By Laker Winfred L
Some drivers in the Kampala jam remind one of the food queue at a church function in the village. There’s always that one person, that person ahead of you. That one person that is oblivious of the people behind him.
He is mostly laid back. The kind that is not-bothered-by-many-things laid back, including food queuing time.
He is annoyingly super chill and always amazingly reluctant to close the gap between him and the person closer to the serving point.
He doesn’t look hungry. Doesn’t look Christian enough even. And doesn’t look like he was invited. He’s not even in the ushers’ group. Not in the choir. Not in “The fathers of hope group” and not in the Elders’ group.
He will totally ignore the gap ahead and faithfully engage the person behind him in conversation. He’s Brother Kasto. You don’t know why they call him that. No one in church has ever read that name out of the Book of God. Kasto is annoying.
Why? Because he is not bothered that he’s holding the people behind him and slowly destroying your chances of getting those giant pieces of meat or even a ka small piece of chicken. Gweno.
And he doesn’t know how cool it is to eat chicken at a village gala. Gweno, chicken is like high table stuff in village gatherings. Staple. Stuff that is served to the lucky few. The lucky few that don’t eat any form of beef from four legged animals.
You are mad, impatient and worried your chances to high table stuff is dwindling, so, you murmur in the Christian kind of way, and while at it, Kasto catches you giving him the bad eye. He hears your honk. He turns around and starts to move forward.
And just when he’s about to close the gap, Mego Balbina from Mothers’ union comes through with a bunch of pale looking hungry kids from the Sunday school. The kind of kids whose parents don’t attend church. Kids whose parents couldn’t care less about what time they return home as long as they’re at church.
These kids are the kind of kids who have smeared themselves hapzardly with Vaseline.They sang so well earlier and everyone was so happy. So they’re allowed to jump the queue. Plus Jesus said to love them kids, so you chill. The kids get their food and Mego Balbina leads them off towards the green giant tamarind tree.
Kasto finally moves, washes the tips of his long fingers like he is not interested in the food, and before he can pick a plate, Sister Lapolo from choir comes breezing through like a lost Nile gazelle and fixes herself in front of Kasto. She’s good at such functions. She likes to be useful and has this busy frame.
She’s kind with super long arms and hands that can carry three fully loaded plates on each at the same time. Those plastic plates that are usually heaped with dangerously big pieces of meat atop half cooked rice, brown looking giant beans on the side and chunks of half cooked cabbage, the village size of cabbage and posho. Also the meat pieces are not those tiny annoying pieces of meat you town people serve at your functions.
Sister Lapolo gets her six plates and rushes off to the tent of the Elderly Mothers of Jerusalem. The EMJ members are not the kind that have the energy or the time to line up for food. They’re mostly octogenarian, silver haired, have their walking sticks with them at all times and will use it to shoo chicken, the village dog or a stubborn child.
They command respect and will order anyone around, including the reverend. They sit about with this pissed off look on their faces at most times. So you let Lapolo serve them. Of course you are already worried because the chicken is almost over.
You’re seeing one miserable piece lying in a thin film of orange-yellowish soup. The rice is over and the beans are, well, almost done too. You pray that Kasto points at the meat sauce pan but waah! The angels aren’t listening, so Kasto takes the chicken. The last piece of chicken.
You finally reach the service point and not only are the service people out of plates but out of chicken, meat, rice and the chunky cabbage. They tell you to wait while they bring more plates. 5 minutes later, the plates arrive, but rice is done. Sweet potatoes are done. The Irish potatoes are done and the kalo is done.
You can’t refuse the beans because your grandmother is a member of the Elderly Mothers of Jerusalem and she’s closely watching your every move, the pissed off look plastered and curious glare temporarily glued on her beautiful old face. So you wait. You’re mad. But you wait your turn. I mean, your grandmother is watching.
Kasto is that car owner whose car is lower than yours. The guy who’s always leaving a huge gap between him and the car ahead. Space that can fit 3 more cars.
He lets through a bunch of drivers and then, just when you’re about to do your crossing, the man in white lifts his right hand and blows the darn whistle! Kasto is the other side and you are forced to wait for another 39 minutes while he breezes off to the tent!
Sometimes you just have to humour yourself through these things of traffic on Kampala roads. It’s therapeutic.