I am waiting for a friend at Ntinda View Café. Dad asked me to file annual returns for his Company but I have delegated the work to a lawyer friend of mine. She works at the law firm I used to work for and it should be easy for her to get through the bureaucracy at the company registry since she does this kind of work often.
There is a depressing pressure at my diaphragm. I have known it for close to two months. Some days it is relentless and may ruin the day for me. On other days it is sporadic in its attack and I manage to carry through without retreating, with regret, to solitude.
I play with my wristlet , I inhale deeply, I worry that my parents are worried about me, I wish I could afford a new refrigerator for home to replace the old noisy one, the one with a stool of water that exacerbates with power cuts, creating streams where there were none. That would be a good Christmas gift from a child-of-the-home. It would be an act befitting a grown-up, independent, educated child who has finished school and moved out of home.
I left my job two months ago. At the time the pressure on my diaphragm was excruciating. It was a pain I could not justify because I had a salary and fairly accommodative workmates. When the pressure was at its peak, when the eyes had carried enough salty storms, when an hour’s task would take me days to execute, I decided it was time to leave.
My lawyer friend is finally here. She says I look like a tourist because I am seated at a café during working hours wearing jeans and dreadlocks and shades. The shades are meant to hide my red eyes. The depressing pressure squeezed tears out of my eyes. I take her through the task and she agrees to file the Company Returns for me: at a fee of course.
I am walking down a panya after my meeting headed to the Kyanja taxi stage in Ntinda. A honey shop at the white storied building. A bar with a barbeque stove at its front; closed and empty this early afternoon. A man selling sugar cane who needs the entire path for the sweet-water-laden green shoots, spreading out longitudinally at the back of his bicycle. A few pedestrians.
“Are you a woman or a man”
It is a rhetoric thrown at me casually by one of the two twenty-something boys who just walked past me. That boy just thought out loud. It must be the dreadlocks and the black shades, and the Re: Boyfriend jeans (ripped at the knee, saggy at the waist because I wore no belt) … the shirt? Is it the buttons, the collar, the short sleeves, the blue vertical pin stripes? Or maybe the Adam’s apple, pronounced from my hunched-back gait.
I board a taxi to kyanja. At my stop, I buy a packet of Dunhills for the evening. It is so quiet at the house I can hear the paper sizzle as it burns along with the tobacco. At four sticks, I achieve the desired effect, a slight high that makes my legs springy when I step and spins my head for seconds to a dull yet relaxing lull.
My woes do not end with depressing pressures. I also have what I perceive to be an infection down there, in my lady parts.