CHAPTER 2: HELLO SON
Saturday morning came and presented with magnificence and beauty. The sun shone brightly and the sounds of crows and other birds could be heard all around the neighborhood. But all this was very oblivious to the people sleeping inside. Boza for one had forgotten to sleep in his own bed. He lay down in front of his sofa couch. He had his head on one of his friend’s buttocks. The friend had slept facing down and Boza had found his buttocks the softest he could think of as a pillow. The boys had drank so much, eaten so much, played and laughed so hard the previous night. Boza was one of those people who liked to drink alcohol, but the side effects of drinking would be vomiting, urinating anywhere even in the house and getting sick for days. This had caused him issues at his job because he had been absent at work Mondays and Tuesdays and had still been hangover on Wednesdays. Bampe wasn’t among the people that lay in a slumber in the living room. He had retired before midnight to go and sleep for he didn’t really like partying that much. He was very reserved and only hangout with a few of his and Boza’s friends. More so, that night they had talked about something that he didn’t feel comfortable about and so he had gone to sleep earlier. He was sleeping like a baby in his own bed when he heard a knock on the door. He woke up and tried to listen attentively to make sure the knock wasn’t a dream. He didn’t hear anything and then he put his head back down to sleep some more. He hadn’t even closed his eyes again when the knock came again. This time it was much louder. He rose from his bed, slipped in his shorts and walked out of his room. Meanwhile Boza was wondering who could have been knocking. Every time the person on the other side of the door knocked, Boza would shake his head as it was too loud for him. He at one moment said,
“Go Away!“. This and the shaking of his head had woken up his friend whose buttocks he had used as a pillow. He then folded his arm, placed his hand on his lower side of the head to form a pillow and then placed his head on his arm. As soon as he had just closed his eyes, Bampe entered the room rushing to the door. Boza opened his eyes again when he heard footsteps. He saw it was Bampe walking hurriedly to the front door. He then closed his eyes again to catch some more sleep. Bampe opened the door and peeped out with a squint as the sunlight on the outside was too bright for his eyes that had just opened a minute ago from deep sleep. Boza and Bampe didn’t expect any guests this early morning. But a knock had come so hard on their door early in the morning. The knocker had knocked so impatiently and loudly and one would call it banging. At one point, Bampe actually thought maybe it was the police coming to arrest them or warn them again about the noise last night. The boys and their guests had stayed awake until around 4am when they started dropping like flies that had tasted the bitter taste of an insecticide. The music had stayed on till around 4:30am when one of the last guests to sleep had tripped on the extension cable causing the plug to disengage from the socket hence causing the music to stop. He had not bothered to reconnect the plug back into the socket.
Bampe smilingly greeted,
“Good morning Mrs. Baru.” As soon as Bampe mentioned Mrs. Baru in his greeting, Boza immediately got off the floor and ran towards the bathroom. The mention of the name Baru had rang so loudly in his ears. He was so hangover that his hearing had increased to almost like a dog’s, and so he could hear even almost silent voices. Bampe peeped inside and in a way to try and warn the sleeping guests to get out through the back door. But none of them was remotely aware of what was going on. By the time Bampe put his head out of the door again, Mrs. Baru was pushing on the door to come inside. Bampe slowly stepped aside still holding the door and stood in the nook and waited to watch a new drama, live. Mrs. Baru entered the house. Her sharp stilettos poked loudly at the hard tiled floor and before she could even say a word, almost all the guests were awake. She wore a bright red gomesi, held a white purse. She looked around and watched all the waking men. One had drooled all over his face and looked like an ugly kid at a face painting party. Another one had been puked on by Boza and his hair was covered in now dry yellowish puke and smelled of roasted goat meat, which also smelled all around the house. She then slowly walked up to the kitchen table, rested her purse on the table and sat on the stool. She then looked back at Bampe who was still standing at the wide open door.
“So Bampe.” She called,
“You held a party last night and didn’t invite me”
“I am so sorry Mrs. Baru.” Bampe apologized. He excused himself to go and dress up decently.
“Excuse me Mrs. Baru. Let me get my shirt on.”
The young men realized it was time for them to beat it and they were getting out one by one. They all converged in the compound and waited for the last one to come out. It didn’t take four minutes and he had come out. He pointed at his car to unlock it with his remote control and before he could get even four meters to the car, they had all entered and were waiting for him to take them each to their homes, just as he had always done. He entered the car and drove off all the fourteen passengers who had packed themselves like sacks of millet.
Back inside the house, Boza couldn’t stay in the bathroom for a whole day. He would at some point come out and he knew his mother wasn’t going to go without talking to him. He decided to get out sooner than later and get the ball rolling and get over with it once and for all. So he walked out. He had been in the bathroom, but he hadn’t even washed his face. It was covered with some little drool. His T-Shirt smelled of bear, waragi and goat meat. He wore a pair of well-fitting blue jeans. He was walking past the kitchen towards the hallway to their bedrooms clearly pretending there was nothing going on. His mother called his name. He looked around and then spotted her at the kitchen table. She had already poured herself some Waragi from the left over drinks that sat at the end of the kitchen table. She sipped a little and then looked at Boza.
“Good morning mother. When did you get here?” He greeted and asked, playing so innocent. Mrs. Baru knew her son. She had raised him and knew how badly he lied and how he behaved when he knew he was in trouble. Even Boza hadn’t behaved like that to her in more than about ten years, she had observed him well when he had just become a teenager. She had been told by her husband Mr. Baru that in order for one to bend a tree, one has to do it when it is still young and fresh than when it’s already old and dry because then it would only break. She had tried to use this advice together with Mr. Baru to discipline their children. They had turned out well and when they had reached university, they had stopped using a tough hand on them, but spoil them. Boza had received a full furnished house from her mother immediately after his university as he looked for a job and the other three children had got other things from both their parents.
“Hello son.” Mrs. Baru greeted. Before Baru could even come closer to his mother and try to sway her away from what she had just seen, she asked,
“What’s this?” while pointing all around the living room. She continued with more questions,
“What are you doing?” By this time Boza was standing right in front of the Kitchen table in front of his mother. He crossed his arms around his stomach as he caressed on the elbows. He looked so scared. Yes his mother was asking questions relentlessly and even you may feel like Boza should have been answering if he would get a chance to, but he never could do it. It was his mother and he had known her for all his life. All her questions had been rhetorical and if any of her children ever tried to answer any of them, then that was an unending war. She always thought answering to her questions would make her unreasonable and stupid for the silly children would be showing they were smarter than she was. So Boza stood there just looking at his arms, completely refusing to keep eye contact with her mother. Well here he was behaving very well as a Ugandan child. Keeping eye contact with a parent for a minute is something Ugandan children don’t do unless they are brought up in a setting heavily influenced by western culture. Much as Boza had grown up watching television and films and had used smart phones, he still knew that keeping eye contact with his mother for longer than a minute during a conversation like this one would bring him more problems. It was a sign of disrespect for any child to keep eye contact with a parent during an argument. And surprisingly funny, it was also a sign of disrespect for a child not to maintain eye contact with a parent when being talked to. This is where you would hear commands like, “Look at me when I am speaking to you.” And if you looked straight into a parents eyes and kept contact for long, well, you were in it for a hot one, because only then would the parent start to think, “Ampisaamu Amaaso” loosely translated to mean He/She is looking straight through me and not paying attention to anything I am saying. So then children always knew to keep eye contact with their parents for short periods to show they are attentive and then withdraw it for a few moments and then eye contact again.
“At 28 you are supposed to have a wife and children and be responsible men, but you are here partying all night long.” Mrs. Baru was still going on. Bampe had returned from his bed room and was standing next to Boza. He had put on a T-Shirt and a pair of casual shorts.
“Look at you Bampe for example. You have a bald head already. Your parents expect you to have children by now. You are such fine young men. Ah Ah, you both have good and well-paying jobs but you have failed to learn responsibility.” She was starting to sound angrier with the last statement. Was it because she was sipping on the waragi? No, she couldn’t have been drunk in such a short time and surely just one glass of waragi was far from enough to get her drunk. She sincerely meant what she was saying. She went on about how she had sacrificed a lot to make sure her children got everything they needed and how she saw Boza and Bampe who had become like a son to her for long, already squandering the good opportunities they had.
“You guys are educated, have jobs, you are earning money and I made sure that you never suffer with rent and I gave you a house. Now tell me, who of you is working on building or buying a house for your children? Ah Ah, there are so many children out there selling nsenene on the streets but they have families and they are taking good care of them. Some have already built houses. And you who have the opportunity to save even much and much more than those guys are making are here wasting it on silly parties?” She then took a gulp and funneled all the waragi in her glass down her throat. She rested the glass on the table and looked at the boys with a furious face.
“Where have I gone wrong raising you Boza?” Boza looked at her and couldn’t even open his mouth for he knew that it was such a rhetorical question that if he ever tried to say a thing, his mother would pounce at him. She was already heated up and was poised like a bull ready to fight.
“Bampe,” she called. Bampe looked at her and before he could answer with a simple yes, she had added,
“What do you want in life? Where do you see yourself in five years? Wouldn’t you want your parents to be proud of you? Wouldn’t you want to have a wife and children and care for them, plan for them?” Her voice was becoming less and less angry. Bampe didn’t answer any of the questions either. She looked at the young men in front of her and studied them. She then said,
“Your father and I are going to your Uncle Martin’s daughter’s introduction party. Weren’t you invited? This time Boza answered.
“Yes, I was.” He had learnt to tell which questions his parents expected answers to and which ones he was never supposed to answer.
“So then, get yourself ready.” She advised.
“Well, we had planned to set off at midday. Bampe too was invited.” Said Boza. Bampe this time was starting to arrange the living room before he could mop it. Boza also started arranging up things in the kitchen and loading dirty glasses and plates in the sink. Mrs. Baru looked at her watch and said,
“And don’t you think you are late? Do you have your gifts ready? Remember the traffic jam on that road is also one thing to worry about.” She then paused and as if she was trying to collect her mind, she said,
“This is your cousin introducing a man, Boza. You should even have spent the night there helping with the organizing. But you just want to go like the rest of the guests.”
Boza was quick to reply to that,
“She and Uncle Martin told me on the phone recently that they had everything planned and that we just need to get to the reception at their hotel.”
She looked at him and said,
“If you were responsible, you would have insisted on organizing and by now you would be at the hotel making sure everything is in order before the guests start to arrive.” She got up from the stool and stood up, scanned the house with her big eyes and said,
“You need to do a thorough cleaning in this house. It looks like a pig sty.”
Maybe calling a pigsty was overreaching. It wasn’t that dirty. But yes, it looked messy and many things were where they weren’t supposed to be. There was a remote on the kitchen floor, used paper towels everywhere, some cigarette butts on the table, puke in a living room corner and a hat and a cap in the sofa couch. Maybe it wasn’t an over exaggeration. The room was really dirty. She walked towards the door and said,
“I will wait in my car. Your father’s car broke down. He is meeting me here before we set off. Better hurry up and don’t be late to the party.” Again her sharp stilettos knocked the hard tiled floor as she walked out. She closed the door after her and went to her car.
Bampe could see her through the glass window in the living room. Boza asked Bampe,
“Did you know she was coming? She usually calls you before she comes.” Bampe nodded his head in the negative and said,
“I would have warned you. I didn’t know she was coming.” At this time Bampe saw Boza’s dry puke in the corner. He had trying mopping it off when he puked but had instead made it worse and smeared it all around. He had folded the cloth he had used to mop and place it in the corner of the living room, right next to the puke-smeared floor. Bampe knew that was Boza’s puke. Boza had puked every time he had taken any kind liquor, but however much he had puked, he had failed to stop to drink. It seemed like he had an addiction with drinking but he could sometimes go for months without drinking and sometimes would be in places with liquor and not drink. He liked to drink with friends, but he puked the whole night after drinking, every time.
Bampe called out, “Boza.” Boza looked at him and he added,
“No no no, from this time on, you have to clean your own vomit. Why do you keep drinking when you know it makes you sick?” Boza said, “I will clean it. I am sorry I take you through hell every time I drink. And I can’t forget all the care you have given me every time it happens. Sometimes I feel like you will one day ran away leaving a note, I can’t stand your drinking and puking and getting sick. I will stop. I promise I will stop.”