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new poem, reworked poem


Aunty Violet

 

She was a tall, dark

voluptuous woman

with big eyes.

Waiting outside his office

She sat still and upright

Hands folded in her lap.

Only her eyes hinted at the fire within.

 

Finally they let her in.

Mr Bob sat across the desk

His face pink and sweaty

On this humid afternoon.

‘Where is my husband?’

She asked quietly.

Her eyes glinting.

Her body, very still.

‘I don’t  know’ he replied.

 

Very slowly she leaned forward

And said,

‘You have taken him

again

and I have come to fetch him.’

 

‘I do not know your husband.’

His thin pale lips

Twitched as he spoke,

His eyes, cold and empty, 

Staring back into hers

.

Suddenly

She stood  

And pushed his desk up

Against his big belly

Pinning him helpless

Against the wall.

 

Her eyes blazing

She said

“Bobu!  Tukooye okutuyisa

obubi! 

My husband has done nothing wrong

and I will NOT leave here without him!

I will NOT raise my children alone.

WHERE IS MY HUSBAND?”

.

Mr. Bob’s eyes opened wide

And he gasped!

Face ashen,

pinned between the wall and the desk

Unable to move or breathe.

He looked into her burning eyes

Her tall body towering over him

And suddenly

he remembered her husband

… and where he was!

 

“Please Madam,

Let go of the desk,”

He wheezed. 

“Your husband will

be here soon.”

 

That day

Her husband came back home

And was never taken again!

              ********

Going home (formerly known as In a Foreign Land)

Nabutiiru.

At the dinning table

shoulders hunched.

Quiet tears .

A soft moan .

 

Two aunties next to her

hushed words

taut faces.

 

A child

leaning against the wall

Eyes flashing, fists clenched

’What did they say?’

 

Nabutiiru says

‘I’m alright.

Khukhu passed away last night.’

 

The child   

Wraps her arms

Around her Mother

Mourning her Mother.

 

Nabutiiru.looks around her.

Their homeland

Fast falling into war.

She dislocated

With three of her children.

Far away from home.

The older two

wheel-chair bound.

Minds alert

Unable to speak, or walk,

Or care for themselves.

The younger one, 13.

The caregiver barely 19,

 

She must go.

Can she leave the children alone?

Bury her Mother

Will she be safe?

 

Her husband kilometers and kilometers away,

Her eldest child further.

The second born at home –

maybe she will be at the funeral.

 

An aunty speaks.

‘What if the soldiers get you? Stay.’

 

Nabutiiru stands.

‘I must go.

I must bury my mother.’

‘We will be alright.’

 

Bag packed.

She gives the child some money.

‘I’ll be back soon.

If you need anything

Call Aunty.’

 

Nabutiiru travels

In a Matatu

Through the Rift Valley

Towards Busia

 

She remembers

The last words her mother,

Hand on cheek, she had asked:

“Nabutiiru, will you manage

With the children in a foreign land?”

 

Nabutiiru crosses Manaafa,

The river of her home.

The floodgates open up

Tears wash over her.

 

At the homestead

They wait.

Coffin lowered into

The grave.

They wait.

Corrugated iron sheets over grave.

They wait.

 

Nabutiiru.

 

As the sun sets

She steps out of the car

Into the homestead.

They see she is here.

 

The voice of an old woman

Singing a dirge

Rises through the air

One by one

They move,

As if dancing,

To the grave.

 

Nabutiiru is here

She will bury her mother.

They will be alright.

 

And far away

In a foreign land

The children now wait.

About Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa

I am a facilitator, coach and storyteller/storyfacilitator, and use story, song, art and dialogue to facilitate change and development in individuals and organisations. Over the years I have become aware of how I have used stories to make sense of my life - and of the ways in which we all use story, consciously and unconsciously. Stories - myths, folktales and personal stories - are used to teach, to bind, to questions, to hold ambiguities, to explore, to hold up a different picture, to bring together and also to hold back, to suppress, divide and destroy. With this understanding I have built story into my work. I use it to make conscious the stories people and organisations tell themselves that either support or hinder their growth. I use them as an opening, an invitation to begin to speak about the difficult things - to name 'the elephant' in the room. I use them as an invitation to people to dream of possibilities - and I also teach people to tell and to listen to stories because without a listener there is no story. I was born in Uganda and lived there until I was in my early teens. Since then have lived in various parts of East and Southern Africa - and have been involved in development work in Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and the UK. I have also coached clients in South Africa, Namibia, the UK, Belgium, Israel and USA.

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