Nights I Can’t Sleep

I find myself at this very spot once more. I don an oversized white shirt that once served a more meaningful purpose to a CPA workshop attendee. Beneath it are boxer shorts, the only sane choice to this outfit.

The clock reads 01:13 a.m.

While the rest of the world winds down and prepares for yet another day I cannot, for the life of me, follow suit.

My chest feels heavy and my unwillingness to bother the rest of the household with my wheezing prompts me to get up.

Mother always said to chew a thumb of ginger. That should help, she’d add. I do the same today and all I am left with is a burning sensation on my throat.

I feel the production in my throat begin. Some relief.

Outside, I hear numerous dogs bark. They must use this time to ‘catch up’ after a long day of incessant human noise.

I check my WhatsApp messages and I find one from a colleague who is offering to pay for therapy over my unhealthy obsession with The Great Gatsby. I chuckle because he can barely afford to take me for the three beers he promised me in 2017.

I listen in to a number of cars cruising on the main road. For all the nights I have been awake, there is a truck driver who struggles with their truck while negotiating a sharp bend. The engine gives off a loud groan, perhaps as part of protests against the driver’s overtime mishandling.

I remember to check in on my throat and there is still no improvement.

Never mind that tomorrow is another workday and that I am preparing for an important meeting at the end of the week. I guess I have grown too used to this state of events that my body always copes with the fatigue and heavy chest.

Outside, new developments have emerged. The dogs have since quietened but the trucks have since progressed from moving gingerly to waltzing along the road. Temporarily, a silence envelopes the whole place before another truck, old and rickety passes by.

I check my Twitter. Chelsea FC has just won a European Cup tie against Spanish side Atletico de Madrid and that is all everyone is talking about. I decide to browse a few hashtags but all of them seem plain and matter-of-factly.

The crickets have started chirping. Maybe they waited for the dogs to finish their chat. While I think this, a dog lets off a gentle bark. The others ignore him. The crickets resume their talk after a while.

I decide that a thumb is not enough after all. I head to the kitchen for another which I chew in one sitting. The feeling leaves me numb. I rush for a glass of water to cool down the effect.

After a while, I feel much better. It no longer feels like a soldier is resting his heavy booted feet on my feeble little chest.

I decide that despite my desire to follow my mother’s traditional prescription, no relief will come of it. I resign to this and attempt philosophising on why things as they are. I remember the hackneyed serenity prayer and give in.

As I prepare to turn on the television, I hear a boda boda moving uneasily. I murmur to myself: Ugandans never rest. Suddenly, I do not feel so alone anymore!

By Jordan Tumwesigye

The stroke of the pen cures all pain The symbols on a page outlast age