On Flea Infestation, Or a Letter to an Old Comrade

Ituri, 20 January 2018.

Dear Matthew Bagonza,

We are this way. It has been a while since we exchanged correspondence, I hope all is well.

My reason for writing to you is, last night I had a strange dream that I need you to help me make sense of. I know you Banyoro are good at interpreting dreams and speaking to mediums.

It was the most strange of dreams. In it, I saw a big dog, a “Rukamba,” the biggest I had ever seen. The dog’s body was in an awkward twist as it tried to bite at its own tail. It kept straining its neck to reach the tail but it couldn’t. It seemed the more it strained, the shorter the tail grew, and the more the frustration on the dog’s face.

There was another strange occurrence. The dog could talk, you know, like humans. Like you and I.

Amidst its twists and turns, the big dog let out a cry: “If only I could bite off this tail! It is the cause of my flea infestation!”

It doubled-down on its effort to bite its own tail, this time twisting its spine into a near coil, but the dog’s teeth could barely touch the last hairs of the tail.

Frustrated, the dog gave up. Momentarily.

Then something even stranger happened: the dog’s tail grew a mouth and started to speak too. I kid you not!

Chisos, chaos!

In its defence, the tail retorted, “but I have always worked diligently to wad off many fleas…”

“My flexibility, strength, and length and ability to reach every part of the body, except the head, has kept many fleas at bay,” continued the tail.

Visibly angry, the rest of the dog merely shook its head and paused a few seconds, or minutes, I don’t really recall the exact duration.

Then the big dog started the strange twist-dance with its tail again. It spun the whole of its body, anti-clockwise then clockwise, in a bizarre twist that must have left its insides hurting! Still, it could not reach or bite the tail.

Now weary, the voice of the big dog grew hoarse. Where it used to bark, it now growled and grumbled. It grew restless. The tail meanwhile also shrunk in size before my very eyes. It’s hairs grew thin. It grew shorter. It wagged slower than before.

The only thing that seemed to grow in size were the fleas. From small microscopic beings to the size of a well-fed housefly!

The giant fleas now sucked at the big dog with reckless abandon. The tail, too short to reach the rest of the body, preferred to keep in the war of words with the head of the dog.

Their growls now became even more intense. The big dog spun like a whirlwind. Left. Right. Then back. It was a sight to behold.

Then without warning, a big storm blew low and hard, taking with it the big dog in my dream.

Taken. Caput. No more.

The big dog was gone. In its place was left a litter of beautiful puppies—big-eyed and with moist snouts, they were the most beautiful puppies I have ever seen.

Then I awoke to blinding light coming through my bedroom window. Someone had drawn the curtains, and turned up the radio volume.

My heart was racing. I had a cold sweat. My head hurt. I was confused. I was scared.

And playing on the radio was Jimmy Cliff’s 1993 rendition of John Nash’s famous “I Can See Clearly Now” song. You remember it from the movie Cool Runnings?

(Ooh…)Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skiesLook straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies

I can see clearly now the rain is goneI can see all obstacles in my wayHere is that rainbow I’ve been praying forIt’s gonna be a bright (bright)Bright (bright) sun-shining day ...

Such a strange dream, don’t you think my brother?

As soon as I regained some of my cool, I sat up in my bed and penned you this letter. As you read it, I am still in my pajamas. I may not leave my bedroom today until I know the meaning of this strange dream.

I have turned on Ugandan TV and will watch Dalton Espial Kaweesa as I await your reply.

Sincerely yours, Concerned Iturian.

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