Wednesday, August 24, 2016


"Madam, is it you who brought the dead body? You need to go to the cargo terminal." Yeah, that would be me, Mr Airport Man. I am also the person who wants to spit in your face for calling her a dead body but, I'll just follow you into the bowels of this airport. My, doesn't everything in this little airport look as old as I remember it! Sure, there is a thin smear of oily paint over the aged walls, but that is like Shanti body jelly over my grandmother's wrinkled elbows. Hardly, the image of new. 

When Lindsey first joined me in Cairo, we were not what you would call lesbians. Sure,  our significant others had always been sort of third wheels and our friendship had always been the main union in both of our lives. But back then, we hadn't committed the requisite sins to earn us the label. Had we known we would tumble into said sin, maybe I wouldn't have moved to Cairo, in the first place. Cape Town perhaps, as we eventually did. Anyhow, I can't tell you about it all now for here comes Joshua. 

Flanked by three men I can only describe as, Goliath, Badang and their pet gorilla, he cuts the figure of your regular African warlord. Nanti, it is war awaiting us, outside this airport today. He called it "The Fight Against the Primitives," in our WhatsApp chat. The Primitives. I wish I could come up with a name for our side of the battle. "A little woman, her mid-sized brother and their three mercenaries," seems far less inspired.

The Primitives are Lindsey's relatives. From the long distance calls we have had over the last two weeks, I gather they include: an uncle (both of her parents are deceased), an area council member (no blood relation but a relative by geographical proximity and political investment, I suppose) and three other men whose relationships to her are so sketchy, I didn't store the information. They want her body. They want it buried at the ancestral grave site. Initially, I wanted that too, which is why I got in touch with them, but one of them let it known they'll have a mob in place to keep me away from the burial. So, it is war now.  By virtue of the authority entrusted to me by myself, as spouse of the deceased, I am burying this woman in my home country, on a piece of land I can reasonably expect to be buried on myself. Look, Lindsey is dead. What else I am going to do with my life except enter bull fights? This is going to happen or I will die attempting it.

"Go stand with them. Tell them we are waiting for the funeral car to arrive. Angela and I are leaving with the body now. When we reach Kitooro, I'll call Isa to come around with your escape car. Drive to Kyazanga. Make sure the grave diggers are done by evening. Burial is tomorrow. We'll bring the body," Joshua, whispers to our mercenaries. Apparently, Badang is also known as Isa. Goliath and the Gorilla walk away from us, back towards the arrivals area, that lovely piece of real estate where normal people who aren't carrying dead bodies are received. So as not to watch Isa wheel my love, now laid naked in an ice cold metal box, away, I turn to Joshua. "I thought you called it the Fight Against the Primitives. You got my hopes high. Sneaking away isn't exactly a fight." He, seems to appreciate my feeble attempt at humour.  "Hun, we are The Enlightened. We aren't going to fight them with sticks. That's their thing. We are fight them with brains," he says, touching his head with a bit of dramatic effect at the end. "The Enlightened, huh? You've got all this down to a play script. Is this why you are doing it? The drama of it?" Joshua, a real life playwright momentarily searches my face. Maybe she looking to establish how seriously I mean my question. Perhaps he's checking to see how much more humour I can take. My face however, set itself into an expressionless mask the day Lindsey died. He finds no help there. I guess he decides to play it safe, "big sis, I wanted to see you again and if this is the way I get to, so be it."

Isa and his Badang muscles have smoothly slotted Lindsey under the seats of the passenger service Toyota. Following Joshua's cue, I take up a four seater row to myself. Joshua hands me a newspaper and following his cue again, I lie down, holding the paper above my face, pretending to read. The driver, a diminutive man, possibly middle aged or maybe just a man who has lived the hard life long enough, coughs the engine alive and  we head out of the airport compound.

I stopped reading Uganda news about this time last year, when that anti homosexuality bill was annulled by the constitutional court. I like happy endings. I haven't wanted to sour it with knowledge of any new developments. Before the annulment, Lindsey and I had literally lived on the Ugandan interwebs. You would think people like us already knew how Ugandans feel about our sexuality but my skin still crawls when I remember the crass, dehumanising tornado of Facebook and website comments we lived through in those two years. Look, we thought we knew how much our people hated queer folk. Lindsey absolutely insisted on abandoning our children, to spare them shamed association with our sexuality. The morning after that night, long ago in Cairo when I crept into bed with her and she let me, she woke up with a plan so detailed, I was staggered. 

"I cannot do this to my children. I cannot set them up for a lifetime of shame." 
"Lindsey, they won't know. It was once." 
"Was it?" she shot me the death stare. 
"It wasn't," I repented. "But still, you are panicking too early. Nobody has to know." 
That death stare again. 
"Lindsey," I begged. "This has nothing to do with the children." 
"Angela, you need to shut up," she seemed suddenly weak. "I have been in love with you since I first saw you. I didn't always know what it was, but it was what it was. What it is. Nobody has to know? I know. You know. And yes, it has a lot to do with the children. I am all about my children. My children and you. Now I have to choose. I choose you. You must choose too." 

Now, if you have read those blogs about the retarded dwanzie, so scared of commitment that they chill every emotionally substantial situation by rebooting it to casual, I am that person. I used to be that person anyway. I actually wanted to strike a careless pose and say, "woman, I had sex with you once and now I must choose between you and my offspring?" But that death stare of hers. Plus, I knew it for what it was. I had flown her to Cairo. I had prepared the two bedrooms in my apartment such that the children would sleep in one, and we would share the other. Sure, that's also what you do when your best friend is visiting but I had crept into her bed and, well, the rest of that night is yours to imagine. I still set slightly messed up remembering it. Morbid.  I’m reminiscing about sinning all over my death wife who is lying naked in a cold metal box beneath the seats of the car I'm riding in.

Do you know what I did when I was asked to choose? I made pancakes. I make a mean pancake breakfast, by the way. Okay, right. I am changing the subject now as I did then. Just as well. Joshua is freaking out on the phone. 

"What do you mean they are chasing you? Now? I thought you escaped in the same car you took them to the airport in?"
"What do you mean police pickup? You are telling me they went to the police, reported a case, got a deployment attached to them, while you were still in chasing distance? Are you riding on a turtle?" 
"Did they see the car we are in? Good. Good." 
"But of course, Uganda Police got right on this one. A homosexual is stealing a dead body. National crisis. Sempa, don't drive towards Kyazanga. Take Mubende road. Lose them. Lose them or you are on your own, Sempa. Bwebabakwaata, nze siyina kyembamanyiiko!"