Having woken up at half past midnight in my New York apartment, I found myself thinking about night dancers and night runners. In my home country, Uganda, a night dancer or night runner is defined as a person who employs the help of the dead to destroy other people. This they do at night running naked around the home of the person they seek to destroy. Am I a night dancer, you ask? Of course not. Have I ever seen a night dancer? Well, no, but my neighbor once said that she did. Problem was that she accused another neighbor of being the night dancer. She claimed that neighbor wore bones of a human being as coverings on her body so that there was a rattling sound as she danced. The accuser said this is what woke her up, and she opened her curtains and turned on the security lights outside. Back home, most people keep their security lights off to save electricity and only put them on if necessary. Necessary to see night dancers and thieves and such. Anyway, she said she turned on the lights in time to see the accused running away. So this is the closest I have come to “seeing” an actual night dancer. I suppose the night runners do something similar in terms of the evil, but instead of dancing, they run.
Anyway, I was thinking about that when I woke up. It made me smile because I started to think that maybe they have been gotten all wrong. Maybe they just cannot sleep at night, so they dance or run to tire themselves out. The naked part—well, we all know how freeing it is to be naked. Also, Uganda is in the tropics, and it can get very hot, so there is that. Do not mind me. I am sleepless, so just bear with me as I make sense of all these things. Seriously though, my insomnia is getting out of hand. I am starting to think that someone has employed a night dancer and has trapped my sleep in a calabash. This is not a new thing, though. The sleeplessness, I mean.
You see, back home in Uganda I used to write through the night and sleep during the day. I was a freelance writer, so I was constantly writing. Call me a night writer, if you will. The choice to write at night is not one I made for myself. Being awake at night was for me my “security lights.” I was constantly worried that someone would break in to attack or abduct me because of the things I wrote about and the works that I made. I also hid my hard drives in different places about my house. I would make intruders work for it, if they wanted to destroy my work. Thefts and abductions usually happened in the night. These were no ordinary thieves. These ones came with a purpose, to collect and destroy cameras, computers, and hard drives. I always told myself that I wanted to be awake if they ever came for me. At least I would be fully dressed and alert. I might even have a chance to call around for help as they tried to break down my door. My door had six locks, by the way. I had extra locks installed. I had seen that they do not even bother with the locks; they cut through the metal doors if need be. Still, this takes time, so I would use this time to call around. At least when people know that you have been taken, they can help make noise, and this sometimes scares the thugs. If you were taken and no one knows, chances are that your body would be found in a ditch somewhere. Thus the need to work and write through the night.
That said, I realize now that this messed up my sleep cycle. Since sleep has refused to be my friend, I make it jealous by hanging out with my laptop in plain sight. Sometimes it gets jealous and makes amends, but other times it does not. That is also OK. We win some, we lose some. For now, I will be known as the Night Writer. Please do not lump me alongside the night dancers and night runners. Those ones use a lot of physical energy. I am more laid back. Oh, also I do not consult with the dead to destroy anyone. Who needs the dead when you have the power of the pen? Night Writer out!
This article was originally published on https://westbeth.org/spotlight-writers-room/achiro-p-olwoch-playwright-novelist-filmmaker/
Photo Credit: Wesley Kingston