Those Days

A tweet, posted by NTV Uganda, came through today and unlike most before, it caught my attention. It read;

“Man kills son for eating bread without permission”

Shock was my first reaction and then the reality of the message sank in. There are still people for whom such items, as bread, are still such a luxury. Noooooo!! I thought to myself. It can’t be. Really? And as I mused over the gravity of this punishment, memories flooded my mind.

I was born right here in the capital, Kampala, in Ntinda to be specific. I don’t remember much of what we ate here, but maybe the games we played. One game in particular, called Ddulu was my favorite. I will tell you about it some other time, it’s not what I intend to share about today. The above tweet triggered memories of what I will refer to as Undeserving luxuries, for lack of a better term. See, there were some things that are so available today, which back in the day, were reserved for the wealthy or for special occasions.

My family relocated from the city to live in our home district, Kabale, when I was six years old. And well, with the relocation, certain things were cut off from our daily supply. But then, there were those specific things that were generally a luxury at the time. It’s amazing how much attitudes have evolved. Something like bread!!! I used to think it was a basic need for every family. At least my parents tried to maintain its consumption in our home. What was a luxury though, was having as much as you wanted. I remember being horrified by the fact that some of my fellow children at the new school never used to eat bread at all except on special days like Christmas or if a special person visited their homes. Coming from the city, and in my mind as a child, what was in our home ought to have been the same everywhere. In the city, it was almost that way. I was only used to those who were better than us. And now, this man killing his son over bread highlights such a sad reality. In this day and age, bread shouldn’t be denied to any child.

Then there was Soda. Yaaaiiikss!! To get a soda, you either had to be sick, a visitor or it was your birthday. Other than that, you only got to taste that sweet liquid on Christmas and Easter holidays. And for some reason, there was a brand saved for the children. Mirinda. I disliked it very much, up to this day I don’t like it at all. It smelled so horrible to me. Today it is referred to as Mirinda Orange since several other flavors have been created. If you’re to put a Mirinda on my table, it can only be the ‘Green Apple’ colored one. Otherwise, feel free to give yourself a treat with a Mirinda fruity. Am sure there is another flavor whose name I don’t remember. But anyhow, today, you could easily bathe yourself with soda. Several brands are available and in all shapes and sizes, not to mention the varying price tags attached. Anyone can afford it at any time. So many brands to choose from too. To mention but a few; Century bootling company alone has a whole range of them, my favorite being Coca-cola. Crown beverages, the mother of Mirinda can only please me with a Pepsi or Mirinda green apple among others. Riham brought its own range and so many more. Parents must be happier these days.

Meat: yum!! To this day, it is not something I am excited about because of how scarce it was. Before I even talk about meat, there is chicken. Hoooooo! This one is very beloved by me. But all the other meat in all its various names like beef, pork, goat-meat, etc are rarely on my menu. Whereas others love them, I do not as much. But then it was also surprising for me to learn that there were people in Kabale who do not eat meat. I think those who migrated to the city are mostly the ones with a good appetite, they enjoyed most of the food types. Yet back in hometown, there are those worse than me. Some were completely allergic to animal products. It was strange but I have seen stranger things over the years. So I will now let that go officially.

Most fascinating about my new school, was the fact that kids didn’t wear shoes. At first I thought it was a cool game they were pulling off and on my third day, I also left my shoes behind. Of course I was beaten and sent back for them as soon as my mother noticed. I wasn’t far away from home yet, fortunately, so I made it to school in time. Not long after, I was to learn that those children actually didn’t have shoes. It was only those from middle class families like mine who could afford shoes. Thankfully, by the time I completed my primary level of education, all my classmates had shoes. So you can imagine the reluctance to buying you a new pair of shoes until your daily one had a hole in it. I was good with keeping my shoes in a decent state but every time a new pair came was a moment to jubilate. Precious gifts they were. But now, one could buy a new pair every month. I have seen people bargain for a pair at 5,000 shillings. You can pick up very cheap shoes right here in this capital, they are everywhere.

New clothes were also that special something saved for special days and occasions.  I always loved a new dress for Christmas and given my birth date is in January, mum never worried. I would still be excited about the dress I got for Christmas, she only had to add something small. Even a pair of stockings would do the trick. Hahaha! Don’t you just love being a child? Pleasure is found in the simplest of things. Although the 21st Century child is sharper and more aware than we were back in the day. But it’s okay, how else would I tell this story?

Today, I see more family hangouts around town. Even when I visit hometown, families having a meal together at a popular joint is common. Growing up, I never saw that much. My family did not do that, if so, I must have been dosed because I have no recollection of any. But we always sat together at the table. Breakfast; leave out the rush hour mornings of school days. Otherwise, we all ate together. Lunch and most especially dinner. Dad would notice all the skinned knees and cat fights at the dinner table. I still don’t know what kind of psychic he used but he would always tell no matter how much you tried to hide it. In this present age though, this may not be. Families have grown apart and parents have become busier. I will try to keep my family together when I start one. This “looking together” on the outside and being distant at home won’t be allowed in my house.

There is so much more to chew on but this will do for now. #BreakingLymyts

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