Problems have another name, and that name is ‘Everyone’.

Have you not heard that trouble is the umbilical cord with which a child is born from its mother’s womb?

Now, listen to me! It is 1. a.m., and the cruel, frosty wind sweeps the troubled earth. You might think it will purify the grim world this time around—it blows swiftly, and the trail it leaves—mushrooms on the skins of the troubled men and women sitting here, in this bar, somewhere in the heart of Kampala city, wishing their trouble would diminish like a sudden thunderstorm; maybe it will.

Two or three days ago, a friend introduced me to beer, but no, being a starter, I opted for Tusker Cider—a women’s drink, which of now is massaging my shrinking body—washing away my tribulations and pain and forcing a smile onto my desiccated lips. Who says the troubled must not laugh?

My table is dirty with empty bottles, and I fidget with a glass of urine-like Tusker in my clumsy hands as thoughts dangle in my mind. I am seated here, lost, in a world of inexpressible misery.

My girlfriend, who is no longer my girlfriend because she is now someone’s girlfriend, will not smell the scent of heaven. The sin she committed is unforgivable—far beyond manslaughter. I sent her transport on Valentine’s Day, and she switched her phone off.

Of course, you might think the problem is transport, but not at all—I wasted my precious time scouring my under-hair and brushing my yellowish teeth. What about rubbing my dusty body and hiding my ripped underwear under the bed? I scrubbed my cobwebbed house and disinfected it—to scare away the notorious mosquitoes and houseflies, and she chose not to come!

Mine was a problem a few minutes ago, and now it is not. A light-skinned lady with a runny nyash and serrated succulent breasts—breasts that scream for a man’s touch drowns in bottles of Guinness. A pool of tears flows from her reddening eyes, dropping into the glass of beer she holds. What a cocktail—tears and beer! She gallops the mixture with no sense of responsibility.

If the beautiful girl doesn’t abort, she might deliver in late November. She says that she had sex with her boyfriend on Valentine’s without a condom and that the boyfriend agreed to pull out—I am uncertain about whatever they had agreed on to pull out. But this woman with eyes like kindling candles says her boyfriend is not picking up her phone calls. She admits it was her mistake—she told him she had conceived—in this country, in this economy! Imagine the fool didn’t pull out!

Now the sweetness has dispersed into the air, and it has become a blowing wind. She doesn’t remember how she gnashed her teeth and threw her legs apart without remorse of injuring her delicate thighs; this girl doesn’t remember the many times she whispered ‘daddy harder’ into the ears of the old man.

She is now immersed in tears, not remembering the gallops of heavy saliva that ran down her throat. But someone might have warned her—someone who is now an enemy might have told her that old men have enough problems to settle with young girls—five children at university, a bank loan to repay, and a house on the wall plate! With all these, he only needs a stupid girl to calm his seething mind. So, chips and chicken do the magic—hungry girls never escape!

Men are merciless creatures! Who hurt this lady, for whom the ground bows whenever she tramples it? Any man would lick honey if it were smeared on her holy feet. She is a goddess, but now, at 1 a.m., she is drinking herself to death.

She is here, intoxicating her soul. Only alcohol can wash away what she calls problems. She grieves because she had sex, but I am afflicted because I didn’t even kiss.

But we are not alone. There is someone, out there, a son or daughter, who is a father and a mother. Perchance their parent died, leaving no inheritance because they were not members of parliament or ministers who would have bequeathed their positions to the children—such positions are hereditary—and now he is worried because the study term has resumed. But the siblings have been home for three weeks, sitting and playing in the dust and asking numerous questions about when they will return to school.

You might think such a person has problems until you hear of a mother with a rotting womb—cancer counts her ribs. She is half dead, and as she unremittingly fights for her life on her deathbed, somewhere in the hospital, she receives the news of her husband sleeping with her best friend, whom he has promised to marry after the burial of his ailing wife. And then you wonder where the man gets the courage to stand before her dying woman, grip her hand with a caring face, and admit how far he is willing to walk with her.

Everyone is troubled, my friend. And that should be your motivation whenever you’re dejected—when your world withers away.

As you hurt from the heartbreak—she called you broke and dumped you for never buying her an iPhone 14, she now laments about contracting AIDS.

Not only that, but her sugar daddy, who is now eighty and might die from hypertension in two weeks, infected her with syphilis, and now she scratches her vagina with a dry maize cob even when in public.

You think you have problems because you just graduated from university, and you haven’t found a job yet—but you are inconsiderate of that man who has just gone mad upon receiving his children’s DNA results from a doctor—he paid for the kids’ education, and now that they have completed their university education, their mother has to show them their father—her former security guard, who is now in the village wasting himself with waragi and telling everyone how he has borne two beautiful daughters and sons with his boss’ chubby wife.

Sometimes, I want to hang myself, but I always drop the rope, let loose of the idea, and console myself. Sometimes, we claim that only we carry the weight of pain, how only we feel it—the acute death within us; we speak of the many times we have died from hoping, waiting, and dreaming; we highly talk about how we have healed without anyone nursing our wounds, but the truth is we are just a fragment of the many aching souls in the wilderness.

Everyone is at least nursing something—a pain itching their hearts or skins or a trauma. Isn’t this motivational enough for you to hang in there? YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

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Written by Godwin Muwanguzi (1)

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