He doesn’t know if he’s awake or still asleep. He never knows. Things just swim into focus for him and they always have an eerie glow about them that he’s since learnt is not ghostly. Could be something in the concoctions he drinks before he blacks out.
He stumbles out of the shack he calls home. Out of the rudimentary structure of sticks hastily put together and a black polythene thrown over like the rains are coming and the builder wants to get in before.
He misses the duck in the doorway by a feather. Why is he stumbling? Oh, it’s just the mwenge from last night at Maama Nalongo’s. When the mean paying customers get tired of watering themselves, they always leave bits and pieces in the glasses. Bits and pieces of alcohol.
That’s when he strikes. Sweeps the tables and sucks the bottles dry. To the last drop.
All around, energetic looking young men are in various stages of wakefulness. The untidy clothes they have on are not going to go off for the rest of the day. Or the week, for that matter. The shirts and pants will straighten as the elements deal with them during the day.
Our hero heads for the big town. From where he is, he can see the metropolis beckoning like a strange woman. He doesn’t know what to expect but he has to go. He takes a last look at his lodgings and heads out. This could be the last time he is seen in these parts. He goes where the world leads him, you see.
There’s action in town.
There are thugs running riot in the streets. He doesn’t know exactly what is going on but since there’s nothing else to do, he can always join in. The crowd is screaming some crazy stuff he does not understand. Things like, “Third term” and “Forests” and other kinds of confusion.
He could even get some coins to buy muwogoand porridge at that small kafunda next to the sewers in Nakivubo. It has one lone table and a lame bench that was definitely stolen from the primary school that used to stand in the neighbourhood. The Government closed down the school, mbu for sanitation reasons. Well, their loss.
They have the heaviest porridge you see and not very many people like it there because of the smell. He can have the place to himself without suspicious idiots staring at him. Where there are crowds, there are coins.
Suddenly, he is on the defensive. The police are doing that teargas thing again. In addition, there are goons with clubs and the look in their eyes tells our hero that this is a group he doesn’t want to mess with. They are the definition of badass. He turns and runs.
But his escape is cut short. Some guy in a Hummer knocks him down. For a moment, he doesn’t know what’s hit him but when he comes to, there is a crowd a few paces away and they are having a field day stoning something on the ground. The car that hit him is in flames. How did he survive after such a monstrosity hit him?
What they are stoning is what used to be someone’s son. Maybe. He can’t be sure. He can’t even care. His legs are broken. Broken at the knees. Both of them. He is trying to crawl away. No one notices. He has no one to help. And he didn’t even get those coins.