My Fears Have Come To Pass And I am A Great Athlete.
Where did I stop previously? Oh yeah, I was talking about the anxiety that comes with being overly alert as you wait for the missile siren. Guess what, my fear has come to pass and I am proud of the athlete that I just found out that I am today. Shortly after sending the previous piece to the generous publishers that offered to share my tales, I stepped out of my room to go and meet up with a friend. I had plans of going to the market to buy and stock food stuff but my intuition told me to stay near my place. I did just that. I had coffee with that friend but I couldn’t finish the small cup of cappuccino that I had ordered for. This was because I saw the city of Tel Aviv trending in my Twitter feeds. When I scrolled through, it was reported that at that time, over 170 rockets had been fired from Gaza to Tel Aviv. When I showed him the videos, he was shocked too. He’s been in Israel for more than two years now. He told me about his experience in 2021 when the escalation was bloody intense. I told him that I wanted to go back to my place just in case the alarm goes off. I did not want to be caught in an open space. He laughed and joked about my hyper-alertness. “You are being overly sensitive. Calm down, you are safe.” I told him that I know that I am safe but I asking me to stay calm sounded like too huge a task for me.
“If they struck Tel Aviv which is very far from Gaza, how about Beersheva which is about 40 kilometers away from the source of the strikes?” I asked. I walked hurriedly back to my apartment. There were a few cars on the road and a few pedestrians. When I was in the comfort of my bed, though I was restless, I started sharing clips about the strike in Tel Aviv. I shared some of the posts to our apartment WhatsApp group. One of my housemates cracked us up when she said, “There is a lot going on in Israel but I still wonder why they decided to pack pita bread in 5’s instead of the usual 10. That is cheating right there.” Like seriously? Girl, our ears are as alert as a Kampala man waiting for a confirmation from a weekend wife (girlfriend) to whom they have sent money and you are complaining about pita bread? Well, she kinda has a point because pita bread is one of the few tasty pieces of bread available. One piece can take you through an entire day without feeling hungry. It was about 5:30 pm when we were chatting about iron domes, missiles, rockets, and sirens.
The spirit of writing has possessed me today and I wonder where it always hides when I need it the most during school times, when there are lengthy essays to write. I was going to write about the Tel Aviv strikes but the momentary calls and voice messages from friends kept me engaged. I had put my laptop in my backpack just in case the siren went off. I chatted with a few more friends and shortly before I could open my personal computer at around 7:30 pm, the dreaded siren went off.
Do you think that Usain Bolt is a fast runner? You haven’t met me running to the bunker. With the laptop in my right arm, and my phone in the right hand, I grabbed my backpack and took off without shoes. I shouted as loud as I could, calling my housemates. I left my room open and made for the bomb shelter. I think I can proudly brag that I am fit to participate in the Olympic competitions; but only if that alarm is rung. It’s scarier than death itself. I descended into the shelter and went to the farthest corner. There were other people. I asked a colleague to take photos of me. See, my love for the camera will get me blown up one day. My late father was a photographer and I had the privilege of being his model whenever he upgraded his camera lenses. The photo that we framed for his funeral was shot by me in July 2020 when I last saw him. I also took photos with him. It is the last memory I had with him. He died in December 2020 and my elder brother who is a renowned photographer hadn’t taken a single shot of Dad when he visited him in late November that year. I was the only person with the latest photos of Dad. Now you know why my love for creating memories through photography is a till death do us part kind of thing.
We stayed in the bunker for about 20 minutes. People started leaving, one by one. I was scared to move upstairs and peep outside. But after a few more minutes, I got out. A beautiful blonde-haired lady was shocked to see me barefooted. She offered me her shoes because she feared that the concrete floor would hurt me. I smiled and told her that I was okay, I mean I was okay walking barefooted. She escorted me back to my apartment after reading my hesitation to leave the shelter area on my body. I did not have to tell her that I was not going to move an inch. She offered to walk me back to my crib and gave me a warm hug when we got there. We bade goodbye and I entered the house. My housemates and I started sharing our experiences of running. Hilarious tales, I tell you! I feared to enter my room but then I wanted to write the second tale just before another strike happens. I do not have the updates about what just happened here but what I have been told is that there are ceasefire talks between the warring factions. I pray and hope that the talks yield fruitful results. Let me go take a shower now and see if I can prepare a quick meal afterward. I hope that I live to tell another tale the next hour or the next day. Till then, allow me to say that I will keep you posted.
The writer is a human rights activist.