It was Holy Thursday night and the stars were bright, the shepherds huddled around their flocks taking sips from stone cold canteens, chatting, nodding and on occasion jumping with childlike animation to the sounds of merrymaking wafting up the hill from the city. Wait, that’s a Christmas story. Sorry, this is the day we string him up.
It was Holy Thursday night and there was not a soul in sight. Peter ducked into the garden and paused to catch his breath, leaning on a mango tree he looked up and let out a long breath. No one had followed him, he was sure of that. He had just managed to sneak away in the ensuing confusion after that stupid bird had pointed him out and started asking questions. So what if he knew the nigga, so what if he had followed him all over the township, that didn’t make him an acolyte, curious maybe, friendly yes, but martyr, no sir. Sure, there had been some good times, good food, wine, women and the occasional magic trick but nothing to warrant putting his hands and feet on the block. No, no, no, he wasn’t going to do this. Johnny would have to understand. Call him a rake, but he wasn’t about to get his head chopped off, I mean, there was no upside whatsoever. Sure, eternal life was a possibility but that could surely wait, did it have to happen now? No. So he had taken off as soon as that turban wearing, holier than thou, stick wielding false prophet had been relieved of his auditory appendage. Served him right for attempting to listen to that harlot, she had no doubt started telling him about Tuesday night in the vineyard. Silly girl. He knew it had been a mistake but he had given in, driven by the smell and taste of grapes he had cavorted with her and told her all about his time with Johnny and the others and now that Johnny was in the cooler, she figured a few sestertii could be had by giving up his accomplices.
It was holy Thursday night and I had wrapped up my work a few hours earlier. I was seated in a popular watering hole in Bugolobi waiting for Paul. Paul is the PiFF treasurer and is responsible for crunching numbers and distributing monies to the people who need them, for PiFF projects that is, it would be nice if his job was to stand by the roadside and dish out gees. I was waiting to pick some monies and other items from him. The PiFF and STAN EDUCATION FUND had agreed to join efforts to take some Easter joy to Koch Lii Primary School in Koch Lii, Nwoya district. A handful of PiFFers donated clothes, books, shoes, some dodgy tee-shirts, swimwear and a fanny pack, all that was left was the stuff Paul had at his, which was the text and reading books, some scholastic materials donated by the PiFF as a whole and of course, the gees.
I was reluctant to relax because I wanted to make sure we had everything packed and ready for an early morning set-off before I could join the rest of Kampala in celebrating an old murder mystery which despite the clear lack of a body has been considered solved by billions for a couple of millennia now.
Paul said he would be forty minutes, one Guinness I figured. Paul was two hours and more minutes, four Guinness and some kb with Brian, a few hellos and his. Paul finally arrived, we set off for El Sasi (Kisaasi) where I’m currently holed up and deposited the bags of stuff. Now I could relax and have a good night but the four Irishmen were tormenting me, I needed to eat so I stopped at Chillies and wolfed down a fillet and some rice and then figured I would run to the nook and hook up with the boys. First, I had to run to the rugby club, now known as ‘The Legends’, to meet up with me brother for a quick natter and feeling too lethargic to engage in an extended beverage escapade, I decided to swing by Bubbles, see my gardener and head home to sleep. I strolled through the establishment and caught no sight of the gardener so I settled for a drink of water and some gyration with ‘the girl in red’ and friends. She was on a higher plane than me, asked me questions, led me to the wall but I could not be pinned. I did not give in. No more ‘over-wanting’ I said. I left soon after, with Jo Anne, on the back of a ‘digi’ wondering why I had ‘felt sweet’ on ‘the girl in red’, libido was going to kill me the whole night and trust!
Early Friday morning and I had to pick my camera from Jo Anne, get some gees from the machine, pack and call Alex. Alex and his brother Mbanda are the founders of the STAN FUND and were my company for the trip. Alex, who is married to a cute girl I went to primo school with had been up since 3:00 am fulfilling his marital duties. How do you know this? You ask. Well, Alex had told me the previous day that he had to take his wife to the airport early in the am or as we would say back in the villa, ‘omwitumbi’. See, that’s how I know, get your mind out of there, please. I called Alex at quarter to nine, we had agreed to leave at 9:00am, and he was only on his way back from the airport, his wife having missed her early morning flight had had to wait for another one. Shit, shower, dress up, baji to Ntinda, camera from Jo Anne and Alex was back in town, waiting for me somewhere in El Sasi.
I jumped on a bajaj from Jo Anne’s and found Alex and Mbanda in a supermarket picking a few items for our host family up in Koch Lii. We drove home, picked up my stuff and then off to apartment A9.
Apartment A9 is home to a couple of lasses and the purpose of our trip here was to drop off one car and pick up another, fully equipped with a driver to take us to the bus park. Moving things from one car to another took the sum total of five minutes and Alex walked up the stairs to drop the keys to car one and pick our driver. I followed, to say hi to the lasses in A9 and whatnot. Coffee, ‘Frank’s Furters’ and a healthy amount of ogling and we left thirty minutes later, some of us rather reluctantly. I want to put names here but I think I might just be snaking myself, so I shall stop. I mean, ‘who does that?’
We got on the bus and rolled on to oblivion.
Several hours later and we stopped in Minakulu A, it was coming to six o’clock and the journey was pretty much uneventful but for the time some guy with ‘quiz’ draped his hand around my seat for a few minutes. I was fast asleep, dreaming of robots, flowers and scented candles, ‘the girl in red’, A9 when the world was nuked by the dung beetles of Phobos23. I woke up choking, politely nudged his arm off my seat and pretended to read a magazine.
Minakulu A is a small town on the Kampala-Gulu highway, actually it’s only a handful of general merchandise shops that sell anything from sweets to ropes. We got three bajajes, wait, is that the plural of bajaj or maybe I should say we caught three bajis and took a narrow dirt road that branched left off the highway.
The forty-five minute ride to Lii was the best part of the journey. Green fields, brown earth and blue sky was all the eye could see for miles and miles. Earth colours. Fresh air. Aaaah! Oh and there was a rainbow.
One quarter to 7 O’clock and we arrived in Lii. When the baji guys stopped, I thought, ‘oh, we’re probably turning left here and going further for a little while longer’, I had been expecting us to arrive a couple of hours later so I was surprised to learn that we had arrived.
See that ka building in the background? Yes, that one. That’s where the nightlife happens. The hut next to it is the pork place where you can buy hairy, roasted ‘past leaders’, delicious ones actually. The buildings across from ‘Bubbles’ are the equivalent of the malls, markets and shopping district. The school is located about 200m to the left of the ‘centre’, as it is called and opposite that is the clinic. That’s the entirety of the trading centre/town/whatever you may call it. If anything major is going down, this is where it happens. Oh, and there’s a mill across the road from the pork joint, right next to a field with a signpost about landmines and suspicious objects.
Okay, there’s too much kb. I have to tell you in person but let me leave you with a few thousand words in pictures.
The kids were happy, we had a good chat with them, gave out the books and clothes and promised to keep the connection going.
I had the best moment of the weekend on our way back, we hitched a ride from Karuma with a couple of other people in a van and I met Tyra, who is the cutest kid I’ve met in a while. We became instant gangos and shared water, juice, cake, camera and kb on the way back.
I want to say thanks to all of you who made this possible, particularly Eunice, Martin, Becca and Paul who found some nice clothes and books to give, the PiFF for chipping in towards transie and also donating exercise books, pens and pencils and lastly but by no means least, Alex and Mbanda Shyaka for making all of this possible.
Rock on people.