, are notorious for their bizarre hair style or haircuts – they attract, mock, or even repel. So are artists who want to stand out in the crowd. It is as if artists – musicians, painters, writers, are supposed to wear their hair in dreadlocks as a universal identity.
 
As I said before, life is all about repeating what was or has been there. It is a matter of recycling old stuff and then embellishing with a new veneer: new wine in old skins, if you like.
 
Modern tattoo is an ancient African form of body art. I dare challenge some of those western imitators to circumcise their lips like the Kachipo people. Perhaps that’s the only body art form modern people have failed to imitate. I would have loved to see, even marvel at a white person with loosely hanging donut lips like a Kachipo.
Lips were made
Speak not
Embellished with balm
But character to
Form wo/man

 

I slept and dreamt throughout the journey of self-discovery. The road ahead is under construction. The journey is long. I have just started. 
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