The pains of my womb have established themselves as the biggest thing in my life. Having started my menstrual periods when I was 13, my womb has been releasing blood every month for 3 to 5 days, spontaneously.
Yesterday was day two. ‘This day is not made by God’ I have always told myself; because He never hears when I call during this time. This is the time when I am rolling on the floor, crying and shouting. This is the day that reminds me of Eve in the Garden of Eden, where she allowed to be tricked.
Cramping is a painful experience, you are never prepared for it, and you are not sure how painful the next ones will be. The sharp contractions in the uterus muscles make me wonder if this latest episode will be the last I ever have.
As this was going in my body yesterday, there was another form of cramping happening in town (Kampala). A presidential candidate was restrained from campaigning in the areas he had earlier communicated he was going to be at. This activity resembled the first day of my cramps; when I have to cross check and see if I have ample pads and tampons, if the water bottle is still functional or if there are meetings to cancel for the next few days.
Arresting Kizza Besigye represented day two of my menstrual period. You know the storm is coming when the news reports; people at Nasser Road shouting, traders at Kisekka Market preparing to pick him from wherever the police has incarcerated him and Makerere University students boarding taxis to join the crowds. This first kick in the uterus makes you all teary. You run for the water bottle, close your laptop and lay in bed listening to the roar in your lower abdomen; imitating the animate people on the streets.
The need to pee awakes me; having dozed off for a few minutes as the pain intensified. Besigye has been released from Kira Road police station and is being driven back to his home in Kasangati. As I pee, a cramp clutches at my pelvic muscles and I let out a shallow but sharp wail.
Breathe! I tell myself. Kizza Besigye is confirmed to be returning to the city centre. This report coupled with giddy anxiety is conveyed by the continuous stream of tweets on my phone. He didn’t even spend more than an hour in his compound after being delivered there; this guy just boarded his car and headed straight back to town. The blood soon starts to flow, I feel huge clots escaping out of my body, I get dizzy and sit down. Then it hits me, there is that meeting I forgot to cancel and can’t do so now. Not even the blanket-excuse of Tear-gas-in town was going to get me off the hook.
‘Monsieur, we need to be in a meeting on the other side of town, in Rubaga.’ As I consult about our travel itinerary. ‘But I thought you are cramping, you didn’t cancel them this time?’ ‘I forgot. And now they’re expecting us.’ ‘Okay, give me a few minutes; we will use the Northern bypass.’
As this conversation is happening; the tweets now report Besigye trudging through Kasangati (his home area), with crowd firmly behind him. The pad needs changing, today’s third one. Hanging up the phone, I head to the bathroom, take a quick shower; apply a new tampon and a pad for maximum protection. At my desk, a beep goes off on my laptop as a friend has posted a picture of his newly unwrapped gas mask. He swears his readiness for the teargas, and whatever may come with it.
On the Northern-by-pass (Kampala’s freeway) we drive unhindered through Kisaasi, Bukoto and head to Kalerwe with the hope of negotiating through Bwaise-Makerere-Bakuli-Namirembe to Rubaga. Turn back! Turn back! The gestures by the bare-chested youthful men riding dangerously in twos and threes on motor-cycle taxis (read boda bodas) commanded clearly. “You will not be able to pass through.” Besigye’s procession has overrun the bypass and all the other routes in the area, more like the period that had now commandeered my emotional brain.
We heed the advice, as do most motorists in the tight queue of slow traffic Kalerwe bound. We u-turn back to Bukoto and emerge through ‘calmer’ Kamwokya. The new route is Mulago-Wandegeya-Kisekka market-Old Kampala-Namerimbe-Rubaga. So far so good, I thought to myself as we coasted through to Wandegeya. I’d forgotten my water bottle. The tampon had filled up. I could feel it heavy inside me and I was glad there was a second layer of protection. The police too had double protection on; the streets were filled with black and blue mambas, people everywhere waiting for Besigye, as was the police – armed to the teeth & gums in anti-riot gear. I would later learn that that confrontation ended in gunfire and teargas, and most sadly the loss of a life, plus scores of injuries.
Cramps are painful. Cramps are awful. They are severe stomach aches and they ensure that you have a painful period. Cramps don’t last forever. After 3 to 5 days I will be back to my normal self, sleeping well and sharing life and laughs, with friends and loved ones. I pray the same for my city Kampala, and entire Country Uganda.