[Toot!] Index: 1.2
Communism Bit: Off
Location: Job, of course
First, to get some issues out of the way. Conscience issues and the like.
- I find it easier not to give the blind beggar money, since he can't see me ...
- To all those who doubted the Comrade's resolve: I'm bringing a shot at this crap we call democracy, next week. Hopefully.
- I'm reading a nice novel of my favourite genre. The genre I write, even though I'm yet to get full-winged in it. Still too scared of outright magic realism.
And to that nun, Sister Theodora. :o)
A puppy barked at me today. Puppies rarely bark at me, because I like them, and they know it. It had a pure white furry coat and a pitch black nose and ears. The kind of thing you find at Cute Overload.
Three weeks ago, I went to my favourite shop in the slums. The Splash there is nearly ice-cold. The lady who sells there is Rwandese, and she puts on French radio. She escaped to Uganda in '94, running away from the genocide. I think she was like 18 at the time. She says she had a younger sister, but I've never seen her. Probably one of the many other faces of survival on Kampala's harsh, harsh sidewalks. Her kids in the slums show no signs of Rwandese heritage.
She named her daughter after herself. The name means `dear' in French, and is even used by some Ugandan blogger.
Anyway, so I found her, three weeks ago, cleaning out the shop. So much crap to throw out, she wasn't even selling that day. Just cleaning. I asked what the big deal was, asking `Did you drop a fifty-shilling coin?'
`Hehehe. No ... I'm cleaning up ... preparing.' She speaks Luganda. But when the Luganda word hides, she won't look for it—she just breaks into French without apology. I translate the Luganda to English for you. `I'm going to see Rwanda tomorrow.'
She told me her family was killed in the genocide, so she and her sister saw no sense in going back to swim in the sadness. It was already sad living away from home. How much sadder to find no home when they go back? So they stayed.
Now she was talking of going back `to see Rwanda'. She had heard a lot on the radio, and she wanted to see for herself. And she also wanted to make sure, once and for all, that she was certain there were no survivors, so she may uproot her thoughts from Rwanda. `I will even stop listening to this French radio,' she said, grinning. She has a rich sense of humour.
`And if you find survivors? Your parents sent you away with a plan for the other people, isn't it?'
`I'll see what to do. I'll keep in touch. I think there are some survivors. There must be survivors.'
Her good humour made her add `Even if it means the dog being the survivor. Hehehe.'
By today, I had cemented a new pattern that didn't have her in the picture. I passed her shop to go buy elsewhere, and she shouted `Eh!' I turned. Some ice-cold Splash. So you're back. How's Rwanda. Kagame is an idiot. We'll colonise you. Oh, a bus! No, you lie. Blah-blah-blah. Much small talk. Then she sobered up. We had to get to that question, anyway, so I don't see why I took the long route.
`No. I didn't see any. Even the house was removed.'
`Merde. Maybe they exist elsewhere. In Uganda. Or Congo. Tanzania.'
`Our former neighbour said they all died.'
`He can't be sure—those were chaotic days, you know. People running.'
And she explained how the old man, the neighbour, confessed to having killed them himself. That he is old and worn and with a burdened conscience. She said the neighbour, burdened by guilt, had attempted suicide. And that he had kept the family dog, which gave birth even before the murder frenzy was over. And that the dog's family line survived. The old man had named all puppies after her family, recycling names as the need arose. And that he went to the confessional every Sunday.
She fought her tears with amazing bravery. `I got a puppy to bring back. We weren't all killed. There was a survivor.' Now her tears won and pushed her over in big, sudden shudders.
`Where's the puppy?' And she whistled it over. It bounced happily, ears bobbing, towards her.
`Celle-ci. Belle comme le jour.' Sniffing back the sadness.
`Oui. Très belle.' I reached out to stroke the dark nose, and it barked at me. The trust for humans is gone, I think. It even shared her name: Cherie.