Short Stories, Tale Africa

Flooded Dreams (continued)

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By Ruth Olango Adong, Uganda:

At 5.53am, she walked to the no-go area of the Channel, said her last prayers and slowly lowered herself into the depth of the channel. The ferocity of the water provided the weightless, free feeling for a while before everything came to a standstill.

It had been a harrowing 5days for Alaro. She sat in a daze, in the priest's office as she waited for him to give her his final word. Here she was begging the man of God to say the last rites before her child could be sent off to her ancestors in Palaro. He was having none of it, not even their very presence in the church for mass every single morning since they moved to Bwaise could move the priest to consider it. The priest was of course stern in his decision, suicide is a capital crime in the eyes of the church and praying for Akello, would be sending the wrong message to the catholic community.

The sheer shock of seeing your child's body on TV was bad enough after searching hours on end for her whereabouts for two days. Finding a suicide note just made it all the more gut wrenching. Why? What jok came over her? She has forever stained their household with that single act.

Her death had come with its fair share of drama. There was the landlord who wouldn't have the body enter his house, because it would jinx his house and no one would ever want it again. The community almost lynched him, but being the pure traditionalist that he is, he gave them two ultimatums – move out now or keep the body away from my premises. So, the community rallied once more and put whatever money they could together to keep Akello in the mortuary.

The Local chairmen fought to have their faces on the screen to express their stale points of how they have called on government to help their area.

The opposition politicians jumped on the fray of being relevant to the local person and camped in the Bwaise to “show” solidarity with her plight, preached their political ideologies, on how the common folk should vote right to avoid recurrence of this unimaginable act. The government as always sent a representative with an envelope and condemned the act and as always made promises to do more in the coming year if the citizens choose wisely for proper service delivery.

The so-called children activists and NGOs were not left out; they came in hoards, milking the story of all its funding potential. There were camera men everywhere, angling for any sign of grief, capturing her house as if a potential gold field. They lined up to have their pictures taken with Alaro handing miserly cheques to cover her expenses. Now there was talk of a march in honour of her baby, Akello.

There were also her clansmen in Palaro, who were adamant in refusing to have Akello buried there. No one wanted the bad omen in their compound, even Alaro's own father. Akello's father's people, willing as they were hadn't paid any bride price for Alaro so they can lay no claim to the body. In that moment, Alaro knew it was time to do all she could to get her child a decent burial.

With the victim card in hand, she decided to make use of the people who had milked her daughter's death to make headlines and sales. She had seen women appeal for help and she had never dreamed that she would be one of them. She spoke to one of the numerous TV people, who was too happy to keep the 'exclusive moment” to themselves. She carried the calendar with the suicide note, constantly waving it around as she gave a practiced incoherent speech with many cry intervals about how after her child who could be in an exam room doing her senior four finals, was stuck in a mortuary, rejected by her clan's people and even not allowed the chance to be brought to this house where she had shaped her dreams of being a lawyer.

Two days later, after the hyenas who wanted to seal their names as heroes of Akello, moved the earth, spraying her relatives with money, she was seated in Palaro, with the Priest's words somewhere in the background, the media capturing her every move as she threw the soil on her daughter's coffin. She was also a woman 72million shillings richer.

 

Footnotes

**Aa maalo, kot ti cwe”- Get up it's raining

**jok- sorcery /witchcraft

 **tadoba- Paraffin lamp.

**sapatus- slippers

**buveera- polythene bags

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