Thursday, March 25, 2010

Juvenile Tales: A Truant Lifestyle & One Ugly Fight

It could easily pass for the remotest area in the south-western part of the country, but Rubaya sub-county in Kabale district still evokes fond memories in my life. This is one area whose residents-according to some wild tale-were once famed for trying test drives on sewing machines, and buttressing banana plants with concrete to curb wild weed in their farms. 

I had not heard of the place before, until some slice of fate meant that it would be my dad’s workplace for a period of time then still unknown. 

I was about six at the time, though for some reason I had not started school. But I knew simple arithmetic and a few other basics, my old man having taken me through most of these whenever he had the time. When I finally got chance to start school, I took it with both hands and headed to a nearby primary school to enroll for P1-there was no kindergarten then. 

What I didn’t know though, was the fact that this class belonged to that bunch of novices whose hands would have to be guided to etch a single letter, something I believed to have outgrown a lot earlier. Bothered by the whole practice, I sneaked out of the classroom and didn’t return thereafter, losing a year in the process.

This was at a time the conflict in Rwanda, a neighboring country, was simmering with near full scale fighting. Matters were not helped by the deployment of soldiers at the Ugandan side of the border as I happened to befriend Otim, a top commander of the deployment at the time (I was too young to tell between the various army regiments then). 

He owned a cassette player, a gadget I gradually grew fond of, and would play any genre of music as I danced the day away with amateur strokes. Otim would then send me back home with a few groceries at the end of the day. That made my life then, and was partly responsible for my truancy and growing aversion for anything academic at the time.

The fighting grew more intense by the day, but the soldiers always alerted us of any impending attacks, at which point we would have to find temporary shelter for a day or two. This usually involved staying in concentration camp-like settings or utilization of free space around church lawns in neighboring villages. 

It was in one of those incidents that I got involved in a feud with a local lad from our host village. I don’t recall what it was exactly about, but it started a clumsy fight of sorts that ended in defeat for the hapless juvenile, leaving him with a bleeding nose.

This, to the boy’s village cronies was akin to contempt. They could not fathom the fact that one of their own had been embarrassed on home soil, and set out to pounce on me in a bid to avenge the humiliation. In some way, I managed to break free before they could fully get hold of my now weary frame, incensing them the more.  

A chase immediately ensued, during which I would soon discover what I later came to learn as Adrenaline --Yes, that one. That kind of power that propels one to do things they would not do with their ordinary strength.

I managed to safely get home and get some rest later in the day, though when we returned to the place a few months later, our hosts had forgiven-and probably forgotten all about the brawl!

-Dan B. Atuhaire

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