Each Monday we shall be posting a short story that we invite you to comment on. As you know, we have a serious challenge in the country relating to child marriage and teenage pregnancies following the pandemic and the lockdown of schools. These stories are based on real-life events. We welcome your comments.
Short story on teenage pregnancy
When Mrs. Nakiganda walks into the compound, you freeze. The small ones dance toward her singing greetings as they gather around her. A cold damp feeling against the slickness of your faded green slippers mended twice over reminds you of the wet towel in your hand, the basin at your side. You remember everything else you have to do before lunch before Daddy comes back. Mrs. Nakiganda is a whisper of hope you can’t afford today.
The baby cries in the house. The sound makes you look up. Not behind you towards the house but at your teacher. She is looking right back at you. You want to say something but you have no words. Mama comes out of the house. She must have heard the girls and known there was a guest.
‘Welcome, Mrs Nakiganda’
‘Thank you Mama Lobati’
‘Come, come, sit’’
Mama switches languages and tells us what to do. Deborah runs to bring a mat to lay under the mango tree, the coolest place in the compound as the sun begins to burn. Rita comes to you and takes the basin. You hang the towel then wipe your hands against the soft worn pattern of your dress. You place a hand on her shoulder in thanks then head to the house. You leave your slippers at the door and head to the bedroom slowly, trying to catch your thoughts before they run away from you. It is not a cry of pain. It is a cry of I am awake, come. You can take a small moment for yourself.
You enter the room you share with your sisters to find the baby sitting up. He sees you and lifts his arms so you will pick him up. You kneel to meet him on the worn mattress. You move your sleeve freeing your chest and allowing him to feed. As he settles into your arms, you check his nappy for wetness but your mind isn’t on him. Your mind is on what still hangs on one of the hooks in the wall. A hanger with a grey skirt folded neatly. Buttoned over the skirt is a white shirt, its lapel bright with the colours of Kiboga’s best high school. It is plain against the brightness of the gomesi you wore on your introduction. You ignore the bright sparkle and pattern of the gomesi to focus on the small badge and the words written underneath the school logo, A Bright Future through Education. This is why seeing Mrs Nakiganda is hard. You’re trying to find a new path to a bright future.