Princess Teti-“See the man troop wearily onto the train. The weight of his day in the droop of his eyes. Watch him reach for the beer can in his brown paper bag. Watch him take a long drink and savor. Feel the spasm of...pleasure.”
When they called him to attend a ceremony honouring his father as one of the pioneer Ugandan Pan-African heroes, it was the first time his kabiriti had karrunged to life in many months. It had startled him so badly, waking him from his mid morning doze, that first he had jumped up, heading for the door in terror. Sure it was another python rustling behind the aluminium saucepans, looking for rats.
He had stood at the door, squinting into the corner of the saucepans, his eyes adjusting, until watching the saucepans rattle with a blinking light behind them, until he remembered snakes do not blink.
It had been a woman calling. A young girl, really, he had surmised from her voice-from Kampala. She had said she was calling from something she described as the Media Centre. Was he the son of...his heart had leapt!...until she told him...”We are having a ceremony to unveil a stature for your father’s work in the 1950s.”
The woman had said, no, she was sorry; she did not have anything to do with helping him retrieve her father’s soldier’s savings. No, she could not do anything about that. That was not what the Media Centre did. No, she did not know anyone who could help him. But if he came for the honouring ceremony, he might meet someone who could help, for her, she was no one.
He had not intended to go. Then many things started to happen very quickly, that in two days time, would find him sitting in the front row under a tent, listening to two Ministers and a Speaker of Parliament pouring praise on what his father had done. How his father had struggled, resisted, given his life so this country could enjoy the liberties it did-that Ugandans could rule themselves. Seated in the front row among dignitaries whose scents and perfumes made him struggle not to sneeze, because had only one sweat stained, dirty brown handkerchief in his trouser pocket-he could not pull that out, in agony holding himself stiff to keep it in. Trying to move as little as possible, because he did not want to forget and sit carelessly, they might see the hole on the inside of his trouser leg, which no one could see, if he sat properly.
That evening, coming back from his pigs, he had found the LC1 chairman seated in his chair under the mango tree, drinking milk from his bumba cup. His wife and their four children had been seated on a mat, looking up at him, listening to him talk, his free hand slapping his belly whenever he said something that made him laugh and they laughed along with him.
Very early the next morning they had struggled out of the house to hooting-the RDC had come to see them himself, he could give them a lift to the ceremony, if the invitation allowed him to bring along a friend.
His wife had said, emphasised it, say nice things. Say nice things or say nothing.
So he had not told anyone, at the ceremony, that the more he had looked at the stature they said was of what his father had looked like as a young man-he could not get it out his head, that it seemed like they had made his father stand on a municipal council dustbin shaped base. The more he had looked at it, the more it had looked to him like they had made his father stand in a dustbin. But it was not too bad. The dustbin was facing Kafumbe Mukasa road, which was very bad itself.