When It Hits Home

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CHAPTER 14: IT’S TIME FOR THE NEWS

Boza went back to the bedroom and Bampe was still in the shower. He had carried food there and set it down on the night stand. He sat on the bed and waited for Bampe. He could hear him stopping and starting water. He had been known to save water when he took showers. He was never the kind that would just let the water run from when he entered the shower to when he got out. Boza went to the guest bedroom and picked some of Bampe’s clothes that he had left around. He brought them to his bedroom. He smelled them and realized there was a smell of dust, dead air and maybe fungus. He threw them in his laundry basket got his own pair of casual cargo shorts and a T-Shirt from his closet and took them to the bathroom so Bampe could dress up there. He came back out. Bampe came out of the shower dressed in the shorts and T-shirt Boza had just taken for him. Boza signaled him to sit next to him. He gladly did and Boza offered him more food and Mango juice. He ate this time very slowly. He never said a word. Boza broke the silence and said,

“You can sleep here tonight. Your room is dusty and you can easily get a disease in there. Kangye cleans it on weekends.”

“I can’t sleep in your bed. Where will you and Kangye sleep?” he asked trying to look around the room.

“Kangye went to her house. She had to take care of something.” Boza lied. He added,

“I can sleep here with you or I take the couch.

“It’s fine. I can sleep on the couch.” said Bampe. Boza insisted he instead took the couch but Bampe was equally or more determined to take the couch. They then both kept quiet and Bampe finished eating. Boza wanted to ask but wasn’t sure if it was the right time to ask or just let him drool out the information as he started to get sleep like he had always done. He decided to keep quiet. He asked another question though,

“Where is the car?”

Bampe told him he had left it at his home four days ago. Boza was shocked. So you haven’t been home in four day? Where have you been?”

Bampe kept quiet again.

Since Kangye had moved in, Boza had been driving Kangye’s car and rarely drove his and Bampe’s car. He had for the most part left it to Bampe who needed it more than he did.

Boza immediately realized that Bampe had been or was still in trouble. He came closer to him and tapped on his shoulder. It made Bampe seem uncomfortable. Boza felt the feeling Bampe had got and he stood up, picked the plate and glass and took them to the kitchen and washed them in the sink and put them away in the shelves. He returned to the bedroom only find Bampe was falling asleep already. He had been sleeping the whole day, but it did not seem enough. And now he had eaten and drunk juice, he was satisfied enough to sleep even better. He hadn’t got enough time to sleep in the police cell. The cell had been overcrowded and on most days he, together with the rest of the arrested people, had slept standing up. It had been also smelly, from the bucket used as the toilet and the body odour that steamed off the bodies of those testosterone packed men. The little time they had got to close their eyes had always been cut short by officers taking them out to do community work at 4am.

Bampe had been in police cell for all those days without a single phone call to any of his people. For all they knew had been that he was alright and running about his business. He had been on leave from work so no one from work would have noticed he was absent. There was nothing that would bring the attention of his whereabouts.

He had begged to call someone and I doubt it would have been Boza, because if even they had been best friends, he had had a secret that he hadn’t shared with him and wasn’t going to soon. He had thought about it and came to a conclusion that if he had called Boza, he would have implicated him into what he had never had an idea about. He had wanted to call his friend, Martin, from whom all this had started, not that he blamed him. He had wanted to ask him to call a lawyer who would come to get him out. This had been on the second day and every time he had asked for a phone call, he had been reminded to wait until his hearing. On top of that, he had been given a few punches in the stomach and a few slaps in the face. He hadn’t given any statement and this too worried him. He never would have given a statement without his layer present, but the fact that the police hadn’t even asked and interrogated him was a scare for him. He had known policemen to trick people into making statements, interrogate them and later use the information against them. But they didn’t ask.

On Thursday morning as they were being husked onto a pickup track to take them to sweep the streets, he overheard his arresting officer on phone arranging an interrogation for him with the media around. He was setting up the appointment for 2pm to have all media people around so they could reveal his face to the public. He had stressed that it was going to be big news for them and that they needed to first clear with him by 10am so he could make arrangements for them. When Bampe heard that, his heart had jumped almost out of his chest. He had feared for his life even more than he had feared being in a police cell. As the pickup truck rode off to their work destination, he had thought of a plan to escape. But then he realized that there hadn’t been enough time for him to plan. So he had made a plan, to escape without a plan. When they had reached where they were going to work somewhere on Entebbe road, Bampe had started looking around for an opportunity to take off. He wasn’t a Kiplomo or Kiprotich or Cheptegei, but he had been sure whoever would have tried to follow him wouldn’t have even seen his dirty pair of his heels. Time had moved and it had almost come to 6am and Bampe wasn’t breaking out. He went on sweeping on the side of the road as if he had no plan to run. It was hard for him to run away without clearly identifying all the officers they had come with. At 6:30 in the morning, after they had swept most of the roads, he could see all the officers in their positions. The traffic had been increasing slowly by slowly, but time had been running out. They would have been rounded up to get on the truck. Traffic had increased heavily that morning and Bampe had seen an opportunity. With heavy traffic in slow motion, he had bent down like to sweep and trotted among the cars, crossed the street and disappeared in behind a signpost by the road. The officers hadn’t even realized someone had made a run for it. He had walked with his eyes on the back of his head. He had run and got tired. His pants had been loose and he had had to always pull them up as he walked, ran and walked again. He had tried to avoid any police and so he had used the roads less travelled by. He had been seen as a beggar and a mad man but he had not taken any coins that had been given to him. He had spent some time running and hadn’t been sure where to go. He had thought of going to his house but soon remembered that he had escaped from the police and that they would come back for him. He had thought of no other place but Boza’s, and he had reached at Boza’s at around 7:30 in the morning, after Boza and Kangye had gone to work.

Boza didn’t want to rush him. He instead picked a blanket and covered him to sleep even better, with the prospects of having him tell him what had befallen him that day. He switched off the lights and went back to the living room. It was just 8:40 pm and there wasn’t anything interesting for him on TV. He wanted to take a shower for he had not changed since he had come home from work. He didn’t want to interrupt or wake up Bampe. He needed him to sleep whatever bothered him off. He went to the guest bathroom, took a quick shower and came back to the living room without even a change of clothes. His shirt was loose, not tucked in. He had folded the sleeves and showed his strong arms. He picked up his phone only to find it had been off. He switched it on softly and connected it to the wall socket with a charger. His friends started calling him with invitations to hangouts for the weekend. He had ignored all the calls but the SMS and Whatsapp messages that followed immediately gave him the reasons why they had called. He didn’t know what Bampe was going through, felt bad for him and still never wanted to think about it. At 9pm, the evening primetime English news started with Bampe in the headlines. The police had dug into his social media profile and used his pictures in the news to announce his escape. Boza was dumb folded. He didn’t know what to say or think. He wanted to call him but couldn’t. He just waited for the full bulletin while he sat on the edge of the sofa seat as he had his eyes glued to the TV, that not even a fly flying between him and the TV could take his attention or that if anyone had turned his head backwards, the eyes would still have remained in the same position, glued to the TV. He increased the volume, but then again thought maybe he needed to lower it so Bampe wouldn’t hear the news.

Then the full bulletin came and the shock on his face was well registered when he found out why the police were announcing his friend on TV as a fugitive.

“No, it must be a lie.” he mumbled to himself. He couldn’t believe the news. He thought the police had made a mistake or were tarnishing his friends name, but for what? Boza had always known the police to play dirty games with politicians, opposition politicians mostly. Bampe hadn’t been anywhere in the politics business, so why would the police be interested in him? He even got a headache trying to put thoughts together. He didn’t finish watching the whole news bulletin, he had got enough for the night. He picked up the phone and wanted to call some of their mutual friends to find out if anyone knew it had been true that Bampe was been what the police had painted him to be in the news. He couldn’t get himself to call anyone.

Soon afterwards, calls started coming in from their friends asking if Boza knew. He pretended to not have watched the news or even seen Bampe at all. So he realized that things were as bad as they could get. He immediately called Kangye to come back home. He didn’t want her to watch it in the news. Kangye had reached home but had not watched the news. She loved the Luganda primetime news at 10pm, the most graphic and most biased news. Boza never wanted her to watch it. She replied with a “why?” and Boza lied that he needed her help with Bampe. Yeah, maybe it wasn’t a lie. Kangye started giving excuses of you know she didn’t have a means of transport and that it was already late etc. Boza immediately offered to go pick her and off he went. By 10:15pm, they were both back inside the house.

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