Wednesday, January 11, 2017

"I Don't Know!"

“Who knows?’ I’ll tell you who knows – ISIS and Al-Shabab. They know. They always know. Sad to say, but once they commit carnage, they are honest enough to ‘man-up’ to admit that they did it. That it was them who blew up the train station or the busy market. I don’t know why they feel the need to be honest after committing an atrocity, but at least we know and we don’t have to sit there pondering who did it.


The rest of us are different. When we get asked: “Who did it,” we have a standard answer at the ready. We don’t even think about it. Its instinctive. It spittle’s out of our mouths as effortlessly as giving ‘2’ as the answer to 1+1. “I don’t know”. Nothing else. No further enlightenment. Simply, “I don’t know”.

When I lived solo, Housie would show up thrice-a-week to do the needful to the crib. Then, I had a frenzied work schedule at WBS TV in that, I would be out of the house well before Parent had a chance to cause a traffic jam at Greenhill School when dropping off Toyee and, get back late into the night just as Malaya on Speke Road hits the third hour of her night shift.

Often, I was exhausted that I would hit the shower and dive straight to bed. But on Sundays, I would venture into the spare bedroom, living room or kitchen and each Sunday that I did, something was always broken.

I’d been given an M-Net Face of Africa beer mug when I covered the event in South Africa. As soon as I got it, I knew where it was going to peacock itself when I got home - on the top shelf of the bookstand where it could be seen, but more importantly, out of range of Visitors’ hand that might have wanted to get a closer look at it.


On a sedate Sunday in my naughty ‘come-to-daddy sofa’, I glanced up at it and the handle looked askew. Picking it up, the handle came off. It was broken. But how could it have broken? The winds that sweep down from Muyenga hill could not have knocked it off the shelf without also knocking the much lighter champagne flutes. Plus, Visitor had not popped round. If it wasn’t me who broke it, then it had to be Housie.

When I asked him about it, his answer was throbbing at the tip of his tongue. There is also no need to tell you what he said, but I insist – “I don’t know”, before getting back to his chores. Hmm, maybe the wall lizard fell off the celling, knocked the mug and it fell to the floor. Then it picked it up with its tail, put it back on the shelf and tried to stick the handle back in place? That thought, I put to Housie.

His comeback? He looked up at the ceiling, then at the broken mug on the coffee table, followed by a slight pause to allow ‘Butabika thinking’ to settle, then blabbed – “I don’t know”. With that, he was gone – this time for a tête-à-tête with Next Door Housie over the fence.

At WBS, whilst on a location shoot, Young Man comes up to me. I’d seen him in the station but never spoken to him. This is him. “Sir, they are calling you”. When I asked who ‘they’ were, he looked over into the crowd, thought for a while then said – “I don’t know.”


So, I retort: “Go and tell ‘I don’t know’ to leave me alone.” What ensued next took me by surprise. He thanked me! Then turned on his heels, slunk into the crowd and that was the last that I saw of him.

Almost 17-years after both incidents, like a recurring bad rash, it still so bothers me. It really does. Who broke my mug? Who was calling me?

I don’t know.



Pictures: Reuters, Multichoice, WBS 

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