This is a story of a young boy from Uganda, told in his own words, about why he left home and felt he could never go back.
Setting the scene
“Come here you naughty boy, how many times do I have to tell you not to stay too long at school,” yelled my violent lioness of a mother.
This had become the order of the day in my house. At one point, I had wondered if this was what life was meant to be: daily scolding about my grades, behaviour and on certain occasions even my appearance. Mother had taken to yelling more than was good for me. The whole drama got me completely at sea. As I was lost in thought of this unfair treatment, I felt a hard blow on my shoulder. “Are you delirious again or you’re intoxicated this time? What took you so long to get home?” inquired mother.
Because of the pain I felt physically and emotionally, I took no effort to answer. I just stood there, confused, in a dilemma. She jeered at me severely and laughed sarcastically at my tear-filled eyes. As soon as she was done with the torment, she stood up and said “If you are not willing to answer, go ahead to get into the house. We shall settle this once your father is back.”
As I walked away in fear, I could feel two warm rivers come down my cheeks. I wondered why I could not explain to my very own mother that I had stayed longer at school to practice mathematics and write a few essays so as to improve my academic performance. But that was not the issue, the bigger question was why my mother treated me as though I were not her very own.
As I approached my room, I remembered the conversation I had heard from my parents’ room the previous night. It sounded like a vicious argument between them. “The truth must never be revealed” said mother “and why should it?” disagreed father.
The next thing I could hear was a dead silence, the room was as quiet as a grave. After a few moments all I could hear were the pleas of my sobbing mother and the authoritative snaps, jeers and a few words from father. “Alright then, the documents in this envelop shall never be revealed to the boy” concluded father after a long silence.
So it was on a silver platter, the entire truth about my identity and all the answers to my questions. All I needed to do was look for the hidden documents in my parents’ room. After a couple of hours of searching, there it was, the hidden envelope. In a flash, I forced it open and began to scan through the documents, it was a DNA test confirming that I did not belong to my father. But that was not reason enough for mother to hate me. As I thought deeply, mother walked into the room and gazed surprisingly at me. “What do you think you are doing?” she asked as she raised her palm to slap me.
I held her hand vigorously and with all the emotions I had over flowing, I asked, “why on earth do you hate me so much mother?”
She was shocked, but still had the guts to answer, “you fool, I conceived you while I was a very young girl. Life was hard but because of my foolish young mind, I decided to keep you. But months after birth, my lover ran off with another young woman.” She wiped her tears and continued to speak but this time with more anguish and resentment. “Whenever I look at you, I see the face of a traitor, I can clearly see the eyes of my deceitful lover staring at me, reminding and haunting me about my past.”
A life on the streets
Almost unable to believe my mother’s resentment towards me, I let go of her hand and walked out of the house, wandering into the streets. I did not have anywhere to go but that was the least of my problems because I had a lot going on my head. Who my real father and what would I do if I found him? One thing I was so sure of is that I was never going back to the living hell of my mother’s torment. So, I chose street life – better for me than having someone who looks at me as a problem and bad in the house.
From that time I was on the streets for one year and I found it better to be there. I made and met friends who shared stories like mine and we consoled each other. I learnt very many things not limited to taking drugs, such as alcohol and taking mafuta and that is the daily life. There was no food to eat and I have struggled to look for scrap and bottles to sell. Life continued smoothly but in a bad way.
After a long time, I found some other friends on the streets who attend a Drop in Centre at S.A.L.V.E. International and told me to go and take a shower and play some games. I thought it was a waste of time and if I went there as I wouldn’t be able to get any money to buy food to eat. Some staff from S.A.L.V.E. came to the streets, I saw them talking to children and showing them much love. My mind went back home wishing my mother could also show me such love.
I was able to collect myself and approach one of the staff – he gave me a lot of time, listened to me and I felt loved. I was dirty and smelling but the man from S.A.L.V.E. didn’t look at this – he still moved with me till we reached the Centre where he told me I could take a shower and gave me new clothes. I was smart again and later introduced he me to the other children and staff who clapped for me, welcoming me to the Centre. He shared about a Drug Rehabiliation Centre where children are taken for rehabilitation from drug addiction and suggested that I go there to sleep in a house and have some food.
I went to stay at S.A.L.V.E. and slowly I started to value myself again. We made a plan with my Uncle at S.A.L.V.E. to make a home visit. When we found my mother she shouted “I don’t want to see you. Please go back to where you came from, you are useless” and “please can you leave my compound before I slaughter both of you with that stupid boy!”
That didn’t give me hope that I would be happy there and slowly Uncle encouraged me to be strong as I cried. We made our way back to S.A.L.V.E. and all of the other children showed me love and I felt happy again.
There seemed that there is no hope but my Uncle at S.A.L.V.E. did his best and again went back to my mother’s home trying to talk with her by himself. This time around she became positive after Uncle arranged for her to have some counselling.
I was taken for another visit when I requested it. My mother was humble and apologised to me for what happened. We are planning for me to go home soon and I am happy. I know if we have any more problems my Uncles and Aunts will come and give us family counselling. I have learnt not to run away from my problems but to be brave and try to solve them. All I ever wanted was my mother’s love.