Postcard from Kampala
I had the weirdest dream last night. A friend’s sister (Nina) was busted by cops for..well the crime was not revealed in my dream. But the funny thing is that the cop, an 85-year-old granny wearing bright red lipstick and black Gucci shades wanted to hear none of her explanations. She was not in police uniform but in a knee-length pleated skirt and a blouse with bell sleeves. They had an altercation and granny literally pulled Nina out of her car and jumped onto the driver’s seat. Before she starts the car, she pulls out a Bath and Body works lip gloss, which she probably got from His & Her Scents. The contents are over but she keeps pressing it hard until a drop finally emerges. Nina who is now standing outside her car staring at this granny in disbelief, let’s out a roaring laugh and says,
“Have you been using that lip gloss since world war 2?”
Unmoved, the granny cop picks the little gloss with the tip of her index finger and spreads it all over her bloody lips, then starts the car. As she starts to drive off, Nina shouts over the sound of the engine,
“Pressing that lip gloss is what has messed up your head! Perhaps if you finally replace it you can get back your sanity.”
That’s how delirious I get when there’s a combination of excessive fatigue and waking up in a strange bed. Come on guys, it’s not what you are thinking! Cut some lito slack hehe. I am in Kampala. What was meant to be a forty-five minutes-drive from Entebbe last night took one and a half hours and I only got to bed at half past midnight. In case you are thinking traffic on this side of Lake Victoria is nightmarish, it is, but not late in the night. This is what happened.
Our Uber driver who by the way insisted that she wanted to be paid in cash takes 15 minutes to locate us, much as she was just one minute away within the airport but cycling around the wrong area. She keeps calling and apologising profusely. Other taxis come around and pick their passengers and eventually my colleague and I are left there standing like two orphaned oryxes in the biting cold. Eventually she gets here and I am livid. She is dark-skinned, wearing a striped blue and white sweater and black jeans, her kinky braids held neatly in a ponytail. She seems to be in her late thirties. I imagine she has had to leave her kids behind at night to make a quick buck for them and all my anger suddenly disappears. She apologizes once again in the most subdued tone. My colleague all this time has been calmly telling her that it’s ok. But I think she still needs me to say something. Her name is Teddy by the way.
“Don’t worry. You are here, that’s what matters. Now let’s hit the road and hopefully I can be in bed by 10.45pm.”
Right after we exit the airport, Teddy turns to my colleague who is seated at the front.
“I kindry ask if you could give me twenty thousand shirrings out of the ninety five thousand to fuel the car.” Finally, I understand why she insisted on a cash payment. Unfortunately, we only have dollars and we were hoping to convert them at the hotel then pay her. I want to admonish her for driving around without fuel, but then I hold myself back. Perhaps she’s been through one hell of a week financially, living from hand to mouth. As a working mother, I naturally have a soft spot for women.
It’s 10.15pm. We drive to Victoria Mall and the only forex bureau there is closed. She gets panicky.
“How low is the fuel anyway?” My colleague asks her.
“Sadly, very low.” She says, her voice almost trembling.
I suggest that we drive to the nearest petrol station and use either of our Visa cards to pay, then pay her at the hotel less the cost of fuel. We stop at a Shell Station, Total Station and finally….wait for it…Meru petrol station (hahaha, Kenyans are everywhere man, bet you didn’t see that coming) and none of them accept card. Suddenly, I feel like it is the year 1998 and I am at a cyber café that charges Ksh 5 a minute, checking whether my high school crush has sent me an email on yahoo. The driver is so jittery by now, she is almost having a heart attack.
We decide to withdraw cash from an ATM and drive back to Meru Petrol Station, fuel the car and hit the road. It’s now quarter to eleven and I am dog-tired, so I stretch on the back seat with my seat belt on like my four-year-old daughter does and allow the sleep to consume me. Ten light years later (that’s how it feels), I hear my colleague distantly calling my name. His voice is faint, like he has been held hostage in the desert and is begging for water or mercy, or both.
“Did you call me?” Confused, I ask as I sit upright.
“Yes. We are here.” He says.
“Here where?” I ask?
We are finally in Canaan.