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Vampala

Not since I gave birth to Nyla have I been at home as much as I did the last two weeks. Early Sunday morning, two weeks ago, the mother to Nyla's friend brought Nyla home after a sleepover because Nyla had 'the pink eye'. Not having paid much attention to what it was but having picked up on some conversations about an eye virus spreading in Kampala, I knew it was no good.


Before I was able to find out more about it, my own right eye started to itch. And when we went to bed that evening, I knew I might wake up feeling not good. Even worse. Nyla woke up in the middle of the night with a fever, vomiting and crying. Attending to a child at night, changing the bed sheets and soaking the dirty ones is one thing - but doing that while you feel you're getting sick yourself too is another. What was going on with these red eyes? Meanwhile I had started to look like a vampire. I quickly went back to bed and hoped it would be better in the morning.


But the opposite was true. What followed was a week in which I laid on the sofa for about 80% of the time. (If only I had gotten a bigger sofa!) My eyes wouldn't stop tearing, I was barely able to keep them open and for two days the swelling made me look like a monster. I would boil water every hour or so to clean my eyes with but it didn't really seem to help. Luckily Nyla's eye didn't get worse and she only kept one red eye - the other eye never got sick. But at night I panicked, was this really just 'the pink eye' that people talked about or was this something worse? I had high fevers too and think I was a little delirious at times. God, how I kept thinking about my grandfather before he died. All alone in bed! My dear grandfather who'd been in his wheelchair for over half of his life. Not able to move out of bed by himself at night. Not to go to the bathroom, not to get a glass of water, not even to just get some fresh air. What a hero he actually was that he carried his disability so well and lived on till he was almost 80 years old.


During the day, I listened to music. At least, I tried. Beyonce's new album and old music from Dinah Washington and other jazz, blues and soul singers. But what can you really do with a 3 year old who's sick at home too? Of course she needed a lot of attention as well, we talk almost the entire day when we're at home together. Even when we're sick. Add the laundry and cooking and there's little time left for other things. I didn't work. For a week I didn't even touch my laptop at all. And that was a huge change in my life, especially because I actually had (paid) work. I had video edits to finish. And I felt extremely stressed that I had to finish them and should have been looking for new jobs to make money - but I was so sick that I could not do anything else than let it go. Which was no option in my mind but I guess God forced me to do so.


In my mind, I created a music album called 'Vampala'. I heard songs in which half Kampala was a vampire and they were busy disturbing the good and hard-working people, perhaps finally winning and taking over. In my mind I got mad at Nyla's dad again for everything that he's put us through - leaving me alone with a child in a new country but mainly for not wanting to see what his actions caused.


I have been wanting to go to Kenya and take the train from Nairobi to the coast. And in my mind trains kept racing past too. Symbolizing the journey, life, the speed of life, all kinds of things. I dreamed about the beautiful ride through Kenya and I felt all kinds of emotions about trains going so fast that you cannot catch them anymore. I believe that the reason I try to keep up with stories and the news and updates so much is because I am the worst at sprinting. Both literally and metaphorically speaking. So I need to make sure I keep moving because when I don't move, I am scared that my slow way of moving will never allow me to join the crowd anymore.


Luckily I am getting better. At least I am not in Vampala anymore - though still with a heavy cough. These weeks have been mentally hard but being at home that much has luckily had its good sides too. The fact that we have a place that really feels like home after 1,5 years. The fact that I knew which hospital and pharmacy to go to. Where to order food if I cannot go out to pick it up by myself. The fact that neighbors were there, asking how I was doing - though frustratingly some neighbours also kept letting their kids go to our home as if I could still mind them all. But all in all I try to stay positive, that we could get sick and not totally dissolve in the big anonymous city that Kampala can also be. That I knew how to help ourselves, though with a lot of stress and feelings of anxiety, but we're climbing out of the darkness again.


Tomorrow a new week will start again. Time for Nyla to back to school. Time to go out and work on my videos again. Time to be grateful that we're recovering.

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