“In the beginning of time, the god of water and the god of land were best friends. Their children used to play together as their wives gathered fruit from the garden of life…“
There was blood everywhere; my fingers, pajamas, and the bed were red. I opened my mouth to scream but nothing came out. I could see him standing in the shadows; staring and smiling like my pain gave him pleasure. I got up and tried to run but my legs buckled under my weight and that’s when he started to edge closer…
“Madam… I’m taking the orders for breakfast now.” Anita’s voice on the other end of my door filtered through my night mare. I jumped up from my bed and pulled down the covers, staring back and forth from my hands to the bedding till I was sure they were not crimson red.
“Madam?” Anita knocked once again sounding slightly agitated.
“I’ll just have a cup of black tea please,” I shouted out my reply.
I could hear her drag her feet as she moved on to the next door, like her slippers were too big. I sank back into my bed and blankly stared at the ceiling. An ugly brown moth in the corner next to the dresser caught my attention. It was struggling to find a way out of the room; the poor thing was trapped-just like me. It kept fluttering its ugly wings as it crossed from the dresser to the ventilators above the window and just as it was about to get to the small openings, it flew back to the opposite side and started the journey all over again.
After about five minutes of watching it, I threw my legs over the bed and moved to open the window, hoping that a little air would offer the direction to freedom that it was looking for. My feet screamed in protest at the on onslaught of the coldness from the tiles, however, with every step I took, they grew accustomed to the cold and my steps became firmer on the ground. A gush of wind blew onto my face as soon as I opened the window, not the type that would send you scampering back to bed for warmth, but the one that held promises of better time to come later on in the day. I stuck my face out of the window and deeply inhaled, Kesubu air was so fresh and moist, unlike the air in Kampala that was laced with fumes from the many motor vehicles that littered the potholed streets. I could almost feel my lungs rejoice as I exhaled and inhaled again.
“Last call for hot water” a deep male voice shouted from the hallway. It was followed by loud bangs as doors opened and sounds of footsteps clamoring for the door at the end of the hallway that led to the bathrooms. I dashed for my unpacked suitcase and rummaged through my clothes for a towel. The bathrooms stood at the start of a row of doors that led to an open area littered with dirty laundry and washing basins. I counted five bathrooms and five toilets that were crowned by a large mirror on opposite ends and two sinks below either one.
There was a group of four white girls on the furthest end of the bathrooms; two were applying make up to their pale faces as the third brushed her teeth. The last girl, a heavily tanned plump blonde chatted happily about something in a language I could not understand. She occasionally stopped and awkwardly gestured with her Arms, sending the other three into fits of laughter. I secretly wished I could understand what they were going on about; I would have loved to place each awkward gesture.
“Russians- a very misunderstood lot,” A thick timbre male voice said behind me.
I quickly turned and made eye contact with a compact light skinned chest and then my gaze traveled upwards meeting a fine set of white teeth exposed by a half crooked smile and honey brown eyes shielded by thick rimmed glasses.
“Do you understand what she’s saying?” I asked shyly, embarrassed that I had been caught staring and suddenly conscious of the flimsy material of the night shirt that covered my nakedness.
“A little, I spent a few months backpacking across Europe; Russia was my favorite stop. Let’s say hello,” He replied as he smiled and waved at the girls. They giggled and waved back then lowered their voices to inaudible murmurs.
The door to one of the bathrooms opened as I turned back to ask him about the slight accent that tainted his words and out came a couple of blushing males with their eyes fixed to the ground. They mumbled good morning and ducked into the hallway before making a dash for their room.
“That’s my cue,” he said as a second bathroom door opened. “I hope I’ll see you at breakfast Ms…?”
“Nakaye, my name is Nakaye.” I replied as I entered my bathroom.
“What’s your name?” I stuck out my head and asked.
“I’ll tell you if you have breakfast with me.” He smiled and winked before entering his bathroom and closing the door behind him.
Nakaye, really? A small voice at the back of my head inquired as I opened the shower and jets of water sprayed down my back. I had grown so accustomed to using my mother’s maiden name that I now naturally responded to it as if it were my own. I had been running for a while now and for some reason it felt like this was the only life I had ever known.
No one would have been able to guess that at twenty seven years of age, I had a life that many would call perfect. My little candy shop was booming; I had an apartment in Kampala to my name, a wonderful husband and a beautiful baby girl that seemed to grow at bullet speed. My husband Michael was ten years older than me and yet we so happily completed each other.
My mother always said he gave the creeps. She would stress how the hairs on the back of her neck always stood up whenever he was around, like he was surrounded by bad spirits. No one ever paid her any attention; we assumed she was being her usual dramatic self. Now I longed for her drama and kisses, I wished she was here to hold me and tell me that things were going to get better and that everything that had happened was just a bad dream. I missed my father and his stories about the gods but most of all, I missed my daughter.
My eyes burnt with unshed tears at the thought of my family, not even the jets of water bursting from the shower above could cool my heating face. The water had grown cold now; I was so immersed in my troubled thoughts that I hadn’t noticed the temperature dropping. I slowly reached for my towel that hung on a huge nail sticking out of the bathroom door and struggled to wrap the fuzzy cotton material around my naked body. My arms felt weak and limp like the ground was seeping every drop of energy from my body. I closed the shower and dragged myself from the bathroom back to room 112.