“I started drinking alcohol the day I fell into Maama’s womb. Maama died of alcohol. She started drinking young and died young. She drank too much alcohol until she could no longer drink; and then the alcohol in her body started drinking her up until she dried up dead.”

I have memorized the phrases often enough. I will recite them word by word to my grandfather, Mukulu, this evening on our way to Tongo’s bar. Fleshy lies! Mukulu will say. I would know; Mukulu always tells me that everything Jjaja Mukyala says when she is angry is nothing but lies. Nonsense!

Jjaja Mukyala’s hatred for me was born the minute she opened the door of her mud-and-wattle-house to let me and Aunty Lito inside. When Aunty Lito introduced herself as Maama’s former friend and explained that I was the child of Jjaja Mukyala’s only son, the late Damulira, Jjaja Mukyala told Aunty Lito not to talk ill of her dead son, and then she hurried to the bedroom and returned with a bowl of water. She darted around the house, dipping a small bundle of bisenke grass into the bowl and spraying spurts of water in the corners and on the walls. She said she was safeguarding her house with holy water because I wasn’t her grandchild but a curse.

Ever since then, Jjaja Mukyala’s anger toward me has been relentless. I was seven years then. Now I am ten and I know that she thinks I'm a pest.

But Mukulu loves me. He calls me his grandson.

This afternoon Jjaja Mukyala ordered me to fetch water and fill up the hundred-liter water drum to the brim. She has never asked me to fill this drum before. I suspect she wants to keep me occupied so I won’t escort Mukulu to the bar.

Mukulu goes to bars often, and every time he takes me with him. He says he needs me because someone has to hold his walking stick in case he needs to it. Mukulu never uses his walking stick, not even when he is drunk. He takes me with him to keep me away from Jjaja Mukyala at night.

This is my fifth trip from the borehole. Already my neck has reacted to the weight of this twenty-liter jerrycan; it is so stiff that every step I make revives the pain.  Yet I have to keep going. The water drum is only halfway full.

 

Jjaja Mukyala sits sideways on the ground under the bent stall by the roadside, where she sells smoked fish the size of my palms, tomatoes the size of my nose, and half-rotten vegetables, nakati and bbuga. She’s stretched her legs in front of her, her dirty feet almost touching the ditch of stagnant water that separates her stall from the road. She has her arms crossed under her hefty breasts as if for support, and she is wearing that tight black-and-pink sleeveless blouse and a brown skirt, the clothes she wears almost every day. Clothes which outline the abundant flesh on her arms, chest, stomach, and waist compared to the sparse flesh on her exposed legs.

I am trying my best to avoid her, so I take the longer route behind the house, and then back to the front where the plastic water drum sits raised on kirundu logs.  I haul myself up onto the platform I made with bricks. The platform helps me beat the height of the water drum. I steady my feet and as I empty the jerry can, I keep my eyes on the pouring water because I can feel Jjaja Mukyala’s venomous stare on my face. How I wish she could shout an insult at me; I prefer insults to the fiery streak in her eyes.

I watch the water as it rushes into the water drum with violent gushes exaggerated by the puncture at the top of the jerry can. During my fourth trip, the jerry can toppled off my head and landed on a sharp metal sticking out from the ground. Jjaja Mukyala will burn me alive if she learns of the mishap that befell her container.

I am surprised that she hasn’t thrown an insult at me since I started pouring out the water. Her insults no longer bother me. It’s what she says about dear dead Maama that bothers me. That’s why I can’t wait to have Mukulu back from town so we can go to the bar where he will get drunk. When Mukulu is drunk, he answers all my questions in detail. I will ask him to explain to me all that Jjaja Mukyala said about Maama.

Mukulu was drunk when he told me that he loved me, drunk when he told me that Maama loved me, that Maama’s friends Aunty Lito, Aunty Karo, and Aunty Naki, who took turns taking care of me after Maama died, all loved me. Every time he is drunk he tells me he is glad he has a grandson. He was drunk when he taught me the English alphabet and counting numbers. Every weekend, on our way from the bar, he teaches me the English tenses. He is the reason I am at the top of my class every term even though I miss school sometimes.

If he was here now he would be rescuing me from this weighty task…unless…His voice?

“Musika Musika, quick, quick, let’s go. Bring my walking stick. We are already late.”

Mukulu is back!

He calls me Musika, heir, because he says that everything he has belongs to me. Neither of them calls me by my name, Joshua Mondo. Jjaja Mukyala has different names for me. Mbwa gwe, kisiraani gwe, Muzimu gwe. But Mukulu also told me that she has a name for every curse and misfortune that has ever happened in her life. It’s not my fault that she chooses to christen her heap of misfortunes through me. So I ignore her insulting names.

“Musika!”

“Yes, Mukulu!” I shake out the remaining water, jump off the platform, and then I dash across the compound to meet him, tell him I have five more jerry cans of water to fetch.

“No no no. That can wait. Get ready quick and bring my walking stick.” He’s just jumped the ditch and he is now towering over sulking Jjaja Mukyala.

I dash to the house.

 

Inside the house, in this multipurpose section that serves as my bedroom at night, and as the sitting room during the day, the window above my bed is open and the air carries the venom of Jjaja Mukyala’s words, stinging like hot ash in the eyes.

“Where are you going today?” she shouts at Mukulu. “To Brown’s? Tina’s? Disaster upon your journey! A fall! A muscle pull! A broken leg!”

Mukulu is still standing by her. I am worried he may be swayed by her outbursts of bad omens and decide against our outing. Again, Mukulu and I are going out of the kikubo neighborhood; we are going to Tongo’s bar! To Tongo’s bar more than anywhere else!

I love Tongo.

Among the many women who serve alcohol at the bars Mukulu and I have been to, Tongo is my favorite because she is a smiling woman just like Maama was. I would know. When I first asked Mukulu about Maama, he told me he never met her when she was still alive but the one thing he heard about her was that she was a smiling woman. “A woman who smiled for everyone,” he said.

Tongo smiles all the time. She smiles for me, and when she does, I see Maama’s love. And in her touch, when she pats my shoulders, I feel Maama’s love; I forget the loss I suffered as a baby.

Besides, it is at Tongo’s that I will get the remaining material for my catapult. I need a rubber string which I will steal from Mukayi’s bicycle carrier. Every time we go to Tongo’s bar, we find Mukayi drunk.

Yesterday I made a catapult. This weapon will protect us because these days we come back from the bars very late in the night.  I secured a mupeera tree branch shaped in a letter Y. With a dab of saliva on my fingertips—I see Mukulu dab his fingers with saliva when he is fixing things—I tightly fastened a rubber band at the upper ends of the catapult. What I am missing is a longer, wider rubber string I will use to wrap around the Y-stick so that the smoothness of the stick is replaced by the roughness of the rubber string. The roughness is good for a perfect grip when shooting. And a perfect grip is useful for a good target. Last week I collected a full mug of smooth round stones which I will use as bullets for my catapult.

As I reach into the black polythene bag that cases my belongings, I pray that Mukulu runs away from Jjaja Mukyala’s outbursts soon. I pull out my light blue shirt—the only long-sleeved shirt I own, the one Mukulu bought me last Christmas—and my khaki shorts. I spread the shirt on my folded mattress, and then I make an effort to press out the creases with my hands. Then I wet the rag which is also my bathing sponge, and I use it to brush the dust off my feet.

 

Jjaja Mukyala suddenly storms inside the house. She finds me fidgeting with my torn zip.

“If you don’t stop going to bars with your grandfather, alcohol will slowly finish you off like it did your mother!” She spits at my feet.

More nonsense. She thinks I drink alcohol but I don’t. I don’t know if I will ever drink when I grow up. Mukulu says I should never drink. At the bars, he buys me mubisi, a sweet juice made from ripe bananas. At Tongo’s, Mukulu buys me Fanta soda, my favorite.

“Your little body is a mixture of alcohol, beer, tonto, malwa, mandule… eh! Njogereki ndekeki?” She bends over me but I don’t look up at her as she wants me to. She is standing so close to me that the putrid smell of the rotting nsenene in the basket she is holding is stinging my nostrils. I picked the nsenene yesterday, but she stopped me from frying them while they were still fresh. Now they are rotting and she still wants to eat them.

Mukulu enters the house.  Out of the corner of my eye I look at him, hoping he will snatch the walking stick and raise it at Jjaja Mukyala to scare her off my ground. He does not. He continues across the room to his bedroom. But trust Mukulu. Once he notices that Jjaja Mukyala is being harsh to me, he will react.

“Take my walking stick, Musika,” he says. “And wait for me outside.”

Jjaja Mukyala shambles away and throws herself down by the door.  Her hefty backside occupies half of the doorway. She is probably planning to grab my legs and whack my ankles with her knuckles as I pass by her.

 

“You will as well take him to the grave with you,” Jjaja Mukyala calls after us as we jump over the ditch. She is mumbling between a mouthful of the rotten nsenene, mixing words with exoskeletons, wings, and flesh.

I halt because I no longer hear the slap of Mukulu’s lugabire against his heels. I turn in time to see him match back toward Jjaja Mukyala. He stops right in front of her, looking down at her. I want to dash and hand him the walking stick so he hits her. I think Jjaja Mukyala needs a lesson that will make her stop harassing me but I stay still because I know Mukulu won’t hit her. It’s always been my wish to see Jjaja Mukyala feel the pain of a blow, a smack, a jab. Once she tastes the pangs, she will stop hurting me.

He is facing away but I know he is giving her the usual scowl, his wrinkles exaggerated with fury, the black balls of his eyes scorching her face. This is what he does every time she provokes him, scowl and glare. A few times he brandishes his walking stick but he never brings it down on her. He raises an open palm but he never strikes her.

She mumbles something that makes Mukulu turn away at once. She has probably told him “sorry” so he will leave her alone. Jjaja Mukyala is never sorry. Every day she continues to provoke him, and to harm me. Whenever Mukulu is not aware, she does something to me: steps on my foot, nudges me with her elbow, hits my head if she is passing by; and when she is seated, she pinches my calf muscles as I pass by her. 

 

As usual I take the lead through Kikubo slums which make up our neighborhood. All the houses are low-built; now and again Mukulu bends down to dodge the elephant grass thatch that obstructs his way.  I know all the short cuts through Kikubo. Crossing through the slums is not so easy since we have to jump over stinking ditches, and to walk over heaps of rubbish. Some of the heaps are mountainous so we have to meander around these mountains, stepping on remains of rotting dogs and cats, dodging broken bottles and tins. I walk with extra care because I don’t have shoes.

Sometimes, after school, I stroll around the slums looking for routes where we don’t have to jump ditches and to meander around rubbish mountains. I haven’t found any yet. Mukulu cannot jump the wider ditches. He connects his way across loose bridges. But I am not worried because I know he is too tall to drown if a bridge gave away and he fell in the sewage.

I am used to the routine of Mukulu’s silence, which in time has become my own silence. Everything around us speaks but us.  I have a question for Mukulu but breaking our routine silence feels so wrong. I break it anyway.

“Mukulu, is it possible that something in your body can eat up … can drink up all the … blood?”

“What?”

“Is it possible that … if someone drinks a lot of alcohol, does the alcohol drink up all her blood?”

“Is it something Jjaja Mukyala said?”

“Yes. That Maama died of alcohol. She started drinking young and died young. She drank too much alcohol until a time came when she could no longer drink; and then the alcohol in her body started drinking on her until she dried up dead.”

I slow my steps, waiting for the touch of his right hand on my shoulder. This is what he does when he is about to explain something to me.

Silence.

I change my earlier pace, hurrying forward because I am angry and hurting; not from Mukulu’s silence but from my impatience. I should have waited until he was drunk. Mukulu never explains anything to me unless he is drunk.

I realize I have shown my anger to Mukulu, so I reduce my speed. I should never be angry with Mukulu. He loves me. His ability to teach and to explain things to me when he is drunk puzzles me. It makes me more confused about alcohol. How can alcohol be so bad and so good? Every day Jjaja Mukyala shouts, “If there is anything that will kill you it will be alcohol.” But Mukulu says that if there is anything that keeps him alive, it is alcohol. How can alcohol be so bad as to kill Maama, and yet so good as to keep Mukulu alive?

We hit the first ditch, the one that separates Taata Kiwa’s house from Taata Lule’s. Lule and Kiwa go to my school. The dirty brown foam on the surface of the ditch is bubbling like thick millet porridge boiling in a heating pot.  Two days ago it filled to the brim during the torrent of rain that fell. The sewage level has lowered slightly but it’s still high enough to drown a two-year-old child, like what happened during the rain.

Two half-naked girls squat by the ditch breaking up pieces of loam-soil-made bricks and throwing the pieces into the foaming sewage; they giggle as the bigger pieces hit the sewage, forming more bubbles, and making a noise that sounds like the noise Jjaja Mukyala makes when she burps.

The bridge Mukulu has to cross over is made of two kifenensi logs placed several inches away from each other. I am happy that there is a bridge nearby so we don’t have to waste time searching; but I also know that we may not find the logs on our way back. Someone will probably steal them for firewood.

As I jump over the ditch, a stinking spatter of sewage settles on my left sleeve, leaving a dirty brown star on my shirt. I steal toward the girls and quickly knock each of them on the head with the base of Mukulu’s walking stick.

“Hold it!” Mukulu shouts, hurrying toward me.

“Look, Mukulu!” I confidently hold out my hand for him to see the ugly smudge on the shirt he bought me.

“What did I tell you about women?” He does not take his eyes away from my face. He does not give me the burning glare he gives Jjaja Mukyala, but he gives me the raised voice he never gives her.

“They are weak,” I say, trying to keep my voice low so the girls don’t notice that I am afraid. “They are the weaker sex.” I wish Mukulu, too, would lower his voice.

“And?”

“And that I should never beat them.”

“And what did you just do?”

“They destroyed my shirt.”

“And what did you just do?”

“I knocked their heads with your walking stick.”

I quickly turn and say sorry to the girls only to appease Mukulu, but I don’t mean my apology. Inside I am glad I knocked their heads. They learned the lesson. Already they’ve stopped tossing stones in the ditch.

 

We are the last to arrive. All Mukulu’s friends—he calls them the generals—are seated on low benches inside Tongo’s one-room house. Mukayi’s bicycle is parked against Tongo’s water drum outside. The sun is still up but soon it will get dark, and Mukayi will get drunk, and he will ask me to transfer his bicycle to the veranda. I take my place on a fiber mat in the corner from where I can see Tongo go in and out of the pink-flowered cream curtain that separates her bed chamber from her bar.

Tongo has a different wig on her head today. And she is wearing a short red skirt. The generals pat and pinch her legs as she places glasses of alcohol on the small table in their midst. She laughs and promises to kick them but she does not. Other days, when she wears trousers, the generals pat her buttocks and she promises to slap them but she never does it. Everyone touches her except Mukulu. I wonder why.

Every time I see her place glasses on the table I wonder if Maama did it the same way. If Maama changed wigs like Tongo, if her lips were always bloody red. If there were generals in her bar who patted and pinched her legs and buttocks—I would shoot them with my catapult.

Tongo dances around, flailing her arms in the air. She is smiling. Then she sits on the table, taking care to avoid the glasses. This reminds me; what did Jjaja Mukyala mean yesterday when she said I was conceived on the table where Maama served her customers’ drinks? I will ask Mukulu on our way home.

 

We are on our way back home. The rubber string I stole from Mukayi’s bicycle is safely wrapped around my left leg, shielded by my khaki shorts. But its tightness is starting to cause me numbness. I feel like I will soon start to limp and Mukulu will notice. I want to pause and untie the string, but he will stop and watch me. I want to ask him my questions: how Maama conceived me on the table, how alcohol drunk her dead, how I started drinking the day I fell into Maama’s womb, but I can’t. He will touch my shoulder to make me stop walking, and then he will start explaining. And I will fret and he will notice my discomfort. Mukulu can never know that I stole the rubber string. He can never think that I am a bad boy. 

“Amaka Gange Amaggya” © Glaydah Namukasa. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Merit Ronald Kabugo. All rights reserved.

“Natandika okunywa omwenge okuva ku lunaku lwe neetondeka mu lubuto lwa nnyabo. Omwenge gwe gwatta nnyabo. Yatandika okugunya ng’akyali era yafa muto nnyo. Yanywa omwenge mungi nnyo okutuusa ekiseera lwe kyatuuka nga takyasobola kugunywa; olwo ate omwenge ogwali mu mubiri gwe ne gutandika okumunyunyunta okutuusa lwe gwamukalambaza n’afa.”

 

Ebigambo bino nabikwata bukusu era nzija kubitontomeramu Jjajja Mukulu leero akawungeezi bwe tunaaba tugenda mu kirabo ewa Tongo. Obwo bulimba! Bwatyo Mukulu bw’ajja okuddamu. Nategedde; Bulijjo Mukulu antegeeza nti ebigambo byonna Jjajja Mukyala by’ayogera ng’anyiize bibeera bya bulimba. Bya butaliimu!

 

Jjajja Mukyala yankyawa okuva ku lunaku lwe yatuggulirawo, nze ne Maama Lito, oluggi lw’akasiisira ke n’atukkiriza okuyingira. Maama Lito yeyanjula n’ategeeza nti yali mukwano gwa maama wange era n’annyonnyola nti nze nali mwana wa Ddamulira omugenzi. Jjajja Mukyala yali yazaala omwana omulenzi omu yekka, era nga ye mugenzi Ddamulira. Okweyanjula bwe kwaggwa, Jjajja Mukyala n’ategeeza Maama Lito nti taddamu okuweebuula erinnya lya mutabani we omugenzi, era bwatyo ne yekuba mangu ekisenge n’akomawo n’ebbakuli erimu amazzi. Yatandika okwetoloola ennyumba nga bw’annyika akeeyo k’ebisenke mu bbakuli y’amazzi ng’eno bw’agamansira mu nsonda ne ku bisenge by’ennyumba. Yategeeza nti gano gaali mazzi ga mukisa agaali gagenda okuganga enju ye kubanga saali muzukkulu we, wabula nali kisiraani.

 

Okuva kwolwo, Jjajja Mukyala tasalangako kundaga bukyayi. Mu kiseera ekyo nalina emyaka musanvu egy’obukulu. Kaakati mpeza emyaka kkumi egy’obukulu era nkimanyi nti andaba ng’emmomboze.

 

Naye Mukulu ye anjagala. Ampita muzzukulu.

 

Leero emisana Jjajja Mukyala yandagidde okusomba amazzi nzijuze eppipa. Kino tandagirangako kukikola. Nsuubira nti ayagala mbeere n’emirimu mingi ginnemese okuwerekerako Mukulu mu kirabo ky’omwenge.

 

Mukulu atera okugenda mu birabo by’omwenge, era buli lw’abeera agendayo, agenda nange. Agamba nti abeera ayagala musitulireko omuggo gwe, si kulwa ng’ajja kwetaaga okugukozesa. Mukulu omuggo guno tagukozesa, ne bw’aba atamidde. Atambula nange asobole okuntaasa ku Jjajja Mukyala ekiro.

 

Guno omulundi gwakutaano nga neserejja ku luzzi. Ensingo etandise okunnuma olw’okwetikka ekidomola ky’amazzi; obulumi bwagala kunzita. Naye ate sirina kuwummula. Eppipa tennaba kujjula.

Jjajja Mukyala asiiba atudde nga yezinze awo wansi ku mudaala ku kkubo w’atundira obwennyanja obukalu obwenkana ekibatu kyange, n’obunyaanya obwenkana ng’ennyindo yange, wamu ne nnakati n’ebbugga ebyawotoka edda. Alannamizza amagulu ge, kumpi ebigere bye ebiddugala byagala kukoona ku mwala ogulegamyemu amazzi oguli wakati w’omudaala gwe n’oluguudo. Azingiridde emikono gye wansi w’amabeere ge amanene ng’alinga ayagala okugawanirirako. Era ayambadde kabbulawuzi akataliiko mikono, akamutippye nga kalimu ebiba ebiddugavu n’ebya kakobe. Kuno ayambaliddeko sikaati eya kitaka. Zino ze ngoye z’ayambala kumpi buli lunaku. Engoye ezoolesa ennyama gye yabaza ku mikono gye, ku kifuba, ku lubuto ne mu kiwato bw’ogigeraageranya n’obugulu bwe obwaswaluka ate nabwo bw’ayolesa.

 

Ngezaako nnyo okumwewala nga mpita mu kakubo akekooloobya emmanju w’enju, ne kaggukira emiryango awali eppipa y’amazzi ewanikiddwa waggulu ku makooko ga kirundu. Mpalampira ku katuuti ke napanga mu matoffaali. Akatuuti kano ke kannyamba okusobola okutuuka waggulu mu ppipa. Nkangabalala ne nywera bulungi era bwe mba njiwa amazzi mu ppipa, amaaso gange sigaggya ku mazzi ge mbeera nzitulula kubanga mbeera mpulira muli obukambwe bw’eriiso Jjajja Mukyala ly’abeera ansimbye. Mbeera mpulira muli nga njagala waakiri amboggolere oba anvume; ebivumo binsingirako obukambwe bw’eriiso obubeera mu maaso g’antunuuliza.

 

Ntunuulira amazzi nga gafukumuka geggunda mu ppipa n’obuswandi nga gapikibwa akatuli akali waggulu ku kidomola. Ku lweserejja olw’omulundi ogwokuna, ekidomola kyansimattuse ku mutwe ne kyekatta wansi ku kyuma ekisongovu ekyabadde mu ttaka. Jjajja Mukyala agenda kundya obunyama singa ategeera ebyatuuse ku kidomola kye.

 

Newuunya okuba nti tannaba kunkaayuukira okuva lwe natandise okufukumula amazzi. Ebivumo bye tebikyantiisa. Ebigambo by’ayogerera omugenzi maama wange omwagalwa bye binnuma. Eno ye nsonga lwaki neesunga Mukulu akomewo mu kibuga tusobole okugenda mu kirabo ky’omwenge gy’atamiirira. Mukulu bw’abeera atamidde, ebibuuzo byange byonna abyanukula bulungi mu bujjuvu. Nzija kumubuuza anyinnyonnyole byonna Jjajja Mukyala bye yayogedde ku maama wange.

 

Mukulu yali atamidde lwe yahhamba nti anjagala; yali atamidde lwe yantegeeza nti maama wange yali anjagala, nti mikwano gya maama – Maama Lito, Maama Karo ne Maama Naki – abandabirira nga maama amaze okufa, bonna baali banjagala. Buli lw’abeera atamidde antegeeza nti musanyufu kubanga alina omuzzukulu. Yali atamidde lwe yansomesa walifu y’Olungereza n’okubala emiwendo. Buli wiikendi, bwe tuba tuva ku kirabo ky’omwenge, anjigiriza Olungereza.  Ye ye nsonga lwaki nze nkulembera bannange mu kibiina buli lusoma, newankubadde oluusi njosa ne sigenda ku ssomero.

 

Singa abaddewo wano kati yandibadde antikkula eggugu ly’omulimu guno… okuggyako… Eryo si ddoboozi lye?

 

“Musika Musika, yanguwako, yanguwako, tugende. Leeta omuggo gwange. Twakeereye dda.”

Mukulu akomyewo!

Ampita Musika, omusika, kubanga agamba nti buli ky’alina kyonna kyange. Bombi tebampita linnya lyange erya Yosiya Mondo. Jjajja Mukyala ampita mannya malala. Mbwa ggwe, Kisiraani ggwe, Muzimu ggwe. Naye ate Mukulu yantegeeza nti Jjajja Mukyala alina erinnya lye yabatiza buli kisiraani na buli kitalo ekyamutuukako mu bulamu bwe. Si musango gwange okuba nti ebisiraani bye asalawo okubibatiza amannya ng’ayitira mu nze. N’olwekyo nze amannya g’ampatiikako sigafaako.

 

“Musika!”

 

“Wangi, Mukulu!” Nkunkumula amazzi agabeera gasigaddemu, mbuuka ku katuuti ne nziruka okusala oluggya okugenda okumusisinkana, okumutegeeza nti nkyabuzaayo ebidomola by’amazzi ebirala bitaano bye nina okukima ku luzzi.

 

“Nedda nedda nedda. Ebyo bigira birinda. Weetegeke mangu omale ondeetere omuggo gwange.” Abuuse omufulejje era kaakati yesimbye awali Jjajja Mukyala apiikaana n’essungu. Nziruka mangu okuyingira mu nnyumba.

 

Ndi munda mu nnyumba, mu kisenge ekijjudde cakalacakala, mwe njala obuliri bwange ekiro ng’obudde buzibye, ate era we tukozesa ng’eddiiro emisana. Eddirisa ly’ekisenge kino eriri waggulu w’obuliri bwange liggule era empewo eyingiza obusagwa bw’ebigambo bya Jjajja Mukyala, ebibalagala ng’olunyata mu maaso.

 

“Ogenda wa leero?” awogganira Mukulu. “Wa Brown? Wa Tina? Njagala osange ebisiraani gy’olaga! Ogwe ekigwo! Omenyeke okugulu!”

 

Mukulu akyesimbye waali. Neeraliikiridde muli nti okutiisatiisa kw’ebisiraani okumukoleddwako kuyinza okumutengula emmeeme n’asazaamu olugendo lwaffe. Laba nate era ndi ne Mukulu nga tugenda tusarinkiriza; tugenda mu kirabo ky’omwenge ewa Tongo! Tugenda mu bbaala ya Tongo, so si walala wonna!

 

Kale njagala Tongo. Mu bakyala abangi abatunda omwenge mu birabo bye twali tugenzeemu ne Mukulu, Tongo gwe nsinga okwagala kubanga abeera musanyufu nga ne mmange bwe yali. Nze nkimanyi. Bwe nasooka okubuuza Mukulu ebikwata ku maama, yantegeeza nti teyamulabako nga mulamu. Naye yawuliranga abantu nga bagamba nti yalinga mukyala musanyufu. “Omukyala eyasanyukiranga buli muntu yenna,” bwatyo bwe yantegeeza. Tongo abeera musanyufu buli kiseera. Ansanyukira, era kino buli lw’akikola mbeera ndaba omukwano gwa nnyabo. Ate bw’ankwatako n’ampeweeta ku bibegabega, mpulira muli omukwano gwa nnyabo; neerabira ennaku eyantuukako nga nkyali bbujje.

 

Ate ekirala, ewa Tongo gye nzija okufuna ebintu bye netaaga okumaliriza okukola butida yange. Netaaga olukoba lwe hhenda okubba ku kkaliya y’eggaali ya Mukayi. Buli lwe tugenda mu kirabo kya Tongo, tusanga Mukayi atamidde.

 

Jjo nakoze butida. Ekyokulwanyisa kino kijja kututaasa kubanga ennaku zino tukomawo kiro nnyo okuva mu birabo by’omwenge. Nafuna akati k’omupeera akaliko amakabi. Nga bwe mpisa obulusu ku ngalo zange – ndaba Mukulu ayisa obulusu ku ngalo ze ng’asiba ebintu – nasibye olukoba ne ndumyumyula waggulu ku busongezo bwa butida. Kati mbuzaako ekikoba ekiwanvu, ekigazi kye nzija okusiba okwetolooza akati k’amakabi obuseerevu obukaliko bubikkibwe enjola z’ekikoba kino. Enjola zino zinnyamba okukwata butida n’enywera bulungi mu ngalo nga hhenda okukuba ssabbaawa. Ate butida bw’enywera obulungi mu ngalo kinnyamba okukuba ekintu ne nkisona bulungi. Ssabbiiti ewedde nakuhhaanya ggama nnamba ey’amayinja amawunde obulungi ge hhenda okukozesa ng’amasasi mu butida yange.

 

Nga bwe nkwata mu kaveera akaddugavu akalimu ebintu byange, nsabirira muli Mukulu adduke mangu atere asegulire ebivumo bya Jjajja Mukyala. Nsikayo essaati yange eya bbululu ow’amazzi – essaati y’emikono emiwanvu yokka gye nina – Mukulu gye yangulira ku Ssekukkulu ewedde, n’empale yange eya kakki. Nyanjuluza essaati ku mufaliso gwange oguzingiddwa, ne ngezaako okugiggyamu amavuunya nga nkozesa engalo zange. Oluvannyuma nteeka amazzi ku kawero akakola ng’ekyangwe kyange ne nesiimuula enfuufu ku bigere.

 

Jjajja Mukyala ayingira mu nnyumba amangu ago. Ansanga nkikiitana ne zipu yange eyataggulukuka.

 

“Bw’otolekeraawo kugenda mu birabo  bya mwenge na jjajjaawo, omwenge gujja kutandika okukufenkenya nga bwe gwafenkenya nnyoko!” Ampandulira amalusu ku bigere.

 

Laba obugwagwa nate. Alowooza nti nywa omwenge so nga sigunywa. Simanyi oba ndinywa omwenge nga nkuze. Mukulu tayagalira ddala nywe mwenge. Bwe tubeera mu kirabo, angulira mubisi gwokka. Ewa Tongo, Mukulu angulirayo sooda ow’ekika kya Fanta, gwe nsinga okuwoomerwa.

 

“Omubiri gwo gujjuddemu ekintabuli ky’omwenge omuzungu, omuganda, amalwa, emmandule… eh! Njogere ki ndeke ki?” Akutama wendi kyokka nze ne sisitula mutwe nga bwe yandinsuubidde okukola. Ayimiridde kumpi nnyo nange; ekivundu kinzita ekiva mu nseenene eziri mu kisero  ky’aweese. Enseenene zino nze nazikutte jjo, naye yahhaanye okuzisiika nga zikyali nsu. Kaakati zimaze okuvunda naye akyayagala okuzirya.

 

Mukulu ayingira mu nnyumba. Nziba oluuso mpolampola ne mutunuulira, nga nsuubira nti ajja kusikayo omuggo gwe agugalulire Jjajja Mukyala asobole okumungobako. Naye takikola. Ayitawo buyisi n’agenda mu kisenge kye. Naye Mukulu mwesiga. Singa akenga nti Jjajja Mukyala antulugunya, ajja kubaako ky’akolawo.

 

“Musika, twala omuggo gwange, onnindire wali wabweru.” Jjajja Mukyala asoonooka mpola n’agenda afutubbala mu mulyango. Omugongo gwe gwagaagala ne guziba omulyango. Ndowooza ateekateeka kunkwata magulu na kunkonkona ngolo ku bukongovule nga mmuyitako.

 

“Ndowooza ne mu ntaana oligenda naye,” bye bigambo Jjajja Mukyala by’atuwereekereza nga tubuuka omufulejje. Atolotooma nga bw’agaaya enseenene envundu; ng’atabika omugoyo gw’ebigambo bye, obutwe bw’enseenene, ebyoya n’ebibuto byazo.

 

Nyimiriramu kubanga sikyawulira lugabire za Mukulu bwe zepacca ku bisinziiro bye. hhenda okukyuka nga ndaba addayo yekandagga okwolekera Jjajja Mukyala. Bw’atuuka waali n’ayimirira n’amwesimba mu maaso. Mpulira njagala kudduka nzireyo mmukwase omuggo ggwe amuwuttule nnyaabula. Mpulira muli nga Jjajja Mukyala yetaagayo essomo erinaamukomya okuntulugunya. Naye nsigala nnyimiridde kubanga nkimanyi nti Mukulu tajja kumukuba. Nsaba nnyo bulijjo Jjajja Mukyala afuneko ku buwoomi bw’obulumi bw’okuwuulwa omuggo, okupaccibwa oluyi, oba okufuntulwa agakonde. Singa aloza ku bubalagaze obwo, tajja kuddayo kunkijjanya.

 

Atunudde eri naye manyi nti amulaze obukambwe obwa bulijjo, emitaafu gimwetimbye mu kyenyi, amaaso ge gasuukiira. Kino ky’akola buli kiseera Jjajja Mukyala lw’amutankuula; kukambuwala na kusiba mitaafu. Emirundi egimu awuuba omuggo gwe naye tagumukuba. Agalula oluyi naye talumupacca.

 

Jjajja Mukyala abaako ky’atolotooma ekireetera Mukulu okukyuka omulundi gumu. Ndowooza amugambye nti ‘nsonyiwa’ asobole okumuleka. Jjajja Mukyala tabonerera. Buli lunaku asosonkereza Mukulu, era nange ankijjanya. Buli Mukulu lw’aba taliiwo, omukyala ono abaako ekintu ky’ankola; ayinza okuninnya ekigere, okunkoona olukokola, okunkonkona omutwe ng’abadde ampitako, oba okunsuna obutumbugulu singa mmuyitako ng’atudde wansi. 

 

Nga bulijjo, nze nkulemberamu nga tugenda twewagaanya mu mugotteko gw’obuyumba bw’e Kikubo; anti guno gwe muliraano gwaffe. Obuyumba bwonna bumpi nnyo; buli kiseera Mukulu abeera alina okukutamako okwetegula ebisasi by’essubi eriserese obuyumba buno. Obuwunjuwunju bwonna obusarinkiriza mu Kikubo mbumanyi. Okusomoka omugotteko gw’obuyumba buno si kyangu kubanga tulina okubuuka emifulejje egicuuma, n’okusaabala entuumu za kasasiro. Ezimu ku ntuumu zino ngulumivu nnyo, nga kitwetaagisa kuzetoloola okusobola okuziyitako, nga bwe tugenda tulinnya ku mitulumbi gy’embwa ne kkapa envundu, nga bwe tubuuka ebicupacupa n’ebikebe ebyatifu. Ntambula negendereza kubanga saambadde ngatto mu bigere.

 

Emirundi egimu bwe nva ku ssomero, ntambulatambulako mu mugotteko gw’obuyumba buno nga noonya obukubo obutaliimu kubuuka mifulejje na kwetoloola Nsozi za Kasasiro. Sinnaba kuzuulayo n’akamu. Mukulu tasobola kubuuka mifulejje migazi nnyo. Ayitira ku butindo obuyuuga. Naye sirina kutya kwonna kubanga nkimanyi nti muwanvu nnyo ddala nga tasobola kubbira singa olutindo lumenyeka n’agwa mu kazambi.

 

Namanyiira obusirise bwa Mukulu, era nange obugenze nga bunkwata. Byonna ebitwetoolodde byogera okuggyako ffe. Nina ekibuuzo kye njagala okubuuza Mukulu naye ate mpulira muli nga kijja kuba kikyamu okukutulamu akasirise kaffe. Naye era mala ne nkakutulamu.

 

 “Mukulu, ekintu ekikuli munda mu mubiri kisobola okutandika okukulya… kisobola okukunywamu… omusaayi gwonna?”

 

“Ekiki?”

 

“Kisoboka okuba nti… singa omuntu anywa ennyo omwenge, omwenge ogwo gumala ne gumunyunyuntamu omusaayi gwe gwonna?”

 

“Ebyo Jjajja Mukyala ye yabyogedde?”

 

“Yee. Nti maama wange omwenge gwe gwamutta. Yatandika okunywa omwenge ng’akyali muto era n’afa nga muto nnyo. Yanywa omwenge mungi nnyo okutuusa ekiseera lwe kyatuuka nga takyasobola kugunywa; olwo omwenge ogwali mu mubiri gwe ne gutandika okumunyunyunta okutuusa lwe gwamukalambaza n’afa.”

 

Nzita ku bigere, nga ninda ateeke omukono gwe ku kibegabega kyange. Kino akikola buli lw’abeera agenda okubaako ensonga gy’anyinyonnyola

 

Akasiriikiriro.

 

Ntandika okwekwakkula, nga ntambula nyanguyirira kubanga obusungu bunnuma era bujula okunjabya; okusirika kwa Mukulu si kwe kunsunguwazza wabula obutali bugumiikiriza bwange. Nandirinze okutuusa ng’amaze okutamiira. Mukulu tanyinyonnyola kintu kyonna okuggyako ng’atamidde.

 

Nkizuula nti Mukulu mmulaze obusungu bwange, bwentyo nzita ku bigere. Sirina kusunguwalira Mukulu. Anjagala nnyo. Newuunya obukugu bw’akozesa okunsomesa n’okunyinyonnyola ebintu ng’atamidde. Kino kyongera okundeetera okwewuunya omwenge. Omwenge gusobola gutya okuba omubi bwe gutyo ate omulungi ekyenkanidde awo? Buli lunaku Jjajja Mukyala aleekaana, ‘bwe waba waliyo ekintu ekirikutta, gulibeera mwenge.’ Naye Mukulu agamba nti bwe waba waliyo ekintu ekimukuuma nga mulamu, gwe mwenge. Omwenge gusobola gutya okuba omubi bwe gutyo n’okutuuka okutta maama wange, ate nga mulungi okuzaama okutuuka okukuuma Mukulu nga mulamu?

 

Tutuuka ku mufulejje ogusooka, ogwawula ennyumba ya Taata Kiwa ku ya Taata Lule. Lule ne Kiwa nsoma nabo mu ssomero lye limu. Ebyovu ebya kitaka ebikyafu ebyerembese waggulu ku mufulejje bivulula ng’obuugi bw’obusera obukwafu obutokotera mu ntamu. Jjuuzi, omufulejje guno gwajjula ne gubooga nga nnamutikwa w’enkuba atonnye. Kazambi asseeko katono wansi naye era akyasobola okuleetera omwana omulala ow’emyaka ebiri okubbira, nga bwe gwali mu kire ky’enkuba kiri.

 

Obuwala bubiri obuli kumpi obukunya busitamye kumpi n’omufulejje nga bumenyamenya amatoffaali agaabumbibwa mu ttaka nga bwe busuula amafunfugu mu kazambi abimbye ejjovu; bumwenyereketa ng’amafunfugu amanene gedomola mu kazambi, ne gongera okuleeta ejjovu, n’okufulumya eddoboozi eriringa erya Jjajja Mukyala ly’afulumya ng’abejjagala.

 

Olutindo Mukulu lw’alina okuyitako lwa biti bibiri eby’ekifenensi nga buli kimu kyesudde akabanga akawerako okuva ku kinnaakyo. Ndi musanyufu okuba nti waliwo olutindo okumpi wano olutuwonya okugenda nga twetoloola; naye ate era nkimanyi nti ebiti bino tuyinza obutabisangawo amadda. Omuntu akyayinza okubibbawo abifuule enku.

Bwe mba mbuuka omufulejje, kazambi acuuma okufa atonnya ku mukono gw’essaati yange, n’alekako ekipaapi ekya kitaka. Numba obuwala ne mbukonkona emitwe nga nkozesa entolima y’omuggo gwa Mukulu.

 

“Tokikola!” Mukulu awoggana nga bw’adduka okujja wendi.

 

“Labayo, Mukulu!” Musikirayo omukono gwange alabe ekipaapi ekiri ku ssaati gye yangulira.

 

“Kiki kye nakugamba ku bakazi?” tanzigyako maaso. Tansibira mitaafu nga bw’agisibira Jjajja Mukyala, naye ankangulira eddoboozi ly’atamukangulira.

 

“Banafu,” nziramu nga ngezaako okussa eddoboozi lyange obuwala buleme okutegeera nti ntidde. “Baatondebwa nga banafu ku basajja.” Nsaba muli nti singa Mukulu naye akakkanya ku ddoboozi lye.

 

 “N’olwekyo?”

 

“N’olwekyo sirina kubakuba.”

 

“Ate kiki ky’ova okukola?”

 

“Bonoonye essaati yange.”

 

“Ate kiki ky’ova okukola?”

           

“Mbakonkonye emitwe nga nkozesa entolima y’omuggo gwo.”

 

Nkyuka mangu ne netondera obuwala olw’okusanyusa Mukulu, naye nga sikitegeeza. Munda muli ndi musanyufu okuba nga mbukonkonye emitwe. Buyize essomo. Bulekeddaawo okukasuka amayinja mu mufulejje.

 

Ffe tusembyeyo okutuuka. Mikwano gya Mukulu gyonna – abayita baduumizi ba ggye – gitudde ku butebe obumpi mu kasenge ka Tongo. Eggaali ya Mukayi agyesigamizza ku ppipa ya Tongo wabweru. Enjuba tennaba kugwa naye obudde bunaatera okuziba, era Mukayi ajja kutamiira ansabe muteere eggaali ye ku lubalaza. Ntuula ku mukeeka mu nsonda we nsobola okulabira Tongo ng’ayingira n’okufuluma mu lutimbe olw’ebimuli ebya kakobekobe olwawula obuliri bwe ku bbaala.

 

Tongo leero yasibye enviiri ndala ku mutwe gwe. Era ayambadde ssikaati emyufu nga nnyimpi. Abaduumizi b’eggye bamukubaakuba ku ntumbwe nga bwe bazisunaasuna, eno nga bw’atuuza ggiraasi z’omwenge ku kameeza akali wakati mu ddiiro. Asekaaseka era n’atiisatiisa okubasamba naye takikola. Emirundi egimu bw’abeera ayambadde empale empavu, abaduumizi b’eggye bamukubaakuba ku bunyuma era n’atiisatiisa okubakuba empi naye takikola. Buli muntu amukwatako okuggyako Mukulu. Nebuuza lwaki.

 

Buli lwe mmulaba ng’atuuza ggiraasi ku kameeza nebuuza oba ddala maama wange naye bwatyo bwe yali akola. Oba nga ddala maama yakyusanga enviiri nga Tongo, oba ddala emimwa gye gyali mimyukirivu ng’omusaayi. Oba ddala waaliwo abaduumizi b’eggye mu kirabo kye abaamutigaatiganga amagulu n’obunyuma wamu n’okubisunaasuna – nandibakubye ne butida yange.

 

Tongo agenda azinaazina nga bw’akasuka emikono mu bbanga. Asekaaseka. N’oluvannyuma atuula ku kameeza, nga yegendereza obutakoona ggiraasi. Kino kirina kye kinzijukiza; Jjajja Mukyala yabadde ategeeza ki jjo bwe yagamba nti olubuto lwange nnyabo yalufunira ku kameeza kwe yali agabulira abaguzi ebyokunywa? Nzija kubuuza Mukulu nga tuddayo eka.

 

Tuli mu kkubo tuddayo eka. Olukoba lwe nabbye ku ggaali ya Mukayi ndwezingiridde ku kugulu, nga lwekwese munda mu mpale yange eya kakki. Naye ndumyumyudde nnyo era ntandise okuwulira okusannyalala. Mpulira muli nga naatera okutandika okuwenyera era nga Mukulu ajja kundaba. Njagala kusooka kuyimirira nsobole okuddiriza olukoba, naye ate naye ajja kuyimirira antunuulire. Njagala kumubuuza bibuuzo byange: engeri maama wange gye yafunira olubuto lwange ku kameeza, engeri omwenge gye gwamunyunyunta okutuusa okumutta, engeri gye natandika okunywa omwenge okuva ku lunaku lwe neetondeka mu lubuto lwa nnyabo, naye sisobola. Ajja kunkwata ku kibegabega annyimirize, olwo atandike okunyinyonnyola. Era ajja kundaba nga nennyamira n’okubulwa emirembe. Mukulu tasobola kumanya nti nabba olukoba. Tasobola kusuubira nti ndi mwana wa mpisa mbi.




Glaydah NamukasaGlaydah Namukasa

Glaydah Namukasa is a midwife and writer, and a member of the Uganda Women Writers’ Association, FEMRITE. Her young adult novel, Voice of a Dream, won the 2005/2006 Macmillan Writers Prize for Africa-Senior Prize. Her novel The Deadly Ambition won her the 2006 Michael and Marilee Fairbanks International Fellowship to attend the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference in Ripton, Vermont, USA. In March 2013 she was a writer in residence at The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Milan, Italy. In fall 2008 she was awarded the title of Honorary Fellow by the International Writers Program (IWP), University of Iowa, USA. Her short stories have been published in anthologies in Uganda, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. She has written three books for children, all published under Pan African, Macmillan. She has also been a visiting writer in residence at City of Asylum Pittsburgh, and Ledig House International writers’ residence, Hudson, New York. Currently she is working on her third novel.

Translated from LugandaLuganda by Merit Ronald KabugoMerit Ronald Kabugo

Dr. Merit Ronald Kabugo is a lecturer of linguistics, English language studies, and communication skills at Makerere University, Uganda. He teaches translation studies, pragmatics, and editing skills, among other courses in the areas of applied linguistics and discourse analysis.  Merit also does research in these subject areas. He offers translation, editing, proofreading and language consultancy services to the academic community, as well as to other national and international groups and organizations. He has translated, supervised and certified translation assignments for individuals, organizations and agencies, including Government Ministries and Departments, Security Organizations, Courts of Law, Hospitals, NGOs, Religious Organizations, Research Organizations, and individuals. Merit’s translation work covers a wide range of material including academic, legal, medical, religious, agricultural, audio-visual, commercial and ordinary types of discourse.

Merit is currently the official translator and language consultant for several organizations involved in HIV/AIDS research in Uganda, including Makerere University Walter Reed Project, the Rakai Health Sciences Program, the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), the Medical Research Council (MRC), IAVI, MJAP, and other research agencies like the Malaria Consortium, Africare Uganda, the Hunger Project, and ANPPCAN. In 2010, he served as a senior translator during the public hearings of the Commission of Inquiry into the burning of the Kasubi Royal Tombs UNESCO World Heritage Site.