Mama Calls Me Tennis Ball Because I Always Bounce Back
I still remember my ball boy training you have to squat with your left leg simultaneously kneel with your right leg perpendicular to your left so even if you miss the catch the ball is halted by your legs at a 90-degree angle I often missed the catch even before my strokes never the athlete always in awe of my sibling’s physicality my assignment was always ball boy during early morning tennis practice on clay courts in Khartoum aspired to be more eventually achieved more now I watch tennis in the hospital bed paying close attention to the ball boys/ball girls/ball children's technique I used to be able to kneel on the sidelines for the length of several matches now I faint if I kneel for longer than a couple minutes discovered this when I fainted while praying the rosary everything faded to black in the middle of a Hail Mary my mouth continued "Holy Mary Mother of God" as I swayed and collapsed onto the ground unconscious woke up in a hospital bed with a diaper as I'd soiled myself it's been a while since I defecated in bed because I lost of control of me ball boy duty requires kneeling by the sidelines for the duration of the match hands splayed against the court right knee tucked into chest left calf tensed ready to spring into action head on a swivel, following the ball ears zoned in on the umpire and line umpire ready to strike at any moment leap into action retrieve the ball with whichever hand is closest Being disabled requires laying in bed by the sidelines for the duration of your life right hand spastic, an effect of the paralysis from your first stroke right knee throbbing in pain from a patella fracture that never healed properly left calf painfully spasming non-stop beyond your control head propped up on a rolled-up towel to ease the muscle pain from neck spasms ears assaulted by the constant onslaught of sensory overload ready to have a seizure at any moment fighting the aura press next on Doom Patrol with your left hand because your right (formerly dominant) hand lost all fine motor control thanks to your first stroke continue to distract yourself from the pain through power fantasy see yourself in Cyborg’s group therapy for amputees shed a tear __________________________ do not judge me by my weak handshake your right hand reaches out my anxiety rises your right hand continues to swing upwards propelled by able-bodied shoulder lever action you can do this without thinking about it globules of sweat on my nose, forehead, palms and soles engorge hyperhidrosis sucks anxiety only makes it worse handshakes always make me anxious I attempt to wipe the sweat on my right palm off against my right pant leg, while using my left hand to fish out my ride or die crimson and pantone checkered handkerchief out of my left pocket, to wipe the engorged globules sweat off my: nose forehead and palms for good measure my socks absorb the sweat from my soles I wish wearing gloves was more socially acceptable your eyebrows raise I awkwardly propel my right hand upwards bent shoulder bent elbow spastic clenched right hand lots of fatigue your eyebrows raise higher my spastic right hand attempts to splay out but instead starts spasming your eyebrow raise even higher I attempt to place my hand in yours you have been awkwardly waiting for me to complete the handshake, so as soon as my hand is in the general vicinity, you grip firmly I spasm as my double jointed pinky raises straight out like I’m a part of genteel society sipping tea your eyebrow raises higher than I’ve ever seen you take a step back I smile and say “It’s nice to meet you” you grimace I smile and think why can’t I shake hands with my left hand? ____________________________________ Physical Therapy had a seizure after walking for 60 metres decked from head-to-toe in athleisure push pause on Deezer feeling like a geezer trapped in a 30-year-old, 180 centimeter frame, a.k.a shell of what I used to be at leisure patients gawk staff gawks this is just the teaser collapse into wheelchair legs need a breather black spots mid-air blink blink still there blink blink aura stays rising like a lever blink blink Transfer to bed continue seizure electrical impulse transceiver beset with convulsions physical therapists circle Mugabi, The Main Feature formerly known as, an overachiever formerly known as, a 10 kilometer runner of races now I have a seizure after walking 60 metres
Mugabi Byenkya is an award-winning writer of prose, poetry, comics, essays, drama and occasional rap songs. Mugabi’s writing is used to teach High School English in Kampala and Toronto schools. In 2017, Mugabi published his award-nominated Ugandan bestselling debut novel-memoir, ‘Dear Philomena,’ (Discovering Diversity Publishing) and he went on a 43 city, 5 country North America/East Africa tour, in support of this. In 2018, Mugabi was named one of 56 writers who has contributed to his native Uganda’s literary heritage in the 56 years since independence by Writivism (East Africa’s largest literary festival).