A Samuel Ogeda Story
Soroti Town, 8:00 pm. Year - 2016
Kenneth Opio knocked on the door to his home. He waited a few seconds and knocked again. Boda Bodas whizzed by. Cars hooted. Booming music from a disco in the distance blared.
“Johnny, please come and open the door,” he called to his oldest son. He banged on the door a second time then moved to knock on the window beside the door.
“Johnny, please come and open for me,” he spoke sternly. The front door opened.
“How are you?”
“Dad, I’m dying of hunger.”
“I’ve tried looking for food but I’ve not been successful.”
“Why haven’t you lit the lamp?”
Johnny did not answer.
Ken pressed a button on his Techno phone and scampered around the one-roomed house that was their home. The lamp was next to a plastic rack that held two plates, two cups, one spoon and a saucepan. He lit the lamp. A yellow flame illuminated the room.
His other two children, Lucy and Steven were lying on their mattress with a grey blanket covering them. Johnny was 9 years old, Steven was 7, and Lucy was 6. It had been two days without a meal. They had become to weak to move about so they chose to lie down and rest. Johnny joined his siblings on the blanket. Ken brushed both hands through his hair and held the back of his head.
Ken had lost his construction job two days ago because he consistently reported to work late. He was getting paid 10,000 shillings a day but would spend part of his money on alcohol and sports betting. He didn’t have any savings. To make matters worse, there was a nationwide famine in Uganda. No one was willing to share their food with him.
“How have you been my dear children? I’m sorry I’ve not been able to find food. The drought is affecting everyone.”
None of them said a word.
Ken brought the lamp closer. The children had tears in their eyes. The room was stuffy so Ken opened the window. A black piece of polythene paper acted as a curtain. He moved his mattress which was on the opposite side of the room close to theirs and sat.
“Dad, are we going to die?”
“No, my love.”
A week ago, Lucy’s best friend Christine was knocked dead as they were crossing a road on their way home from school. Images of Christine’s lifeless, bloodied body run through her mind.
Tears welled up in her eyes. She sniffed. The pain of hunger and the weakness in her body made her imagine that she would lay lifeless soon. Just like Christine.
Ken stroked Lucy’s cheek and wiped her tears. “You’re not going to die,” he said. I’m going to find food for you tonight. He stroked the backs of his other children. Steven was deep asleep.
“I want you all to sleep so you can conserve your energy. I’m going to get you something to eat.” He blew off the paraffin lamp. “Don’t let anyone in.” He left the room and locked the door from outside with a padlock. He rested his forehead on the door, mumbled a prayer, then walked away.
Ken was formerly a thief and had earned a reputation in the town for being one. He was once arrested and thrown in jail for 6 months. His prison experience changed him. He purposed to earn a living decently from then onwards. However, his kids were now starving. He had conversation with his good friend Bosco earlier in the day. He said he would have to resort to stealing to feed his children till he found a new job.
I have thick skin. All criticism is welcome. This is my second year of working with dramatica.