At the Frontline. Part 2


The truck rambled on for a long time. We left the tarmac road and took on the murram road. The truck kept getting stuck and everytime this happened, the older boys would quickly jump off and push the truck back on track. It was terrible road, one with lots of gullies and since we were packed like sardines, we kept bumping heads. I lost track of time.  I kept drifting off to sleep and while asleep I dreamt of mama making pancakes in her open air kitchen, I dreamt of Jacinta plaiting Jane’s hair, I dreamt of papa driving to work in his old 404 Peugeot.  I was seated with him and he was speaking to me but the road was so bumpy that I could not hear a single word.

“Sibo! Sibo! Wake up! Sibo!” Richard was shaking me.

“We are here” Jeff said. “Here? Where?” I asked.

“At the border. You slept all the way!” He replied.

I rubbed sleep out of my eyes and slowly but steadily heaved the heavy backpack onto my back  and hastily jumped off the truck.  It was slowly coming to light. ‘Genera’ told us to gather around.

“Men, we are now in enemy territory” He began, “The success of our mission now depends on you. You have now become men and your country will remember you and maybe thank you. Our base is across the border. Musa can not cross the border for obvious reasons. This is the end of the road for him. Musa, we slute you. You will always be our hero. Thank you for believing in this cause. We are going to cross through the forest. It has been raining and it is very slippery. You will be tied to the person infront and behind you. Incase you slip, the team will heave you back up in no time. Men, lets march!’

The chord was passed on as we moved. We were now wide awake thanks to the biting cold.  I tightened the shoe strings of my brother’s boots. I had borrowed them without his permission because they looked military. They were ill-fiting but comfy. Jeff threw me the chord, I quickly fastened a knot on to my belt and passed it onto Richard. The forest was even colder than the raodside and the air was dumpy and it wieghed heavy on us. ‘Genera’ told us to watch us our steps since there were very many poisonous snakes. Somebody shrieked from the front and we laughed. I swallowed my fear of snakes and carefully walked on.

Slowly we picked a pace, forgot about the snakes and hummed one of the many snongs we had learnt. 

Daylight was quickly approaching and as we neared the base camp we could already hear the voices.

To be continued….


Little JB

There is still love in this world. I see love and innocence in the chubby face of Little JB. JB is my 3-year old neighbour and he is just adorable. He is always up very early – actually too early for someone his age. He does not seem to mind. He is resigned to the fact that he has to be dropped at the day care centre before mummy can run to her day time job as a cleaner, tea girl, and messenger in Mr. Mutyaba’s big office in town. On the weekends, she does laundry and helps us the bachelors shop and cook. She has to do all that so that JB can stay in the day care centre away from the child traffickers who seem to be on the rise. At least at the day care centre, he is protected and if she pays her dues on time, they will feed him as well.

We all love JB especially the way he sticks his chubby hand with its tiny fingers waiting for a handshake as he squeals a delightful ‘Good morning, Uncle’  His eyes are still heavy-laden with sleep but his mother reminds him that he will sleep when they get to ‘school’. The talk of school always excites him. He is more than glad to meet his friends. He waves a hasy goodbye to me and trots after his mother. 

JB’s mother is called Sophie but out of respect, the boys and I call her ‘Maama JB’. She is very nice. She told me that JB’s father left her when she refused to abort the pregnancy. She was 22 and very much in love with Philip – that is his name. Philip was 27 and a carpenter at the local construction site. You see Philip had another woman with whom he had 3 children. Maama JB believed that Philip would marry her. But after making her pregnant, he dumped her.

She remembers clearly that day her world crushed. She met him at the clearing, near the river. She waited for him under the mango tree. As she waited, she kept rehearsing how she would break the news to him. A rustling of the dry leaves brought her out of her reverie. She did not see him coming. Suddenly he was there, looking down at her, the way he always did. That curl of his lower lip still made her hot all over. He sat next to her and slid his arm around her waist. She was sweating and shivering. In that deep rich voice of his, he asked; ‘Babe, what is it? Please talk to me.’

She fidgeted with her fingers for a while and then suddenly, she blurted, ‘I think I am pregnant.’ His hand left her waist faster than it had gotten there. He looked at her and stood up slowly and in his deep voice said, ‘You have to get rid of it. Marita will kill me.’ She was shocked. She remembers telling him that she could not do such a thing. She could not live after killing their child. He said, ‘ If you do not get rid of it, then it is over’ He had walked away without saying goodbye. She sat there for a very long time crying till she felt she had cried herself dry. She stood up and made a decision to leave home that night because if her father found out, he would surely kill her. Her mother was just powerless in this matter.

She found her way to Kampala and got a job as a house girl till she gave birth to JB. Six months after JB was born, a  friend recommended her to Mr. Mutyaba and so far all was going well. Mr. Mutyaba was nice to her. JB had the face of his grandfather and the posture of his father. He was a good boy. His world revolved around his mother. We had an agreement to protect him from the evil. According to his mother, we were the fathers that he did not have.

Today, an evening is incomplete without JB. He has stories that we could never miss for anything in the world. He trusts us and fully relies on us to always be there for him. We shall not dissapoint. God help us.