Nalubaale Review Issue 3 is Here.

Behold the second Issue of Nalubaale Review Magazine is here. The theme for this issue is COVID-19. Click the links below to download and read the stories detailing experiences of different people from across the globe.

We feature over 50 poems and short stories. We aimed to have every country in the world represented since COVID 19 affected every corner of the planet earth; from the cold Antarctica to the hot Sahara to everywhere. Follow the links below to download and read these poems.

That said, we are still receiving articles, submissions in form of poems and short stories until we have published a piece from every country in the world.

Also, we have gifts like T-shirts and more to give away, just read and be among the first five readers to answer the fun questions and win the amazing gifts!

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Nalubaalre Review Issue 3

A Letter to the Future.

By Guttabingi Mary Prisca.

Dear 2050,

How are you? How are the daily struggles of life
-breathing, smiling, living-?
Do not grin till your charred lips
Crack from the repetitive exercise
You like calling survival.
Do not force it
Because right in our cemetery
a mould of humor rots
rolls relentlessly.
We even have potential jokes like the cabinet
And a now-powerless-covid-bully.
It’s not all about pandemics and worms
Like they all claim.

By the way,
You are cordially invited to our land
Where we finally absconded
with a new “no social distance” rule.
Here, we are family;
Constantly rubbing shoulders like Siamese twins,
We are inseparable like that!
So why stick to your grief-stricken generation?
A sad era with happy selfies?
We used to be genuinely sad.
We can’t tolerate your sarcasm
from our lockdown graves.

Also, here,
There’s no hate to give,
But rather love that’s threatening
To burst out of us like water through a dam,
But you are in self-denial,
Feeling appalled.

Since absence makes the heart grow fonder,
We shall wait for you
Like Christians wait for judgement day!
And when we finally meet
It will be more of an explosion
Than the kiss of death;
A bomb erupting between the moment
Our lips will make contact,
Fusing us together
Like two atoms in a nuclear reactor.

This sort of perfection
Deserves to be immortalized.
Who says no to a dark paradise?
Whichever vehicles takes you there,
Pandemic or not

Your patient lover,

2020.

Poet Bio:

Guttabingi Mary Prisca is a young writer passionate about writing poetry and mechanical engineering. She is a student at Kyambogo University in Uganda.

Stopped in our Tracks.

By Pheobe Nortey.

I was in school
I had a paper soon. Not cool
The first case dropped in the land
My parents panicked but I didn’t understand
“What do you mean I should come home? I’ve got a paper to write”
Later I realized I didn’t have to put up much of a fight
The paper was canceled and we were all sent home
For some reason, that day, the clouds looked like foam
Impromptu vacation, everything was fine or so I thought
Every day brought with it new cases to light
Nations of the world, were brought to their knees
Covid 19, listened not to their pleas
I was coping, at first
Then, like a balloon, I burst
I know I’m no Frontline worker
But the lockdown seemed too much for me
All days blurred into one, for thee
I became weary of waking up to the same routine
The soldiers and doctors are heroes
I hoped they got their reward.

So many are the e-learning assignments,
I don’t have time to get bored
I cast aside mourning and worrying
I’d take another chance at coping
I decided to better myself
Learn a few more skills, certificates on my shelf
Condolences, love to family members made fatherless, motherless
Prayers for to all those struggling in hospitals,
Hoping to one day beat the deadly lion.
May you survive this, I say, live well.

I will sit at home. Learning, designing, hoping,
Waiting for when everything will be fine,
Again.

Poet Bio:

Nortey is a Ghanaian high school student. She loves books and all forms of Literature.

The Dawn after the Corona Pandemic

By Obinna Chilekezi

Loud smiles creep across the waves. Yes smiles were loud
At the meander of holding hands again together
All along the landscape of nesting
And the incredulous affectation, in the air
As we danced to the tune of the invigorated song of laughter

The weather in blue bright. Reminder of then days of isolation
From days of death, fear and rumours of
That deadly virus that swan across the
Gatepost of boundaries, darkly and oozing
Out more deaths along every corners of the globe

The earth became sick. Sick of the deaths of its pride, mankind;
our earth was sick, with its garters down, in the
foam chest of doubt. Darkness became
The beginning of the morning sun, and love
Was kept at bay. Our lovely sandlot turned gray

Then this new dawn. This dawn
Became warn and grew like our Iroko of hope. And
It came as a time of relief, unimaginable
Or imagined – we all in unison said
Bye to covid 19, Bye to death and fear.

Loud smiles creep across the waves. Yes smiles were loud
At the meander of holding hands again together
All along the landscape of nesting
And the incredulous affectation, in the air
As we danced to the tune of the invigorated song of laughter

The Heroes (for Eryk Hanut).

By Carolyn Gregory.

The heroes fill my heart with joy.
They open community kitchens
and shut down restaurants.
They reach an ancient birthday
after living a good life.

They offer face masks
to help the poor survive.
They write articles to help
readers know
what looms before them.

The heroes are both invisible
and also in our lives,
carrying good jokes and prayers
in equal measure.

We are lucky to have them among us,
offering peace and much better days
if we are alert
to all their good works.

 

 

Plaque

By Ronald Ssekajja.

The empty streets are crowded
with the absence of you.
So, don’t call me when I am drunk
To remind me of the loved ones,
that got blown away,
with the cruel tide of life.

With the fear of the COVID 19 plague,
We cry a river to wash away our pain.
We are too young to fill this void!
The streets are empty,
There is nothing to show now!

You all left to find the soul,
the heart of life in catastrophe
But these days are not the same
The streets are not the children we fathered;
they are orphans crying out.
The cigarette sits where the ash sat on the tray.

I hope someday we will meet again
Sip latte and joke about these days
But it is not pretty when houses
become the place where work and worry marry.
Now don’t remind me
Of the things I didn’t do then
I hope you may only remind me
That we are not alone
in this walk in the dark!

 

 

Poet’s Bio:

Ronal Ssekajja is a poet and engineer living in Kampala, Uganda. He is also a performance poet and has performed at many poetry nights in Kampala. He was the featured writer of the Love-Money issue of the Nalubaale Review Literary Magazine, our own. He is the author of a poetry collection titled, “Echoes of Tired Men”, available on Amazon and Jumia Uganda. He also writes at http://ronaldkssekajja.com/

3, 2, 1… PANDEMIC!

By Sara Collie

It was the lilacs that undid me. I could smell them long before I saw them, the air was suddenly thick with their distinct aroma. In a flash I was transported elsewhere: France, in my early twenties, in the back seat of my roommate’s car. I was tired and homesick when I piled myself in amongst my bags and books. Not just for our apartment in the city where we were returning after a weekend at her parents’ house in the middle of nowhere, but for something or somewhere else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. At the last minute her mother chopped a small branch of lilacs off the bush in the front garden and handed them to me and I cradled them all the way home, keeping them safe as we bumped and rattled down the country lanes in the late afternoon sun. I was touched by her thoughtful gesture and comforted by the delicate scent which sent me spinning further back in time. To my grandmother’s garden, years and years before, back when I used to put on ballet recitals for my bemused family on Sunday afternoons, twirling in a black leotard and pale pink tights on the old path. There was a big lilac bush there too: it towered over me then in those days. Sometimes I was allowed to pick a posy from the garden with my grandmother and, when that bush was in bloom, I always headed straight to it. The sweet perfume of its puffy cones of pale little flowers was so intense, though it never lasted long in a jar. I would bury my face in the bush for what felt like hours, then. Even now, mid-run I’ve been stood with my nose pushed into the branches that are hanging over a garden fence for a full minute, crying as I inhale the fragrance, remembering what it like to feel comforted by lilacs, recalling how small and safe I once was.

 

Back in the present day, but before the lilacs reached me, another unmistakable scent had hung heavy in the evening air: petrichor, rising from the wet grass and warm, damp tarmac. All week the temperature had been rising at a rate unsuited to the gentle early days of April until it broke suddenly with a rumble of thunder that signaled the start of an intense and unexpected storm. After the rain cleared the air I felt a need to do the same thing with my own head. There is a lot going on these days, mid-pandemic, and the old familiar weight of anxiety has been growing heavier in the middle of my chest. I know from experience that the only thing I can do to diffuse it is move, and so, having persuaded the laces on my old trainers into a bow and cloaked myself in lycra, I set off into the early evening.

 

There’s always a point when I run when my thoughts dissolve and I find myself moving on autopilot. No matter what music I have playing in my headphones, it is a quiet place, characterized by calm. I follow my feet until I’m miles away from anywhere with a headful of nothing but the sound of my own lungs. This trance-like state is a kind of disassociation: a disconnect between body and mind which allows me to process things differently. I seek it out as a way of escaping my tendency to over-think things. Normally when I come round, back into my body, I feel refreshed, soothed and re-energised.

 

But this time, when I come back into the present moment, it is with a huge jolt. Suddenly, coming straight towards me is a person in a mask. Everything seems to slip sideways as I try to make sense of what is going on – not just on the street, but in a wider sense. Somehow, as I was running along, my brain managed to completely forget about the pandemic: the thousands of people dying every day; the awful conditions that doctors and nurses are working in; the pain and suffering; the fear that has crept into the edges of all our lives; the lockdown; the loss of work; the stockpiling, everything. It is as though time briefly stopped without me noticing and is now exploding back into motion, as the last six weeks hit me all at once.

 

It’s funny how quickly we adapt, how swiftly the strangest of gestures becomes ordinary. Before I have quite understood what is happening I am checking the road behind me and, noticing it is clear (because it’s still possible to die in all of the old, ordinary ways), I am veering out beyond the cycle lane, right into the middle of the road, giving the person a berth much wider than the suggested 2 metres. My heart is pounding with the shock of remembering; with the shock that I managed to forget it all, for even a moment. I can’t quite believe I was running along oblivious for however many minutes it lasted.

 

As if to compound the shock, an ambulance suddenly veers around the corner, siren screaming, lights ablaze. I glimpse the face of the paramedic in the passenger seat as he passes me. His jaw is set firm, his mouth a grim line. I realize that I need to catch my breath and absorb all the information that is reentering my consciousness so I stop running and pull my headphones out of my ears. I am greeted with absolute silence. Aside from the now distant ambulance, not a car is to be seen on the usually busy road which leads down to the hospital. I realize that the masked person is the first person I have encountered in the whole time I have been out. It is not surprising that it feels strange: such emptiness on a busy road like this would be unthinkable, ordinarily. I start running again, my body instinctively seeking movement, my eyes roaming the street for the next distraction.

 

There is a method for combatting anxiety called the 5,4,3,2,1 technique which involves identifying five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Focusing on the list causes negative thinking spirals to get interrupted and paying attention to your senses grounds you in your body in the present moment, which helps to alleviate panic. I start to do it as I run. I can see cherry blossom, bluebells popping up in nearby gardens, potholes, the sky glowing orange, cars lined up on driveways. It doesn’t feel like enough to just glimpse things, so I slow down and pull my phone out of my pocket to start cataloguing the flowers, the light, the signs of life and nature that are lining my route. I tell myself it is so I can look through them later when I lie in bed awake, an alternative to doom-scrolling the headlines but it is a habit I often indulge in, even in ordinary times. A deep-seated need to try to preserve fleeting, beautiful things in nature. I notice, as I do every year, how quickly the blossom has already become confetti in the pavement cracks. I am always melancholy at the thought of how brief blossom is, but this year my feelings have been dialed up to a deeper kind of despair that is not just about the ordinary passing of time which rolls round every year to punch me in the gut. This year, death is so much more present in everyday life: a real threat that we are all living with and trying to avoid. For some people it is has come already, so much sooner than they or anybody expected. What to do with that thought?

 

I keep counting, only I can’t do four things I can touch because it isn’t safe to touch anything anymore, so I skip to three things I can hear: more sirens, wailing faintly a few roads away, my breath, fast and gulping. I cannot identify a third sound – this isn’t working as well as it usually does. What to do when the things that normally comfort me get over-ridden by the darkness of the world? Where do I turn then? Quick, what are two things I can smell? There’s the after-rain scent of petrichor, still heavy in the air, and then that’s when the lilacs get me and everything I was trying to hold together inside me comes pouring out in hot, insistent tears. I cross the street to the branches of just-opened purple blooms and sink my face into them. I am grounded in the now-ness of these little flowers and simultaneously transported to the layers of safer, more comforting memories in the past.

 

I tell myself it’s just a brief escape from the world as it is now, a distraction, nothing more. But I know how important it is to indulge in moments of sensory delight – to live them fully as they present themselves. I know that is where life is. That if I focus my attention in the here and now, I will see little glimpses of joy that will come and go in real time but endure somehow, somewhere, in my memories. I wonder if the moments I am living now, in this new world, are getting laid down in my memory bank, filed under lilac, cross-referenced with cherry blossom confetti and bluebell bonnets so that when I stop to sniff these flowers in years to come, I will be back here in a world of deserted streets, masks and sirens. I would rather keep my earlier lilac memories distinct from the world that is unfurling here and now this spring, but what if I can’t? The body remembers what it remembers in whatever way it chooses. I cannot will myself out of this situation and, as I found out a few streets back, slipping out of it involuntarily, even just for a moment is perturbing. Better to stick with the here and now. And right now, that means smelling the lilacs. They won’t last. None of this will.

 

Bio: Sara Collie is a writer based in the USA.

Haven’t You Seen?

by Babitha Marina Justin (India)

Haven’t  you seen

the world shrink?

or the empire ball-up

into a  fist-sized virus ?

 Everything is silent and

 dark now, we tip-toe

 trying to find  a remedy

at the tip of needle-eyes,

Haven’t you seen

 the tie-and- dyed

 sky beam its grin

with an aisle full of stars

and a wafer-thin moon?

Call for Submissions: A Special Issue on the Covid-19 Situation.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

A SPECIAL ISSUE ON THE COVID-19 LOCK-DOWN

The corona virus that causes the Covid-19 disease has taken the world by storm. Many countries are on their knees. Almost all the world is on lock-down as a way to prevent the virus from spreading further. We dedicate an issue to this cause. We are calling for writings on experiences in this pandemic situation; about the lock-down, stories from patients, survivors, from those who have lost loved ones, health workers, stigma and awareness stories on this deadly disease and many others. How is the covid-19 affecting you as a person, family, company, group, community, country? We look out, too, for stories about the lock-down situation and experiences.

Submit your poem, short story detailing any of the above. Submissions are open to everyone everywhere. Send to nalubaalereview@gmail.com

Whereas the pandemic ha left devastating effects on the world, we do encourage stories of hope, of positivity, of healing and of awareness.

Take it this way, the hope of the world is in your hands, your pen.

Deadline for submission is 30th April 2020.

Send submissions to nalubaalereview@gmail.com

 

UAE Lockdown

(A deserted street in UAE)

corona_lockdown_660_180320090847

India, above.

Kampala main taxi park in

An empty taxi park in Kampala, Uganda.