What does it mean to be grief-stricken in Kampala? Do the people who move around you see your tears? Do they understand the twists on your face?
This morning I saw grief. Two matronly ladies were supporting her since she couldn’t see the potholes on the road on which she trod.
They offered words of comfort and tried their best to make her believe this was not the lousiest day of her life.
What they said was a silent movie. In the morning rush hour, taxi horns rule. You can scream an epithet, sing along to Buchaman or just listen to the madness.
It is more than white noise – it gets to you.
But I can imagine what they might have been saying to her. It was whispered ‘tofaayos’ and ‘gumas.’
They probably told her she had to be strong for the children. The little girl was going to be asking where daddy went and Grieving Mom would have to have an answer and a ready shoulder for the little one to cry on.
Probably they were telling her to focus on what she had to do at the moment – how much does it cost to place a death announcement on radio, what about in the newspapers; how many wreaths shall we be needing; did he tell you how much money is in the bank? We must move fast before his relatives learn about his death; secure the children’s things.
Yet Kampala moved on.
She might have been thinking this is the end of days but the picture all around her said different. Over there was a young man opening his tire shop to start a busy day of hauling in the shillings.
A young lady was sweeping the verandah of her salon. The traffic cops were busy directing traffic, precariously close to being splashed with the dirty water in the puddles in the middle of the road.
But then again, maybe she was crying about something else completely.
Maybe she’d lost the lottery. I didn’t ask her.