I remember that dad sat on that stool, in front of his mirror in a daily morning ritual that left him without the stubble from the day before. Sometimes he got bruised through. There would be a slight line of blood. This, I suspect, happened on the days he inserted a new razor blade in the shaving stick. I am sure there were electric shavers at the time, but dad must have been old fashioned or averse to change. I think this because he had many leopard print Africana shirts, cream coloured corduroy trousers and leather hairy safari boots (like those at Bata). This was an attire he wore almost daily. It was his trademark…that and his afro.
He usually had a bowl of clean warm water placed on that table at the time I woke. I slept in his bed you see. He also had a curious set of instruments laid out in a manner that would make a surgeon proud. I was not allowed to play at this table.
At this point, we lived on Market Street, right in the center of what is now the central business district. I can point out which one our apartment was whenever I pass by. It was right above Dad’s pharmacy. A few blocks down from it, on the opposite side of the street was a gas station. At night, when there was a breeze, the smell of fuel wafted through our bedroom window. I loved it. I am not sure if Tourist Hotel existed at the time (I think it did, I remember the red T), but right opposite where it is now was a night club, up the street from our apartment. That is how I knew all the lyrics to Afrigo Band’s “Jim nze wuwo” at age 5 without speaking a word of Luganda. On the other side was Nakasero Market as it is now, except back then there was a car washing bay too. Dad had his midnight-blue Mercedez washed there on weekends. Saturdays mostly because as I remember, Sunday was the day I went to visit relatives, like my sister who stayed at her mom’s place at the Bukoto brown flats. Sometimes I got to see momma too on those Sundays; Dad always drove… I do not think I was used to his red Honda bike by then.
I think I had been taking a nap when I woke that day. The order of things was different. It was evening. Dad was facing away from the mirror and the bowl was on the floor. The water in it was not clean. I do think it was warm either. It had what appeared to be rivulets of some red liquid. I am not sure if my four-year-old brain registered that this was blood, but I know now that it was. A lady was wiping the wound on his leg. I must have been one of my aunts or an elder sibling. Everyone in the room was calm so I did not register any danger that night. Someone said to go back to sleep…I stared into the bowl, watching the swirl pool and drifted off again.
Daddy had been shot.