Lotyonokore of Nakapelemuru village!
Boom! A sudden loud bang at the door!
“Awake you two little imbeciles, go mint chunks for the next lodging! Tonight’s is already expired” yells Namanda (the inn-keeper).
Frightened, still half asleep I tap Logiro snoring like a worn engine. I wonder if he dreams laying in home manyattas.
“What is it Lotyonokore?” he asks.
It is time for work!
In our innuendo rags and “Ngamotokai” Masai sandals, we dizzily maneuver through Bwaise ditches, inhaling sewerage stench as mal-nourished infants and other squatters under open roofing stare with misery. The usual skinny panting dogs following every swinging hand like it would fall off any time for consumption.
“Are these dogs vampires?” asks Logiro.
“Hunger is evil brother! I respond.
To keep up with joneses, my cousin and I jostle past flooded trenches, human jam, car jam, garbage trucks, traffic officers all at work as we head for the City trotting along with other “wannachis”, the sky’s heavy showers sink neighboring semi structures.
Human feces stench roams like scented salads making local news to new-comers yet for old boys “the diehards”, the innards are accustomed to, just like the sophisticated airs inhaled at Muyenga Mansions. Half naked night workers still tipsy crawl on fours to where we have hailed!
“Wonders shall never end for children of man require deliverance” hums Lorigo.
Suddenly a child yells;
Help me please; I am drowning in this pool of sewerage!
“Aren’t you joining the Christ like savior band wagon?” asks the hawkers.
Look! Am not Christ-like hawker to save all mankind after all even the state house is in “For God and my stomach”, and with phrases like “Government etyambe”, who am I to lend my poor worn wrists.
Let’s stroll Lorigo! Let’s rush to better our lineages lifestyle.
“My stomach demands brother so is the throat! Says Lorigo
Thank God the hawker in need is at arm’s length, upon purchasing, we start to dine on Samosas and water while walking to our destiny midst hordes of hustlers.
“By the way, why didn’t you swim through the floods like kids in Dopeth river to save that kid?” asks Logira.
Brother, there were stronger people than us to save, look at these our weakened souls! Huh! We would have drowned in those waves and our spirits wouldn’t rest if laid in foreign soils like that of Longole, may his soul rest in peace, he died saving a pauper like me whilst leaving me the inheritor.
He warned me before breathing last! There is no spare part for a second life.
Up the hum-mocks, down the valleys! Now at Makerere University sloping along Wandegeya Street, its 7:00am, the sun shyly starts to peep from the East, past the elite in heels chewing civilization, my cousin and I rock the dock holding firm to the course despite the damp clothes while sniffing hotelier’s aromas like the dog from Kivulu.
Lotyonokore? Calls Logira
Yes! I respond midst sirens of ambulances, trailers’ hooting. Cyclists maneuver through tiny pathways whereas matatu’s un-sudden stoppages and yarn for passengers become increasing annoying. Matatu number UAE tests again my cousin’s patience, “oli mudinka oba mukoromojo, nkutwaleko Kampala”, Are you a Dinka or a karamonjong, can I take you to Kampala?” asks the conductor.
“Can’t you see me damp fool, and know I have had a long walk and still determined to reach my destiny on these two worn wheels?” Lorigo responds
Logira still huffy at such disguised primitive assaults, “So what if am Dinka or Karamojong, aren’t we people inhaling the same air. Shitty-bustards” He continues to grumble midst my silence
By the way, I had intended to ask you before the taxi conductor messed my temper! How did you come to Kampala brother? Logira asks.
Frantic, I smile midst rampant pants as though un-sure of the tale he wants of me to tell. I clear my throat so I don’t hum-drum such relevant history.
“It was 6th/09/2012, I had just turned 10 years of age; on a Saturday morning in Nakapelemuru, the sun shined with anger, grasses had dried and burned on bush fire, famine had hit the villages, water ponds dried and kraals only sheltered malnourished herds. My mother “May her soul rest in peace” was worn; I remember her trying her level best just to give us a mouth’s appetizer while my father ensured milk supply even though there was hardly any food or water.
“I am my fathers’ son Logira” a family of 6 children, 4 of whom already went to meet the creator! Am not sure now who will bury who but to God I give the power.
Imbued with tactics to change my situation, I watched a number of city-borns visit the neighborhood spreading dollars and shillings, while tanking beers and wines that I felt so cheated on behalf of my clan for drinking “ebuteeya” yet there were such nice liquors.
There I saw better standards in Kampala.
At 2:00pm, I tied up my little rags for clothes ready to rock the city. “My son, where are you headed to in this scotching sun” asked papa.
I am Just visiting uncle Logirori In Narengemoru, I will be back tomorrow papa for a to and fro journey will ware me”. He handed me a gourd of milk and a Masai sheet. My mother had set for the market; I don’t remember bidding farewell to any of my family! It hurts me brother for I didn’t mourn my own for long.
At 7:00pm, I arrived at Sarope fuel station where Gateway buses parked, just like any other kid anxious to rock the city.
Hello there, where are you going? One of the kids asked.
I pretended as if proceeding to Kotido town just to erase curiosity, long enough for the confusion I sneaked back into Gateway bus and hid under the back seats!
Thank God the inspectors weren’t on duty that particular day. At exactly 9:00pm, we set off for Kampala, whilst suffocating to carbon dioxide and muchomo scents, I incubated , inhaled beautiful talk, ugly talk, bad breath, stinky dirty jeans upon couples smooching in my face.
Why would I blame them! Most were mere tourists. Disgusted, hungry and yet shy to beg, the journey didn’t seem to come to end.
Turning left and right, several stops were made for loading, offloading, refreshments and excretions, but I was in a cage, I held my stomach muscles tight, anal muscles tighter while oppressing the penis urinal.
My backbone shielded my innards from the frequent humps; potholes on the highway belittled my long time fantasy and obsession for Kampala. I wondered if the driver was drunk on weed but my prayer still requested for life and journey mercies from the one who sits at the Right hand of the Father.
“Good morning passengers, one hour to reach Kampala! I heard the conductor communicate. I had no idea where we were but that alone lit my dying spirits. Panting with difficult to exhale and inhale, I lay flat on my back to ease the condition.
At exactly 5:00am, Kampala welcomed me in style. Being the bus crusher, I had to await the honored passengers to pave their way out and I came last. So untidy, tired and confused, I flipped onto the bus stairs, leaving my luggage flying to the trench.
“Welcome to Kampala, a hot bed of change for good or for worse! Can I deliver you to your home? asked the cyclist.
I didn’t understand what he said but still nodded a no; thank God he didn’t ask me if I needed lunch.
“What did you do?” asked Larigo.
Aah! I took a walk around the city and there I saw a number of raised pallid palms, a few giving hands threw coins midst nothing blushes and curses of the potbellied. For the illiterate like me, that was an opportunity to exploit.
“Where did you sleep? Larigo wondered.
Kivulu, kivulu in a dog’s box beneath a sewerage trench there I rested my stinking soul for the night as the sewerage stale identified with my own fermented sweat. At dawn with city bustards, we trotted to jinja road, a place where many of my kind sought it more earning since cars moved in and out of the city yet with a few but jolly beggars.
I joined the wagon and rocked the dock.
That is my tale Larigo! That is my brief tale of the boy from Nakapelemuru turned into a city born until I met you in that garbage can”
Nodding! You are a good narrator! I didn’t hear any hum-bugs, no howlers everything was well huddled, said Lorigo.
But how time runs, its already 7:30 am and there we are at Uganda House through sirens, and rubbing shoulders with the mob roaming like houseflies on call by gravy aroma. Still trotting and panting endlessly with drops of sweat dripping down our faces. Worn and weakened despite having had breakfast, we decide to stroll to the place of work.
There it is! Lorigo shouts while pointing at the un-structured office.
Overwhelmed by how my story shortened the journey, I part my pallid hockey sticks jostling past hustlers hurdled in hooch hawking, to the direction where the rich go shopping, dining and winning as Logiro headed to the exit way.
Wondering from car to car, hands lifted above my waist as palms widen for the kind souls to throw in silver and gold coins.
“Hey you little skunks, grant way for the four wheelers! A traffic officer shouts at me.
But this is my country officer! How dare you belittle my nascent pitch black buttocks? The rich crush my slim pallid beggar’s hand with mere soot of their four wheel’s trunk! Where shall I hide?
I am no naughty imbecile near- sighted patriot! For I Lotyonokore, from Nakapelemuru village “the white rock” was once my fathers’ foreman in the kraal till that fateful day.
That day I chose to land my flight at your office making it my work station too is the reason I stick parade these pallid palms and near- miss innumerable four wheels death whims from sunrise to sunset with Logiro, my cousin brother from Narengemoru’ village.
So don’t you dare curse me to the wilderness potbellied civilian for this is my patriotic way to navigate through the new-fangled bazaar world?
“Hey you little maniac, move your skeleton off the road” a cyclist shouts at my back!
Quickly I seek refuge on the nearby pavement invading another hostile pallid beggar’s premises.
As I try to compose the throbbing heart beat, am astonished by the tune of life for the day! Siren after siren, I hear voices mentioning of the presidents’ visit but shall I eat the president’s convoy.
Immediately, I return to work racing after a one UEF land cruiser knowing traffic lights were in my favor. I am astonished by the face I suddenly see, it’s a face of my lineage, my maiden aunt Natyanga now with heavy jowls though dressed in a natty suit.
A shy smile of hope arises and quickly my palm runs for the wealth hand shake but she locks up her glassed windows while facing the opposite side. She whose blood we share denies my pallid hand!
“Hello brother? I hear her blubbing on phone and upon reading her lip’s movement she is actually speaking to my father who chose to educate her over his own children.
Look at our now ragged heavy laden souls! We struggle for life like Shaka Zulu fighting battles as if it were one qualification to reaching heaven. Oh to hell with this fuck’ up life!
Filtering the burn in my heart and throat midst a soured soul under the bitterness of the angry midday sun, the gods of thunder suddenly strike unleashing lightening that leaves me numb. While still bowed to the ether, another loud yet scared scream rises midst hordes on the either road.
“Oh my God, what happened to him?”