On a sunny Tuesday afternoon in December 1987, Dokita was in the field taking care of the Chairmans cows. His arm was elbow deep in the posterior of Rwamashu, a heavy friesian cow that had a severe case of the runs. Rwamashu was the chairman’s prize cow seeing as she released minimum 60 litres of milk a day, even in the dry season. It was the wet season now, and she was pregnant, which all meant she was gushing out milk like it was going out of style. But that isn’t the only thing she was gushing out. The rainy season usually brought with it all kinds of diseases and the Chairman’s delicate cross breeds were always the first to catch something, despite all the preventative measures taken. This season they had chosen to get diarrhoea. Severe diarrhoea. Dokita really didn’t his job at the moment.
And it was Dokitas duty, as the village veterinary doctor, to make this problem go away. Which is why he had his arm deep in Rwamashus behind, checking for temperature and other factors, yet he would have preferred to be by his wife’s bedside, waiting for their baby to be born. This was going to be their third child and Dokita was nothing short of elated. A boy, the doctors had told him. His second boy. This particular one had been a difficult pregnancy for his wife. The boy had been one very excited baby, kicking, shoving, exploring and generally owning the womb. Everyone, especially the mother, couldn’t wait for him to come out. They still hadn’t decided on a name for him though.
It was while he was still musing over all this that a boda boda rider appeared with news that his wife was in labour. He swiftly ejected his arm from Rwamashu’s behind, shocking her into a gallop in the process, cleaned up, jumped on his government issued motorcycle and took off to the hospital. The boy was born with a lot of drama and proceeded to cry the whole hospital down. Nothing they did was able to shut him up. All Dokita could think, aside from all the excitement of the successful birth, was how big the baby’s head was and how this head was creating so much noise.
Two weeks, for two weeks, the boy cried, almost nonstop. He only took breaks to eat, shit and sleep, and these breaks could be best described as beeps, with crying interludes. Everyone jokingly complained that they wished he had stayed in the womb till after New Years so they could enjoy the Christmas festive season in peace. As if he had heard their complaints, the boy stopped crying on Christmas Eve. Everyone in the house was pleased with this development. The house felt very different, almost like it wasn’t theirs and they kept on making jokes about how silent it was.
Meanwhile, the boy was intensely studying all of their faces. The elder sister decided to carry the boy on her lap and bounced him around while making baby noises and asking him what Christmas gift he had for her. She was rewarded with some watery stool on her dress while the boy looked intently at her. She quickly handed the baby over to the mum for cleaning up while she went to shower and change clothes.
After cleaning the boy, the mum placed him on her back so she could proceed with preparing lunch. 5 minutes later, the mum was also gifted with some watery stool by the boy. All this time, he still hadn’t cried. Dokita who was observing all this while reading his papers thought out loud, “This boy is the gift that keeps on giving! First the crying, and now diarrhoea!” Everyone giggled at that one while the boy continued to observe them all.
The mum handed him over to the grandmother. The grandmother, having witnessed the fate of the last two people that had carried the boy, decided to play is safe and dress the boy in a makeshift nappy using one of his bedsheets before carrying him. She was in one of her favourite dresses and wasn’t in the mood to change. While she was still lifting the boy so as to place him properly on the cloth, he also unleashed a flood on her, pretty much ruining her outfit. It took a lot of effort for her not to drop the boy.
Said she, “Kwonka ogu omwana ebyagaba tinabikyenga!” (But the gifts this boy is giving, I don’t understand them!)
“Yes!” said Dokita who was now laughing mirthfully at the ladies of the house, while refusing to carry the boy that was being handed to him by the grandmother, “In fact we shall name this child Byagaba!”