I’m told of a time
When houses were deserted
And bushes were havens, by night.
Babies’ mouths were plugged
By nipples – sore with welts
From infants’ starved and teething gums
Mothers bit on their lips – drew blood
Anything to muffle the babies’ cries – meld with the night
It was the only way of the times.
In those times, thoughts and breath were borrowed
And short. Triggers, barrels, bullets, singed the skin
Of life. Living was a privilege for those who understood
That other than sugar, salt and soap other things
Also. Had to be bought.
So now I am told I should be grateful for now,
For now that I can shut the lids of my eyes and
Let. My thoughts rest with the peace that comes with night
Now when I can forget that my thoughts roam
In the hoax of hollow excesses. My brain struggles
To wrap itself around ideas like Freedom. A thing
Given. By powers that be and the lids
Of my conscience will not slide open. Failing to remember that point in time
When history wrote that my freedom wasn’t my own
But something to be deserved, a chattel at a price …
I should sit! Listen to the chatter of crickets and toads by night
From the environs of my lighted warm house.
I should take a self imposed excursion to check on wild life,
Since the luxury to enjoy the aesthetics of being is also mine
To enjoy. In these times of safety and cushioned ease
Of sugar for my tea and soap for my clothes
Of pharmaceutical meds chocking shelves
Oh! I can also now make a choice
Between butter, jam, or margarine, for my bread
Haven’t you heard?
That I was born in times where I can speak my mind
Decide who to vote or whom not to.
So why am I not satisfied with these times?
They ask of me!
Am I that gluttony of a fly,
Sitting contentedly on a mound of shit
Bored by the commonness of faecal matter
Rubbing my feelers for the elixir of nectar
Aspiring to be the glutinous bee?
I would like to say I am grateful to be born in these times,
When melding with the night is far from my thoughts,
And they and my breath are my own
That I am not the fly who aspires to be the bee
But I will not say I am grateful to be born in these times.
Lillian Akampurira Aujo is a Ugandan who loves writing short stories and poetry. Some of her work has been published on online journals like The Revelator & Suubi. Her poem “Soft Tonight” won the Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award in 2009.