I have a secret!

The tarmac burns our bare feet by day and tickles them with cold at night.



I have no idea how and why I landed here on these grueling streets. I must have been born here because i have no memories of any other place I have called home. I do not know anything to do with my parents. The person who comes close to fitting the description of a mother is a kind old lady who sells her merchandise along the road and all street kids call her mama. But not even her big heart can accommodate us all. We have to fend for ourselves most of the time.
Overtime, I have discovered that the trick is to take life day by day and barely think about tomorrow. Each day, I awake to the same fate. Looking for something just enough to keep my body going and keep it from starving. One time, an old muzungu who was shocked by my size told me that I am emaciated, whatever that means. The streets are all I have and they are home. The tarmac burns our bare feet by day and tickles them with cold at night.
Kampala’s streets awake very early, too early in fact. Taxi touts rouse me from my sleep before daybreak with their incessant cries for passengers. Then the bustle of busy bodies jostling for space on the small pavement kicks me out of my blank dreams. As the sun rises, my yawning also begins as if to announce that the day’s hustle has officially begun. We(I am not the only one) find ourselves on the streets, hands outstretched in prayer for an early morning coin almost automatically. Most times we have to do more than just stretch our pitiful arms. You grab you worn out shirt and clean the side mirror of the car of that beautiful woman who seems to pity you. Or you show the muzungu your toothpick-sized arm and sunken belly hoping it is enough to shock him to reach into his pockets and bless you with a coin. For some it is a mere curtsy and a greeting in English that is enough to convince them to dish out a coin.
We beg from all people, white or black, in the big cars or the smaller ones, whether old or young, pedestrians and even traffic policemen. We beg indiscriminately. And yet there are some cars which we never get close enough. Or they simply move too fast and deny us the chance to showcase our deprivation. They are the convoys that mama says belong to very important people, people who don’t have the time to waste in slow traffic. People like the president, ministers and members of parliament.
Of all these, I dream of the day I will get the chance to wave at the president and show him my bony arm. I know his face from the campaign billboards of the last election (I used to sleep under one of them) and the newspapers mama sells, where he features so often. I wonder if he would dish out a coin or a note. But his convoy always evades me. It is simply too fast and has mean looking soldiers seated atop accompanying military trucks. If I ever have the chance to stop him, I will bear out my heart to him and disclose my secret. A secret I am ashamed of; my stomach has never known the feeling of being satisfied.

Author: Colman Ntungwerisho

Law student, believer, dreamer, eternal optimist. Hope, faith and love. It takes 10,000 hours to master your craft I love writing and photography. The best is yet to come.

2 thoughts on “I have a secret!”

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