Sunday, March 16, 2008

Close as Death is...

Kampala, as lazy and dull as usual, meaning the morning was crisp and cold, with rain in the night, and it threatened to rain till noon. Now, past noon, inching to evening, the strength of the sun is unquestioned, the overcast is thinner, and it is warm and humid.

We have been having snarling traffic jams. ‘taxi’ fares jumped, as did those of the boda-boda motorbike taxis. The reason for the jams is fairly simple. The city council woke up and decided that a number of roads needed repair. So they are closed for repair.Apparently, all those roads seem to be around the New Mosque, so it was not a surprise for me to learn that Col. Gaddafi of Libya is expected in the country. We only repair the roads when we get a visitor. The last time it was the queen, that was less than 6 months ago, and we had a major do over. We don’t respect Gaddafi that much, so it is only around the mosque that we have done some work. Apparently, he is to visit and dedicate the Gaddafi National Mosque.

Lovers’ tiff yesterday. Went out together and I came back mad. Mad enough to sleep in the guestroom. But in the wee hours, found that the anger could no longer warm me. So I crept back to my side of the bed.

Heard the song ‘Double Bed Mazongoto’? ‘Doctor’ someone or other, one of our irascible local artists. Well, I did discover in practice that sleeping together, the reasons for anger seem to vaporize. So woke up late in the morning, wrapped up round him, very thankful for another Sunday morning in bed, with nothing on schedule. Nothing but a lazy morning, and to dream in the warmth of my lover. Perfect way to begin the day, the week.

Have been having an interesting experience of my extended family.

Have an uncle. This is where the inelasticity of the English language fails me. Father’s brother, so an uncle, but very different from mother’s brother, because he is more than an ‘uncle’. He is my father, and I am a son.

Guy is terminally ill. Knew about it when he was in the village, back where my father came from long before my birth. They were born 2 boys, and a gargle of girls. Males are ‘important’, in our patriarchal society. But this uncle was the ‘black sheep’ of the family.

Anyway, the guy is sick. Terminally ill.

He was a player in his youth, one of his black marks. Fathered more than 23 children (that I know of), but many are alienated. Lives with his nth wife at the moment. Lost count when it became impossible to know who was who.

So, when he is sick and dying, his family alienated and run off, he falls back to his extended family. Which means his brother, and his brothers children, us. And the beauty of family- it does deliver.

He doesn’t look very good. Fact is he is very ill looking. But coherent, and still alert to the best deal. He is reconciled to the fact of dying. Something which the rest of the relatives are yet to deal with. One can feel the shock when another first lays eyes on him. They are literally speechless, coming face to face with one about to die, and looks it. Personally, I think, for the close companionship that death is in our lives, we are very naïve in the way we think about it, traditionally. But all communities have their own coping methods.

He is sick, and dying, and knows it. He has fallen back to his extended family, and they surround him. Reconciled to death’s appointment, he can even afford to crack morbid jokes, alarming and embarrassing the relatives who are distraught and fearful.

But he is ready, and I hope when mine comes, I am as ready! Morbid thought, on a beautiful evening.

The sun is setting just about now. Hidden behind a hill from my view. But it will be light for at least another 30 minutes . Dawn and dusk, daily times of change, beautiful when one has the luxury to sit down and appreciate them.

Have a beautiful evening, and may the week be good to you.


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