Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lovesickness under the Shea Nut Tree - As true today as in the 1890s

Dear world, this is an excerpt of a story set in a Ugandan village (in the late 1800’s), about a young lady 'crazy in love' but due to tradition, cannot make the first move – by Jackline Amaguru Olanya
'What is the medicine for lovesickness?' Lamara asked herself as the afternoon breeze, cooled by the shea nut tree shade kissed her cheeks.
Can someone give me a remedy? I have all the symptoms, except the cause – the man himself, who make chills run down my body whenever I think about him. He makes my heart go bugu-bugu. When I lay my tired body on the kodra at night, he is the last thing on my mind. Before the sun is up, he is already in my thoughts. As I idle between chores – the digging, the well, the pounding, the grinding, the fetching firewood, the washing…, I’m thinking about him. Isn’t this bordering on idolatry?
I always try to use the path by his homestade, so that he can notice me but he has obviously not got the hint.
 When I see toddlers running around with their wobbly feet, my thoughts overtake me to the time when I will have his babies. I simply can’t wait. The last time I checked, I wanted to join the women who trade in cloth from Ariwara to Odra- Machaku.  I even had ambitions of reaching the land of Impalas with my cloth one day. Although unprecedented, I had successfully convinced my father not to offer me in marriage to anyone for two more rainy seasons, so that I can try out my luck in this trade independently.
 I didn’t want children anytime soon. The thought of walking half a day with bales of cloth balanced on my head and a baby on my back was totally unappealing to me. I didn’t want to reach the market, put the cloth and baby down and within minutes, turn round to bales of clothe that have been wet by an innocent baby's urine. To me, business and babies just didn’t mix. I had even hatched a plan to secretly go to Kiryadongo to the medicine woman who is rumoured to have a remedy that delays pregnancy after marriage.  However, thinking about this man is making me feel rather broody and I can’t wait to pop out his babies by the dozen. J
Today as I went to the well taking the route by Mama Neriya’s granary, I saw him with Atim’ango’s brothers and I thought I saw him wink at me. Of course I smiled ear to ear from that moment on! Even my water pot is still smiling! I urgently need to talk to my friend Adong.  Maybe she can bring me down from cloud 9 and back to earth.
Someone help me here.  I’m I going crazy? How can a man so change my appetite, my metabolism, my sleep routine, my inner chemicals, my mood, overthrow my thoughts and dreams, my ambitions and alter my heart rate!? I thought that a man only changed a woman’s clan!? No one ever told me about these other changes! This man is literally turning me inside-out! You know, I’m even beginning to see things – every time I look at him, he looks more handsome than the last time. Tell me, is that naturally possible? I’m I okay? I can’t be running mad at this age, can I?  
Aunt Lila says love does not exist but I think love is happenning to me. I would have gathered courage and asked my mother about this but what does she know? She was simply given to my father as a present for his role in saving someone’s life while he was out on a hunting expedition. The story is that one minute my father rescued this guy from a crocodile on the Nile and the next minute he was given a young virgin for a wife in return for his valour! There was definitely no room for exchanging glances on the way to the well, at weddings or at village dances of Laraka raka.
Wow! Look at him! Why does God make them so fine?! What’s a girl to do? This is the embodiment of perfection. Exactly what I want in a man. Whats more, what I hear about his character, his values, his faith, his dreams – gosh, they make me want him all for myself. I know they say love is patient but Mr, this girl's patience tank is running on empty and wants you for herself right now!!! But, being a woman – tradition dictates that I play dumb, boardering on numb. Isn't that a little unfair? My mom always says that with the way I'm so bigheaded, if I were born a boy, I would have overthrown the Rwot  - the chief himself!

Oh, I can’t stand the fact that I can't open my mouth to let out these my heart’s secrets. The love in the pot of my heart is boiling wildly and madly – like the river Nile at the falls of Bujagali. The steam and pressure is building up like at the misty Murchison falls, further up the Nile river. I feel I’m about to explode like the ancient volcano of Merapi. I’ll explode if I keep this to myself any longer. I can only confide in you, my favourite shea nut tree because I know you can't talk and reveal the secrets on my heart to any soul.
My gallant Elephant in human form, why don’t you rescue me before the lid of my pot is blown off by the pressure? Why do you walk past me and open not your mouth yet your eyes say you can’t get enough of me? What are you waiting for? Do you need to gather enough cows and goats for the oku jeza?  Do you think that the olupi’s son has already stolen my heart? Do you fear that I will say “no” like Odipio’s daughter did? I think she had eaten some poisonous roots that froze her thinking abilities because I don’t know how any girl can be so senseless! Mcheew! My Elephant, give me that chance that she wasted and I will say "yes" a hundred times before you even finish asking.
Come to my father’s house and ask my brothers for my hand in marriage! I’m ready to be a proper wife – and mother but you would have to promise to make me happy as well. I must warn you - I still want to trade cloth.  We would have fun, I promise.  Our love will be different – not like the old fashioned one of my father and his many wives. Ours would be passionate; fuelled by the firewood from Lokiragodo forest. Like the Kabaka’s fire at the tombs of Kasubi, it would burn day and night, till only death intervenes. However, you have to make the first move because you are the man.

I'm waiting here by my Shea nut tree.

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