Two – How To Talk To Crazy People by Donna Kakonge – Katelemwa Estate

Remembrance Day is tomorrow in Canada.

Today I felt so big and lazy that I forced myself to go for a long walk. Three blocks from the house, a fish-carrying fool asked me to marry him. He was tall with a high waist and grasshopper legs. When he smiled at me, I saw there was a tooth missing from the left side of his mouth. He kept smiling and laughing, and I actually smiled back. He must be crazy. Yet, who knows how life would be if I had said yes? I sure would be very healthy with all that fish.

When I first arrived here, Uncle Eddie picked me up from the airport in a rusted Mazda that I felt embarrassed to drive in. I gave him two thousand dollars to stay at the Katelemwa Estate with him and Auntie Zeddie for nine months.

Katelemwa  Estate  is  a  huge  plot  of  land  with  seven  houses,  all  owned  by Makerere University, where some of the professors are housed off-campus. Makerere University also has on-campus housing. My Auntie Ellie and her husband Pat, who works at Makerere as well, live in a three-story house there.

The houses on Katelemwa Estate each look different. Uncle Eddie and Auntie Zeddie’s house is a bungalow with four bedrooms. They have their own bedroom. My cousin Jack has his own room. My other cousins, Darlene and Dora, share a room. My aunt and uncle were kind enough to give me my own room.

The room is okay but I have to sleep under a mosquito net to avoid contracting malaria. At night, I’m afraid to get out of the bed—even when I need to use the outhouse—because cockroaches as big as my hand, with shiny, hard backs, litter the floor.

Their mangy, orange dog yelps outside all night. They treat that animal so badly. The water that comes from the outside well needs to be boiled. The house girl,

Clara, does this. She also teaches me Lunyoro and Luganda. I take notes and keep them in a separate journal that I think of as my language book.

The living room has old furniture and flat brownish grey carpet.

I like living here. It’s pleasant. But, I really hope I do not contract malaria. Apparently, it takes two months after you have been bitten to get really sick.

When my brother Robert, my sister Karen and I went to  Expo ’86 in Vancouver, British Columbia, we stayed with friends of my father. With the help of the pavilions at Expo ’86, I travelled to Malaysia, India, Australia, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, China, Korea and Singapore…my Expo passport was inked with stamps. My dad’s friends had a huge house in Surrey. There were more bedrooms than people living in the house and it was so airy that you felt as though you were outside even when you were still inside—completely defeating the benefit of being indoors. Totally useless.

I am lucky to be in the literature and communications department at Makerere University. I learn a lot. I go through flashes and sometimes think I should enrol in public relations or science journalism at Boston University, but I have to hang in here

—I think many good things are ahead for me. I can’t wait until Mommy sends my things.

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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.