Surprise Disasters and Little Miracles
My computer broke. I’m not sure how it happened and, at some point, I decided that the “how” doesn’t even matter. I pick it up one day, a couple days after I last used it, and find that the touch screen is cracked and bouncing around uncontrollably. I try to get into my files, but it is futile. I instantly become frantic because I haven’t backed up any of my work, which is incredibly dumb, I know, especially after experiencing the same kind of drama earlier this year with my other laptop which was broken for about three days.
I carry my laptop like a baby from my room to my host-brother’s bed where he is taking his regular siesta and I desperately shake him awake and, with tears in my eyes, tell him that something is wrong with my computer. He takes it from me without saying anything and with a whine in my throat, I let the words fall from my lips, “It must have fallen or something fell on it. Can the files be extracted from it? What’s wrong with it? Can you fix it? Please, Mubeezi.” I am pleading with him. He remains silent, poring over the machine, tracing his fingers along the new cracks on its screen, pressing on keys, watching it light up and do nothing. Finally, he speaks softly, in Luganda, to Kasujja, the baby boy (who is really no baby at all, but rather a pretty cool-ass teenager) and they engage in a brief conversation about the situation. These guys are like my real brothers and even in speaking a foreign language, I have learned to read them well. Mubeezi is completely out of bed and done with his nap. The electricity has been out for several hours. He assures me that when it returns, he will work on it and see what can be done. He places it carefully on his desk, next to his silver Mac, which he purchased as a hopeless case with a smashed screen but brought it back to life days after bringing it home. This is what he does when he isn’t painting—work on computers, fixing them by deconstructing them and putting them back together. With little resources, my brother Mubeezi is my only option, so I leave my laptop in his room, go and crawl under my mosquito net and into my bed, send a text to my closest friend back home asking her to say a prayer for me and my ASUS, and cry myself to sleep.
That was Sunday afternoon.
In Africa, you can’t make big waves out of your personal problems when people are trying to find food for their families and pay school fees for their children—at least, that’s how it is in the village where I live. Of course I am stressed and worried about the damn computer, but I can’t allow myself to be in an individualistic frame of mind and bring down the morale of my family, so after my initial breakdown, I brush myself off and keep pushing as I have. I become dependent on the pen, refer to my notes in my Moleskines, and put ink on paper. I don’t ask Mubeezi endless questions regarding the laptop and I only trust he is doing his best. I say a prayer and trust that my host-Maama here and my friend back home is praying for me too. I decide not to mention it to anyone else and to figure out my next moves only when it is time to make them. “It is not the end of the world, Zenique,” I reassure myself.
Mubeezi works diligently on my laptop for two days—and on the third day, it rose. It is not at 100%– the screen is still cracked and its tactile functions had to be disabled—but the files are intact, all the keys are working, and my stories are still here waiting to be finished. When Mubeezi hands the computer back to me, explaining what had to be done to make it work again, I half-listen, prop it open and start this blog post to be uploaded the moment I get some internet access. I just want to show some love to my brother, Mubeezi, or Alex Kitonsa, and give thanks for answered prayers and little miracles.