Saturday, 18 January 2020

Nabirye

"NABIRYE!" Her mother called. It was 3.30 am, the sun was still on leave and crickets rubbed their wings together to chirp. Nabirye was fast asleep trying to recuperate but her mother wasn't having any of that.

"Olowoza chai aida kwe kola yenka?" Do you think the tea is going to make itself? Her mother asked. Mama Nabirye had been through hell and back so never gave her only child any room to slack. They did everything together.

"Mbe mama," no mother, Nabirye responded under her breath. Afraid of her mother throwing the habitual shoe at her if she tried to talk back.

Nabirye pulled the mosquito net from below her mattress where she had tucked it and slowly dragged herself out of bed. They lived in a kasisira close to the skirts of a famous swamp area near Kyoga. It was peaceful for them but the distance to the city centre was a nightmare.

"Yeh lwaki tolongosa sapatu Edo ekifo kyotukubira kelele?"
Nabirye's blue sapatu were torn on one end of the right, so she dragged about as she attempted to move. Her mother had grown exhausted of telling her to fix them nonetheless, every morning, it was the usual complaint. Nabirye had grown numb to it so paid her no mind. She dragged along to the outside where she had stored water in yellow cooking oil jerrican for future use. She dubbed the water over her face, pulled out a stick from the pockets of her dress and used it to brush her teeth. After freshening up. She walked back into the kasisira.

"Maama," she called upon her mother.

"Tuja fumba chai ki leero?"  Nabiyre's mother run a tea business in the city centre. She made a mean cup of tea for the city men that did all the manual labour and had to be in town before the break of dawn.

"Buli eido tufumba ki?" What is it we cook everyday? Nabirye's mother responded. She wasn't much of a morning person. So there was always tension in the house between the both of them before they were fully woke.

"Gya oteku sigiri." Go and light the charcoal stove, she told Nabirye as she prepared their clothes for the day. Nabirye dragged her way back outside to put charcoal on the stove and light it. She stacked charcoal atop the grill, put a couple of papers into the stove's chamber, lit up a match and Burnt a green poly bag which she shoved right into the chamber. The papers lit, and she continuously added a few more till the charcoal caught fire. She kept waving down at it with a small piece of iron sheet until the stove was lit and ready to cook. She walked back into the house, picked the soot filled kettle and took it outside to the stove. She picked the Jerry can filled with water and poured it into the kettle and let it sit for a while.

As the water boiled, Nabirye picked up the broom made out of sorghum straw, and swept the yard  in the dark before she would be told by her mother. It was another one of her morning chores. One she always did after putting on tea. After which, she had to clean the house as her mother made snacks that she sold to her clients.

After they were done with their chores, Nabirye and her mother dressed up and left home by five thirty to make it into town right after the break of dawn.

Their morning walks were silent strolls towards the rising sun. For them the beauty of the rising sun was sign of another day in the hard knock city. Nabirye silently dreaded it, but had to study because she knew her mother had invested in her. Their hope lay in her succeeding in school

When they got into town, they went their separate ways and Nabirye walked to her school and her mum to the centre where she sold her tea. School for Nabirye was a breeze. She was smart and hardworking so she picked up things quiet easily. This day was different.

The morning was a cup of tea for her until the next session after lunch came her way. Nabirye was seated in class, and felt a sharp pain in her stomach. Her first period had come, and she was unaware of how to deal with it in the moment. She was embarrassed to tell her friends so she kept silent and her mood dampened as time went by.

"Nabirye, what's the problem? Teacher Isabirye  asked her.

"Nothing, sir." She responded.

"Then why yo are lookingi like samsing is bazaring you?" He added.

She couldn't point out her situation and her teachers concern was genuine because Nabirye was among the good children. The pain from her stomach took a toll on her over time, so she eventually raised her hand, and her teacher walked up to her. When he walled her way, she stood and tried to whisper in his ear not to let her friends ease drop.

"Sir, my stomach is probleming me"  she passed her English tests, but when she spoke, her English failed her. So she was shy to speak  among her friends.

Her classmates at the front of the class started to giggle, the giggles grew louder till the back, and when she turned. They were laughing at her and pointing at her. She got embarrassed thinking they had heard her speak to her teacher. She put her picfare books into her black polythene bag and rushed out of the class crying before her teacher would give her permission.

"NABIRYE! NABIYRE!" Her teacher called out to her. But she didn't turn back.

"Ploosi" teacher Isabirye called Nabirye's neighbour.

"You follow her and find out de problem."

When pross made it outside to try and catch up with Nabirye, she was long gone. She had run to the school latrine area, and sat there to shed a tear until the pain washed away. She gathered herself, held her black polythene bag tight a round her chest and decided to make her way back home.

She knew her mother would make her way back home late, so she decided to use and alternate route to cut her journey shorter but her mother's voice kept ringing in her head,

'Eyo tobitayo, waliyo agayaye eyo aganwa endaga'

She was worried about the warming as it rung in her head but she was too down to take the longer route. All she wanted was to get home.

As she made her way through the dirt path filled with gullies to the side because of the rains, she meandered as she watched how the city dwellers went about their busy lives. Close to the exit of the pathway, it narrowed and was filled with shrubs and there was a group of goons that were playing omweso to pass time. Her heart startled in the moment, and her mother's words echoed.

'Oba ndireyo?' Should I go back? She thought to her self. She had made it to far to go back, so she held her poly bag tight and moved forward.

"IWE!" One of the goons barked,

"Biki ebyo ebiri mu kavera?" he added. He was prying over what was in her poly bag. He got up, spat green slime from his mouth to the ground and reached out to reach for her poly bag. She pulled back and said,

"NDEKA!"  the boys started to get roudy, some through the green leaves of mirunji from their supply at her to tease her. She stood her ground in the moment, it made them furious because she wasn't being  submissive. The boy then shoved her and she fell face flat to the ground, and they started to make raucous noise to scare her. One of the boys noticed the stain of blood on her dress and said.

"Onto aidwireh musayi tumwendeza ki, ye?" She has blood all over what are we going to do with her? He said. Then it struck her why her classmates had been laughing at her.

As if her day wouldn't get worse, they started to kick her and tell her,

"Vva wano, twalele omusayi gwo!" Leave this place and take your blood with you. She felt embarrassed and powerless and a man from the distance shouted to the boys.

"OMWHANA MUMULEKE!" He came dashing towards them, some of them scattered to save themselves but one. The leader of the gang that started teasing her.

"Oja kola wo ki?" The boy asked the man as he approached. He stood his ground and wore a senseless arrogance to aid his bravado. When the man reached he jabbed him in the stomach and pushed him to the side, and in that moment, the boy retired.

"Oli bulungi?" He asked as he tried to hold her up. Her mind was baffled, she could barely keep it together. When she looked up, she realised it was one of her mother's clients, in that moment; a guardian angel. He walked her to the main road, and saw her off till she disappeared in the far distance.

The walk home took another toll on her, when she reached home, she took off her dress, placed it on the floor and pondered how her day had gone before she had slept off as a solution to numb her pain

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