What have I become?

Yesterday I witnessed an accident. It was fatal. That was not the shocker. Infact there was nothing shocking about it all until much later as I lay in my bed pondering the day’s events. I remembered what the cup (giant size) of coffee I’d had that morning had tasted like. How I’d almost gotten up from my desk to add a little bit more sugar, but how I’d gotten lazy and decided to have it bitter. How I’d gotten to the end and realized I had forgotten to stir the coffee and the sugar had settled at the bottom of the cup.

I thought how happy I had been when my friend had walked in the office, and how in just a few moments we had gone from being friends for ever to having one of those thoughtless fights that only people who cared about each other had. How I had snatched the movies that she had just taken out of my bag back to spite her. And even then, I thought about how it was not all my fault.

I fast-forwarded to the end of the day when I had met this guy and we had laughed and joked and teased and got happy. I remembered walking out of his office with him to take a stroll along Kampala road towards the park, still teasing, laughing and having a grand old time. I remembered when we saw it. A man lying in the street, motionless, blood oozing from his head, his walking stick, that he had all his life laboriously used to get from one place to another a few meters away, out of his reach even if he could stretch his arms and grab it. He looked dead. The car that had hit him, not in sight.

I remember feeling no emotion. Not anger, not pity, not compassion, empathy, fear, or even happiness. There was nothing in my heart. I remember people gathering around, trying not to miss out on the scandal. Some even prodding and tossing him sideways to see whether he was still breathing. He was, but barely and in a few minutes, it would not be for long. None of them doing much else to help him. Me, rushing the few meters left to join these people, all the while still teasing, joking and smiling about life. A life that this man no longer had. A crowd had gathered, I could no longer get a clear view.

I reach under the pillow and retrieve a handkerchief to blow my nose, now coming back to and realizing that my nose has been running unchecked from the cold that has plagued me for days now. I wipe the snot in a trance and my mind wanders back to the day’s events.

I remember inching closer, trying to make my way through the crowd, reaching for my phone- no, not to call the police, or for an ambulance or ask for any kind of help. I am reaching for my phone and trying to get a strategic place where I could get a clear picture. All the while this guy and I joking about whether my phone had good enough zoom for me to take the picture from wherever I was standing. I remember being frustrated that motorists had ignored the incidence and kept going by and yet I wanted to take a picture. I remember putting my phone back in the pocked and walking away unfazed, just disappointed that I had not gotten the story. Especially the picture to tell it all. So I walked on, him, and me still joking, teasing and laughing. We went to the post office, laughed at a funny postcard, took pictures of it before mailing it and walked on still laughing, our jokes endless.

I remember bidding him farewell, getting in a taxi, getting home, and eventually to where I was then. Warm in the comfort of my bed, a dead man already forgotten. But not for long. Somehow he had come to bed with me. Forcing me to think about him. To think about why I had not felt anything for him. Why I had stood there and not tried to help. Forcing me to examine who I had become, why I had become this way. A cold, heartless, cynical bitch.

I threw back the covers and reached for the mirror that sat on my dresser. I stared long and hard and did not like what was looking back at me. Blank emotionless eyes looked back, mouth set in a stubborn resolve as if to say, “don’t you dare judge me.” I quickly drew the mirror back. I could not take the disgrace of looking at myself anymore. That is when I knelt down and prayed. For someone, anyone that was listening to make me better. I did not want to be that person anymore. I was tired of this whole tough girl act I’d been putting up. Then the tears began to fall. And for the first time in a long while, I felt like a person. It felt good.

19 loungers burdening me:

tumwijuke said...

(((()))) Don't be hard on yourself.

There is something about this existence that desensitizes us to the suffering around us. Maybe it is a coping mechanism or maybe we've just become too darn callous to care.

Your post reminds me of the first time I covered an urban terrorism attack in Nateete and literally stood over bodies that had been blown apart by a grenade without even a slight grimace.

I don't know what it is, but ((()))

antipop said...

hmmmmmmmmm. there goes a tear, down my cheek right to the keyboard. tx for the hug. i need a million of those right now.

petesmama said...

(((((((((((((antipop)))))))))))))

We all do exactly the same thing to varying degrees - we're just not as honest about it.

Tandra said...

((((((((((a)))))))))

chanelno5 said...

(((((((((((((trampchild))))))))))))). For a person who has taken shots of people with bullets in their heads time and time again and looking for the best angle when doing that, I know what becoming stone cold is like. But I am the late reaction gal like you. That is what you are. Just goes to say you are not Osama

James Tubman said...

nobody helps in an accident because they just assume that someone else will do it

if you want someone to help you then you have to ask them to

DeTamble said...

Poor Antipop :-( I've seen that person staring out of the mirror too. It's not nice to see. I hope you'll start feeling better, sometimes it's nice to drop the tough act and be a human again.

sybella said...

it hits you really hard but it is so worth it to get to that point, realising it and wanting to change without someone having to get you there...

(((((antipop)))))

taking it one step at a time, you will like the transformed you...

Chanel said...

I didnt cry when I was Buddo when they were picking the children out of the debris. fingers, hands, legs, any body part. Does that make me inhuman?
Ok I did cry when my story came out two days later

tres jolie said...

i cry at any injustice.....

Anonymous said...

You crying shows that you do have a heart, maybe the situation didnt really sink in at the time

Dennis D. Muhumuza said...

everytime i hear someone has died i get intoxicated pondering their next landing –hell or heaven.life is stupid; today morning we run ourselves down chasing jobs and money and fame and by evening we die. i was watching cnn the other day and big story was famous political journalist tim russert who was in the studio working and collapsed and died minutes later. stuff like dorian gray watching is own portrait and then driving a sword in his heart is real. it was good you prayed and cried. that's the way to should be; knowing we are vulnerable and helpless and trusting our lives to the super --the man upstairs his name is jesus

Anonymous said...

Hope you dont end up like the 1994 Pulitzer prize winner Kevin Carter.

We all go through such periods. their gravity doesnt seem to register till we're alone and with perhaps nothing to occupy our brains.

Your a great person.

bOMSEH said...

It's life.

Princess said...

That you cried and that you prayed, that makes you a better person. So, does your honesty...

Carlo said...

(((((a)))))

Phoenix said...

Princess is right!
You are a better person than the one who tried to shove him aside to feel if he had a phone or a wallet.
I haven't been able to look at a mirror in a long time and maybe it's time i did. I know i wont like what i see but maybe facing it wont make as bad a person.
Naye i have issues...from consoling you i have made it a comment about myself.

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