The morning was not any different at our home, in the hills of Nateete. The place is a panorama of rolling hills, gentle valleys, a few drying water streams. The roads that meander round through the meadows punctuate the beautiful landscape dotted little houses or baby houses as Kibubu, our house-help’s kid calls them.
Our mysterious aunt, Zubedah, had arrived the day before amidst pretentious ululations and greetings. She had been gone for a long time, assumed lost to one of her unknown and highly suspicious trips to the west – Fort Portal to be exact.
I remember her nervously pulling out a mineral water bottle from her garments that was filled with blackish water after I served her food. She swallowed its contents in gallows and sprinkled a little in her food.
Shocked and agitated, I recall wondering to myself how this lady had never left being crafty. Who cared anyway, it was her food after all. Though she had declined to sit on the dining table, claiming that she wont be swayed by the impact of the Mzungu (white man).
The day was calm, somber and pretty much normal until when I realized that Kibubu was missing. Kibubu was often a very early bird. He usually woke up earlier than all of us and kept on making noise as he played with the toy piano in the living room. But this morning was particularly quiet, no noise, no cries, I wondered.
I asked the maid where Kibubu would be. She suggested that he could be in one of the boys quarters playing with the gate-man’s puppies. I headed there to check but the kid was no where to be seen.
Panic crept in. We paced around the house calling and calling him out but no response came. I remember seeing Ntabadde’s ( the maid ) eyes welling up. I noticed the shivers going down her already chill spine. Her hands shook as she called called Bidugu ( Kibubu’s father ) narrating to him the ordeal.
“Omwana wange,” she wailed her breath out, “banage! Nze nga zinsanze!“, she mourned.
She fell to the ground , cursing the Lord and the angels. Her thoughts pointed to the devastating kidnapping stories on the news and she could not help but think that such fate had befallen her son.
Confused and hapless, the house became as silent as a grave yard. Then everyone started coming up with the best of their FBI intuition on how and what had just happened to Kibubu, the maid’s son.
We reluctantly informed the local police about a missing child but we knew only divine intervention was needed at that time.
We sat at the balcony, pondering the next move and praying for Kibubu when Zido, my youngest brother mentioned that he had heard him in the morning outside in the compound playing with aunt Zubedah.
Aunt Zubedah had left earlier on, shortly before Kibubu was announced lost so we could not help but think the worst, knowing our aunt’s reputation.
“What!!”, I exclaimed, “that woman is crafty. If she is the one who took Kibubu, we are doomed!” I said as I carried my hands on my head.
Ntabbadde the maid reached out for her phone and demanded for aunt Zubedah’s number. However, aunt’s phone was not reachable!
“Aah! She has him. She is going to sacrifice my boy!”, she cried out as she threw herself to the ground. The boys carried her almost lifeless body to her room as the rest of us quietly sat in sorrow.
Well, the day had to continue, food had to be cooked. I took responsibility over this, now that the maid was not actually available. I grabbed the cut jerrycan used to carry charcoal and fled to pick charcoal from the store just besides the gate-man’s room.
Guess what I found in the store! Kibubu, laying peacefully in the smashed pieces of charcoal sleeping. Looking satisfied from feasting on the black stones.
I sat down right besides him in both amusement and anger; and broke into a wild laughter as I shrugged off the seemingly tragic morning that had turned into a circus.