I hear footsteps approaching the gate in a sluggish shuffle and I know it’s Mother. That can only mean that Septemba, the gateman, is either drunk or absent from work today. It also means that Tom and Rabella are probably not home.
“Yaba Tindi! Kyo! Mwana wangye. Konk’orabura!”,Mother says to me when she opens the gate.
I always get this from her, complaints about me being ‘lost’. Even if I were to spend a day away from home, she would still lament that I never visit.
I step into the gate and fall into her outstretched arms. Juliet is a short woman and so I tower over her when we hug. Her thick black hair held in a bun at the top of her head rubs and tickles my neck when we hug and I giggle.
“Kijje?” She pats my back as she starts with the first word of the long Lukiga greeting.
“Eeh”,I respond and pause.
“Buhoro?” She continues.
“Eeh” More is coming and I am still nested in her warm bossbosomh my back overly bent to accommodate her shortness.
“Buhoro gye?” Her pats on my back become sonorous.
“Ogumire?” Her patting is now a thud. With her fingers she pokes into my slim waist and this sends me into bursts of laughter and this ends the greeting.
I walk back with her towards the back of our bungalow where the kitchen is. She informs me that Rabella and Tom are out for dinner with ‘Boss’ implying Mr. Kwikiriza,and that their ‘Maama’ is still at work.
Mrs. Kwikiriza runs a retail shop in Kikubo, downtown of Kampala. She usually gets home late and this being a Friday she must be held up in traffic jam.
“Where is Septemba?” I ask.
“Uha! You know thati wanu!. Asinzire.” I was right after all. Mother tells me the gateman is drunk. That is why she had to abandon the kitchen and open the gate for me.
I proceed to the house and she stays outside where a small kitchen structure houses three charcoal stoves; one bubbling with boiling beans, another heaped with an Aluminium saucepan with banana leaves sticking out under another saucepan covering the top inadequately: that is steamed matooke. It is customary to eat matooke for super every day.
I drop off my backpack in the room I share with Juliet whenever I am home. As I descend the stairs at the back balcony towards the kitchen I wonder what Juliet has prepared for dinner.
The third sigiri has a metallic kettle screeching with boiling tea, filling the small kitchen room with the scent of ginger and lemon grass. I find Mother stirring the beans with a wooden ladle. The kitchen air is dense and hot from all the steams and red charcoals burning in the stove. When Juliet is satisfied that the beans are not sticking to the base of the pan, she joins me on the kitchen veranda for a fresh air.
“Kirabo is how?” Mother asks excitedly.
PK is her favourite topic. She sees in us (PK and I) the promise of grandchildren but most importantly it is comfort that finally her 25 year old daughter has a potential husband.
“Kirabo is good. He is in Nigeria for work and he will return in January.” I make an attempt to give all answers to questions she may ask so that the topic is closed.
“Ayi! Nigelia? Thozi people have veli goodu Bitengye. Wheni isi he comingi backa?
“Hehehe. But Juliet you have not been listening. January. He is coming back in January.
“Didi he climbu the eroplaini wheni goingi?
“Yes Juliet. Nigeria is very far. You cannot go there by car.” I know that when mom starts the PK topic that is all we shall talk about.
“Ayi! My soni. Thati boyi is veli hardiworkingi. He willi make a goodu husbandi, Tindi.”
“Naye Juliet you like talking about marriage” I said to mother.
“I wanti you to havu goodu marriage Tindi. I wanti you to havu whati I missed. Yowa father died quickly and we didi not havu the wedding.
“But you were married Juliet. Just because there was no wedding does not mean there was no marriage” I say to mother.
Ha! You wa a chiirudi Tindyebwa. You don’ti know thezi thingiz. No wedding,no marriagi. No ring, no marriagi. No white mugulo dressi, no marriagi. You Doti Comu kids have spoilt thingiz. I hopu you wa not stayingi with thati boyi Kirabo?
“Juliet, ebitokye byasirira.” I tell juliet the matooke is burning in an attempt to change the topic.
I am successful and Mother goes back into the kitchen to check on the matooke. I utilize the opportunity to take a shower. It is already 9 pm and none of the others is back home.
When I finish with my shower, I find Mother watching Agataliko Nfufu,the Luganda bulletin at 10pm.
I am exhausted after a long day and I cannot wait for the Kwikiriza’s to return home. I say goodnight to Mother and go off to bed.
Copyright © 2016-2017 by Daphine Arinda
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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