By Kathryn Kazibwe, Uganda:
You know that moment when you look back and try to find something of meaning that you have done since you last got a flood of birthday wall-posts? The one that comes after the “IT'S MY BIRTHDAY, YAY ME!” moment? It's happening to me. And it's cranked up like twenty decibels (or are they knots?) higher because this year my birthday coincides with the end of my university journey. I've established a cycle: Sigh. Think about the good old days. Realize there's no going back. Sigh again. Get pumped about the promising future.
“The good old days” phase is the best. There's nothing quite like remembering all the fun and stupid stuff you've done. But I have beef. Nothing in the past three years has been as interesting as the people in 'The Hostel' make it seem. Yet they and their kind are the reason why parents vow never to ever in their right minds put their kids in hostels. Not when halls of residence exist, where there's curfew and life is generally not too scandalous. I'm not complaining, though. I'd never have made it in a hostel.
Even though I took the tame path, I did manage a few interesting days. OK, let's be honest, the nights beat their day counterparts in the fun arena. Those nights when we hit the town like we owned it, broke as we were, and partied till the sun chased us into bed. I always remembered to thank God for keeping me safe. I wonder whether he frowned or laughed at my tipsy, sleepy yet earnest self.
There was one particular time I could have slaughtered and offered a fattened unblemished goat at the alter in thanksgiving. I had been out with my sister and a friend, Mel. It was a mega blast, but by 6.30 am, the bar staff had had enough of us. We hired a cab with a driver who was either naturally very irritable or as drunk as the three of us were. Or both. We had only gone a short way when he snapped at us in Luganda to stop insulting him because he understood English. We were not even talking about him. So we just went right on with our chatter in the back. Ko, the guy, “Do you think I'm stupid? Let's see who's stupid.”
He stops the car. We get out. He gets out and starts rummaging around under his seat for some unknown weapon, while muttering angrily. Meanwhile I'm so amused by this situation; I have a (probably stupid) smile on my face, but at the back of my mind alarm bells are going off. What if the guy has a gun? Or a mutayimbwa? My sister is probably thinking the same thing because suddenly she's like a million miles away. She is all huge eyes, screaming, “Kathy run! You guys, RUUUUN!” I start to follow her, but then Mel says no. We're not thieves. I'm thinking, we're not ninjas either! But I stand my ground. The ground right behind courageous Mel.
Then the guy straightens up and he's holding some long, black whip-like thing. This guy is so freaking creepy! Who keeps such in his car? He's shouting at us to pay him, like we have at any point refused to do that.
Now Mel is a pretty ballsy chick. She looks the whip-wielding crazy driver in the eye and says, “Ssebo, I don't speak your language, but here's what it is. You've dropped us in the middle of nowhere, and there's no way we're going to pay you the full price we had agreed on.”
The guy is like a possessed monk or something. All he's saying is, “Mumpe sente zange. Temujjakunziba. Nja kubatta.” Give me my money, you will not steal it. I will kill you.
Like he really is going to kill all three us with his whip. Boda boda guys are gathering now. You don't want a boda guy taking your enemy's side. Luckily one of them sympathizes with us and gives us change so we can pay Crazy his 5k. And then we run. All the way to Mel's hostel.
I learnt two things that day. 1. Never leave the bar before 6 am. 2. People have creepy weapons in their cars.
So now it's on to the next episode. I'm excited to live what I'll be reminiscing about in a few years!
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