By Kathryn Kazibwe, Uganda:
Messes; everyone has them, but no one likes them. They are the best kept secret. Far be it from you to ever let your mess show! You must take care of your stuff. Clean yourself up discreetly, burn some stuff, pour some deodorant over it if you must, but never ever let it show. Of course, like Kampala City skips, sometimes you cannot contain all the rubbish, and the mess overflows. You begin to strain at the seams, and it peeps through the gaps, trailing icky liquid behind you as you do. It's dirty. It's ugly. It stinks. But it's yours and you'd give anything to share it with someone else. But you can't find any taker. All you see is a bunch of perfectly put together people. Clean people. Awkward glances. Shifty eyes. You're disgusting! How dare you show us your issues? It's none of their business, they'd rather not know about your suffering.
As they pass by, as they turn away from you, you look into their eyes. And there you see shadows. Ghosts of memories of ghosts. They see themselves in you. They could become you in a second. Just a cough might send their mess flying all over the place, smattering walls, faces and sidewalks. You are proof of that. Your peeping issues scare them.
So you get your shit together. Take a deep breath. You can do it. Forget about getting the load off your shoulders. There's nowhere to put it. You shed a few tears as you watch them walk away, ahead of you. But you can only cry for so long. You patch yourself up. Put a plaster where he went all Fifty Shades up on you. Take a needle and thread to the bits where you got lost in the dark. Super glue the gashes where they tore you apart to examine your innards. You push them all back into the sack that you are.
Then you wipe your tear-streaked face with the back of your hand, wipe the snot around your nostrils on the hem of your dress. Moving on. Forgetting the past. Sucking it up. Moving the heck on! It takes some time for you to believe yourself, but you can do it. You do do it. Then you run up and join them with your now-clean mess, in their procession towards the Future. They welcome you back.
We knew you'd make it! It was just a phase. Oh, thank God, thank the living God for pulling you through. You nod. Yeah, thank Him.
You trudge on. Laugh about it. But they've set up shop in your eyes, those ghosts. And when the guy next to you's buttons pop open, exposing his steaming, colorful messes, when he looks at you with those Puss In Boots eyes, you curl your upper lip and avert your eyes. Yuck, dude! Mind your mess already.
“I am utterly convinced that for the sake of my sanity, I need to be who I am – this world needs me to be who I am and sometimes that means not necessarily following tradition and somehow mustering the courage to let my mess show.” Hot Mess – Iteti.
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