As I walk down these streets the silence is palpable, thoughts start running through my head distracting me from the task at hand. It did not need take pack of gadget-toting, SUV driving crime scene investigators to clue out a possible hypothesis of what had happened. Even though the sun was shining, it did not seem to be radiating any warmth. None that I can feel anyway. The stench in the air was the number one tell sign. He had been here and not to long ago, either.
Folklore says that is what he prefers to be called, which is quite apt considering the aura he tends to leave behind. Perhaps in another life, I would have made an excellent CSI.
I would like to blame him for the exodus too, but I couldn’t. The first mini census had brought us to thirty nine core families, and we had held strong in the beginning. Resolve and defiance strong in the air, our cause bonding us even tighter, but as always, time plays 007 really well. Even Aristotle with his infamous philosophy stature could not decipher this. Now only twelve remain.
I wasn’t included when the last one was done for he had made me an outcast on his second day in. You see, we needed a leader. We needed someone to direct us all. I thought we needed him. That grey December morning we came to a conclusion, we would find one amongst us. Then that very night in our building, the grey dingy-looking unfinished one in what used to be the central part of town, we shared the hope tainted echoes of our hearts.
I want to bring christmas back, he said with the same intensity and passion that had left me trembling a few minutes ago. I kept silent and I laid my head on his chest, trying to welcome sleep while listening to the rhythm of his heart.
The Christmas President, he whispered into the night.
That should have been a telltale sign, no one should be that intoxicated by the power. I wanted to tell him that to be a president, one would need a republic. All we were, was a scattered group of people. I wanted to tell him… but the way he was able to reach deep inside of me muted all my sense of reason. Besides, why choose to antagonise destiny when my soul seemed so content?
He screwed me over the first chance he got, smearing and tarnishing my name as he went along. I learned my lesson that day at assembly, when he said the things he did and she stood proudly next to him. That day, some voices whispered louder than others. That day I was cast out by consensus. That day I found the solace of no cause.
My tripping over a mould brings my reverie to a crashing halt. Bile immediately rose in my throat as soon as I realised what it was. A grave. I have seen a number of these to the east of the city but none here. I’m not a catholic or devoutly religious but I take a moment to say rest in peace whoever you are. The entire scene reminding me of the stories my father used to tell, one in particular of the Mutukula massacre: those who went to Masaka and never came back. No, the morbid pun is not lost on me.
I choose to walk through buildings whenever I can. It makes the journey shorter but also keeps me concealed. Not that I am a wanted criminal being hunted down. No. I was not accorded criminal status. Just pariah status. A status that I have chosen to accept and live by. Living in the past is useless in understanding what needs to be done today, I’m just living each day as it comes. What’s more, I think I do pariah really well, maybe this is me fulfilling a subconscious dream; all those self-help prophets would have a field day with this material I call my life.
I finally reach my destination, the building formerly known as M. Kafeero. In the corner of the side closest to the lower street are the remains of a bookshop. Yes, this is my ultimate hide out in this sun-forsaken city. I’d found a gem of a book that I’d left hidden underneath some rubble just incase others wandered into the same room. The book was about the tales of another city that I longed to visit, simply because I’d welcome the change of scenery that ever tempestuous Nalubaale would bring with her. The irony was that despite the fact that she claimed lives, youth from some walks of life were still strangely drawn to her.
I was among those youth. We had wanted to go, my friends and I, but on D-day I’d had a crisis that had left me reeling. Now, that seemed like a life time ago. We had had dreams and ambitions then. We’d dreamed big for our city, we had been the voices that knew of our rights and among those few that always demanded better services. You would have found us at the piggery or knee deep in social justice.
As I let the jigsaw pieces of my past fade away, I allow myself to get lost in the treasured pages of my book.
Somewhere else, in another realm
It’s the 6th day and there are only twelve left, Kirabo said as 7 others gathered around the cube. Mercy, Cynthia, Esther, Joel, Olive, Roland and Patricia had each shared responsibility over the cube for a day. The cube labelled, #UGBlogWeek had been activated for the sole purpose of monitoring blogger activity for a total of 7 days.
Start the timer, they have only 24 hours left… Roland replied.
Image source:Loyiso Mkize on African Art Agenda