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LEARNING TO DIE, ESCAPING THE HOUR: LOVE AND PAIN

I am starting this story differently; I am choosing to start it with an incident that is inscribed on my heart like a fresh wound—a dinner date with my new friend. I haven’t been out before, and sitting here like this, looking into his eyes, relieves my heart; it takes away all the pain I hide in this smile—he doesn’t know what I am going through, but I cannot disclose it; it is a time for pleasure and not for talking about pain.

We are talking about many things; we are talking about democracy and how the government has been unfair to its citizens. Now I am wondering why my new friend is so interested in our country’s democracy, but when I see tears welling up in his eyes, I realise he is too human and vulnerable—the pain of other people is his pain too. Then I am asking myself why many government officials don’t feel our pain, but I am remembering they are only beasts and scavengers.

I haven’t put any intoxicant into my body; I am not thinking of it either, but my friend says there is a beer festival in their country and that it is their culture to take beer upon meeting new friends. Now, inside of me, I am thinking I should visit him one day. He even talks about the beach of naked people. But I am thinking to myself, I love women’s buttocks, and I now want to visit that beach and walk naked too, or even date a naked woman.

“We Germans are people of beer,” he is saying.

“Wawoo! Sad, I don’t drink.” I am saying.

A waitress is standing before us, asking what we want to eat. My friend is asking for the menu, and he is thinking he should eat pork, chips, and beer. Now there is another problem: I don’t eat pork, but my friend is asking whether I can eat chicken, and I am accepting. But am I going to eat chicken and chips without a drink? Absolutely, not! It is cold, and I am not wearing a sweater, so I am not drinking water. He suggests Tusker Cider is sweet, and I agree.

For the very first time, I am feeling safe; I am liking his energy, and I am no longer feeling shy. I am eating and sipping on the glass of my drink, and I am liking it. I am whispering to myself that beer is sweeter than a woman, but I am not sure because I haven’t tasted a woman yet. Maybe I have, but I am forgetting.

And then, in the present-day moment, I am sitting somewhere in a bar, not drinking Cider but cocktailing Guinness and Uganda Waragi. My head is spinning and my feet are lacking energy, and the waitress is wondering why a young man like me is in a bar at 1 a.m., drinking like there’s no tomorrow. She is wanting to stop me, but her manager is looking at her with a warning eye, implying that the more I drink, the more money they are making.

I am loving the music the bar DJ is playing, but it is causing me more pain and now it seems as if my heart is sitting on needles. My lips are shaking, and I can feel my toes curling in my crocs. The song is “123, I am loving you” by Tarrus Riley, and it is bringing tears to my eyes.

But I am not telling my friend that I am out here losing my mind and drinking to death because I am fearing he will be sad; I am not even telling him why I am out here at 1 a.m. drinking a very strong gin; and I am not knowing what is happening to me, but all I am remembering is a name screaming in my head and a woman’s voice detaching from my ears.

I am imagining her beautiful eyes and her deep voice and not accepting that she does not want to be with me; I am thinking I am a good man, but at the same time wondering why she is walking away after stealing my heart; I am concluding that she is a devil, eating up my soul, and after it’s finished, she is leaving for another victim.

My forehead is burning like fire, and I am not accepting that I am living a fallacy because my friend just told me that the girl’s name was beautiful and that he was wanting us to be together. I do not know how to disappoint him.

Now I am believing I should go back to my room and tear all the papers bearing her name and burn them to ashes. Now I am wondering how I must learn to hate her. I am thinking I should be going back home and writing bad things about her, but beer is becoming sweeter than my pain, and I am forgetting I am grieving.

The waitress is wanting to cry; my situation is worrying her, but I am not caring because I am not her brother. My body is now smelling beer, and I am beginning to like the strange smell; it is helping me kill my pain.

I am remembering Millicent’s words. She is always joking that I don’t deserve love, and I am believing her: “My brother and comrade, you were born to write but not to be loved.” Her words are dancing in my split mind.

I am not going to share this story because you’re going to be condemning me for drinking beer; I am not minding about you anyway. All I care about is learning how to die and still be alive after this excruciating pain; all I care for is erasing her from my mind, but I am scared because to forget her is to cease living; I am remembering she is the blood that runs in my veins; I am remembering she is the air I am breathing; I am remembering she is a scar on my skin, and she is going to be a sock in my eye for the rest of my life.

I am wanting words to use to escape the hour, but I am becoming helpless, and I am agreeing to die from beer because I am not accepting that people move on; I am here all alone, fearing to tell my friend that I am drinking beer like water because he will be sad.

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Written by Godwin Muwanguzi (1)

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