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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The shoes

The sun rays penetrated the net curtains and reflected on the mirror that stood on their oak dressing table. She looked at him through the corner of her right eye. He was bending over the left side of their king size bed.
She held her knitting needle tight, her fist felt sweaty as she tried to focus on making the beanie hat for their son. She knew the question would come but until then she was determined to keep her lips sealed.

He lifted the floral bedspread off the red carpet and put his head underneath.”They are not here” he said.

“What?” she asked

He looked at her with a blank face.

“What are you looking for?” she asked again.

He felt frozen under her words. He looked at the clock on the wall and could hear it tick against the silence. His head started spinning.

He recalled the events of last night at the office party. How he pressed Rumba against the wall at the end of the corridor next to the stationery cupboard. His hands wandered below her skirt, feeling the warmth between the legs. She put her arms around his neck and her African beaded bangles tickled his skin. Their tongues interlocked as they inhaled each other’s alcoholic smells.

Rumba had slotted a piece of paper with her phone number scribbled on and inserted it into his trouser pocket on her way out.
He had placed it in his shoes and put his trouser in the dirty wash basket before jumping into bed next to his wife.

“Look out of the window” she said.
Without a word, he slowly walked towards the window. He felt the weight of his feet with every step.
His shoes were sitting on the large window sill, looking miserable from the over night rain. The white piece of paper with Rumba’s phone number floating in the water that filled them.

 

©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2015)


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The Garden Gate

When Ralph proposed to install a small gate to connect the garden with their neighbour, Joyce didn’t think much of it. “That is fine by me” she told him while she scrapped the last bits of food off the blue polka plate and placed it in the dish washer.
“I don’t have to go around to the front door and knock then?” Tammi asked, breaking into a smile and looking at her Mum. Her braids dangling at the back on her neck. Yellow and white beads attached to their edges. She was dressed in her yellow Pudsey onesie and holding the Barbie doll, their neighbour Ronke gave her for Christmas
Her smile revealed gaps in her teeth.
“How much money did the tooth fairy give you last time? Joyce asked as she smiled back at her daughter.
“So can I go through the gate to play with Nia?” Tammi asked again, her brown deep set eyes darting from her Mum to her Dad.
“ Off course, you can go through the garden” Ralph replied
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Joyce wondered why her husband’s car was parked outside the house at mid-day. Her eyes surveyed the black BMW looking peaceful as it sat in the drive. She looked through its class windows and saw just a pile of papers scattered at the back. She thought he had decided to come back home early as he had complained of a feeling un-well in the morning.
She tip toed up to the door balancing her red high heels on the rugged pavement. She slotted the key in its hole and slowly opened the door.
The kettle was boiling, and the noise filled the air through the partly opened door. She walked straight into the kitchen. A partly dressed Ralph, in his white vest and red boxers holding two mugs and a bottle of milk hit her between the eyes. She felt like ice cold water had been thrown all over her body. Frozen on the spot, her fingers felt sweaty as she held her hand bag and keys in a firm grip.
The shock of seeing his wife sent Ralph in a panic, his arm trembled and the mugs fell to the floor with a loud bang. The pieces scattered on the black and lime green tiles. One piece flew towards Joyce and landed on her feet.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Water was flushed in the toilet next to the door that leads into the garden, and they both turned their eyes to that direction. For the first time Joyce realised it was open.
The toilet door opened from inside, and Ronke appeared in the door way, her bare chest standing out on top of tightly tied multi coloured African kitengi.
Joyce turned to her husband as she felt the warmth of the tears welling in her eyes. She felt empty and lost for words.
She looked at toilet door, her gaze pierced through the tense atmosphere straight through Ronke’s stomach.
Ronke slowly walked to the back door, into the garden and through the gate back to her house.
“So Tammi can go through the garden gate to play with Nia”she shouted at Ralph.

 

©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2015)

 


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Used

Veronica felt hot and sweaty as she turned his words over and over in her mind. “I thought we were in this together?”She searched in his eyes for clues. He was stone faced and cold, with a smirk, he replied “What do you mean?”.”Starting a life together in the UK with the children” she said and kept her eyes straight into his.
A tear trickled down her cheek and she gently wiped it off with the tissue. She wasn’t sure why she was crying, maybe she felt sorry for him.
She gripped her palm and felt her warm sweat against the fluffy paper. She held on tight, biting her teeth together as she held her balance
He sat down on the red stool next to the dressing table. Holding his passport in his left hand and tapping his right foot on the burgundy bedroom carpet.
“We are going to live together?” he said as he turned the passport over and over as if his life now depended on it.
“You just said you are going to Uganda for six months” Veronica said.
“Yes but I am not going for good. Am I?” .He picked up a brush from the dressing table looking at her through the mirror.

Veronica moved from the bed and stood in view of the mirror. He was smiling to himself. She felt a surge of anger sweep through her body like a wave.
“You know we are four months in arrears on our mortgage” she reminded him.
“I know”
Whilst brushing his hair, he turned and looked at her
What is going to happen while you are away?
“I don’t know”
She opened her mouth and closed it.
“What?”
Where do you live?
“I live here”
His words hit Veronica like hot flame. The arrogance in his voice felt painful in her ears.
“Who is the father of these two children?”
“Me”
“Do you expect me to keep up with the mortgage and look after the children alone?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Aren’t you working?”
“What are you going to do in Uganda anyway?”
“I will see”
His arrogance sent her head spinning
She realised that since Kagwa got a better job he has been saving up for this trip behind her back.

 

©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2014)

 


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Free at last

She runs as far as her mind can take
She digs far deep into her memory
In search of the good times they shared
It is dark and bleak, cold and icy
Her heart feels heavy at every beat

She runs away from the sound of his voice
Her feet feel heavy with every step
The light fades with every step she takes
She cannot remember the last time he laughed
The man she once loved with all her heart
Is now a stranger is all she can see

The stars twinkle in the sky
They sparkle straight into her heart
Her teeth sparkle as she smiles
Tears trickle down her cheek
She knows they are tears of joy
She is free at last from his grip

 

©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2014)


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The storm

The storm is brewing in the sky
The wind hurls and leaves sway
Thunder rumbles
And grumbles away

Lightning flashes
Straight into my heart
My heart beats like the nankasa drum
Sweat trickles down my cheek

Dark clouds march on
Chasing the time
The sun drifts away
Like the times we shared

The storm is brewing in my heart
I feel the pain like it is yesterday
Why you left is not for me to say
Such is life is all I can say

©Juliet.Lubega (unpublished 2014)


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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)