One – from How To Talk To Crazy People by Donna Kakonge – Slow Down

I refuse to take the medication the new doctor prescribed. Constance told me it would make me weak. I cannot sleep. The irregular shifts are hard to deal with.

I can’t make myself go to work today. So I call in sick. “Carolyn?” “Yes, is this Donna?”

“Yes.” I start to cry. “Carolyn, I feel awful. I can’t come into work.” Silence. “Donna, that’s fine.”

I sob into the phone. “I’m sorry.”

“Donna, it’s fine,” she assures me. “It is fine. Just come in when you are feeling better.”

The last thing Carolyn hears is my sobs.

After I hang up, I crawl back into bed and fall into a fitful sleep. I wake up later in the evening and ask my mother for the keys to her car. I drive in a manic daze to Steven and William’s house. They let me crash there.

Steven cooks food for me but I refuse to eat. William smokes pot with his girlfriend Sarah, while I talk fast and furious about being a Ugandan princess. I ask myself and the others why the fuck I’m in Canada when I am a queen in Uganda.

William and Sarah wish me good night and climb the stairs to William’s loft bedroom. I lie on the couch and wipe tears from my cheeks. My friend Nancy, who is dating Steven, comes by to console me. She once tried setting me up with Steven, before she dated him, but there was no spark between us and nothing came of it.

“Donna, why are you crying?”

I don’t speak. I just keep crying.

Nancy cradles me. “Just cry, sweetheart,” she says softly. “Whatever it is, it will be okay.”

On the second night of my stay, Steven sleeps on the couch so that I can have his bed. I try to seduce him. I’m confused. He treats me so well that I think we should be together. I am so needy for comfort and affection. I move my brown hand slowly over the almost translucent white skin of his arm. Steven stirs awake and opens one eye.

“Donna?” He looks at me tiredly. “What are you doing?”

I snap my hand away. My hand goes to my nose. I pick out some snot and wipe it on the Levi jeans I’m sleeping in.

“Steven…? Didn’t we go on a date?” The stiffness around his mouth softens.

“Yes,  Donna,”  he responds  “Remember,  I’m  dating  Nancy  now.”  “I  know,  I

know. I just thought….”

The next day, without anything being said, Nancy and William take me to Scarborough Grace Hospital. The doctor on staff tries to give me a whole bunch of drugs that I refuse. I creep off the gurney they ordered me to lie on and stalk out of the hospital.

Nancy and William run down Birchmount Avenue and catch me. I tell them I

want to go to a black bookstore on Bathurst Street in downtown Toronto.

Steven picks us up in his old blue Mercedes Benz. We drop William off at work at TVOntario on the drive to the bookstore. Nancy sits tightly beside me in the backseat, as though to restrain me.

In the store, I sit by the children’s book section on a child’s chair, all five feet ten inches and one hundred and thirty pounds of me, and cry.

Nancy and Steven lead me outside and then Steven drives me to my father’s house. Nancy does not come. I don’t know where she went.

On the way to my father’s, I notice a house up for sale. “Steven, look.” I point to the sign. “That house is for sale.”

He looks and nods.

I touch his arm—this time in friendship. “Steven, I am going to buy that house. I am going to buy it,” I tell him. “I am going to get my brother out of my dad’s house and he and my sister and I can all live together in that house. Finally, the fighting in my family will end. I practically raised Robert and Karen anyway.”

My father wants me to go back to the hospital. When I refuse, he tries to keep me inside. I refuse that too, and threaten to jump off his balcony. He almost hits me. When I finally manage to get out, Steven convinces me to let him drive me to the hospital.

I rage as I get out of the car outside of Emergency. I rant and rave as I walk in the opposite  direction of the hospital. The police stop me near the Wellesley subway station and an ambulance takes me back.

I rant as they bring me through the doors. I rage at the orderlies who try to put me in restraints—more bondage and slavery.

I stand on top of a counter to escape their determined efforts. “We need to slow down this life!” I shout. “We are going too fast! Things need to go slower! Life is too fast! All this technology is dangerous! WE NEED TO SLOW DOWN!”

I rant when they move me to an isolation room. I scream that this makes it difficult for my godmother, Margaret, to visit me.

I rant at them for my illness.

I rage at them because I am sick.

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Author: kakonged

I am an author, journalist, teacher, and lawyer who lives in Toronto, Canada. This picture is a selfie that was done on Saturday, February 24, 2018, nearing six years of my being dreadlocked.