Letter from a returnee

Bahai temple-Net image

Bahai temple-Net image

Dear friend,

how are you-and yes-

it’s been so long,

so long since i left

i have been meaning to write

to tell you about life this way

the cares of life have kept me busy

how are you

-or-

“how have u been?”

i am alright

life is good i will tell you

the Kampala i left,

is not much different from the one i returned to

it’s still the same,

just more and more people

this city breathes and sighs,

it’s music at once mournful and ecstatic,

soothing and disturbing,

but the people-they come,

They are all here,

merchant and tout;

nobleman and slave

rubbing shoulders,

breathing the same air

going about,

with their thoughts and formulations

at the traffic stop dear friend,

there is Mr. beggar man and preacher man

vying for my eye

persuasive with their message

the one with “repent or be damned”

the other

“i am poor and destitute, help me”

this one, delivered in a naked and offensive language

damned be the merry man

i have no shame

being in close proximity

i judge neither

but stare straight ahead,

as we inch thru traffic

i am searching for my corner

i look and peer,

hoping to catch sight of something familiar,

an architectural remnant,

or the faded scraps of a hero’s effigy

onward i press,

i want to see for myself

what the sculptor left,

last time he was here

when i arrive, all is quiet

nothing stirs

i look

there is nothing

in front of it

stands a “no parking” sign

i look again,

i look at the road sign

to ascertain i am ‘not seeing things’

there is a little space

and a little wooden counter

behind it is a young man,

cutting rubber stamps

i want to shake my head

but i resist the impulse,

this is kampala

so long my friend