Excerpts from A Grain of Happiness #themakingofJimButtons the book
Over the Hills and Valleys Too
Dad rarely visited from Kampala. When he eventually came, it was for a funeral and he never made it back. He was too sick. His body wasted away and we watched as one of our neighbour’s pushed the bicycle that carried him to Aluor Mission Hospital. A few days later, the man I had known and called baba, passed on.
I can still remember the day it happened. A single elongated scream escaped my grandma’s lips. It pierced the morning still air and travelled across the hills and valleys that completed the landscape in my village. That day, my siblings and I never made it to school. Our school, Korwenje Primary School, sat on top of a small hill that went by a nickname that bespoke of its marauding jiggers.
“Maiye, mama nyargi nera,” my grandma continued wailing, as the weaver birds danced and chirped, flying from one tree to the other. It was a beautiful morning that was punctuated by the sound of chirping birds, buzzing bumble bees and school children who kept calling each other. Strangely enough, the children didn’t call our names that tragic morning.
The five days of mourning finally came to an end dad was laid to rest. A mound of brown earth marked his final resting place while a roughly hewn cross, marked where his sleeping head slept, forever. A pair of a mismatched pair of slippers rested besides the mound of brown earth after being left there by one of the young men, who had helped fill the grave with soil.
The particles of soil on dad’s grave were yet to settle when we were all summoned to our mud-walled and grass-thatched hut. A million grains of soil kept unsettling each other as they tried to get a firm foothold. Grandma was still wailing when she ended our hut. Members of mom’s fellowship from Barkorwa Catholic Church had already left and she was, at last on her own.
Each adult that stood to address the small gathering inside our hut tried all they could to convince mom to abandon her salvation in order to fullfill our traditions and customs. Now that I am able to look back, I realize how brave mom was.
“You’re all going to die from chira if you don’t get inherited,” an aunt of ours said. “Just leave Christ, for awhile, you can always pick up later…”
“No, I have made up my mind,” replied my mom, as the wall of relatives from both sides watched. “From now on, Jesus is my everything. He is my Lord, my Savior and Husband!”
“Then consider yourselves as outcasts!” another aunt said as our relatives left our hut. It was a simple statement. Little did I know how much it was going to impact my whole life.
#themakingofJimButtons the book