Staring at a blank laptop screen is frustrating; white like the static of a television channel you can’t quite receive, but in high definition so that it looks smooth and purposeful. That’s what a MacBook does when it’s starting: the silhouette of an apple missing one bite appears (if everything is normal), and then the operating system starts.
It’s April 12th 2016. I boot my laptop to check Ugandan daily newspaper websites as I eat breakfast. The Apple silhouette doesn’t appear, instead replaced by a file folder silhouette bearing a question mark, flashing like a warning light on a car’s dashboard. After a few retries yield the same results it becomes obvious that my laptop, my faithful MacBook, is not booting this morning.
My forehead compresses atop my nose, lips purse, I sigh deeply. I don’t have time to fiddle with hardware or software issues.
Arrow, my roommate and co-intern, is preparing for travel to Kibuye and leaving later in the morning, and lends me her laptop. I pack it into my bag and leave to catch a matatu.
There are programs on my laptop neither free nor common that I was using for work at Arise and Shine. But it’s just a machine.
It’s the connections you lose that really burn, not the functional things. My mom recorded videos of my family wishing me well and gave them to me before I left, instructing me to open them only in April, roughly half-way through the six month internship. I had only stored them on my laptop, along with all my photos of the first three months. I hadn’t even kept those photos on my camera’s memory card.
I would have kicked myself every moment for the rest of that day, if that was physically possible, though I think the following week of sleepless nights made up for that. Losing videos reminders that people care about me and the memories I had chosen to capture in my camera was like being pierced foot to forehead by a steel rod. Knowing I could have saved those videos and photos was like removing that rod myself.
…which I think is why I didn’t even tell my roommate and co-intern, my mum herself, or anyone else until now that I had lost my mum’s videos. I felt idiotic enough to have lost my photos, so I just left it at that. That was the event that curtailed blog entries in the last three months of the internship. I had and still have almost two dozen written, but those, like that loss, remain unshared.
That will change.