By Aaron Aroriza, Uganda:
His home was less than fifty meters from where the rest of the gang lived yet we still didn't consider him one of us. Phillip just failed to fit in. He was a quiet boy with sorrow-filled eyes and abnormally long arms. A narrow foot path recklessly wound its way through our neighborhood splitting our small football pitch – a vacant plot of land we had decided to utilize – into two halves. Had the house that belonged to the Phillips been on our side of the path, he might have been our friend and his life might have turned out different.
The same footpath that always divided us into two opposing football teams, enemies mercilessly kicking at each other's heels on pitch, divided us into two different sets of homes within the same neighborhood. There were many homes that lay on the other side of the footpath but Phillip and his younger brother were the only kids on the other side with whom we were in the same age group; the age group that had ganged up and formed a small army of kids who made it their hobby to sneak out to watch Chinese movies in bibanda (make-shift cinema halls) and then practice whatever martial arts moves, they watched, to perfection. With time, the group became a gang of 'elite fighters' who had mastered most of the Chinese martial arts.
Now, in Chinese movies, whenever one has perfected his skill, they have to go find another person who claims to be the best in the art and challenge them. It's always a good way to evaluate one's skills. Phillip had spent one holiday in a bigger city and on coming back, thought he had learnt too much and decided, together with his younger brother, to challenge two members of our group. Moses and I gladly rose to the challenge.
Of all the memories in Phillip's childhood, that fight is the one that seems to have stuck most in his mind.
As I was sipping on a cold beer at a lonesome cold Mbarara local bar, a group of hip looking young men and ladies made their grand swaggerific entrance. I noticed the smashingly hot black beauty with slightly over done lip stick before I slowly recognized the guy whose hand was clasped around her slim waist. Phillip! But that's not the name his crew called him anymore. Martial was what they called him. And boy was he a sight in that SWAT costume.
He recognized me instantly and walked towards my table with an air of importance that is only a reserve for kings. But of course he is king of this crew and he has a befitting queen to top it all. I stood and gave the king a brotherly hug and the queen looked on with indifference as Martial introduced me as his childhood friend and her as his current girlfriend – an accomplished actress.
The rest of his crew sat a few yards away and animatedly reminisced about the events of their movie- shooting day. Martial noticed my interest and casually told me about his involvement in the Ugandan film industry; how he had gone on with martial arts so as to one day revenge against us and then later went into filming. It's at this point that he narrated the story of a fight that took place two decades ago to his girlfriend.
“…then this guy here kicked me in the back with a flying kick.” He continued. “As I stumbled forward, his partner Moses connected my chest with a round house kick. I stumbled backwards only to bump into this guy's spinning sweep. I fell on my 'oblongata', saw stars and the moment I got back onto my feet, my brother and I tried to run home. These two guys hotly pursued us as their friends cheered on in laughter. I never forgot that day. These guys bullied me all my childhood but they made me who I am today- a strong man. But I never forgot that day. I pursued martial arts so I could become a better fighter than them and now I'm re-writing those childhood stories in my movies. See, now I can fight this guy blind folded and still beat the hell out of him.”
Yes, Martial was right; he can beat the hell out of me while blind folded: Not with those strong arms and wide chest I saw. But who said I would rise up to that challenge. Who said I would want to go bare knuckles any more. His girlfriend had looked at me with indifference when Martial had introduced me, but after he narrated this story I saw her Nike logo eye-browed eyes begin to melt in lust towards me and her purple lipstick covered lips begin to form out words that can only be sweet nothings.
I kicked Martial (oh, he was Phillip then) in the back, spun and swept him off the ground when we were younger. Now, I'm about to stab him in the back, turn on my charming spin and sweep his girlfriend off her feet. That's not a fight he seems ready for yet. He's about to find out that he's been preparing himself for the wrong fight all these years.
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