You don’t claim to know much. You write your weekly posts to the best of what you can and schedule them to publish on your blog. You write because it allows you to express yourself. You’ve got nothing to prove to anyone except yourself. You’re not writing for accolades, for praise, for people to lift you on their shoulders and put you on a pedestal, hailing you as one of the best. No. You don’t write because someone is paying you to do so. It’d be great if writing was shooting some mobile money or cash into your bank account but since that’s not the case at the moment, you’re okay with whatever is happening.
You show up at those blank pages to fill them with ink. You hope someone will read what you write and pray they’ll like it. If they don’t, you keep at it, hoping there will be that one post that’ll speak to at least one of your readers. You hope they’ll come back. You pray they don’t decide to flip the page to another platform. You’d like them to stay until the last period. And you’d like them to come back week after week. “It would be an honour if they subscribed,” you tell yourself.
Sometimes you get feedback like, “I didn’t feel your story this week.” Or “That post was underwhelming.” Or “I don’t like your interview style.” You’ll get the urge to defend yourself and give an explanation to why you write what you write and how you write it. But you remember, your reader who has spared their time to hang out with your words is always right. Because the maxim, “The customer is always right” makes sense to you, you take all the feedback in good stride. You keep pushing, reading more established writers doing the kind of style you do such that what you write has sense.
You think about Sunny Bindra’s articles over the past two Sundays, articles that struck a chord with you. Sunny says the time people spend on your platform should be of value to them. If it isn’t, they’ll switch you off and turn to the next thing that captivates them. You’ve been reading Sunny’s weekly blogs since October 2015. When he had the 3 Bells weekly newsletter, you read it every Friday. And when he switched to the Periodical, you still stayed there with him. “What made you this loyal to his writings,” you’ll ask. It’s his voice, witty and hilarious. And his ability to switch from teacher to manager to customer to comic. He doesn’t lose his authentic self. And he’s done this every week for over 15 years.
You also remember the call you got from your friend Daphne. She’s a lover of Christ from the top of her head to the soles of her feet. She’s got the flesh of a girl from western Uganda, a Mukiga who raises the flag of Bakiga Nation so high. She calls you “Pakwach Boy” in her modulated voice. She said she wasn’t going to read your last article because she felt it was “too much” for her.
“Why?” you asked.
“It’s just too much for me to take in, Pakwach Boy. It’s like you’re getting paid by the tabloid Red Pepper to write those things.”
She thought the excerpt of your last article that you posted on social media was too raunchy. It burnt her eyes. If she could unsee it, she’d do so without twitching. She thought you were overly descriptive of the features of the woman you saw at that Irish Pub.
“It’s a harmless article,” you convinced her. “Read it and if you find it inappropriate, then don’t trust me again.”
You never checked to find out if she got the ovaries to read to it.
You once liked one of her childhood friends. That friend of hers did two things to you. First, she friend zoned you. Should we get into that juicy shu-shu? Yes? Her friend put you in that dwelling where you couldn’t get out. You wanted to be more than just friends. You had Jonathan Butler’s “More Than Friends” on repeat on your phone’s music player. You wanted to date her, to love her, to make her yours. She wasn’t ready to take it to the next level. You wanted to hold her hand, plant a kiss on her forehead and lips. Yes, her lips. We can’t hide from reality, can we? We’re all adults here, right? Wait, if there is any kid reading this, please find the exit, that way, to your right.
Now that all the kids are out, let’s continue.
We can’t pretend we don’t want things yet we want them, right? Don’t throw stones at the guy because you know what? The bible tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Anyway, the chic wanted nothing to do with what our unnamed protagonist was looking for. She’d be okay with strolling with said protagonist, side by side, along the edge of a road as long as there’d be no touch of hands or touch of anything. She’d be fine with having lunch and catching a movie with both of you munching on popcorn in the theatre. You wrote her a letter and texted her. You called. You encouraged her because she liked to work out. You became some kind of a cheerleader to her. You thought you were making headway. She was always thoughtful and polite. You longed to hear her pleasant voice. You drew her pretty face on your mind’s whiteboard. You know a girl is smashing when even women look at her and think she’s the definition of perfection. You had a fat crush on her. You liked her to the point if someone put a riffle to your mouth and told you to say you didn’t like her, you’d still maintain your stance.
She once wrote you a poem. “How romantic!” you thought, until you read it. It was about friendship. Just platonic stuff. There was nothing to write home about. You saw the flags. It was clear you were crossing the checkered flag of your chase in not too long a time. It was going to be a fruitless pursuit. You listened to Sauti Sol’s Friendzone.
Truth is, you found her to be really smart. She’d say no without saying no by the choice of her words. Only a naïve guy wouldn’t read between those lines. Only a dumbass would fail to decipher the coded message in her communication. Everything was painted all over the screen. Your interests weren’t aligned. You were on parallel agendas. She wanted a friend. You wanted a… Well, call it what you’d like. She’d choose her words the way she’d pick a dress for a wedding reception, being careful not to use endearing words that she imagined you might misinterpret.
You both drift along those separate lines. The texts dwindle to zero. Phone calls become forgotten in history. Plans to meet become just that, plans. Then one evening, she reaches out. You’re elated. You think something might just happen, that there’s probably been a change of heart from Cinderella over there. A glimmer of light, an opening in her heart.
You chat a little more. She’s in titters at a meme you’ve shared. You imagine stuff could get nicer from there. You have renewed hope in a comeback, like Liverpool FC did last night, beating Barcelona FC by four answered goals. Then, when you’re about to engage the next gear, to get you running like a gazelle, she sends that message that hurls you in to a dreaded precinct.
“Go to bed, bro,” she writes.
It’s at this point that you realize for real for real that there was never any hope beyond being her brother. And that’s the second Daphne’s childhood friend did to you. She locked you up in the brother zone.
So you turn off your data and walk to your bathroom with your butt following you. You take a dump, clean your backside, flush your shit down the drain, wash your hands, clean your face, turn the lights out and find your way into your bed. You sleep like a doll and wake up renewed, events of the previous day just another memory that’s worth writing a blog post about.