[Toot!] Index: 0.2
Communism Bit: Off
Location: Job, of course
I'm adding strange, strange people to my collection of weird friends. I mean Down There Where I Come From. It seems my unfortunate fate that I end up with the strangest people. Maybe birds of a feather?
There is a blind man Down There Where I Come From. And he hasn't cut his hair in decades. About twenty years, almost. He has thick dreadlocks the length of an arm. It makes mine look like stubble on a teenager's chin. Like a the fuzz on a baby's cheeks. Even though he is no rastaman, everyone calls him Rasta. And he responds—what can he do?
He has one of them white canes that blind people swing about so you don't drive over them in the road. But it is only white in theory. It is somewhere between beige and brown.
He told me the last time he cut his hair was the same night he last saw anything. So he lets his hair be `the story of my blindness'. This is the story, in short, that his dreadlocks should tell.
In 1986, when Museveni rolled in, Rasta was in the UNLF. The guys who were fighting Museveni. And he deserted the army in those last days. But he kept the gun, mbu `a soldier must have his gun'. Well, he was arrested soon enough. They treated all UNLF guys who hadn't surrendered as enemies, 'cause Museveni was yet to set roots down. And there were many little groups declaring war, et cetera. Anyway, many were given the option of joining the army. He joined, since he had nearly nothing else to do. And he became an NRA guy. Just like that
But shit happens, as they say. One some drunken night, he or one of the people in that bar (he says he remembers nothing about that night) shot a man. They were all taken in, and court-martialled. Found guilty, they were tossed in jail. To serve for life. He thinks he would still be in jail if he hadn't gone blind in his first months. He tells many stories about the insides of the jail, and I'm left wondering how such a small place can have so many stories in it. He says they got some disease in the jail and many people got red, sore eyes, including him. But while all healed, he went blind.
And he started staying in the corner of the communal cell, attempting suicide, et cetera. Then they started letting him stay out of the cell (`blind guy can't escape'). Then he started doing some of the simple duties for the wardens. Then, in 1995, someone tried to burn some cell, and he was the one who woke the sleepy wardens up. And then, in 1997, the chief warden told him he was working on getting him out of jail, since he had `shown a will to reform and become a better member of free society'. He got out in 2001, and has absolutely no contacts outside our slum.
I think he survives on kindness, even though he likes to sound macho. One of his lines: `The life is what matters. Even if you have no arms, and you have no eyes, and even no legs. If you still have life, you are not yet extinguished.'
But the part that breaks me: `I don't ask God that I may see my daughter—I am already blind. All I want is to know that she is alive. Can't God do only that one thing for me, before I die?'