“Ah! You’ve been lost,” he told me, as he removed his sunglasses and took in my face, which he used to see nearly every day. “Where have you been been?”
He is a boda-boda (motorbike) taxi driver, one of a number that park their bikes in Kisementi, a dusty parking lot surrounded by bars, restaurants and shops that I would go to often and from where I would hire a boda since it was close to my house. The minute I roared into Kisementi on a boda my first day back in Uganda, and even though I was cloaked under dark sunglasses, I heard a shout behind me.
“Hey, hey!” I turned around to where a group of my former boda drivers sat on their bikes. I broke into a huge smile, walked over and grasped their hands as we exchanged greetings.
Boda drivers, restaurant waiters and street vendors that I used to know: they all tell me upon seeing me again, “You’ve been lost!” It’s a common phrase in Uganda that is an odd way to describe the disappearance or departure of a friend. Yet it somehow eloquently captures the feeling of losing touch with someone you knew dearly and well.