Budapest Chronicles: It’s all about hair!
By Brian Friday Bwesigye:
There is something about hair. Remember Mary Magdalene wiping Jesus' feet with her hair? Okay, Delilah disempowering Samson by shaving his hair? Okay, let us talk about the more contemporary times. The symbolism of the Rastafarian locks for example. Now that we have gone political, let us also talk about the natural hair movement. Anyway, people are not their hair so I should shut up already. I did the shutting up some time ago, not even Museveni's bashing of cosmetics in his State of the Nation speech could move me to speak about hair again. So, shutting up oyeee.
But wait, I can't shut up anymore, lest I collapse. There is a lot of unspoken stimulation that has been happening to my higher self every time my eyes focused on her hair. It is sad that I am speaking in past tense. This week, on Tuesday afternoon, she boarded a plane and left Budapest. Everyone has been leaving like that, I mean they have graduated and there is nothing more to Budapest for them.
You may be wondering, surely this man should be excited about his own impending departure. I did graduate with them last week, you see. I should not be whining about someone's hair. Of course, you are right. I should be happy and excited that I am going to have chapatti with some shredded cabbage, some fried egg, some raw onion and tomato rolled inside it, after a full year of missing out on this delicacy. I should be excited that I will be eating matooke with ground-nut sauce again. Haven't I been whining about not being able to buy and enjoy some splash mango juice? How come now that I am counting days to return to my homeland, I am instead whining about hair? Of all things hair! Not even the Hungarian paprika. Hair!
To be a little bit honest, I do not think I also expected this whining from myself. Didn't I start looking forward to this departure time some good months back? I indeed could not wait. So, what happened? Many things did happen. But I am not sure those things can be linked directly to my present whining. Say for example the fact that the 'job' I had been hoping to get on return to Uganda no longer exists, because minds changed while I was away. But this is a common occurrence for graduates. Unemployment is not a strange thing. It is normal. Okay, what about that article trending on Yahoo that lists five graduate programs that aren't worth the money, and includes the one I have been pursuing? Don't you think I am desperately searching for some worth in myself, seeing as it may be possible that cultivating sweet potatoes in Nyanja may have been a better indulgence than a year in Budapest?
I am also beginning to hear some gibberish coming from my fingers and this keyboard, so bear with me. You are probably planning to go and pursue your graduate studies outside your country and I should not pee on your party. I should not be saying the things I am saying. I may be the problem, so I should not blame the program or graduate education or studying abroad in general. But put yourself in my shoes, and I know you fear that, because you may indeed end up in my shoes if you ignore me, how would you feel, knowing that you will be returning to your country but are not sure where you will rest your bones on return? I mean, you may have been making noise about the criminalization of homelessness in Budapest, but you are potentially homeless on return, although not criminalized.
But there are many jobs outside Africa, why don't you get yourself one? You probably want to ask me that. Please do not ask me. I do not envy the many African immigrants that Israel is pushing out of her territory, to the extent of detaining them in sites that will remind history readers of the Nazi concentration camps. Anyway, home is best, east or west, they say. They should add south or north to it, you know. So, we rest that small issue, even when home has plenty of unemployment to deliver, we are still told that it is best. Of course these people who say so do not care that one is returning to find his age mates and friends married and with children and so way out of his league. How shall one survive without company?
Please do not keep it, say it, I can see it on your lips, you want to ask me what exactly I am saying. I am whining, whining and whining. I do not want to stay here in Budapest, I want to go home, but home is hard. But Budapest is equally hard. Life is hard. Period. I should not bother anybody. Okay, I should have come to that conclusion earlier. But now that it has taken me a full year in Budapest, away from home to discover that, do I have your ear so that you do not have to go as far to discover some cold truth like this one?
I hope you do not ignore what I am saying. But you may as well do. This man talking to you right now sees more sense in hair than in anything else. You see, her hair would stimulate my mind into philosophical bliss. And no, I did not touch it even once; she says only herself and her mother can touch it. But just sitting there and looking at it, would take me to places where minds are naked, where ideas flow from brains like mangoes falling from a tree that is being shaken by an earthquake. Just her hair. And on Tuesday afternoon, she traveled back to her home country with her hair. Life is now just that, life. No meaning. No philosophy. Nothing. Just life.