Juliet Lubega


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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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Busted

She flicked her long black eye lashes. Mascara trickled from each corner of her eyes like a double water tap. Her eyes filled with tears. She knew they were crocodile tears. There was no explanation.
He paced up and down. Every step he took his feet hurt. His towering figure nearly touched the ceiling. He felt so dark in a well lit room as his head almost knocked the light bulb from its socket. It swung from side to side .He looked at her with fire in his eyes. She seemed so small underneath his contempt. He couldn’t work out whether it was anger or pity he felt for her. The turmoil of his emotions made his chest hurt.
The phone lay on the soft hairy blue bedroom carpet, the light rays reflected on its face and it glittered. She looked at the small silver case that had carried her secrets for the last ten years. It lay there like a rival who had finally had revenge. The code name and number of the lover she now wished she never met and, the times and laughter they shared in the dark flashed under the light in a text message; “I can’t wait to hold you again in my arms tonight”.
Their eyes met. She felt his gaze penetrating her skin and chills run through her body. She relived the dreaded minutes she had walked to the bathroom without her phone.
His face was blank as he opened his mouth and closed it, lost for words. She turned side ways to face their dressing table. Her make up lay scattered on the table in the same way she had left it before the ill judged trip to the bathroom. The black skin powder case was open, its mirror side dazzled under the bulb light. The sponge was on top of the floral tissue where she left it and the eye shadow compartment in different shades of blue was besides.
She wished he could say something instead of looking at her like a piece of meat ready for the roast.”Pick up your phone” he said with a smirk.”He is waiting for you” he continued.
He then picked up his car keys from the bedside cabinet and walked towards the door. As he placed his palm on the handle he turned back and said “I hope you find what you are looking for”
She just looked in space as a mosquito buzzed next to her ears. The phone rang.

Juliet.Lubega (unpublished 2015)


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Only Once

 

Lusse put his hand on the silver plated handle and pressed it down slowly. It stopped and squeaked,  it was locked. With a squint in his left eye, he bent his head to look into the key hole, the key was sitting there, quiet like a stubborn child on a naughty step and oblivious to what had just happened. It stood between them.

He just wanted that opportunity to look into her eyes and say “sorry”. He knew it was just a word but he had to say it before he proved it. Sweat trickled down behind his right ear. He felt like his world had collapsed around him.

“Open the door please, Regina let me explain”, he shouted. He usually called her Reggie ,but today was not the day.

He pulled out a bunch of keys from his left trouser pocket. His bedroom ,office and car keys bundled up and hanging on football key ring .They stared back at him, blank and useless.

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“We will continue this story tomorrow Anika” as she closed the book. She tucked Anika into her bed. Checked on Tomasi and Tayira, they were fast asleep. She walked to the bedroom window, separated the dolphin patterned curtains and looked outside. The sky was clear and stars twinkling brightly. She looked at her garden, all the flowers and bushes neatly arranged around the grass centre. She wished her life was as neat.

She had spent the whole day planning how she was going to confront him. She will not tell him as soon as he came home. At dinner she will pretend that everything was alright. Once the children were asleep, then she will ask him in a soft voice.

She remembered the  anger in the  woman’s voice on the phone. ”I am sorry to tell you that your husband made my 16 year old daughter pregnant. I will make sure he meets all his responsibilities”.

She glanced at Anika drifting off to sleep, her thumb in her mouth sucking for comfort. After closing the door slowly, she walked down the stair case, negotiating every step carefully to avoid making noise.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

In the lounge she sat in grey armed chair and looked intently at her husband, who was watching a wildlife programme on TV. The tall, elegant giraffes were eating leaves on top of a tree. Their brown patterned bodies looked like floor tiles. Unlike them, the man she once adored now looked like log in front of her.

 “Do you want me to change the channel darling? Lusse asked.

Feeling the warmth of the liquid as her eyes filled up with tears, she bit her lips and shook her head.

“What is the matter?” he asked.

“So is the baby yours?” she asked.

“Which baby, what are you talking about? He replied

“I am not having a row with you .Just tell me the truth. Her mother phoned me today”

He looked on speechless, his mouth parting slowly to say something only to close it moments later. It had not occurred to him that, the one time he cheated on his wife would result into a pregnancy.

“I have only slept with one girl, once”

“Therefore that makes it alright”

“No it doesn’t, but considering that our neighbour Kizito has three children from other women outside his marriage. I haven’t done too badly” he replied laughing.

She stood up and tightened her wrapper around her waist.

“Did you listen to yourself saying that?” pointing her index finger to his face.

His eyes dropped, “Sorry”

“She is sixteen, you fool” Regina shouted as she made her way up the stairs into their bedroom.

©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2013)