Now Reading
“The Science of Nail Polish” by Lydia Kasese

“The Science of Nail Polish” by Lydia Kasese

The Science of Nail Polish


I saw fireflies in an open field in Morogoro.
And you were there touching me.

Things that go “bump”

To the things that go “bump” at night.
I know where your mother lives.
I know that your father is a sales man from a small village which eats their child’s placenta as soon as they are born.
I know that your sister had dreams of becoming an acrobat,
She saw one once in a white man’s home and marveled at how angelic she looked.
Your grandmother became an angel the night her son was set on fire.
You can still hear her hum a jita song at night when you wake up to fetch water for the little boy you think is your brother.


You learn how to put you hurt in your pockets,
and when you run out of pockets,
you learn how to put it on paper.
That is how I became a writer.


The night you will realize that it’s all been in your head,
you will get up and finally find the words to that poem,
you have been meaning to write about your tears
and how hard they fall when you are feeling lonely.
They will not sound like your words.
They will sound like the voice of a sixteen year old,
you tried to bury with cigarettes and alcohol.

The Science of Nail Polish

I feel compelled to apologize for my unkempt toe nails,
Something about the chipped nail polish has me looking simple-minded,
That’s what he says.
He can’t see my intellect beyond all that vulgar color.
So maybe I should open my legs and show him how smart my body can be.
Maybe I should point to the parts on my body that will make him smile.
I try to tell him that I love books and street food,
I love visiting small towns and losing myself in its people.
But all this does not matter when you walk around with chipped nail polish.


I keep dreaming of the places I promised myself I’d visit.
Even in my dreams I am still promising to go back.
But I am here.
I am here and I do not know if I will ever go back to those places.
And that scares me.

Memory loss:

“I’m going to call this the pretzel.”
“This sex position. It’s the pretzel. It’s ours.”

Everything else is a blur.

Lydia Kasese (@Ms_Lilly_Py) is a Tanzanian writer and journalist (among other things), who spends her days trying to make sense of the heat in Dar es salaam whilst her nights are bound with adventures from books she picked up from her neighbour’s garbage bag. She blogs at loveandslavery

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
Scroll To Top