Column Squad

Questions That Haunt One Teenager: Who Is More powerful; Kabaka, The Pope Or Chameleone’s Dance Moves?

Adorable 5 year old African American boy against white background.

Everyone in life struggles for the perfect home, looks, marriage and children. Many of us are willing to steal, kill just to attain perfection. But what happens when nature conspires with fate to deny you what everyone seems to have i.e a perfect child?

Today I meet such an unfortunate soul who challenges me to count my blessings.

As I edge toward the back seat, I realize it is already occupied by a woman who looks to be in her thirties with a child. I am therefore sandwiched between a man on my left and the woman and her child on my right.

The child is munching on a chappati as he struggles to breathe. I notice that the child isn’t a normal toddler even though he has the stature of a four year old. His head is a grown man’s head except that it’s quite big even for a man. His hands are curved like clubs. This I realize is a severe case of Asperger’s disease which curves bones making it impossible for the victim to grow tall.

After a while, the boy who eventually revealed that he was a teenager, finishes his chappati and in a shockingly deep voice strikes up a conversation with his mother asking her whether she had ever seen Chameleone dancing. This is actually an interesting question? Have I ever seen Chameleon dancing? Real Usher/MJ dancing not the possessed kind of thing all Ugandan singers do on stage? While I am still pondering on the question, the mother quietly replies in the negative. He wonders how his mother could have missed seeing Chameleone dancing at the gate. I am quite confused whether he saw Dr. Jose on TV, in a newspaper or in his dreams.

He then asks his mother whether the good singing doctor has a ‘woman’ to which the now mortified mother answers that Chamelone has a wife. She tries to quieten the boy to no avail. His questions get more and more embarrassing since they center around women, guns and power. He tells his mother that his ambition is to do a degree in something called presidential studies so he can become a president. I wish him luck with that ambition.

Around Katwe when everyone is quiet, he asks his mother who between the pope, the president and the Kabaka is more powerful. The mother is dumbfounded as the passengers burst out laughing in unison. The mother is now wiping silent tears of frustration while but the boy looking nonplussed keeps asking “Maama ani asinga?”

By this time I am on the verge of tears too as I witness the woman’s pain and burden. I understand too well the profound pain of being judged by the quality of your offspring. I can see the years of living with the disdain her peers treat her with and the accusing looks of strangers who think she did something wrong to deserve a child like that.

When the conductor asks for money, I decide to give her a break and pay for her taxi fare. She blesses me amidst sobs. I know my token is just a drop in her ocean of misery but it brightens her day and she composes herself ready to challenge the stares that follow her wherever she passes with her child.