By Julius Peter Ochen
It was a Saturday morning. Ojera was having breakfast. His phone rang, it was a message. He opened it, read, smiled and returned the phone on the table. He continued munching his cold pumpkin and shaving his tea. Atim; his wife, seated adjacent, but with clear sight of her sitting room, was consciously monitoring from a distance. She had been suspicious for some time. Ojera again smiled to himself, while reaching his hand for a plate of Odii placed at distance.
At this point, Atim became curious or rather distrustful. Who was that! What message was it? Has Ojera found new love? Ojera detests polygamy, is he thinking of divorcing me? Atim couldn’t find answers by herself for all these questions. She sent Waling; her elder daughter to go get her father’s phone. She wants to make a quick call.
Ojera pulled Shs 500, gave to Waling. “Give it to Mum, she can load airtime on this” Atim is momentarily defeated, but became more curious and chary. She sent Kakare; her younger son; “Go get for me your father’s phone, I want to reset date for my phone. You people removed battery from my phone yesterday. I hate this Chinese phone” Without looking into the phone, Ojera responded on a raised voice “its 8th today” Kakare didn’t have to move a step. Atim is now more nosy. She is not known for pretending.
“Whose message was that?” She shot. Ojera remained silence. “Who sent you the message?” She shot again. “It’s a notification, my data has expired” Ojera responded gently. He is a composed man. “Liar” Atim disapproved. “Bring it I see” she demanded. Ojera gently refused. “This is my phone. I give it to whoever I want. Wait for your own notification, when you load airtime” Atim’s behaviors had started irritating him.
Atim pretended fleetingly to have chilled. Wapi. She was cooking something. She wants Ojera to prove beyond reasonable uncertainty that she was still the woman of the house. Ojera returned from the herds in the evening to an empty house. Atim left with the kids. When the news spread to the village of what happened, there were mixed reactions. The two had always snooped together, at impairment of other villagers. “Is this a game?” Neighbors asked. Soon, relatives of the two families started trading insults against each other. How Ojera is a dishonest cheat, a backstabber, who want to treat Atim like a house girl. How Atim is always snooping her nose in Ojera’s private affairs. Want to know who comes in and goes out. As if she is not woman enough. Ojera immediately stopped his relatives from any further trading words. Atim invested in the same rather.
A concerned neighbor; Walegu, a good friend of the combatant lovers, invited himself over. He wanted to be seen to have attempted to do something about this relationship. Atim said Ojera has a case to answer. Ojera said it’s Atim who left, without a cause. She is free to return as and when she wants.
Time has gone by; life is hard for Atim and the kids. She wants to return indeed. But she wants Ojera to first follow her, and talk to her parents. If she returned just like that, nobody will ever take her seriously. Ojera is determined. His inner feelings judged him innocent. The last time the two had an issue, Atim beat Ojera on the head, to near comma. Ojera didn’t retaliate. Atim has since been concerned, how Ojera could not retaliate and not be planning something menacing. Ojera is a bit disturbed by Atim’s unbecoming behaviors this time round.
Soon, news would spread to the village, how Atim is not doing well at all with the kids. That the kids attempted to escape and return to Ojera’s house, but Atim reacted cruelly to them. They are actually not Ojera’s biological kids. Atim prefer to dress them smart, smear their faces glittery, place them before 42”inch plasma TV, take their photo and indirectly deliver them to Ojera. To paint a picture that all is well. But Ojera is aware, that all is not well. He has no ill feeling against them. He simply wants them to return as they left.
You cannot stop trade, and relationship between communities through boarder administration. We have noticed and acknowledged Rwanda’s suspicious relationship with Kampala administration. But eventually life must resume. I implore Kampala to visit Kigali and hold discussions, principally for Rwandans’ sake. Life has just started for all of us.
The writer is a Ugandan.