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Black Creative Nonfiction Funny

"Swoosh, swoosh," I was once again awakened by the sound of cruising cars. I should have got used to it, but that is not how the human body works.

My building stands in downtown Kampala, at the literal edge of civilization. On one side are flats, housing people a lot like me. On the other is perhaps the world's thickest slum. House upon house, tiny roads winding through. The air feels different there. Whilst the people are warm and the children are jolly, one gets the feeling that they are not safe when coursing though this part of "town." Standing on my balcony, I can clearly see A Tale of Two Cities.

The finer side of town is endowed with many pleasures. Cheap fruit overflows on the streets. Pineapples, oranges, watermelons, oranges, Jacob's fruits all for less than $1 right there waiting to be eaten. These are vended on mobile carts and the hygiene is questionable. Would it not be easier for everyone of they were delivered to local shops?

The gyms are filled with countless good people, ready to help you up with your last few bench press reps. In the mornings fellow joggers wave from across the road. You must rise by five though, lest the traffic renders your athletic dreams impossible.

Ah! The traffic. Terrible, largely because of poor planning. My street harbours countless mechanics. It is not unusual to find a car parked in the middle of the road with a rugged man underneath unbolting some screws. Indeed, these men own the street! Vehicles are always parked on both sides of the narrow road. This only leaves a narrow corridor for everything else to pass through. Cars, bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians and even animals must all squeeze through the narrow gap. Surely some space can be found for a garage. Perhaps on the other side of town?

Then there is the rubbish truck. A large 10-wheel monster that nearly takes up all that is left of the road. People do not wrap their trash in plastic bags here, for whatever reason. One does not need any visual clues to know the truck is close. Lying on the bed on a lazy Saturday morning, foul air slaps you in the face and nearly strangles you. Then you realise you're in for an unpleasant few hours.

Rain should be a blessing, right? Wrong! Several flats take advantage of a slight drizzle to release their sewage into the roadside trenches. Of course this would be bearable if it actually stayed in the trenches but alas! The pipes flush large volumes of the stuff onto the road. All you can hope for is a heavy downpour, or you must endure a "black road" for the next few days.

Truly if this place did not provide cheap accommodation and proximity to my school, I would likely be somewhere else. Probably on a quiet farm deep in the country.

The lockdown brought with it several restrictions, discomfort and pain. A national curfew was imposed at around this time last year. "No body shall be outdoors between 9:00pm and 6:00am." This was music to my ears. At least I would no longer have to put up with those damned cars. I was even happy to surrender my jogging routine, all for the promise of quiet nights.

The rowdy mechanics deliberately damage the exhaust pipes of some cars on their customers' instructions. The defiled vehicles then produce particularly disturbing sounds. Two years ago, your first night here would have had you believe you were on a battlefield. The Subarus sounded like gunshots and bomb blasts.

I was once woken up at midnight by one driver who kept driving to and fro along my street. Thank goodness guns are illegal in this country. Had I been in possession of one, I might have long been convicted for murder. But then again no body would know. After all whose ears can decipher actual gunshots from these rascals' noise?

There may be many fruit options around here, but the same cannot be said for foodstuffs. Rice, that is it. You have to eat rice. Well there are a few other options, but none that you would willingly have twice in a row. Yams, cassava, pumpkins and the dreaded matoke; a tasteless plantain that is hyped way too much.

It is considered an abomination to have a meal without a stew serving. "Beans, peas, beef or groundnuts? What shall I add to your food?" the lady at the food booth (I refuse to call it a restaurant) asks.

Of course there is always the option of having a quick snack instead. French fries by the roadside look attractive in glass shelves, until you dare to buy some! Once you place an order, the young lady smiles and scoops some before drowning them in boiling oil for a second time. By the time you eat them they are literally falling apart on their own. Oil covers your plate and all you can think is "this is unhealthy."

Some glass shelves are different. They contain a different delicacy - chapattis. Flat, round beauties that scream "eat me" to any hungry belly. "Rolex" is an intricate mix of chapattis and fried eggs. "Roll me two eggs in two chapattis," students usually say - shortly before walking away. No one wants to be seen at a rolex stand. That is cheap food meant for the mechanics. The glorious taste is, however, undeniable.

In an impressive attempt to save money, the management of my building opted against extending national water pipes to the building. The water bills would be unbearable. "There is underground well just below us," they must have thought. It is this very impure water that is pumped to our rooms. One must have a constant supply of antiseptic and antibacterial soap.

I does not stating that boiling this water does not make it safe for drinking. It took me several weeks and a couple of stomach upsets to figure it out. Now I must add disinfecting tablets before I can safely boil it.

I seems to me that I would have to be the king of the world to turn this place around. Even then it might take me several years. Settling far away from the city in the long run seems the more logical course.

March 19, 2021 07:43

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3 comments

Trudy Abitimo
21:38 Oct 26, 2022

Well…wow, it’s like watching a 3D movie. You effortlessly made us part of your city😂Bravo boy👏👏👏it’s a beautiful one.

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Cookie Carla🍪
19:31 Mar 24, 2021

Hiya there!! I just wanted to say that this story was beautifully written. You had my attention from the first line all the way to the end... good job!!

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Abraham Bashaija
18:08 Apr 02, 2021

Thank you 😊

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