Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Now What?

This blog is still in identity crisis. This isn't part of the novel. If you are here for another installment of the serialized novel, keep waiting. One can't rush the creative process. 

Okay, Now What? 

Ten years ago, I used to spend a lot of time in an internet cafe that my friend Ishaq managed at the Faculty of Science, Makerere Universtity. I remember a particular occassion. He was listening to yet another of my feminist monologues; chuckling now and then, as if to punctuate the sentences for me.  Eventually, he looked up and said, “girlfriend; you will die a lonely old maid.” We both laughed. Hard, because we both knew there was a good chance I would.

Ten years now. I am a lonely maid. “Not old, yet,” I like to think. “Not exactly a maid,” I’m sure Ishaq would add. I have  another of my birthdays coming up and as is ritual around such occassions, I have to confront an existential question. This year’s is “Now What?” 

Do I go gently into lonely old maidenhood? Maybe also low-key get my promiscuous groove back? It’s been gone a while. I almost miss it. 

Do I quit being retarded, find a good man, marry him, have a few more kids, make small talk with his mum on Sunday afternoons? 

Do I bury myself in work, make more money than I have time to spend, make my mummy proud by getting that PhD?

Now What? First, let’s go over the options. 

Go gently into lonely old maidenhood
For this option, I don’t need to make any drastic changes. All I need to do it get a loan at 23% interest per annum and spend the next fifteen years of my life building some kind of half-mansion, outside town. I will entertain myself through the years complaining to my peers about the price of cement, thieving builders and corrupt officials in the Wakiso district urban planning department. Around the time my daughter will be entering university, the thing will be livable in. I will have my friends over for pilau and regal them with tall tales about the plumbing and fittings. “My dealer imported that bathtub from China just for me.” “The paint in the kitchen is made in Egypt. It lasts forever. No repainting.” I will lie in that oversized bedroom at night and listen to audiobooks while having low maintenance sex with the aid of my battery powered boyfriends. You are probably feeling a lot sadder about the picture than I am. I can see quite a bit of adventure in building a collection of battery powered boyfriends. If I’m lucky, my inappropriate openness about said boyfriends will reach Lokodo. He will raid my house. I will be on national TV as the face of this country’s sexual decadence. Adventure! I can see it. This is a valid option. 

Grow Up, Get Married
I do actually want a companion so I don’t take this option as lightly as you would think. I want to live with someone who will sleep on the door side of the bed and stop the bullet before it reaches me, in the event that an armed robber bursts in. And, on this front, things have been looking up for me. 
The other day, I was having lunch with a man who used to be what Bukedde would call my muninkini. We were just checking in on each other but he did say; “I want my life to take off. I want a wife. It’s not a big concern but I want it resolved.” That’s an opening, right? A proposal even, no? Similar things have been said to me by other parties in the recent past. I even love at least one of those vague speaking parties. 
I think that if we get me beyond that storybook fantasy, that someone who loves me will actually say as much and then present me with a ring asking for my hand in marriage, we can conclude that this second option is in the cards for me too.

Bury Myself in Work
Here is the thing about love and relationships: I suck at them. I want to be loved in all the ways my father didn’t love me. Of course I can’t say this to the people who date me, because that would be just gross, so I end up having relationships that are just to the left of what I want. What I want is for people to love me and just never leave even though they are not obliged to stay. So, I want to NOT marry these people but have them stay forever just because they love me. Like my father should have done. I also want these people to show me off just because they are proud to have me but be okay with the fact I, on the other hand, have a life that’s doesn’t revolve around them; I want to have my own friends; say their friends are weird and have them smile saying, “you are so cute.” Like the parent my father should have been, I want them to be unfailingly generous and kind in a thankless, lopsided relationship. In a sentence; I have issues. You would think that knowing the folly of my desires would empower me to overcome them. No. It doesn’t. But that government’s fault. It doesn't invest in mental health so I don’t have access to a trained shrink to help me to the other side. As a result, I suck at relationships. Do you see how bad governance has far reaching consequences on the us, the citizens? 

Here is the thing about work: I kick ass at it. I love it. I’m good at it. I take to it like fish to water. I can adjust to a whole new field of work in a matter of months and excel at it in a year or two. Seriously. I’m the person who was writing a newspaper column three weeks after I first met my first editor. See my twitter profile. I am all those things and pretty good at them too. Burying myself in work would be the most natural path and it makes financial sense. 

So, Now What? Please don’t tell me the three are not mutually exclusive. Of course, they are. 3 vs 2: You don’t bury yourself in work when your mother-in-law wants a cake recipe for next Sunday’s lunch. 2 vs 1: If you are going to build a half-mansion, you need a job that; allows you time to review architectural plans, quarrel with Wakiso district technocrats over their approval,  supervise the site and successfully sue your neighbor for blocking your access road.  3 vs 1: You don’t make love while listening to audiobooks if you are a grown up married person. I have to choose. But how? 

But there is Option 4: Wait for The One. The thing I love about option 4 is that it is both noble and a cop-out. Exactly what you need to get around all your decision making pain. If I say I am waiting for The One, I am a brave believer in true love. But I have seen enough of things that look like true love that I now believe that if I take this route, I will never actually have to make a permanent life decision. I will wait, and wait, and wait… A decision deferred forever. What’s to lose? 

Thanks for listening. You’ve been very helpful. I now know what to do. 


  1. Ijust found another blog i will get addicted to. Nice piece, a drugging read, a realist touch to imaginative writing, awash with truth. Thank you Lydia, the arts live, and i dare say by you!

  2. Oh, thank you for coming by, Jacob!