Inspired by the COVID 19 Pandemic in Uganda
Ouch! The sear, the burn, and the excruciating ache. I have never imagined cycling thirty-two kilometers could be so painful. Kilometers? Why is distance measured in kilometers? It should be measured in Kilograms. Because I feel the full weight of this journey on my muscles. And the load is getting heavier with every kilogram I cycle. I am so glad the road is so empty. Free of the matatus and the related chaos. I have always believed, when the devil was cast out of heaven, he fell on the exact spot Kampala City was built and the Nakivubo channel is his toilet. And his fellow slithering demonic rejects assumed the form of taxi drivers, parliamentarians and the fastest of the lot, the speed demons, became phone thieves. A phone thief has got to be the fastest land animal. Well, come to think of it, phone thieves are not quick, they teleport. Now you see him and a blink later, he is gone and so is your precious device. On further thought, demons also assumed the form of boda boda riders. But these were like low-level demons. Trying to impress the evil genius, Lucifer. So they are out to cause as much destruction, pain, carnage, and death as possible in order to catch the eye of the Master. Damn! Those are strange thoughts in my head. Am I going mad? Does a mad person know they are mad? Am I teetering at the edge of insanity? I think I get it now. What is missing on the streets? Distractions! Shuffling and scavenging mange covered stray dogs, the buzz of the markets, and the chaos of the traffic. Incessant horns and roars from the engines. Mercedes Benz engines hum though. A sweet melodic purr. Now that is my dream car. A dream indeed. I am about two tires and 350,000,000 shillings away from achieving that dream. Wait. Where are the stray dogs? Are they adhering to the quarantine too? Or they can sniff the tension, fear, and uncertainty in the air? Animals have an instinct for death. When the Titanic was going down, rats were the first to abandon ship. Rats! Now that was a funny scene in that movie. Movies aside, when the Tsunami almost washed Japan off the global map, reports state, animals were seen fleeing the tsunami region a whole two hours before the tsunami hit with all its ferocity. The sky is blue though. Birds soaring without a single worry in the world. On closer look, there aren’t any other birds apart from marabou storks. The storks are only attracted by decomposition and death. Do they feel death is imminent? The Coronavirus has gotten my brain all tangled up. Misfiring neurons. I think some have even shorted out. I am sure the nationwide lockdown is going to nudge many into insanity. It feels like house arrest. Now I know what it is like for Kizza Besigye. One day of house arrest and he can’t take it anymore. Eyes bulging, fists folded and the face of thunder. He would rather charge at a platoon of officers through a fog of tear gas than stay in his own home one more second. Poor fellow. Now, I need to focus. Much as there isn’t any traffic on the roads, there are other hazards on Kampala roads. Kampala roads actually should be called an obstacle course or a maze. How about an obstacle maze? Focus! Look at the open road ahead. The road meets the clear blue sky. Before the lockdown, this sight felt peaceful and tranquil. Soothing to the thoughts. But today, it feels cold and desolate. A bleak future. The virus has made the world grind to a halt. Wait. Was that a red traffic light? Did I just run a red light? Wow! Why do I feel weightless? And eerily quiet? Why is it suddenly pitch BLACK?!
Hmmm. Look at them! Seven billion rats. With their exaggerated myopic sense of self-importance. Scampering for safety. Cowering in their homes. Looking for answers. Others waiting for answers. Most of them are praying for answers. If they only knew there is nothing in the heavens. Just stars, asteroids and swirling planets. Which is more scary, that you are the only intelligent life in an ever-expanding universe or there is other intelligent life out there? If you were as old as I am, then you would not call this a pandemic. The Black Death. Now, that was a pandemic. If something is named black and death, it is as terrifying as they come. The scientific minds didn’t even have the time to get a proper name for the disease. Coronavirus has changed a name already, to COVID 19. That can only mean it is not much of an adversary. Dying during, or most particularly from, the Black Death was a very unfortunate time to die. Your remains would be left at the exact spot you died. It was literally a feast of the crows in those times. But I love human beings. They are an interesting bunch. Case in point. The nuclear arms race. Countries are stockpiling on nuclear weapons, but ironically, they are walking, living, and building their futures on a nuclear reactor. My core. One sniffle and time would cease. But I keep swirling on my axis every day, all year long. There is never a dull moment with humans. They light up my mundane existence. I revolve and bask around the sun. So beautiful, the sun. Ironically, the Sun is the provider of life but in the end, it will be the death of this solar system. It is so hard to reconcile the white sun right now with an unforgiving black hole. There is that word, black again. Let me tell you how I came into existence. Wait. Is that Jupiter. Jupiter is one large planet also in a mundane existence. The thing is, have you ever eaten six boiled eggs and a plate of beans. Bloated! Multiply that a billion times over. That is Jupiter for you. Then there is Saturn. With those beautiful majestic rings and alluring orange hues. Here is why I don’t envy Saturn. Imagine you have a very beautiful girlfriend who every man wants to pry off your arm. But a beautiful girlfriend has given you a headache ever since you’ve known her. Hilarious, right. The alluring orange hues are actually massive violent storms that know no end. Imagine having a headache that weighs a billion kilograms. You can’t make this stuff up. Luckily for me, earth, I have humans to entertain me. Unlimited entertainment. Their wars, some of which have been started on a whim. The tragedies. The love stories. Love triangles, rectangles and all the other shapes known. Yes, I too, try to keep up with the Kardashians.With the outbreak of the Corona virus, entertainment has dropped a little. But if I look hard enough, I can always find an engaging story line. Well, what do we have here. A bicycle rider, in a relatively unknown spot in the world, heading towards a junction. He seems distracted. He is distracted, just ran a red light at the traffic lights. Unknown to him, from the left, hurtling down the road, screeching and bellowing is a twenty-ton cement mixer. The driver trying to text while driving. Divided attention. Well this has my undivided attention. If I calculate the speeds. Looks like the cement mixer will miss the rider. Only just. A perfect moment for a quick bet. Who doesn’t love an underdog story. David versus Goliath. Impoverished lad wins the heart of aristocratic damsel. Minnows versus the established. I say the rider will ride off into the horizon unscathed. Any second now. Such moments, time can stretch out like rubber. Hissing and hurtling versus Cycling and squeaking. Oops!