I’ll make you a deal.
I’ve said this so many times and you haven’t really said what you want, yet. But I’m ready to make you a deal of any kind, including, as they say, selling my soul to the devil.
Can you, somehow, go away and leave me alone? Can this memory be wiped clean, deleted, defragmented, rebooted – or can this hard drive suffer some serious damage? Can the last trace of you disappear from my mind forever so I stop clinging onto those snippets of happiness and sadness and finally, move on?
My mind is a random sequence of pictures of moments spent together. Or moments spent alone wishing we were together.
The day we met, your towering figure in the doorway, casting a shadow on me and the rest of my life, wearing a pink (!) shirt and looking immensely shy and confused, me not knowing yet that it’s love that struck us right there and then – with one simple blow to our hearts, leaving us breathless and confused in the moment.
Days of hiding my emotions to the point of feeling ill, not sure what it was: life, love, desperation, desire to run or desire to stay and wait for you forever if need be. The way my knees would shake and my head would feel empty and light when I hear the sound of the footsteps crossing the shadows of the living room to find me in the backyard, pretending to be busy but actually waiting for you for hours, and still unprepared to meet you, to be in the same space with you.
The day I summoned you home to tell you that I love you and that there is nothing that will stand between that love and me, even if we never touch. And the way you held me and asked me why are you there, with me, every day, happy to just see me and exchange a few shallow words of greeting, happy to be within the same space. Just to be. Near me.
The kiss, that first one and every next one that was hidden, stolen, naive and scared, smuggled then passionate, open, carefree, for everyone to see and know that we are that one thing together, the wild animal that knows no fear any more.
Next, the day guns were drawn to kill me because you admitted we were lovers and you decided to keep it between men, as if me being that very woman who had forever divided friends was not relevant, not key to the drama at all. Shaka’s and Paul’s shocked faces when I walked out of the car towards the gun because I had to put a stop to another man’s hopes of ever getting me back, even if it meant to get the bullet. Turning my back to the known world of friends and acquaintances because I knew they were judging me and I wanted to give them space to speak their small minds in order to console the man who lost me. Also, blocking their evil energies to preserve what we had, to let it grow and bond us to one another.
Back to the day you brought Dombolo from Congo and promised you were ok, even though you were hurting, physically and emotionally, knowing right well that all your friends have let you down at that time. The way you looked at me and asked why am I still there for you, why don’t I leave like everyone else had done, why don’t I move on as you have nothing to give me, no money, no security, no future. The way I answered you that our time together is enough because it is precious and that is all we will ever have between us and it is never enough.
The day we kissed on the street even though this wasn’t the thing to do – to show passion and love in front of other people. It was dark and late at night but still, the soldiers were around watching us walk out of the car, to the gate, saying goodbye and kissing, clumsily, like schoolchildren.
Our first fight and first making up. My tears of hopelessness when you were not well and a quick wipe of my face so you don’t see that I’m already mourning you in a way. That I know you will leave me but you will never leave me because you can’t do it on your own and I’m not willing to help you.
The day it rained all the way to Mubende and I drove like a maniac because we were to spend a long weekend together; the time spent in the small hotel room that looked like a castle to two of us who didn’t have any place under the sun together. The rain that saw me out of there, as fast as the tears pouring out of my eyes and trying to wash the pain of knowing that we can not exist together even though we were made for each other. That this world will simply not let us be ourselves. That people we know will never leave us alone.
The day I knew I am the source of life, the day you died, and the day everything we truly had between us died with you.
There is no way I can manage this any longer. It is hard, after so many years, to realize I have not grieved properly, I have not finished that process and you are still present, walking through my mind at leisure as if you are the rightful owner of that space and yet, you are long gone. You left me, remember?
In my dreams, I sit with you at the wall in front of Nakasero House and we look at the sunset over Makerere. We are very old and wrinkled and ugly. We had spent a lifetime together. We still argue over kissing. Life is easy. But it’s still just a dream.
I’ll make you a deal: come into my dreams any time you want. Leave my days to myself and to what is precious now. Dream is the only place we have now. Till we meet again.
*Johnson Mwebaze. Departed on 1st October 1998. Never left. If you love me, you will understand that the pain of death, forceful sudden removal of the person you love is the worst pain of all. When there is no chance to say goodbye and all you have is your grief and your memory. No matter how your life unfolds, unfinished stories haunt you forever.