Chapter 2: Becoming Normal Again

By Emmanuel Ndayisaba

They had to move to a small town because they could not manage to live an expensive life anymore. The year in which Mujago and his family lived with a family friend was a challenging period for them. Mujago’s father could not find a job, and they had to adjust to a new environment. Mujago and Keith could not make friends easily, and the other children in the area bullied them, making life even more difficult. One particular moment stands out in Mujago’s mind, a day that he will never forget. He and Keith were walking to the local store when a group of kids from their new school started taunting them. Mujago and Keith tried to ignore them and kept walking, but the bullies followed them, shouting insults and making fun of their clothes. Mujago’s clothes were old and worn out, with holes in the sleeves and pants. In contrast, the bullies were dressed in trendy outfits, which made Mujago and Keith stand out even more. Despite feeling embarrassed, Mujago and Keith kept their heads down and walked away from the bullies.

Mujago felt his face burning with embarrassment as the other kids laughed and pointed at him and his brother. Suddenly, one of the boys lunged at Keith and snatched his backpack, spilling its contents on the ground. The other kids joined in, picking up Keith’s belongings and tossing them back and forth to each other while laughing. Among the scattered items were a photo of Keith’s father, his favorite toy truck, and a pencil case filled with his prized collection of stickers. Keith looked like he was about to cry, but Mujago stepped forward, trying to defend his brother. The bullies turned their attention to Mujago, pushing and shoving him. Mujago tried to fight back, but he was outnumbered, and the bullies overpowered him. As they walked away, Mujago and Keith picked up their scattered belongings, feeling heartbroken and alone in their new town. Seeing his brother’s tear-streaked face, Mujago vowed to protect him no matter what.

The friend they lived with was also a refugee and had a clinic in the area. One day Mujago and Keith visited this clinic. It was a small building located in a quiet part of the district, and the entrance was adorned with a wooden signboard that read “Hope Clinic.” When they entered, the smell of antiseptic and the sound of patients coughing greeted them. They watched in awe as their friend, Dr. Iraguha, treated patients with care and attention. Dr. Iraguha was a tall, thin man with a gentle smile and kind eyes. He had a way of putting his patients at ease, and they trusted him completely. As they left the clinic, Mujago and Keith discussed how impressed they were with Dr. Iraguha’s work. They felt a renewed sense of hope and belief that life could get better.

This visit to the clinic became a turning point for them, as they realized that there were people like Dr. Iraguha who were working hard to help others, even under challenging circumstances. The boys’ father got lucky and found a job in town. They had a chance to return to town. The anticipation of the journey had been building up for weeks, and Mujago looked forward to it with excitement. As he packed his belongings, he felt a sense of eagerness and adventure, wondering what new experiences awaited him. Alongside his excitement and anticipation, there was a sense of anxiety gnawing at him. He couldn’t quite put his finger on why he felt this way—maybe it was the uncertainty of what lay ahead and the thought of facing his old life. On the day of the trip, the bus arrived early in the morning, and they boarded it with enthusiasm. As they journeyed through the countryside, they marveled at the stunning vistas of rolling hills and verdant forests. The fresh air and sunlight streaming through the windows filled them with a sense of renewal and hope. When they reached their new house, Mujago and his family were happy.

Another family friend who had offered to take them in had prepared a sumptuous feast. The aroma of rich and flavorful African dishes filled the air, from the spicy jollof rice to the savory beef stew simmering in a pot. Mujago’s taste buds tingled with excitement as he saw platters of grilled plantains, fried yam and cassava, and a colorful salad made with mango and papaya. He was amazed by the variety of flavors and textures on the table, some of which he had never tasted before. As they all sat down to eat together, the conversation flowed easily. Mujago felt welcomed and included in the friendly banter, and he could not help but smile at the warmth and kindness of their hosts. They asked him about his favorite foods and shared stories of their experiences traveling and trying new cuisines. Mujago felt a sense of belonging and comfort as if he had known these people for years. Throughout the meal, the hosts were incredibly attentive, always making sure Mujago had enough to eat and drink, and asking if he needed anything else. He felt grateful for their hospitality and their effort to make him feel comfortable in their home. As the evening wore on and the laughter and chatter continued, Mujago realized that he had found not just a temporary refuge, but a new family

The next few days were spent settling into their new home and exploring the neighborhood. Mujago was especially excited about the opening of his new school, and he could not wait to meet his classmates and make new friends. The anticipation of this new chapter in his life filled him with a sense of wonder and hope. His life was becoming normal again. When the father received a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in international relations, the family was overjoyed. They saw this as a great opportunity for their father to advance his education and create a better future for the family.

Meanwhile, the mother started to plan for her next business. As time passed, she began selling rice at the rice mill. She started with two bags of rice on the market. The family was impressed by her efforts to make their home a better place. She worked tirelessly to ensure that the family had a comfortable and safe home. She decorated the house with beautiful curtains and made sure that everything was always clean and tidy. She cooked delicious meals for the family, which they all enjoyed. The children were amazed by their mother’s ability to keep the house in order despite her other responsibilities. They often told her how grateful they were for all that she did, and this made her feel proud. Overall, the family was grateful for the opportunities that came their way in 2012. They knew that they were blessed to have each other and were ready to face any challenge that lay ahead.

One night, Mujago’s mother received an urgent call from a customer who needed to buy rice. Despite her exhaustion from work, she rushed to meet the customer so she could sell the product. However, she did not return that night, leaving the family to sleep without her. In the morning, one of the men who worked with her came and delivered devastating news to Mujago’s father, saying, “Your mother was found dead near the graveyard.” The family was left in shock, and as the reality of their loss set in, Mujago’s emotions were overwhelming as he tried to process the news. He saw the grief on his father’s face and felt the weight of the tragedy that had befallen their family. His mind raced as he thought of all the memories he had shared with his mother and wondered how they would go on without her. It was a moment that would forever change their lives.

25 March, 2023