His blindly reached for the ancient watch that he still adored. Peering through one eye, he saw the time. It was 4:30am: He was late!!
He tried to swing his legs over to the side of the bed, but it wasn’t like 50 years ago. His muscles and joints screamed as he made his way to the door. He saw the lamp on and smiled…That child was just like her mother, he smiled to himself. He pulled out one of the two chairs left. As he sat a sigh escaped his lips, he closed his eyes and remembered his only child Sanyu. She had been his pride and joy…until that rascal came into town! Left her pregnant and hightailed out of town. Oh, how times have changed, he thought to himself…She had died giving birth to the twins, Wasswa and Nakato.
She bustled in, jerrycan on her head, as soon as she saw him, she placed it on the floor and went to greet her, Jajja. Soon as the breakfast was ready her brother entered the room, lugging two jerrycans. One look at him and Jajja knew he wouldn’t find out what had happened. The boy’s eye and lip screamed he had been looking for trouble. He massaged his head and left to change.
This would be a long day, Mama Nabirye had asked him to fill in for her, Her grand daughter was in Mulago and she had to stay with her. He missed is long time friend Hamza, after surviving dictators and terrible economic depression, not to mention running from soldiers in the dead of the night, he died from internal bleeding: just because noone at the hospital had taken an interest. Malaria is what they had told him – but Mama Nabirye had a friend who had a friend who worked in the hospital for dead bodies – she had told them.
They hadn’t filled Hamza’s position yet, they had assumed Jajja would take over. As he left the house he had called home, he wondered how much time he had left before they would come asking for the money… A few years ago he had taken out a loan, he was so behind on paying fees and his salary had been delayed again, then the man had been nice enough, he had even said he would use the house as security…that all changed…
As soon as he got to work, he saw Teresa’s wrinkled smile and Petero waved at him from the opposite side. Today, his stretch was from Mulago Roundabout to Makerere Hill Road – Till the junction of Makerere Hill and Col. Gadd road – He picked up his broom and began. As he put the rubbish in the wheelbarrow, Teresa asked him to bring it over, hers was full to the brim.
Even though his muscles protested, he pushed it over the little island, he had to wait for the cars to pass, praying someone would stop and let him by – but then again…that was only a prayer…- His arms began to ache, as the last car passed, he pushed with all his might and got to Teresa. Reminding himself, this was just until his grandchildren finished school.
Deja vu, he remembered saying the exact same thing years ago!