They always talked of a summary of a thousand miles and I had never paid a penny of conscience to what it really stood for, not even a thought of it had ever crossed my visions, both of yesterday and tomorrow. Life was as if it was automated, I wonder what had been put in my founding heart to be.
A life of peace showered with the melodies of afro-Caribbean, salsa dance and zouk beats were all I would yearn for each and every weekend that passed by. Live performances were just a page if it were a book for me to open, the world around me was never a thought of concern, not even a toast of care, as if change would never touch my fugitive soul, yet it is a fact if I am to borrow from the linguistics like Professor Huggins. Don’t quote me, I never watched “My Fair Lady” as of then!
Oh mother, mother! She never let go of my hand, her footsteps monitored mine in whatever world she moved to. Whether at school, in those English lessons she conducted or from the hospital where she nursed the wounded, at times in the theatres, in choir singing the melodious tenor and the super notch alto. Witnessing all these was my job, as if God had created me to walk by. Life was as if God made it a red carpet for me to walk on and along, not knowing one time she will be a fallen angel. At my tender age, I attended school so obediently as if I was a home ambassador of the Lujjumba family. During the weekly assemblies, announcements were passed of how a pupil had lost a close one. That, had never been at any time my concern, even collecting condolences, I thought was a practice that I would never witness.
Two months later that year, I do not want to remember but I cannot help it, one of my playful childhood friends lost an auntie. Ssebwegamo, told me about his loss but all I replied was, “remember that game in the legends of the hidden city?” My dear friend did not reply my insensitive soulless question. He just kept it to himself. As I said earlier on I didn’t care about that. Death was never at my cross roads, never! People around home died and lost children, even those of a tender age. But it did not bother me.
As the winds blew, seasons of change took their course shifting on unnoticed. Mother kept silent of the world around her, only to see that we were no longer going for the weekend shows, neither could she dance her favorite salsa dance. Playful as I was never paid a lot attention besides I used to sleep and eat well, never did I have yawns of hunger.
Years walked by, months tip toed along, minutes and seconds did what they were good at and all roads started heading to the hospital. Surprisingly, this went down in phases, not knowing that this would turn out to be a life time lesson for me to painfully trickle down. First of all, a few weeks later, my sister got withered down with a type of fever. I never got to witness and she joined my mother in the hospital. Good news came along that my mother was discharged though my sister never got to survive the fever as conditions worsened, Juliet Naluwaga passed on. That did not bother me as much because playing is all I always thought of. Juliet’s body was brought home and a day later she was buried, her absence never rang any bells in me. Still I never bothered after all my mother was still alive. Oh! I now wail over my heart of stone then.
A year passed by and I graduated to primary three, as time drew closer, mum developed a staunch illness that I have never got to know up to today. Kitovu hospital became our next home. With all the scent of medicine in its different types, argh! I cursed those moments, little did I know she would never stand straight and tall again. There were no more singing of songs by Monique Seka like her famous “Missouwa,” “Okoman” and “”Ami O.” Dancing salsa became a fairy tale, mum became softer each day that grew. This took a while, close to a week and to months until November.
I still used to attend school as before but life was not interesting as it was. Days rolled from the first and on. One of those Tuesdays I normally had fun while moving back home, a group of children passed by softly speaking to my ear that, “Roy, kale Maama atufudeko” they sorrowfully said, meaning that my mother had passed on. It then hit me so hard that I decided not to believe what I had heard until I reached home.
It took me faster than before to reach home, only to find a crowd of people with their faces painted with misery. Looking further, I saw my sister cry bitterly, deeply and endlessly. All people looked at me with eyes of pity. Straight to the neighbors, they rushed me to have lunch but it was tasteless as if I have never eaten. The world around became bitter, full of wails and mourns, but plans went on, of how big and deep the grave was to be. Rev. Fr Ssegawa brought her body home, it was laid into the commons as rosary prayers were recited, seeing her laid and covered I was not yet even next to confirming she was dead, ooh…! I was so naïve.
I remember that day, as clear as I got closer to her. I still thought she was sleeping by, and hoping she would wake up and we would sing songs of Tshala Mwana with her “Karibu Yangu”, Oliver Ngoma’s “Adia.” However, that hope never came true. The disappointment got real and deeper, when I got closer and closer to where she was laid, just by one touch, mum was cold, quiet, stiff, and wrinkled like never before. Before I could even cry out loud, my voice was already full of anguish and sadness. From that day on, I realized and accepted that death really exists, my doubtful soul testifies up todate. Indeed death is a summary of a thousand miles. My mother Annet Namirembe Jumba, her life was too short a memory.