Dear Achiro

Anyaka, itye nining? The year is 2021, and I have so much to tell you that I know I cannot cover in just one letter. I will begin with the shocking things. First of all, you are fat. Really fat, like four times the size that you are right now. Seriously, it is not a joke. Then, you are a lesbian. Can you believe it? Yeah, the reason you do not like having sex with men is not because that man violently raped you, it is because you prefer women! I know, I found this out along the way. And while you contend with that, you are also fighting for your life in the US, seeking asylum. You have fled Uganda where you would have been arrested and tortured for being a lesbian. Phew, it feels so good to get all of that off my chest.

Eh, anyaka. Sorry, my dear, I did not mean to lay all that on you, but this is such a difficult time as the whole world battles a pandemic. Anyaka, stay young forever. Adaa ba. Stay your beautiful skinny self. Live life to the fullest, and go out more. Drink, dance, and forget about the church. Know your God for yourself, but forget about those men of God and the things they say. Half of them are doing the things that they tell you not to do. Oh, and that prosperity preacher is just a thug. Do not give him all your money. He builds a mansion by the lake and sends his kids to NYU. Can you believe it? So, keep your money, and take yourself to NYU.

Still, life is not all as bad as I make it seem. We have mobile telephones in the future. You can just touch the screen, and magic happens. I know, crazy, right?! They call them “smartphones.” Forget that ka phone booth you have attached to your belt. It is extinct now.

Also, you have enjoyed many highlights in your life; you are not a flight attendant anymore. You can tell by the weight. (Shucks, I did it again. Okay, sorry, I will not talk about your fat behind anymore.) You left the airlines a while back and became an artist — a writer. Yeah, I still cannot believe you made that happen, either, but, hey, that is where we are. You are a writer now. You write and write and write some more. You have gotten one or two pieces published and made a couple of films and TV series, so I guess you are not too bad of a writer. It all started after that supervisor started making your life hard because you wouldn’t sleep with him. This is about the time you started to write. Then you submitted that article to the newspaper, and they loved it. You had a weekly column that ran for almost four years. I think this is what made you develop the taste for writing. There were no bosses sexually harassing you. You had your own work time and your own schedules. No more heels and uniform, just you and your computer.

You still made more money in the airlines, though. Maybe you should stay there…I know that you are not happy. And I know that you do not know what will make you happy. I could tell you to experiment, to try different things until you find what works for you. But then again, you never really listen to anything anyone tells you, so I will not say anything. Do you. Be happy. But make that dime, anyaka. Money buys happiness, I have learned. As a writer, I have come to realize that I have to keep hanging on to my writing to be happy since the money does not come as fast or as frequently as I would like. I am happy because I love what I do, but I will not lie. More money would be nice.

I know you are dying to know more about the whole lesbian and asylum bombs I laid on you. It makes me uncomfortable to say anything about either subject. But you are me and I am you, and I would not be doing you any justice if I did not tell you about them. So…

Remember how I told you that you are a writer now? Yeah, that has something to do with it. See, you write about sexuality. You write about homosexuality, and that is taboo in Uganda. Always has been, but now the law is so bad it outlaws the people themselves. Homosexuality is forbidden, and the punishment is imprisonment. There was a suggestion for the punishment to be death, but it looks like the idiots grew a conscience after all. Still, being in prison is worse than death. The things that they do to homosexuals is so demeaning. Eh, anyaka.

Anyways, as a writer and a filmmaker, you make a couple of films on the same theme. I do not know you to be brave, but this is what you do. Then, as if you have not started a big enough fire against your name, you go ahead and write a political film. Now that is pouring gasoline on a fire! At a time when politics in Uganda in 2021 is just like it was during Amin’s regime in the 1970s. Then, during the pandemic, You do the unimaginable: you come out to your family as a lesbian. Well, you don’t do it yourself ? your cousin Angela outs you. She has always had it in for you. I guess this is her chance to finally nail your coffin shut. As a result of her big mouth, the family disowns you.

Sometimes I think that you would deny knowing the me you have become today. Long story short, if you did not flee when you did, you would have been arrested. So, that is where the asylum comes in.

I am so sorry that I had to write this to you, but I do not know who else to talk to. Just live your life and love yourself. You are awesome and special. Oh, and being fat is not that bad. Sometimes people think you are pregnant and leave you to take their seats on the bus or the train. That is not too bad sometimes. But flying is horrible. No one wants to sit next to a fat person. But it is okay. You are still beautiful, and you have dreadlocks now. Did I tell you about the dreadlocks? It is so awesome; your hair grows now. You actually have natural dreadlocks that you can style and hold in a puff. I know! It surprises me, too.

Okay, I have to go now. I can feel your fear for the future now, but please, do not worry. It will turn out fine. Just remember, enjoy your twenties, as they are the best time of your life. Do not wait until 2021 to realize that you should have.

Much love,

Achiro in 2021


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Photo credit: Wesley Kingston