Holding On and Letting Go

Holding On and Letting Go

Two friends of mine became mothers during October. I recall the euphoria in one of the mother’s eyes, as she held her child, in hospital- firmly in her grasp, the optimism was visible in every touch as she stroked the baby. I saw the baby’s tender pink skin as it snuggled, turning its head, side-to-side, wrapped in an all-white shawl. ‘He recognizes that you are here,’ the mother said, gleaming with happiness, in spite having undergone an incisions operation to deliver. Of course, it is unlikely that a four-days’ old baby can bear such enhanced perceptions, but the optimism of first-time mothers is always unprecedented. For Max, unfortunately, he was separated from his mother at birth. The time he was to experience love as a first was the time he was to lose it.

When Max was carried home, he brought with him joy and a sense of excitement. His eyes were blue and they lit up in a teary way whenever he looked at us. He was a fluffy cute cotton ball. Whenever he purred, he elicited compassion from all. My cousin had rescued him from the neighbours who wanted to throw him away. Max was shy. Whenever we gave him a bowel of milk, he never drank it (at least not in our presence). He would wait, till we left, then he’d slowly and stealthily gallop the milk. Meat products and snacks began to mysteriously disappear as though David Blaine was in our midst. This pattern of behavior should have given us a clue about his true character, but, as most, we were blinded by Max’s cuteness. It is said that most lovers are least objective when they fall for someone. We didn’t know who we had let into our home.

Max was an ever-imposing figure at home. He would welcome visitors with long deep stares. He seemingly possessed and projected an awareness of who everyone was. Although he gave us good company in the night as we watched movies, one evening, when we had fresh fish prepared for dinner, he was unusually restless. He leaped into my sister’s plate, almost causing her to spill her food. We had never seen him act so ferociously before. To calm him down, we had to serve him his own fish meal. Later, a friend told me that cats lost any sense of self control when they smelt fish. It triggers them like chocolate does for most human beings.

Max’s characteristic long deep stares. Pictured as a model. In better days, he was a good companion.

My cousins grew fond of him. They fondled him, scratched his back and sat with him on the couch as they watched the National Geographic Channel (Nat Geo). He always leaped at the beaming light from the television whenever other bigger cats appeared in the Nat Geo documentaries. Perhaps he, longed to emulate his idols on television. I always stood aside and watched with suspicion especially as I recollected his leap onto my sister’s plate of food.  I must confess, I have never been a fan of pets. Perhaps, I took this from my parents, who did not tolerate odd animals in their house, except those we slaughtered for a sumptuous meal. I have relieved countless chicken of their lives with my own hands.

Andrew Goatly comments that although pets are invaluable companions and are creatures for which children can learn benevolence- they consume huge amounts of protein, spread parasites and some do not have control over their defecation in public spaces.  Without necessarily mentioning instances where innocent onlookers were attacked by dogs, I heard my own experience.  I once took an evening stroll in our neighborhood. While drawn away in the musical world, swaying in frolic manner to Bruno Mar’s, ‘Uptown Funk’ in my headphones- I suddenly saw five dogs running towards me. Barking, endlessly!

The wise thing to do, was stand calmly and look at the dogs, as countless philosophers have advised but, my adrenaline disagreed. I read that staring at dogs intimidates them. I was neither Socrates nor Aristotle, to reflect deeply on the prudent step to take. My instincts led me to run. I sprinted into a potato garden by the roadside.  It felt like I was stepping in sinking sand, as I jumped through one heap of potatoes to another. The dogs were loudly barking at me. ‘This is the end of me,’ I said to myself. I tripped on one of the lumps of soil and fell down. My skinny denim jeans, got torn at my knee and crotch. I looked behind me, the dogs were panting with their tongues out between their unusually large teeth, watching me. I wondered why someone would ever welcome such bullies in their home. Although the dogs had stopped running after me, that experience reinforced my stereotypes about pets, alongside years of biased documentaries on wild cats.

Selfish as it may seem, we took in Max solely because we had a lingering issue with rodents. Rats had made the house a playing ground. Despite trying all sorts of solutions- from “strange” poisons and concoctions, to reorganizing the home, and mouse traps- the rats remained elusive. My brother once commented that rats were highly intelligent beings. To date, I believe that was a fair comment, because it was the only logical justification for their immortality and their high reproductive rate. They were invincible to all our tactics. We expected Max to provide a solution, immediately.

Max was dormant in the first days. His eyes grew browner with a darker pupil and he gained weight. After six weeks he became more agile, he’d jump from one chair to another and he even crept through windows.  My sister recounted how he viciously ripped apart a rat in real time. Gnashing every bone of the rat while swallowing it as whole. ‘There was blood on the tiles where Max stood as he ate a whole rat,’ she said. Was he the cute cotton ball we knew? When my sister shared this story, like her, I was terrified. Did we recognize who Max really was? Although his methods were highly questionable with excessive force, they yielded results. Within two months there was no single rat in the house. Max was effective, almost as efficient as Eliud Kipchoge bearing down the final lap to become the first man to complete a marathon under two hours.

Despite his impressive results, like most of us Max had his frailties. He popped up in rare places. Once, I was watching a movie and I heard some rattles in the background. Then, I saw a portrait fall in a ghostly manner. Only to later note that, all this is anxiety was Max’s doing. He had no sense of BOUNDARIES. He helped himself in different parts of the house. Even after watching several you-tube videos, and building a convenient place for him to ease himself. He did not recognise our efforts. He continued to help himself in different parts of the house. Consequently, the house had this looming stench almost as if there was a pit latrine in the middle. The hardest part was cleaning up after Max, had gone about his ‘business.’ You had to follow the stench until you found where it was strongest. This wasn’t the most ideal treasure hunt. He was testing our patience.

Day after day we began to question whether we could still put up with Max. We reached our tipping point one evening.  We saw Max with four other large cats in the house. ‘ We are not taking more of this,’ my brother said. He had really pushed his boundaries, by showing other strange cats in the house. He literally threw house party without consent.

Perhaps that’s why the rats had disappeared in record time!  Perhaps all this time, we had been cleaning after not just Max’s ‘poo’ but all his strange friends’. We let this slide the first time, but on three other occasions, we saw Max with his friends, in my parent’s room. It looked like they had taken over. We were not taking more of this.

The head of household, gave instructions that we had to move on without Max. My cousins organized for this. They caught him and buddled him to the roadside about two kilometers from home, and, threw him away.

Max had helped us get rid of the rodents that had permanent residency at home, but along the way, he had pushed us to the limit.  We couldn’t make more concessions. He had outlived his usefulness

It is odd, that from trying to save him, my cousin, had to dump Max by the roadside. That evening, he sat in the middle of the empty couch, oblivious. Evidently forlorn and reflecting on his actions. He told me, ‘I miss Max.’

The house became silent when Max was no longer around. Have you known someone deeply? Known their fears, their deepest secrets and their joys. Everything. And then you had to go separate ways to being perfect strangers? It is difficult to live as if the person was never there, like you never knew them, yet you shared space with them behind the ever-shrinking walls. They knew intimate parts of your life, just as Max did to us. I loved Max- his deep blue teary eyes and his effective self but, I was equally displeased by some of his habits. I miss him, but like most in this pandemic, I am forced to think, the things you loved ,that brought you happiness but then later disappointment. When they are no more, do you move on? It is hard to let go of those that have been apart of us. They always linger somewhere in our memories, reminding us of what was and what could have been.

  • Alice Kathleen
    Posted at 08:06h, 19 December Reply

    Impressive read!Many are times we let people into our lives who later disappoint us.It is incredibly difficult to move on but it is better to move on at the end of the day.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 08:15h, 19 December Reply

      Thank you Alice for these kind words. Yes, it is always better to move on at the end of the day.

  • Edwin Basoga
    Posted at 09:48h, 19 December Reply

    A deep connection gone bad turns from a peak to a pit, getting out which is no easy walk and it’s no place to stay either. Thanks for a very relatable experience!

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 11:36h, 19 December Reply

      I am glad to hear that you could relate to this. I agree, a good connection gone bad presents its own roller-coaster. Thanks.

  • SP Allan
    Posted at 10:36h, 19 December Reply

    Wow! This is brilliantly written.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 11:36h, 19 December Reply

      Thank you, Allan.

  • Melanie Basoga
    Posted at 11:23h, 19 December Reply

    I love the depth in the simplicity. Sometimes you have to let go of someone or something despite how much you love them or it. The pain fades with time. And all that is left are memories…

    Thank you for sharing Joel.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 11:41h, 19 December Reply

      You are welcome, sister. Yes, the pain fades with time and all that remains are memories. Thanks for taking the time to read and for the kind words.

  • Buyinza Tomathy
    Posted at 16:58h, 19 December Reply

    Your articles are always full of life, every paragraph is a master piece. I love how your mind works Joel, keep up the creativity and the originality. These two are very scarce nowadays.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 20:06h, 19 December Reply

      Thank you, Tomathy. I appreciate the kind words. Thank you for taking the time to read. I will keep this up.

  • Mariam Nsemere
    Posted at 19:27h, 19 December Reply

    A great read Joel!!! I never expect anything less from you Sir!

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 20:03h, 19 December Reply

      Thank you, Mariam for these kind words.

  • Busingye Keith
    Posted at 20:04h, 19 December Reply

    Wow! I really like this. You never go wrong Counsel. Very awesome write up. God bless you more and More.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 20:12h, 19 December Reply

      Thank you, Keith. I really appreciate the kind words. Thanks for taking the time to read.

  • Tuhaise Beatrice
    Posted at 20:04h, 19 December Reply

    Yes Joel, this is really a great thought. It’s sometimes inevitable to separate with people we love but sometimes you need to let go due to unvoidable circumstances but ofcourse with God above all nothing is impossible He can always unit us. Thanks to you Joel for this observation.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 20:14h, 19 December Reply

      Thank you, Beatrice. That’s really kind of you to say. Yes, it is inevitable to separate with people, and God’s role is important. You are welcome.

  • Samuel
    Posted at 21:38h, 19 December Reply


    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 08:20h, 20 December Reply

      Thank you, Samuel.

  • Ademun Daisy Angella
    Posted at 21:51h, 19 December Reply

    Wow, I relate so much to this!! Thanks for such a simple yet very deep write up.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 08:21h, 20 December Reply

      I am glad that you could relate with this. Thank you for these kind words and for taking time to read.

  • Malaika Tabby
    Posted at 23:35h, 19 December Reply

    I have laughed soo hard! But I’ve also been forced to reflect on my relationships.

    You’re such a good story teller!
    I love your creativity.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 08:23h, 20 December Reply

      Thank you, Tabitha for these kind words. I am glad that this was funny and most importantly that it is a valuable food for thought.

  • Baguma Anold
    Posted at 07:25h, 20 December Reply

    Absolutely right, I have experienced the same. Joel Basoga your a really good writer. Keep moving.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 08:25h, 20 December Reply

      Thanks, Arnold. I am glad that you could relate to this. I appreciate the kind words.

  • Michael Uzor
    Posted at 08:14h, 20 December Reply

    Very insightful read, Joel. It takes discernment to know when to hold on and also to know when to let go. Ultimately, it’s God who will guide us in that decision, no matter what it is.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 08:32h, 20 December Reply

      Thanks Michael. Yes, discernment is important and, God’s guidance. Thanks for taking the time to read.

  • Magezi Kasaijja
    Posted at 09:28h, 20 December Reply

    Very wonderful write-up. We take certain decisions in life especially those that are more about letting go of different people but after sometime, you only ponder about it and say this is not the decision I should have taken. Very well summarized in this write up. Thanks a bunch Joel

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 12:45h, 20 December Reply

      Thanks Magezi for these kind words. You are welcome. I am glad you could relate to this.

  • Kato Mpanga
    Posted at 11:36h, 20 December Reply

    Thanks for this captivating story Joel! I kept glued to the words to find out who this friend was.

    I found the fact that the cat made a house party without consent quite captivating.

    I’m even more impressed by your website & branding lately! Way to go. Well done. Inspirational.

    Proud of you sir. Keep the faith!

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 12:47h, 20 December Reply

      Kato, that is very kind of you to say. You are most welcome. Yes, that was intentional- the suspense regarding the friend. I was astonished that Max was social enough to exceed the boundaries we had set- re: house party. Thanks for the positive feedback regarding the website and branding.

      • Kato Mpanga
        Posted at 19:16h, 20 December Reply

        Cheers sir! Keep going.

        • Joel Basoga
          Posted at 19:18h, 20 December Reply

          Thanks, Kato.

  • Shaban
    Posted at 15:30h, 20 December Reply

    I would say its out of passion that this is sounding spectacular even before a comment , and here it is
    I love the way words are from the initial to where it stops? I wish you a gain upon ur
    dream ( Ephraim Swizzy)

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 15:44h, 20 December Reply

      Thanks Shaban, for these very kind words and, for taking the time to read.

  • Edgar Mugarura
    Posted at 16:06h, 20 December Reply

    Brilliant! Very relatable as well. Thank you Joel.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 16:37h, 20 December Reply

      You are welcome, Edgar.

  • Ronald Tukachungurwa
    Posted at 07:13h, 21 December Reply

    Wow this is classic! Who’d ve thought of using a pet to delineate such a paradigm of general human aptitude. Great piece Great thought Looking forward to more stuff.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 08:17h, 21 December Reply

      Thanks, Ronald for these very kind words. Yes, that was intended to be metaphorical. You are welcome, Ronald, I shall share with you any other blogs that I will write.

  • Mirembe Lillian Michelle
    Posted at 01:48h, 22 December Reply

    There is humour and perfect imagery the picture is well drawn an the message well recieved and all the right emmotions evoked … So well written i must say

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 08:23h, 22 December Reply

      Thank you Lillian for these kind words. I am glad that you found this funny and that you could relate to this. Thank you.

  • Nasser
    Posted at 09:14h, 22 December Reply

    Lovely peice.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 10:22h, 22 December Reply

      Thanks, Nasser.

  • Pauline
    Posted at 14:28h, 22 December Reply

    This is a great piece Joel.

    Letting go of someone who was part of your life is really hard and stings like you have been stabbed in the heart. It’s the worst feeling ever. Some never do recover, but regardless you move on and choose to remember the good memories, and thank God for the role they played in your life.
    It always help in the recovery process.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 19:49h, 22 December Reply

      Thank you Pauline. Yes, it is a difficult thing to do but, as you have said, it is important to remember such memories and move on. Thank you for taking the time to read and for these kind words.

      • Fatuma
        Posted at 17:54h, 27 December Reply

        Brilliant read. It’s incredibly difficult to let go and move on but worth it at the end of the day! Thanks for sharing

        • Joel Basoga
          Posted at 20:31h, 28 December Reply

          Thanks, Fatuma for taking the time to read and for these kind words. Yes, it is difficult to let go, but ultimately worth it.

  • Kiplangat Nathan
    Posted at 19:53h, 28 December Reply

    Thanks for this amazing piece mate. I will be looking forward to more of your writings. Kudos

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 20:32h, 28 December Reply

      Thanks, Nathan for the kind words. Be sure to subscribe to get notifications whenever there is a new post.

  • Khanani
    Posted at 20:17h, 28 December Reply

    Interesting read.
    Its difficult to let go of people you were vulnerable with and shared intimate parts of yourselves with. But how do you gauge at what point is the right time to move. Is change in a person’s characteristics sufficient to dispatch the relationship, or only when push comes to shove?

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 20:37h, 28 December Reply

      Thanks, Daniella.

      I guess that’s the million dollar question! When should one move on? Sadly, there can never be one universal answer, it is relative and depends on each circumstance. One indicator might be the change in one’s characteristics as noted. And, I agree, it is difficult to let go.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and for asking these provoking questions.

  • Rebecca Kabagimu
    Posted at 22:36h, 28 December Reply

    Wow what a great read! Well actually letting go is easy to some of us. I think it’s because of the deliberate emotional detachment with the people we meet in life thus letting go becomes easy causing memories to disappear in a short while.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 23:14h, 28 December Reply

      Thanks, Rebecca for taking the time to read and, for the kind words. That’s an interesting take. I guess the experience is relative and it depends on everyone’s unique personality. It is definitely good to know that for some, it is an easier experience- that’s the beauty in the diversity of human nature.

  • Martha Agaro
    Posted at 00:52h, 29 December Reply

    Such a beautiful read.
    I think moving on from someone or something that you were emotionally involved with requires us to be intentional about it.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 07:12h, 29 December Reply

      Thanks Martha for these kind words. Yes, intentionality is a key determinant.

  • Connie Dia (@DiaConnie)
    Posted at 23:45h, 02 January Reply

    Am literally laughing hard at the dog story I can relate to it somewhat….
    My obvious fear of animals is explainable

    About Max he played his role to the best of his ability he got comfortable and oh well the rest is history they say comfort gets the better of all of us.

    Am surprised he didn’t find his way back, a cat we once owned was thrown quite a distance it found its way back home home

    I guess it’s true to hold Cats are interesting

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 15:41h, 03 January Reply

      Glad that this gave you a good laugh, Connie. I am also happy to hear that you can relate to this.

      I have also heard that cats can find their way back to previous homes. Maybe Max moved on! We can never really know.

      Yes, cats are interesting. Thanks for taking the time to read and for leaving a comment.

  • Patrick Mugalula
    Posted at 02:46h, 05 January Reply

    As always very well written Joel with clear and meaningful imagery. Was a great and insightful read.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 22:06h, 05 January Reply

      Thank you Patrick. Glad that it was insightful.

  • Patrick Mugalula
    Posted at 02:50h, 05 January Reply

    Very well written as always Joel.

    • Joel Basoga
      Posted at 22:07h, 05 January Reply

      Thanks, Patrick for these kind words.

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