March 5, 2019
I sat up and opened my laptop to listened to fifteen minutes of a French lesson between Michel Thomas and his two students. I followed along and went from being able to translate text to forming small coherent sentences. Magnifique, je sais. Ca fait du bon!
I prayed when I got out of bed, two rakah’s in five minutes. I put on my sports bra, an oversized t-shirt and tiny shorts. I slathered turmeric and honey across my face while the kettle boiled water. I cut and squeezed two lemons in a glass and diluted half a teaspoon of honey with the hot water into the glass with the squeezed lemons. It’s the best skincare hack I discovered last year. While the turmeric and honey set I exercised—boxing, that day. Four sets, one hundred reps. More accurately, twenty reps of twenty sets done as quickly as possible. This is not a daily occurrence; sometimes my laziness prevails.
As I pumped water, Muna the housecat appeared and climbed on top of the dining table to sniff the plates from last night’s dinner. “Muna Muna,” I called out in a high pitch. Her ears didn’t even twitch to acknowledge me. What a cow.
Jenipher, the manager of the guesthouse my office owns, was not yet around, so I made some milk for Muna who went to my bed to laze on top of my blanket. I tossed my laptop, chargers, prayer mat, an apple and a large yoghurt inside my bag. I locked the front door and started the walk to the trading center, Kikholo, where I would find a boda to take me up to the school.
Since it became dry season, I’ve had to be careful every time a taxi passes. They raise a lot of dust, so I’ll run as far off the road before the dust radius ruins my hair, clothes and feet. A boda from Kikholo to the school cost one thousand shillings. I sat on the back sideways with my hands on the metal section of the motorcycle while my legs dangled out. Music played from my earphones and the driver sped uphill. I closed my eyes when we passed the slope where I had my accident. The motorcycle had tumbled downhill and I was left with a permanent scar on the side of my knee.
I got to school after assembly. Milton my supervisor wasn’t around, but Esther the accounts officer was. I greeted her and Amos, the computer teacher whose office is next to mine. Between them, they have five children (not with each other), but you would never know if you looked at how shiny, slim and fresh-faced they looked.
My to-do list involved conducting interviews for my potential replacement, and editing many handwritten letters from the children to their Americans who sponsor their education. I also had to write a minimum of five hundred words for my novel. And study for the GMAT, although I had been treating that as unseriously as possible. I started with the letters from the primary kids. They wrote the same way. Greetings my dear sponsors, blah blah. They all mentioned what they did for Christmas and New Year, and the circumcision season that ended last December. They love and thank their sponsors. So I didn’t get overwhelmed, I arranged the class letters in stacks of ten and edited by the bunch.
Daphne came around eleven and we shared an office. She is the outreach coordinator and the same age as me. She got engaged recently. We talked about our failures at dieting, and she gave me the lowdown on some office developments I wasn’t privy to. As the international coordinator, I was hired by the U.S. office, which meant my allegiance was technically to them. The Ugandans were careful with what they disclosed to me.
I conducted three replacement interviews over WhatsApp; the first declined to interview after learning he’d applied for the wrong position. Another didn’t impress, but one went well. I made notes as we talked, and sent them to Milton. By one, I stopped and ate half of my 500ml yoghurt. Lunch was rice, again with the delicious beans and cabbage soup. Things lulled after that. I still had papers to edit but I lost motivation and decided to watch “How I Met Your Mother” instead. After three episodes, I forced myself to type six hundred words for my book. The book sucked, my characters sucked, I sucked. Whatever, I was going home.
Since it was downhill, I did not use a boda. I walked home from school. The view is spectacular. Nussu Mountain, and smaller ones, lush fields of banana and avocado plants, and the stream that snaked its way around. Nearly everyone who passed had bare feet, even with the ground as hot as it was. More than one cow and its herder passed, and some odd looking chickens with permanently ruffled feathers and/or hairless necks and too-long legs.
Jenipher was at home when I get back. I asked her if she could make chicken soup with the chicken from Mbale, with carrots, cauliflowers and green peppers cut into it. I removed my mat and prayed Asr. After, I connected the phone to the speakers and the house was pumping bass in seconds. As I emptied the rest of my bag, I thought about doing yoga, but my laziness prevailed. I changed into my house uniform of an oversized shirt.
Then I filled my water bottle from the dispenser and took some passion fruits to the living room table. I put the laptop on the table and connected it to the speakers. I resumed the sitcom I was watching, sucking on the passion fruit intermittently. When Jenipher brought the chicken soup, Muna appeared from one of the guest rooms and jumped on the table. I placed her over my blanket and fed her strips as we continued “How I Met Your Mother.” I reaffirmed my support for Barney and Robin over Ted and Robin.
Jenipher cleaned, and I remained in my position till she left around eight pm. I packed my blanket, laptop, charger and Muna and we moved to the room where we continued watching till we fell asleep.
Popula is 100% ad-free, reader-supported journalism accountable only to you. Every dollar of your subscription goes straight to our work. Thank you for supporting Popula.