FOOTPRINTS - Episode 8

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Bagamba knocked gently on the door and listened attentively for any movement inside the house. It was a small bungalow on the edge of t...

Bagamba knocked gently on the door and listened attentively for any movement inside the house. It was a small bungalow on the edge of the city. His search for one of his late brother, Kakuru’s girlfriend had brought him here. According to Kakuru’s ex-wife, Namirembe, Nsungwa was the closest of Kakuru’s girlfriends. After Bitalo and his father returned to town and it was clear that Tusuubira was not Bitalo’s biological mother, Bagamba began to search other possible links between his family and Bitalo. He was driven by his promise to his late wife Gonza to look after Najja.  After a third knock, a face he faintly recognized appeared at the door. Memories began to flood Bagamba’s mind. He recalled meeting the face he was looking at in Kakuru’s office years ago. “Can I help you?” The lady asked. “Are you Nsungwa?” Bagamba replied. “Yes, who are you?” She was carefully studying Bagamba’s face. “It has been many years. I am Bagamba Sebowa; older brother to the late Kakuru Sebowa.” Nsungwa stared him in the face. Bagamba could see signs of sadness walk across her face. “I met you many years ago,” she said. “I can see that you remember now. Can I come in?” Bagamba asked. “Yes, you can,” Nsungwa answered as she opened the door wider to let him in.

Halfway across town, Najja was with Bitalo. “You would make a wonderful cousin, Najja, but that is the last thing I want now. I want to hold you close to my chest and wrap my arms around you,” Bitalo said. “You have no idea how much stress I am going through. If this lingers any longer, I’ll probably fail most of my courses. I cannot concentrate. I am constantly thinking of you,” Najja replied. They looked at each other. Desire was visibly present in their looks, but they were careful to keep a distance between them. “I feel like I am getting angry at my biological mother, whoever she is…or was,” Bitalo said irritably. “I know this is tough for both of us, but I don’t think there is any need to be mad at her,” said Najja. “Why? If she had not dumped me there like a piece of rag, all this would have been avoided.” “Maybe not! You would not have met your wonderful adopted parents if your biological mother had not abandoned you there, Bitalo. This is not the time to be bitter at her or anyone.” “I wish I could tell you that I am not.” “Even if she had not dumped you there, if you are my cousin, then, you are my cousin, so the fact that she left you there changed nothing.” “At least we could have known that were cousins, so we would not have fallen crazily in love with each other,” Bitalo rationalized.

“I hate to bother you Nsungwa, but I have some important questions to ask you. I know this brings back events of yesteryears, perhaps events most of us would like to forget, but there are a few serious things on the line now that necessitate this discussion. You had a relationship with my brother, Kakuru, right?” asked Bagamba. Nsungwa stared at him for a moment, and then to the ground. She took a few minutes to gather her thoughts, while Bagamba waited patiently for an answer. “Yes, I did,” she finally answered. “Did you have a baby boy by him? His ex-wife Namirembe is positive that you did.” Nsungwa could not look him in the eye. “Namirembe is still mad at me, and I guess all the girls that ran around with her ex-husband I guess?” She asked. “She was a loyal wife…I am sure you’d feel the same way if you husband went in the same direction,” Bagamba explained. “I had an affair with Kakuru…I did have a son about the same time, but I can tell you that Kakuru was not the father of that boy.” “Why do you say that?” “I guess I should spill the beans. I was with other men at the same time I was seeing Kakuru. It was obvious he would never marry me, so I sought the face of other men who might think of marriage with me.

“I made sure we used protection with your brother, so he could not have fathered the child that I had.” “Are you sure?” “I am very sure. I had a baby with another man…a single man, whom I thought might want to marry me. I took in deliberately for him, but somehow, he found out about Kakuru, and refused to have anything to do with me or the baby. I told Kakuru it was his just to extract some money from him. In the end, we both agreed to get rid of the baby,” Nsungwa said desolately. She could not look up. Her eyes were fixated on the floor. Soon, tears circled her eyes. “So, is the boy alive,” she asked raising her face to look at Bagamba. “I think so.” “Is he looking for me?” “He would like to know who his father and mother are. He is happy…he was picked up by a wonderful couple.” “So, he did not die?” “No, he did not.” Nsungwa did a sign of the cross as she registered her relief.

Okwayi sat on bare floor before his shrine. His face was covered in white local chalk, while numerous beads hung around his neck. He had a worrying look on his face. “The shrine of Bakuli, I have come before you. It is time for you to rise and go to work,” he declared. He picked up a small wooden container that lay beside the shrine, opened it and sprayed a dark liquid from the container over the main statue in his shrine. Then he dug around the snake skin that he wore around his waist and produced a small metal container with white chalk in it. He sprayed some of the dust over the mean-looking statue at the center of his shrine. “The shrine of Bakuli, Najja and Bitalo are one blood. You cannot allow them both to consort with each other. Should that happen, the land will be defiled…soiled! The powers that you have bestowed upon me through my ancestors would vanish and there would be no one to convey your message to your people. Darkness and death would reign supreme over the land. Come and end this imminent evil the shrine of Bakuli. Kill Najja or Bitalo or both so that these children of the same blood will not come together!!!” Okwayi declared. He took a bottle of local gin and sprayed some of the gin on the floor. He went outside his shrine and sprayed more of the gin around the shrine. “Go…go spirit of Bakuli and kill either or both of them!”

Bagamba drove home at speed in a frantic effort to break the news to Najja. He had made a few calls on his way home to some friends who may help with some tests to help confirm beyond reasonable doubt that Bitalo was not related to them. When he reached home, Najja was nowhere to be found. He called her immediately out of excitement. “Najja, you need to come home immediately. I have news for you,” he said excitedly over the phone. “I am with Bitalo. Can I come with him?” “Yes my daughter. The two of you should run home fast. I think I have gotten to the root of this matter.” Najja and Bitalo took a taxi home. Frantically, Bagamba explained the outcome of his meeting with Nsungwa to them. “She is very certain that Bitalo is not my late brother’s son. I have already contacted a friend at Bugolobi Medical Center Spring Road. We will all go there tomorrow to deposit DNA samples so they can eliminate any doubt about any possible family ties between Bitalo and our family,” he explained further. Najja smiled broadly for the first time in days. Bitalo looked at her as an angelic smile cradled her beautiful face. I cannot wait to make her mine,” he thought.

Then, there was a noise outside. Somebody was at the gate, knocking with authority. “Who is trying to knock down our gate?” Asked Bernadette, Bagamba’s mother from the kitchen. She darted outside and looked through holes in the gate. She froze for a moment. She had heard a lot about the feared Okwayi of Bakuli. “What brings you to our house Okwayi,” she asked, refusing to open the gate. “I have news for your household,” he replied. “Go ahead and give me the message. I do not feel comfortable inviting you into my son’s compound.” “You have nothing to be afraid of. If I want, I will send a thousand spirits into your compound and they will rip your son’s arms out for me. There is no need for that. I have come in peace to deliver an important message.” Bernadette looked at him for a while. Reluctantly, she opened the gate. “Bagamba!!!” Bernadette shouted, as she tried to alert her son to keep Okwayi from entering the house. Bagamba, Najja and Bitalo stepped outside. “Here is the old man who told me that Bitalo and I are related,” Najja shouted. “Okwayi of Bakuli. I have heard so much about you. What brings you to my compound this evening?” “I have come to tell you that if these two ever have any sexual relationship…if they ever marry, they will die. If for any reason, they don’t die within the first few months of marriage or after any form of sexual contact between them, the gods will kill their children before spilling their blood. They are related! They must never be allowed to have anything between them.” He spoke emphatically and menacingly, pointing ominously at Bitalo and Najja.   STORY CONTINUES...

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Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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FOOTPRINTS - Episode 8 An African Literary Blog
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