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©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2017)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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It is 7 pm in Uganda

Around 7pm it was getting dark and the temperatures plummeting. I was sitting outside trying to keep warm in front on the burning charcoal stove. My son sat next to me observing how my niece was cooking sauce in a pan over the hostile flames.
The chicken appeared from the corner of the house walking towards us. He jumped up from his stool.
“Sit down” I told him.
“The chicken is coming” he replied.
“It just needs to pass to go to bed” I said.
“Where is it its bed?” he asked
“In the indoor kitchen” I replied.
“Do they all have beds?” he asked.
“Yes, at 7 pm every day, they all stop running around and go home?” I replied.
I explained that every chicken is trained by its owner to know its home. When we brought this one from the village, it was tied using a banana fibre by one leg, to a post near the house for 3 days to enable it to learn its surroundings. Then it was let to run freely around the neighbourhood during the day, pecking for food.
“When you see the chicken coming home, then you know it is 7 pm” I told him.
He looked at me in astonishment.
“Do you mean all the chicken know their homes?” He asked
“Yes they do” I replied.
He remained standing looking at the chicken as it walked past us; its head straight ahead towards the door, gliding like a ship on water, it went through two entrances and passed all the shopping we had brought earlier and settled down in its corner in the kitchen for the night.
My son shortly went in the kitchen to see if it was there. He came back with a big smile on his face.
“It will wake up at dawn” I told him.
“How will it get out of the house?” he asked
I explained to him that it will walk up to this back door, where it will wait and may crow or make chuckling noises until someone wakes up to let it out of the house for

©Juliet Lubega (unpublished 2016)

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Breaking news.

How is Kenny? Sharon asked Jo.
He is fine, starting to walk. She replied
Where have you left him?
He is at my mother’s house.
What can I get for you? The tall blonde waitress asked, her blue eyes darting between the girls.
She was holding a small white pad in one hand and silver tray in another.
She was new in this pub, covering for Kelly while she was on maternity leave .Although she was always polite and kind, she had not lived in the village long and the girls didn’t know her that well.
Lager, for me. Said Jo
A bottle of Stout and a glass, please. Sharon said

You can’t believe what I am going to say.
What? Jo asked
Spill the beans. Maria added
Can you guess? Sharon looked at the perplexed faces of her girl friends.
She didn’t know how to approach the news. These were her mates; they shared each other’s joys and sorrows as children, adolescents and now young mothers in this close knit community.
Since they turned 18, the village pub had become their meeting place where they let their hair down exchanging stories about their boyfriends.
Sharon’s heart skipped a beat as she realised the worry on Maria’s face. The contours looked anxious.
She stood up and straightened her skirt. Her drink sat in its glass patiently waiting for the announcement.
Are you ready to tell? Jo looked at her friend’s face folded with a frown.
Yes. I am moving to London.
The glass slipped from Maria’s hand but she gripped it before it hit the ground, splashing the drink in all directions. She had never been to London.

 

©Juliet.Lubega (unpublished 2015)


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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)