I try to look at myself as tolerant and accommodative of different views and standards of behavior in people. “What is it to you?” Is usually my response to homophobes pointing accusatory fingers at the gay people, accusing them of eroding our cultural norms. “Who sets the norms anyway? It’s their bodies not yours”.
It only gets dicey when the issue is made a little bit more personal. Like when people probe for my reaction if it’s my own brother who came home from southern Sudan with a Dinka boyfriend. What’s weird is how they always ask along the lines of my brother, or future son but never my sister or future daughter, in which case the imagination wouldn’t be as disturbing.
When I stopped believing in the existence of a supernatural being and his list of ten dos and don’ts, almost everything became permissible and I would defend just about everything I used to find shocking before. “So what if the girl he’s been banging has turned out to be his second cousin” You would find me in a heated argument, “They are two consenting adults for Pete’s sake, let them be.” It was my twisted idea of being a free thinker.
I wanted to break all the rules and try everything I never did while I was a Born Again Christian. But a part of me I am sure simply wanted to satisfy my curiosity. You know, like reaching a place where I can smugly say I’ve been there, done that. Only that these are things that everyone had done much earlier in life, the time when I was busy seeking the elusive face of God. But besides rimming and other sexual activities that may require the involvement of my poohole; for some obscure reason, a strict policy against narcotic drugs seems to be one of the few surviving remnants of my Christian moral fiber.
About three years after I’d stopped believing, I started going through the common beer brands available on the Ugandan market looking for one I would call “my beer”, a phrase my dad uses in reference to Bell Lager. Unfortunately every new brand I tried was as tasteless as the former, some only more bitter than the others. Because most of my friends drank Club, I decided to force that for a while; but being used to 300 ml of soda, a 500 ml bottle of beer was so freakin’ huge, “how do these guys down ten of these?” I used to wonder, “Jeez! That’s like 5 litters of alcohol in one night.” I could barely finish a litter myself in 4 hours.
I had even experimented with cigarettes, Dunhill being my preferred brand over Sportsman and other local brands meant for gate keepers and prisoners. Not that I could point out one distinction between the brands besides the price difference though; to be quite honest, you could hand me a Supermatch stick from a Dunhill pack and I wouldn’t notice that I just smoked a cigarette for askaris. I guess it had something to do with the fact that I never inhaled the smoke after all; just a matter of drawing it in my mouth for a couple of seconds before making what I hoped was a cool, smooth exhalation from the side of my mouth.
The act of smoking started striking me as really cool, the sight of girl on a bar stool, vertigo inducing heels strapped on her crossed legs and her short sequins strapless dress sliding up her glowing chubby thighs. Embellish that with a cigarette suspended between her fingers and you’ll leave me drooling like a retard. That is a sight I would kill for, much like a Bond girl, only with a little more flesh on her, then watching her throw her head back and curling her glossy lips to jet a steady stream of haze in the air.
If only I had the balls to walk up to these girls, other than just siting in a dark corner of Steakout during a Rock Night and nourish my eyes as I sipped on a glass of concealed Smirnoff Black Ice—the alcoholic beverage I settled for because it comes in manageable quantities and tastes like punched Crest soda—, wasting away half a pack of Dunhill in showy puffs in hope that one of these girls would notice me and mistake my creepiness for sophistication.
I was game for anything until you drew out a joint, the point at which I would flinch and beg to excuse myself like anyone was going to shove it in my mouth. My curiosity just never stretched quite as far. In my fourth year at Law School, a very close friend of mine shared with me her resolutions for the year 2010. Among which were; “have my cherry popped” and “taste weed”. While I hoped against hope—being in the friend zone and all—that I would receive an SOS for the former activity, I had no interest in participating in the latter, not even if it would lead to the former.
I bet my fears stemmed the strange belief I had that weed stays in your blood for a whooping seven years. I have no idea where I picked that from; I don’t even know why I never considered doing research about it. I am only sure of one thing; I wasn’t ready to hold seven years of my future hostage on a whim of momentary coolness. No amount of peer pressure would push me this far.
“What if two years from now an opportunity comes up for me to fly to the USA” I would think, “I’m not ready to fail to get a VISA just because I flunked a doping test.”
Not that I knew of any prerequisite tests for a VISA application, nor did I have any plans of leaving the country in the pipeline. But these fears were always lingering in my head and I respected them so much so that I never dared to question their source or authenticity. But on the night of 31st Dec 2012, everything was going to change.