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Friday, December 14, 2007

For love, my fees and face had to go

Ann and I began as toddlers. She was the daughter of our next door neighbour and great family friend.

Ann was lean with ebony hair, twinkling skin, dancing bright white eyes and when she grinned, tiny dimples that gilded her cheeks made her extraordinarily pretty.

We went to the same school, braved the ice-cold mornings of Kigezi, the blinding fog, mist and the golden dew together.

At home, we fetched water together and later played in the lawn. Whenever our parents would chide us, we would escape to hide in the sorghum plantation, sit down and hold hands in blissful, profound silence.

We even learned to kiss that early. Tourists had camped near our church and, one Sunday, on our way from service, we found a white couple kissing. We beheld them in amazement and surprise, wondering what they were doing. When we arrived home, we practically tried out their game. It felt good. I was 8 and Ann, 7.

Generally, my childhood recollections paint a picture of a boisterous Ann, in whom the heavens had revealed their exquisite wonder! She was a true personification of the Biblical, yet faithful Bathsheba and a living Ihuoma of Elechi Amadi's time!I visualise us as Romeo and Juliet, all free from our parents' personal vendettas.

One day, Papa was transferred to Rukungiri. We cried and prayed to God to foil the separation. He did not. Ann even asked her mom to let her come with us but received hot slaps instead.

In Col Senyondo's district, life had nothing to offer without Ann. The once cheerful lanky boy lost colour and crept into a world of solitude.
Much later, when my father had been transferred to Bushenyi, my sister joined a secondary school in Kabale, she met Ann. Through her, our love was rekindled via mail.

But I never came to meet her till, later in my A-level, I heard over the radio that one of Ann's sisters had died. The very next day was beginning of term and when my father gave me Shs. 250,000 as school fees and pocket money, I decided to board a taxi for Kabale to look for Ann and console her. I had left Kabale as a boy and now I was 18.

Ann looked as gorgeous as ever. She had matured into a fully virtuous and voluptuous woman. Before we could go to their village house where the mourning was, she led me to her father's shop in town. Soon, we forgot her dead sister and started kissing. One thing led to another and before we knew it, we were mourning her sister in a hilarious and thrilling fashion.

Suddenly, a really heavy knock bombarded the door like a bomb. We flew up like frightened birds. Then, the angry giant, with bloodshot eyes threw the door inside and stood hovering over us looking like the Biblical Goliath. Before I could say anything, the guy descended on me, beating me like he did not care if he broke my bones. I got a beating of my life as Ann cried, pleading for my life.

The guy, I later learnt was Ann's brother, then descended on her calling her a dog which goes to mate when its sisters are lying cold in the sitting room.

I took that chance to mobilise my broken body into an escape. But I holed up in Kabale till I met her again. And that cost me my fees before I returned to school with a welded face, wondering how on earth I was going to raise my school fees.

Published in Daily Monitor on August 15, 2003