CHAPTER 10: ONE LAST TIME
Weeks had gone by after Boza and Bampe had separated. Boza had gone on multiple dates with Kangye. The dates had gone on so well. Some dates had ended at either of the two’s homes and sometimes in beds. Some dates had been organized at both their homes. A lot had changed in Boza’s life. Changes in Bampe’s life too were inevitable. The two brothers were still both happy. Kangye had sometimes spent days at Boza’s home and cooked for him. Boza had asked her to move in with him and live like a normal couple. He was not used to living alone. He needed her to come and fill Bampe’s space. She had accepted but had set a future date when she would be ready to move in. Bampe had felt replaced, but he had realized that his friend Boza had been happy, so he had also felt happy for him. Mrs. Baru had also at some point stopped by and found Kangye. She had liked her for she was beautiful and intelligent at least according to the conversations they had had. She had loved that Bampe, whom she had always thought of as a freeloader had left the house. She even wished him well wherever he had gone. She always knew that the two were inseparable.
Bampe too had met Kangye a multitude of times at Boza’s house. Boza had even brought her to his house for a hangout. Bampe too had loved Kangye. She understood his friend and made him happy, and that’s all he wanted, his friend’s happiness. He had been happy because his friend was happy.
The evening before Kangye moved in with Boza, Bampe felt like he had completely been replaced. He wanted to spend a little more time with his best friend before he could be on a leash. He had known a woman from back in the village who seemed like an angel before she entered the house. When she had entered, she had become an animal, got her husband on a short tight leash and even stopped him from seeing his friends. Bampe was worried this would happen with Kangye. Maybe he was wrong and worrying for nothing. Kangye seemed so nice. He wanted to hang out with his friend one more time, but he didn’t want Boza to notice that he was needy. Bampe had always been strong and never showed his fears even to his best friend Boza. It had always been Boza who was needy and open. He always told Bampe everything, even the slightest of headaches, his relationships and all
Boza sat at his desk at work as it clocked five, when everyone was supposed to leave work. He heavily pondered about calling his friend Boza to ask for the hangout. He then decided to call him and ask him. Right when he was about to pick his phone and call him, Boza called.
“Hey man. What’s up?” greeted Boza
“I am good. How are you” Bampe answered and greeted back.
The two talked for like a minute. They sounded happy talking to each other. It was as if they had not seen each other in a very long time. They pretty much talked about Kangye’s move in. Then finally, Boza asked what Bampe had been waiting to hear.
“Would you please come by from work?”
Bampe was so happy that his friend invited him. He, without any hesitation, replied with a very happy and sound “YES”. Boza himself could hear the happiness in his voice.
At 6 in the evening, Bampe arrived at Boza’s house on a boda boda. He carried bags of groceries in his hands. He approached the door, rested some of the bags on the door mat and dug the key in the keyhole. When he entered the house, he was welcomed by the noise of Boza moving a sofa to reposition it as he re-arranged the house before Kangye could move in the next day. As soon as he saw Bampe, Boza immediately came to him, sweat all over his face. He put on a tank top that made his biceps look very strong even when they weren’t that big.
“Hurry up and help me man.”
Looking all surprised at what his friend was doing, Bampe wondered whether his friend had once again drank or was high on something else. That’s how energetic he had always seemed every after taking a bottle or two of beer, even if it had never ever lasted longer because then sooner he had always become a vegetable.
“What are you doing?” asked Bampe
“Well, can’t you see? Have you forgotten she is coming tomorrow?” said Boza looking really excited and yet again anxious.
“Come on man, it’s not like she has never been here before.” said Bampe
“I know...” said Boza and he tried to add,
He was interrupted by Bampe who wasn’t buying his idea of re-arranging the house.
“But what? What is it you are trying to hide that she hasn’t seen? And if she wants the house organized in a particular way, trust me you will leave her home alone one day and when you return thirty minutes later, you will be tramping on things in your own house.”
“Oh...” Boza took the advice in and he was soon to add,
“You sound like you know this from experience.”
“Mmmm, I am surprised that all this time you have dated women, you still don’t understand them.” Bampe remarked. He looked at his friend with eyes of pity and he added,
“Relax. She already likes you. If she accepted to move in with you, she no doubt likes you the way you are.”
“The way I am?” asked Boza. He jumped from behind the sofa where he had been standing and sat in it, as he looked at Bampe walking to the kitchen counter with the bags of groceries. He turned and looked at him and asked,
“With all this...” he pointed to himself from head to toe, “and you say she likes me the way I am?” he finished the question. His voice was now full of pride, probably in his beauty which he had always known. He wasn’t too invested in his looks but was aware that he was handsome. He had never said anything about his looks to any of the women he had dated. He had only joked about it with Bampe a few times since they had become friends, and only when talking about women.
Bampe put the bags on the kitchen counter and came to the sofa. He laughed at Boza’s self-evaluation on his handsomeness, not because he wasn’t but because he had used it again. Bampe could clearly see that Boza was handsome. There is a time in campus when he had even created a group of handsome students called Campus hunks. The group had been a magnet of all the beautiful girls at the university college. But things had gone south after a number of them became pregnant and some diagnosed with HIV. Even if Boza had been careful not to contract HIV or make any girl pregnant, he felt the need to close the group. He had then started spending more time with his less attractive friend Bampe. Yes Bampe was less attractive compared to Boza, but also handsome, in his own way.
“Let’s just hang out, chat and forget about her, for I am sure when she comes we will see you less.” advised Bampe.
“I can’t forget my people, especially you Bampe. I would be very stupid to let a woman stand between us.” said Boza.
“Mmmmm, well, that’s exactly what you are doing.” said Bampe while he smiled.
“Are you jealous that I am moving on?” asked Boza
“No. No. On the contrary, I am very happy for you. I know she makes you happy and I am happy when you are.” answered Bampe.
The boys continued their chat and completely forgot about the groceries Bampe had brought until around 8pm when their throats had become dry from too much talking and laughing. They still couldn’t make dinner for themselves and they decided to just sip some sodas. Bampe never really liked the sodas. He liked juice from oranges, mangoes, papaya and so on, but ever since he had left the house, Boza had not had it around, for he never knew how to make it. Bampe just took the water, just for one day as he used to say,
“Doing something you never want to do for just one day doesn’t kill you.”
Bampe wanted to go the kitchen and cook but Boza stopped him and informed him that he had already ordered for their favourite dishes from the nearby restaurant and that they would be delivered at 8:30pm.
The food arrived at 8:20pm and they were already starving. They ate like hungry angry mongrels tearing off a gazelle. In less than 15 minutes, they had finished eating and were back on their conversation. Right as they were removing their last forks from their mouths, a knock came on the door. Boza ran to the door, opened and a gang of their friends came in. Boza had not invited them. He hadn’t even told them Kangye was gonna move in the following day. They had been out, where they had invited him to but he had rejected their invitation. He was sure they were going to make him drink and so he refused to go.
“Hey guys,” one of them say as he slightly pushed Boza off the way. Four of them, his friends from work and school and Bampe’s friend who had become tight friends with Bozas friends, they roamed the whole living room.
“What the hell Boza?” another one asked. He went on to add another question
“Why didn’t you come?”
“You have become a buzz killer Boza, just like Bampe. You have started not coming to our hangouts?” said another one.
“These two are planning something. I can feel it.” said the fourth.
The fourth guy had two cartons of beer in his hands. He placed them on the table in the living room in front of Bampe and said,
“Well, you couldn’t come to the party, we have brought the party to you. No excuses.”
They started scattering around the house, two in the kitchen, another one switched on the TV and another one was seated opposite Bampe. Boza came and sat next to Bampe and said,
“What’s up guys? I left work very late and I needed to first submit some work I didn’t finish before the weekend when my boss reviews it.” he lied.
It soon clocked 9pm and the English news on TV started. The house had become very loud suddenly and everyone was yelling and the headlines started. No one heard or saw anything. The first news after the headlines then came on, and that’s when everyone kept quiet.
“The Speaker has passed a bill that criminalizes homosexuality with life imprisonment for offenders .......” The reader went on to read and the boys started giving their views on the “vice”.
Boza opened the floor and said,
“I never understand these people. What do they be thinking? I mean, with all these beauties we have in Kampala but someone chooses to love and have sex with another man?
“And how do they even do it?” asked one of the friends
“Man, people have problems.” noted another.
“I thank the speaker for this. This westernization of our country is going to erode all our culture.” said the third.
“With the coming of the internet, broke men are selling themselves to white sex tourists and in turn promoting the vice here for more money.” the fourth narrated.
Bampe kept quiet and listened to everything they said and only hid his head in his phone which he kept scrolling and swiping like he was looking for something. He had not paid any attention to them when they had come in and still showed them no interest.
“Those guys should be killed. All of them.” one of the friends said,
Another one asked, “But how do they know them?”
“Those guys, you can always tell. They behave like women, speak and walk girly. Some of them even apply makeup like the guy we saw last month at the club in Ntinda.” said Boza, looking all informed. Bampe looked up at him and went back to his phone.
“I even think these guys presenting comedy shows wearing women’s clothes and makeup are gay.” another friend noted.
“I would like to think it’s just for entertainment.” another one observed
“But how, if it’s not meant for them? Who else would they be entertaining?” another one asked.
The fourth guy then said, “I pray they start by scrapping off such programs.”
Then the reporter added in his report that in the bill, anyone found to know, accommodate or see a gay person and fail to report would also be jailed.
“I would report you immediately.” said Boza.
The boys went on and on about the rest of the news. Bampe tried to excuse himself and retire to his home but Boza wouldn’t let him. The rest of the friends left at 10pm after they had watched the news and drank the beer they had brought. They had drunk all of it as they talked and watched news. They hadn’t even realized Boza and Bampe hadn’t drunk any.
After they were gone, Bampe also begged Boza to leave. Boza wouldn’t have it. He told him,
“What’s wrong with you? This is still your home Bampe. You can’t leave me alone today. I invited you here to spend some time with a friend but you now want to leave?”
Bampe felt that Boza’s feelings had been hurt. He never wanted him to get sad and so he stayed. But he felt unsure if he really knew his friend. Boza had sounded a little too inhumane when he verbally supported the killing and life imprisonment of gay people. Bampe had never known that Boza could be as inhumane as that. He had been the man of the people.
Bampe sat back in his seat and changed to a different channel on TV. Boza also sat on the couch opposite him. They started talking about how life would change for the both of them. They had a lighter evening and went to bed at around 1am. Boza switched off the lights at in his room and Bampe did the same in his.
At 4am, Boza woke up. He was very nervous about living with Kangye whom he had known for six months. He couldn’t get back to sleep. He tried hard but failed. He kept tossing and turning and finally he heard Bampe cough in his room. He thought Bampe too couldn’t sleep. He got out of his bed in his underwear, walked out of his room and went over to Bampe room. He opened the room and asked,
“Are you awake?” almost in a whisper?
Bampe switched on the bedside light and Boza came inside and sat on the bed.
“I can’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep.” Boza said. He went on to add
“I am nervous, scared. What if I don’t like living with her? What if I don’t like how she does things?”
“That last one you won’t even notice. You never ever care about how things are done. You always roll with what you find, and that won’t change with her.” Bampe remarked.
They talked for a while and it was almost coming to 5am. Boza was getting colder and colder. Bampe wanted to get some more sleep as he had slept late. Boza couldn’t let the coldness get to him. He just jumped over Bampe’s legs and entered the bed, covered himself. Bampe was feeling uncomfortable sharing a bed with his friend who had always had a habit of jumping into his bed. He asked him why he couldn’t get back to his bed. Boza then answered he would not sleep. Bampe then complained of Boza’s cold feet touching his. Boza apologized with a quick “Sorry”. Bampe then turned off the light and they slept.
At 8am, the sun was starting to shine brightly on Boza’s house. Mrs. Baru came by to check on her son like he had done occasionally on Saturday mornings. She knocked and no one was opening. That short period the boys had been up talking had caught up with them and they were still deep in sleep. She tried calling on Boza’s phone but there was no answer. Boza had left his phone in his bedroom before going to Bampe’s bedroom. She sat back in her car and kept calling, but there was no answer.
Soon afterwards, a special hire taxi pulled up next to Mrs. Baru’s car. Kangye alighted. The driver got out, greeted Mrs. Baru and helped Kangye to get her bags out.
Mrs. Baru was happy to see Kangye. She however had no clue that she was moving in with her son that soon. But like any mature person is, Mrs. Baru understood what was going on. The two greeted each other with smiles and Mrs. Baru asked,
“Do you know where he is?”
“He must be here. Is he not answering the door?” Kangye said and also asked
“Not just the door my dear, even his phone.” remarked Mrs. Baru.
This surprised Kangye. She got a little nervous that maybe her boyfriend had changed his mind and was ghosting her. She wanted to confirm it herself. She said,
“I will try knocking and calling and see.”
Mrs. Baru just told her to go ahead. She was worried her son could have been in danger.
The taxi guy left the compound and Mrs. Boza opened her door. She followed and looked at one of Kangye’s bags that she couldn’t carry as she went to the door. She got out of her car, closed the door, picked Kangye’s bag and followed her to the door. Kangye knocked several times but there was no answer. She tried to open the door and it opened. The two looked at each other and entered the house. Kangye was the first to put her bags down. Mrs. Baru was already calling Boza’s name out loud, but still there was no answer. Mrs. Baru closed the door behind him and laid the bag down on the living room floor. The two called as they checked the house. They came to Boza’s room and found his phone beside his bed. They even checked the bathroom but still there was no sign of Boza. They both left the room and went to the guest bathroom and still no sign of Boza. As they walked by the guest room, Bampe’s room with resigned hopes of finding him in the house, Mrs. Baru tried opening the door. The door flung open and right there, lay his son, in bed with his friend. Boza lay there, uncovered from head to toe. He only wore his underwear briefs. Bampe seemed to be wrapped in the bed sheets and duvet like a caterpillar in its cocoon. They laid there peacefully in their sleep.
Mrs. Baru, walked to the Window and drew the curtains and rays of sunlight entered the room beaming on Boza’s face. Kangye called out his name out loud. The two woke up at once. They looked at Kangye in front of them. They didn’t immediately notice that Mrs. Baru was in the room too. Boza didn’t worry about covering his body until his mother cleared her voice from the corner of the room next to the closet door.
He fidgeted to pull the duvet from Bampe but Bampe wasn’t making it easy for him to get it. He also never wanted his nakedness to be seen by the two women in Boza’s life.
“What’s wrong with you two?” asked Mrs. Baru.
Boza tried to look at his mother with a squint as the sunlight wasn’t making it easy for him to see properly soon after waking up. He had lost track of time and overslept. He smiled shyly and apologized to Kangye for loosing track of time. He begged his mother to get out so he could dress get dressed but his mother started going on what was wrong with them. Kangye walked to Boza’s room and picked a towel and brought it to him. He wrapped himself in the towel and walked out. Kangye and his mother followed him. They went to the living room and sat down as Boza went to his room. Bampe also got out of bed, dressed up and started pondering on whether he would go home or stay for breakfast. He didn’t take a shower. He walked to Boza’s room and found Boza in the bathroom taking a shower. He mentioned going to his home and Bampe said,
“What have you to do there at this time of a Saturday morning? Let’s have breakfast at least before you leave.”
Bampe felt like he had lost a battle and he walked to the living room. He was welcomed with a question,
“So you had another party here last night?” asked Mrs. Baru while scanning the room with her big eyes. There were a few bottles of beer, soda on the floor and in the couch and tin foil and plastic forks on the table.
“I thought you were the good one Bampe” she added without giving him time to answer the question.
“We didn’t drink Mrs. Baru.”
“And how do you explain these bottles?” she asked again.
“Bampe, it’s not even just about the drinking. It’s about the parties. I thought we had closed that chapter?”
Kangye realized that things were heating up and she went to the kitchen and started preparing breakfast. Soon afterwards, Boza joined them, well and casually dressed in sweatpants and a T-shirt. He noticed Kangye’s bags and carried them to his bedroom and he came back. He joined his girlfriend in the kitchen. His mother turned her attention to him and asked,
“Boza can I talk to you?” as she got up from the couch. She said her goodbyes to Kangye told her it was nice seeing her again. Boza followed her outside the house up to her car. As she opened her door, she asked,
“So she’s moving in and you never told me about it?”
Boza didn’t answer and she quickly added.
“Now you are becoming a man. This is good for you. And please keep her.”
Boza nodded in acceptance and said,
“I am sorry mum. I was going to tell you soon. It was supposed to be a surprise.”
“Well, I am surprisingly happy. But don’t drink again. You see you couldn’t even find your own bed last night.” Mrs. Baru pointed out.
“I wasn’t drank mum. Those beers were brought and drank by my friends who came by last night.” argued Boza.
“So how do you explain getting up late and in a wrong bed?” asked Mrs. Baru.
“I was anxious about her moving in and couldn’t sleep. I went to Bampe at 4 and we were just talking and I must have drifted off.”
Meanwhile inside the house, Bampe had joined Kangye as soon as Boza and his mother had walked out. Kangye asked while watching the two speaking outside through the window,
“Does she just drop by unannounced?”
“Yes. Brace yourself because Saturdays are usually her days.”
“What happened here last night? Was it a bachelor party?” she asked again
“No. Yes. No. Kind of.” answered Bampe
“Well, I hope you didn’t talk about me.” noted Kangye.
“We didn’t. We watched TV with some friends and talked about many other topics after they left. But you never came up.” said Bampe
“Not even a little bit?” asked Kangye
“Maybe, yes.” smiled Bampe
Kangye smiled and said, “I knew.”
Boza had finished talking to his mother who had just driven off. She had been on her way somewhere and had stopped by to check on her son like she had always done. Boza entered the house to find Kangye and Bampe laughing. They had pretty much fixed a simple breakfast which they all had on the Kitchen counter as Boza asked Kangye how she and his mother had called while he and Bampe had been dead asleep. They laughed about it and the whole bedroom scene as they took their breakfast. Soon afterwards, Bampe took the car and drove off and left the love birds to enjoy their first day together.