I used to speak Swahili and Ateso with
just a little bit of Luganda. But that part of my brain is almost
gone. At school I used to wake at night and see Okanya, realize I
had been talking to him in Ateso. Now when this happens we talk in
English, and this even though neither of us appears to have aged more than a few
I cannot say where he is, or what he
does, or whether he is good or bad, because I think of him as my
friend. He was probably a couple of years older than I. To say
farewell we shook hands. Me to my life. Him to his life.
I do know, with that handshake, nothing was ever the same again for either one of
Age freshens memory. Like blowing up an old
balloon. Not the yesterday morning of
memory but the way back of memory. And if that's where ailing mind ends up, I propose now to
the future, so there might be beer and desert islands, and a chance to speak Swahili and
Ateso with my tall friend.
Quite why this is important to me, I do
not know. I do know this place probably dwells in all of us.
In me, I think, it might just be further away than it is in some.