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The East African : Aug 18th 2014
The EastAfrican MAGAZINE AUGUST 16-22,2014 sho≥t sto≥y the rest because it did not conform to the stuŒness of the rest. Its conventional style brought both criticism and praise from passers-by. The voices started to come back to him. They were screaming now. “Death…”he tried to shut them out but they kept hounding him “…you will not be…”. He closed his eyes and tried to focus on the memories but the voices wouldn’t let him. They cut like a sharpened knife through his reality, forcing back darkness. His vision started to blur and sounds of the birds that had delicately permeated the morning air became more shrill and distant, almost like an echo being choked into silence. His movements were more laboured as his breath grew more ragged. The voice laughed in triumph as it continued taunting him. “… It’s all your fault, you’ll never run away. There is no escape…” He crumbled and fell to the ground, the gate inches away from his fingers. He felt a heavy weight holding him down as the voice continued “…you will never win…” He started crawling. His muscles ached as he stretched out his hand and tried to touch the gate. “Maybe if I touch it will be worth it,” Ben thought. His palm finally touched the green gate. His vision was so poor now, all he could see was a green blur in front of him. He sttretched his hand, pressing his palm on the gate. The voice in his head had gone quiet and was replaced by a mild throbbing. His vision—though still poor—was improving and the weight that held him down started to lift. He pulled his hand from the gate and stood up again. Behind him, one of the other gates opened and a light grey Mercedes rolled out. The car turned the corner and was out of sight. He turned back to the gate, the voice had gone completely and his vision had been restored. He could not remember anything. Before he left this house, he had had the nightmares. He took short steps to the key pad on the left of the gate. The wall was covered with green vines that snaked up the wall. He pushed the button on the pad, and the voice of a young woman came through. “Yes, who is it?” the woman said. “It’s Ben.” “Ben who?” Ben paused and thought about this question. He had only found out his proper name a few weeks ago, but part of him still hesitated. “Mukasa,” he said. “Ben Mukasa.” “Just a minute,” the voice said. The speaker clicked and Ben waited, full of fear and doubt. “What if they turn me away? What if I am not really Ben?” He had not yet thought of what he would do if things did not work out the way he had imagined they would. All this had been a spur of the moment action. All this was just to silence the voice in his head, the voice that had been haunting him since the day he had woken up in the squalor. The voice on the speaker cracked again. “You may come in,” she said. The gate slid open to reveal a large house with a well manicured lawn. The house had big windows and a modern box-like structure that made it stand out from the other houses. Two cars were parked in the driveway: a Mercedes and a Range Rover. Ben stood for a moment, taking in everything as the gate slid to his left. The memories started flooding back, they weren’t all bad — he had been laughing in some of them. He walked through the driveway to the front door. A woman was waiting for him. “Hello, Ben,” she said. She was the woman from the keypad at the gate. She was the same height as Ben with a flawless skin and pierced nose. Ben could see her natural hair sticking out from an old and cheap weave, to say nothing of the forced lilt in her accent. “They have been expecting you.” She stood aside and motioned for him to pass. The inside of the house was simpler than the outside suggested. The foyer had The ≥etu≥n of Ben Mukasa B ByF.M. KYOMYA en stood a short distance from the gate; the only green gate in the estate and one of the few with a buzzer. The house stood out from IX ‘‘ Yes, who is it?” the woman said. “It’s Ben.” “Ben who?” Ben paused and thought about this question. He had only found out his proper name a few weeks ago, but part of him still hesitated. “Mukasa,” he said. “Ben Mukasa.” “Evelyn.” Ben put his shoes carefully to the side. His socks had holes in them that exposed his big toes. He stood up and went to the sitting room and sat down in one of the sofas. The sitting room too was minimalist and simplistic. On the wall directly in front of him a simple bench while numerous portraits adorned the walls. The woman grabbed him by the arm as he walked to the sitting room. “You need to take off your shoes,” she said as Ben stared at her with obvious bewilderment. He sat on the cushioned bench and pried off his sneakers. This took effort since the sneakers were a size too small. He noticed the marks on his jeans and his shirt that had come from his earlier efforts. He realised he looked remarkably dishevelled—he also noted the way the woman looked at him with an air of mild contempt. “You never told me your name,” Ben said as he pried off his left shoe. was a painting of a screaming man with his hands holding his head. Ben found it strangely compelling. He tapped his foot nervously on the wood floors for a few moments before he heard a door closing and footsteps coming down the hallway. A woman appeared from behind the wall and immediately broke into a smile. “Ruhanga wange,” the woman said, cov- ering her mouth in surprise. Ben stood up. He wasn’t prepared for this moment; the sheer gravity of his emotions hit him like a bullet train. The woman was older than he remembered her, her kindly face was now lined with wrinkles and her hair had strands of grey. She still looked good and her movements were quick as she walked over to meet Ben halfway.
Aug 25th 2014
Aug 11th 2014