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Monday, December 7, 2009

Denza and the President’s daughter

When Denza, a rumoured loner and free spirit met the First Daughter, his daydreaming mind was put into overdrive and it wasn’t long before he started convincing himself that she was his, earning himself a place in a mental hospital, writes Dennis D. Muhumuza.

The Professor of English adjusted his huge spectacles and looked at Denza for what seemed like a long time. “Denza,” he muttered once or twice, “What kind of name is that?” “A name doesn’t have to carry a meaning, Sir,” Denza replied at once, almost losing his temper. If it was not his name attracting unnecessary attention, it was his mind. Why, why, why, he often wondered. Denza had always been a curious case of individuality.

The company of men and women and other ambitions like making money or becoming famous were of little interest to him. He consumed his free time reading old books and learning big words. And whenever he tired, he danced waltz with an imaginary partner. Memories of his father waltzing with his stepmother often made him wonder if his mother was chased away because she couldn’t dance waltz well. But he didn’t muster the audacity to confront his father about it.

One day, the English professor asked what Denza wanted to do after school. He replied jokingly that he would work on becoming the finest Ugandan short-story writer of the 21st century. “In that case,” the professor said quickly, “Let’s test your potentiality.” That’s how Denza got an assignment to interview the President’s daughter on her early formative years for a chapter in her upcoming biography, which the professor was writing.

On Monday, Denza was ushered into her palatial residence by mean-looking bodyguards. He found her waiting in the doorway, dressed in a polka-dot red dress that did little to conceal her shape. And just like that, Denza couldn’t help imagining what she had on underneath. Then she gave him a hug; good gracious, he would never forget that softness! She was now smiling opulently, and with that fragrance, Denza literally was brought to his knees! Not knowing what to do next, he grabbed her hand, brought it up to his lips and kissed it in an awkward imitation of what he had watched in an old film. “Do you know how to shoot a gun?” he asked next, trying to steady himself.

The immaculate lady, with laughter in her eyes, responded with a playful rebuke about how this question was out of place. And watching her enraptured, Denza thought, ‘She’s not only The President’s daughter; she’s also a masterpiece of creation!”’Suddenly it came to him as an epiphany that he had all along wanted to supersede his ranking as a common son of a teacher and attain his rightful place at the top, among the rich and powerful. And the President’s daughter was the means through which he would arrive. He could already see the two of them living extravagantly on her father’s fortune for the rest of their lives. That afternoon, Denza came bounding across the streets of Mpala City, warbling a love tune. A pretty girl he was with at campus waved to him but he didn’t care a whit to return her salutation. Not after the glorious time he had had with a bejewelled-in-gold president’s daughter! That’s also when it hit him that it was the mundane nature of ordinary girls that had made him doubt his virility.

The loner was now known all over the place as the crazy fantasist who was always harping on about his love for the First Daughter. Years went by and Denza’s immoderate fantasies finally drove him to the streets, where he became quite an attraction reciting poetry about his rosy future with her. It is from here that he was rounded up with the others and taken to a mental hospital.

--Sunday Monitor, October 4, 2009