By Aaron Aroriza, Uganda:
Tupac, the American rapper and actor was one of my early teenage idols. Never mind that he died before I had heard of him. It's indeed because he died that I got to know him at that time. I got to know about his other stage name Makaveli, got to know his real name Tupac Amaru Shakur. I got to know about Digital underground, got to know about Black Panther Party. I talked about Flamigo street like I lived in Las Vegas, talked about East Harlem like I grew up in Manhattan. You would have been forgiven for imagining the East coast-West coast hip hop rivalry was happening right in my backyard if you found me talking about Bad Boy Records. The red bandanna on my head – 2pac style, would have added credence to your imagination.
Had I found a tattoo designer then, I would have had a tattoo without any second thought. And I knew exactly which one I wanted and where – one like 2pac's: “Thug Life” written across my tummy along my naval line. Mine would have been modified a little with a gun drawn, its nozzle ferociously pointing out of my naval, separating the words 'thug' and 'life'. What I found one time instead was a rubber bullet riot police had fired while quelling a fight between my school and a rival high school. Amidst stampede, teargas and a barrage of more rubber bullets, I crawled to where the bullet had landed and tucked it safely into my pocket feeling like a war hero. I would later use it as a pendant with my thug life message.
It was so many years later that I met a tattoo designer. I was not a teenager any more but I still had space for a tattoo in my heart and consequently somewhere on my body. It wasn't “thug life” anymore though. It had changed to something more conceptually deeper. I had just left campus. I sat and listened attentively as the guy explained the whole tattooing process to me. I was okay with it but when he mentioned his price, it was more than ten times the money I had in all my pockets. A few months later the space tattoo had always occupied in my heart began to ache, and then eventually healed. When I checked again, it was sealed and tattoo was just a forlorn stranger.
But when I told my friend Milly about the tattoo designer, she got excited and told me to give her his contacts. I did. I never followed up to know what happened after that. But as Bob narrated to me recently, Milly got the tattoo across her tummy. I had always told her about my tattoo fantasies. And no, hers wasn't 'thug life'. Hers was her boy friend's name. Bob didn't see the name at the beginning since, in his words not mine, Milly's tummy had become flabby and covered the art over the years. When she got pregnant and her belly started to stretch however, Bob could legibly and quite heart-brokenly read the indelible name 'Kelvin' on his dear wife's tummy. He says he could have stomached the name if only the “l” in the name was also just a letter and not something that had been drawn looking like a penis – Kelvin's penis no doubt.
Milly hasn't told me her side of the story yet. She is still shocked at how heartless Bob could be when he flew back and left her alone with a baby.
As for me, I'm planning to embark on a mission of making a hassle-free tattoo removing cream. It could make me a millionaire in my retirement. Our generation might need that cream so bad in mid-life and old age.
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