It was misty and getting dark. The chilly winter air hit my face as I turned round the corner into the cul-de-sac. I was holding the white lined paper where the address was scribbled in red ink. Through the fading light I saw an elderly man walking towards me. A small fluffy brown dog was walking besides him, its tongue slightly out of the mouth and wagging its tail left and right.“What is going on there?” he asked, turning his head and pointing towards the house with a grey door at the end of the road. “I have seen lots of black people going in and out”. “That is where I am going too” I replied. I checked the address one more time. He stood there and looked at me. I raised my head and our eyes met. His silver grey eyebrows were slightly raised and his mouth twitching. “Someone has died”. I informed him.
I walked past him towards the house. Outside stood two men each holding a can of beer. They were having a conversation in Luganda. “Nga kitalo”. I said. “Kitalo nnyo” they replied in unison. The door was ajar, and I just walked in. A teenage girl was holding a tray full of drinks; Coca-Cola, Fanta and bottled still water. “Pick one” she told me. I got a bottle of water. I smiled at two little girls who were playing with a doll on the patterned carpet stair case. One was wearing a purple high necked jumper dress and brown cowboy boots. She was holding a small feeding bottle trying to feed the ‘baby’ while the other one, in a red corduroy dress, and braids with brown beads was holding the ‘baby’ and stroking her black hair.
On my right was the door to the kitchen. I stood in the doorway and greeted the two women inside “nga kitalo”. One was standing in front of the cooker stirring rice in a big silver pan. She had a green and yellow kitengi wrapper around the lower body. The other I recognised as Nalongo, the mother of the twin girls, who went to my son’s school. They both replied “kitalo nnyo”. “There is no school on Monday” Nalongo said. “Thank you for reminding me” I replied.
“Excuse me” I heard a husky man’s voice behind me and I stepped aside. A dark, short man wearing a black beanie hat carried two heavy plastic bags of raw chicken pieces into the kitchen. Behind him were three men each carrying a crate of Fosters beer into the lounge. I followed them. In the lounge some women were sitting on the floor on a red and blue palm leaves mat. I saw young girl kneeling in front of my friend Ndagire on one of the sofas in the corner of the room. I waved to them. Two men were sitting at the dining table with a bottle of wine in front of them. The one with a bald head was sipping wine from a glass and the one in a long sleeved blue shirt was writing down what the woman in a grey coat was saying. A big basket, kibbo, was next to him; in it were donations towards the cost of this gathering and the funeral. I knelt down on the edge on the mat and greeted everyone in the room “nga kitalo”. They all replied together “kitalo nnyo”. I walked to the man with the book, I put a £20 donation in the kibbo and he wrote down my name and phone number. “Thank you, we will text you the funeral arrangements,” he said.
©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2014)