Juliet Lubega


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Listen

Listen

Huh?

I just said, listen

Okay then

Are you listening?

Go on

I need to tell you

Tell me what?

Look at me

I am looking

You have beautiful eyes

Okay, thank you

Are you really listening?

Of course I am

Can we order another drink?

Yes we can

I need you to listen to this

Can you just say it?

How long will Ryan be you think?

Another five minutes maybe

I was just saying

Go ahead

I like the way you did your hair

Thank you

I don’t know how to say this

It must be serious then

Off course it is

Well, let me hear it

Is your drink finished?

Is that all

No

Then what else?

I like you

What?

I said, I like you

He is walking in

Who?

Ryan,  your best mate.

 

©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2017)

 

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My ancestral home

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The drops of rain hit my window on this cold and dark January morning. I long for them to clear the snow which had been falling over the last few days. I turn to face the wall thinking of the summer months, hot, like in the land of my ancestors. It was the home of my grand father, where my father grew up and, I was born there in 1964.

The elegant banana trees tower below the sky, and their ever dark green leaves spread out like cobwebs. They shield the drying beans, wrapped in their shrinking pods from the scorching sun at this time of year. They protect the secrets of a family too. It is the final resting place of our fallen.

Some graves are un- marked; others are names with stories told by those who met them. In my mind, I can touch the faces of my three sisters while I walk through the plantation. Their laughter echoes through my ears. The good and sad times we shared are memories I hold on to in my sleep.

I shut my eyes and stop to greet Alice, the youngest. Eighteen years was too soon to go. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her. Where would she be living? What would be her job? Would she be married? What about her children? It wasn’t to be.

I arrive at the tall palm tree. I know it is the place where our house used to be. I sat here playing with my dolls made of dry banana stems, ebyayi, their square heads without hair or eyes, with straight arms and no legs. I was oblivious to the world I now live in, where they walk and talk.

My mother was usually seated yards away, and often glanced her watchful eyes over my play. Weaving her bright coloured wool thread into patterns of artistic crotchet, her hands moved in rhythmical strides.

Whilst I lie in bed, thousands of miles away, across the seas and no earth road besides a matooke plantation. My ancestral home, Bubango village is forever in my heart.

 

©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2017)

 


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‘To my Daddy’

 

She lifted up the mattress, her hand slid to tuck in bottom bed sheet and her fingers touched its edges. It felt foreign to be under the mattress as she couldn’t recall putting or seeing anything there before. She pushed her hand further beneath and it felt, smooth and straight. Her fingers quivered at the sharpness. The surface appeared small with a flap, so she pulled out the small blue envelope and it flipped open.

A lined paper was folded and a picture of a young girl inserted inside. She pulled out the picture. The girl looked about 5 years old, same as her own Maria. She was dark skinned, her hair was in single plaits with yellow, red and white beads scattered at the edges. The eyes were deep and large. Her white dress matched with her smile and sandals. She turned to the back, the words ‘Meme 5 years old’ were written in red ink. She felt her knees weaken below the skirt and sat down on the bed. Her hands trembled as she opened the paper.

She started reading, her eyes quickly skipped from word to word as the warm liquid filled their sockets. Soon tears were streaming down her face. It was to her Kaku, the husband of 15 years and 3 children.

The assignment to Uganda had been full of excitement. In the 5 years, Kaku was the Director of Operations in the East African region, they had lived in the up market Kololo suburb of Kampala. They had spent their holidays touring the National Parks and admiring the landscape from the savannah plains in the North to the cascading hills of Kabale, in the South West .The Rwenzori mountain range on the western boarder, to the Elgon mountains  on its boarder with Kenya.  They had a team of dedicated staff, from drivers to home helpers. Life was perfect.

She turned her eyes to the bottom of the page. It was signed by Birungi. There was no picture but recalled her as one of the 6 home helpers she had employed with special duties to look after the children. She had not stayed long, and terminated her contract after 6 months. To her surprise, Birungi hadn’t complained when she reduced her pay for breaching her terms of employment. She didn’t think any thing of it until now that she was holding a letter to her husband.

In the letter, Birungi said, she hadn’t heard from Kaku for 6 months, and her housing contract was coming to an end. She needed to pay the landlord and was struggling with the upkeep of his daughter after clearing all her school fees.

Tears continued to stream down her face as she realised that caring for children in her house gave home helpers access to most of the bedrooms. She stuck out her tongue and tasted the bitterness of the truth with the salty liquid. A picture of Kaku and Birungi lying naked in hers, or their children’s beds clouded her head. “No!”, she squealed at the betrayal and deceit.

A tear dropped on the smaller letter splattering on the words; ‘To my Daddy’

 

©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2017

 

 

 


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Angry Stare

Your eyes are hollow and distant.

I can see them filling

Misty and teary

I can read their story

Between the lines of their glare

In black and white they stare

 

Your eyes balls stay still

Without a flicker

The eye lashes stand tall

I feel the fire of anger

 

Your nose points straight

Like the pointing finger

Accusing a minger

 

It seems I am a stranger

From a world up yonder

Not the person of your heart’s desire

The one you told to love for ever

 

©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2016)

 

 


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This is a secret

What?

I said it is a secret

What if she finds out?

She will not find out?

She may, you never know

Who will tell her?

She doesn’t need to be told

How will she find out then?

The way you act

Act?

Yes, I mean your actions

Like what?

Your eyes

What about my eyes?

They wander over my body

What is wrong with that?

It is suggestive?

Of what?

Of the way you see me

I just look

It is more than that.

How?

It shows the way you feel

Don’t you know?

What?

Actions speak louder than words.

 

©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2016)


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It is time for School

“Wake up”
“Huh?”
“I said wake up?’
“What is the time”
“It is ten minutes to eight”
“I wake up at eight”
“I know”
“ Why are you waking me up before eight?”
“We need an extra ten minutes this morning”
“Why?”
“To make your packed lunch”
“Do we have to take packed lunch for the trip?”
“In the letter for the trip it said it is an option”
“Why don’t you just give me money?”
“I haven’t got enough money”
“Do you have spending money to give me?”
“Yes I do”
“Can it cover my lunch?”
“It will not be enough for both lunch and spending?”
“I don’t eat much at lunch anyway”
“It is important you eat enough on a day you are out of school”
“What do you want me to do now?”
“I want you to wake up, brush your teeth, wash up, put on your uniform and come down stairs to choose your sandwich filler and type of bread”
“Am I making the sandwich as well?”
“No”
“Why do I need to come down then?”
“If I chose for you, you might not like it and not eat, as you do sometimes”
“What are the options?”
“Tuna and sweet corn, ham, cheese and bacon”
“What type of ham?”
“Cooked ham”
“Is there mayonnaise?”
“Off course there is.”
“What about lettuce?”
“There is lettuce” she replied.
“What type of bread do you have?”
“Both brown and white bread”
“Let me first think about it”
“There isn’t much time to think, you need to get ready for school”
“By the time I finish brushing my teeth I would have decided”
“Get out of bed then and go and brush your teeth”
“My jumper got dirty yesterday.”
“Where did you put it?”
“In the laundry basket”
“I will get a clean one for you while you are in the bathroom”
“You can make the sandwich without me?”
“It seems I will have to, because we have spent time talking and you will be late”
“Cool”
“What did you just say?”
“Cool”
“Make your choices. Here is your clean jumper. I want to go downstairs to make the packed lunch”
“I will have bacon, lettuce and mayonnaise with white bread”

©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2016)

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Meeting

Kato sat on his bed in the dark. He could see the full moon; a fluffy cotton ball staring at him through a slit opening of the dark green bedroom window. The sky was clear and the stars twinkling besides like brides maids.
He repeated her name underneath his breath “Tendo, Tendo”. The thick lipstick on her lips and softness of her voice was still vivid in his mind.
He had intended to have a brief visit to the pub for a pint on his way home.
Just as he approached the counter, a dark skinned girl went before him.
“Excuse me please” she said.
He stepped side ways to give her way, and the scent of her perfume filled his nostrils.
Kato’s eyes wandered from the long braids falling loosely behind her neck, to her round bottom, straight legs and high heel red shoes. Her yellow mini body corn dress clung to every inch on her body. He felt chills.
He stood there watching her every move. He wondered what holding her tight and squeezing her tiny waist would feel like. What taste would stay in his mouth after they kissed, with their tongues interlocked. How he would feel if she slept next to him in bed and their bodies touched. Even her snoring would feel like music to his ears.
He was so immersed in his own fantasy that he didn’t realise she had left the counter and was back sitting with a group of girls in the far corner of the pub.
He got his drink and sat on the sofa adjacent to them, sipping from a straw while he observed the girl in yellow through the corner of his eye.
When she smiled, her dimples dung deep into her cheeks. The hair braids swayed as she turned to talk to her mates.
He watched her excuse herself from the table and disappear down the rest rooms’ corridor.
He got up a few minutes later and walked after her. Between the ladies’ and gents’ doors was a long mirror with brass sides, he stood in front of it pretending to re-do his shirt buttons.
The girl in yellow came out the door and their eyes met
‘Hello ‘he said, rolling up his right sleeve
‘Hello’
She stopped.
‘My name is Kato’
Those few seconds waiting for a reply seemed hours, and he felt his hair stand up at the back of his neck.
‘I am Tendo’
“Would you like to meet me here for a drink one day, Tendo?”
“I don’t live local but we can work something out”
“Can I have your number?”
“Yes, on my way out”
“That is fine”
Back at his table he watched and waited, sipping his drink as slow as possible. She continued her conversations with the other girls, barely taking notice of him.
Every time Kato glanced at her, Tendo was either talking to someone or drinking from a bottle. However, he felt her presence as if she was seated next to him.
The girls stood up to leave and Kato picked up his glass of lager from the table, his grip tightened with every step Tendo took towards him.
She placed a lined piece of paper with her name and number written in red ink.
Now, at home in the dark, he looked at the pink scrap of paper where she had written it. Those four letters in mirrored the glitter in her eyes as they flashed under the beams of light off his mobile phone.
He got up and turned on the lights in order to read it properly.

 

©Juliet.Lubega (unpublished 2015)