"Ted, Ted dear," Anna called from
the children's bedroom.
"Yes, madam," Ted responded. As
usual, he was not sure of what to expect from his sister-in-law.
Sometimes she was welcoming and at other times hostile to him. Anna
suddenly appeared in the sitting room, vigorously wiping her delicate
hands with a hand towel.
"Ted, you are a man now, even if not
a better man than your brother George," Anna started with a
"Eh, well," Ted responded, cautiously.
"What do you think about Janespeaking
as a man, if course? Is she really beautiful?" Anna inquired
" Ted said again, with
a tentative smile. "Well-uh-uh-mmm, as it is often said, 'Beauty
lies in the eyes of the beholder'."
"Surely what does your brother see in
her?" Anna asked. "Though she looks younger than her age,
everybody knows the woman is beyond four decades! If he had fallen
for a young girl, I would have been ready to face the competition.
I would have understood; but this old woman, men can be so blind!"
"Madam, have you forgotten the old saying
that what attracts a man to an ugly woman is always hidden from
the beautiful one, like you," Ted said, his eyes critically
studying her. Anna was embarrassed by the message in his eyes. She
decided to go to her bedroom and later came back with a ruffled
photograph of Jane in a swimsuit.
"Look at her photograph, perhaps
you can judge better when looking at her," Anna said as she
put Jane's ruffled photograph on the table and continued to iron
it with the back of her left hand. "Look at her! See the wide
chimneys called a nose, those wide flat lips and the short forehead!
And tell me, where does the beauty reside?"
There was a long silence as they both studied
the photograph, one critically and the other with amusement. Ted
almost blurted out something but he stopped himself in time. When
he stole a glance at Anna's face, he saw a huge tear about to drop.
He remembered the many parcels and letters he had carried from George
to Jane's executive flat and he was filled with remorse. But he
was also very pleased to see Jane shedding tears. He could clearly
remember how he used to cry of hunger when he was in primary seven.
If his classes went beyond six, he would run to her flat only to
find the house-girl cleaning the supper dishes. There would be no
supper left for him. That was the trying time when George had left
him to keep an eye on his young wife while he was doing kyeyo
in Japan. Whoever knew that one day, I, Ted, would be a respectable
man and Anna would get her punishment, he thought.
Suddenly, Ted looked up. Anna blinked her eyes. She looked scared,
and very unhappy. She looked desperately at Ted for a solution.
"I fear old George thinks heaven of her," Anna confided
"But how can he?" Ted said with
exaggerated concern in his voice. "Perhaps he is deceiving
you to make you jealous. How about that"
She smiled as she licked some tears from her upper lip. "I
hope so," she said. "I really hope so."
"Don't you trust George anymore?"
"Sometimes I do, but sometimes he does things that make me
feel foolish. For example, there is tomorrow's wedding at Namirembe
Cathedral. He is the best man and also responsible for the invitations.
Only wedded couples were invited, I was told."
"Fortunately, I am not married. And between you, sis and me,
I am planning to remain a bachelor for the next one hundred years,"
Ted interrupted her.
"But you must come. George is the best
man and he asked me to go with you. But remember to leave when the
party is about to end. I must return with George. Though only wedded
couples are invited, I will not be surprised to see that leopardess,
Jane, march in. She never misses big parties! That woman!"
Anna said, as she struck the table with her clenched delicate fist.
When she looked around, the table was decorated with rivulets of
soda from Ted's glass.
The church service was superb. The Archbishop
himself officiated at the ceremony. All the big names in town were
present. Ted almost did not mind the ordeal of standing beside the
woman he abhorred at the cocktail. If she was the price he had to
pay to rub shoulders with the cream of society, perhaps it was worthwhile,
They were all merry, laughing heartily till the 'leopardess' walked
in. Her face lacked classic beauty, but her enchanting smile was
worth millions of shillings. She had a terrific figure and wherever
she passed, men gaped and women cursed. For this occasion, she was
dressed in a short-sleeved, tailored cream-coloured dress. No necklace,
no decorations; just a simple dress was all she needed to steal
the show. Like a house snake, she glided silently to the side of
her late brother's widow, who was standing near the entrance unaccompanied.
"Enjoying yourself, sister?" Jane asked.
"Oh, yes thank you."
With a mischievous smile all over her face, Jane said to her, "I
know I am not wanted here by everybody present, but, since I am
here, I will try to make the best of the occasion."
"But I want you here. As a matter of
fact, thanks for coming. I was feeling terribly out of place,"
Mary said warmly.
"No, not even you. I embarrass you among
your moral friends."
"Stop that, Jane. You know I lost
all my friends when I lost him. It's only you I can count on now,"
Mary said sincerely.
"Now, listen to me, old pussycat," Jane said to her, "I
came here uninvited." When she got no response, she asked,
"Are you listening to me?"
Like one awakened from a long dream, Mary
jerked back. Then she confessed to Jane, "No. I was listening
to the mother of the bride. I was imagining what it will be like
when my time for speeches comes. It is mainly during ceremonies
like this that I miss your brother most." She looked up as
tears gathered in her eyes.
"Stop that and remember always 'to cross the river when you
reach it', as he used to say to us," Jane admonished her.
"Yes, yes," Mary agreed. A teardrop escaped. She wiped
it with the back of her hand.
"Now listen to me, sis, and stop being a sissy," Jane
went on. "I came uninvited, but I came because a woman rang
me and provoked me. I have come to show her and hers how bitchy
I can be when someone dares to cross me."
"Jane, don't use such language," Mary begged. "Somebody
might hear you. Don't give people reason to say more bad things
about you. You know how much it hurts me when I hear so much rubbish
fabricated about you." Jane gave her a sweet smile and walked
away to mix with the crowd. Mary mused about how sweet Jane could
be to her and so spiteful to others.
Jane was like a magnet. All eyes turned to her. From somewhere,
a short, lean, tough-looking little man accosted her with a glass
of wine. She brushed the glass away with her hand as if by accident
and it fell, splashing wine onto the nearby guests. As if to save
the man from any further embarrassment, Jane took his half-full
tumbler of beer and gulped it. Then she walked on. Very soon she
was the centre of attraction. Even the eyes of the bridegroom were
riveted on her. The wedding ceremony had turned sour.
Then she beckoned to the manager of the Fathers' Union Bank with
her left middle finger. The fat bank manager with an extended stomach
zig-zagged his way through the crowds to her side in record time.
"Take me out of this place. Take me out
before I cause a scene," Jane commanded him. The two disappeared.
All the women sighed with relief to see her back. The wife of the
bank manager disappeared to the ladies' room to adjust her make-up.
The lucky ladies shared her grief silently. All the men felt cheated
and lost their mood for the party.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the bride and
bridegroom are going to cut the cake. You are all requested to stand
up and clap for them," the Master of Ceremonies announced.
Everybody stood up, clapped and laughed in relief. Another announcement
soon followed, "The Best Man, Dr. George, is wanted outside
in connection with a patient he operated on yesterday. He is requested
to go outside for a few minutes of consultation." George went
out but whom did he find waiting for him near his car!
"George, don't panic. I am the patient. I need a prescription,"
Jane said, looking very serious.
"You bitch," George hissed under his breath. "But
Jane, I am the Best Man, how could you interrupt the party like
"How could I have known you were busy?
You did not invite me."
"But Jane..." he pleaded.
"Because I am not wedded, so I have to
be locked out of society?"
"No, but be fair, at least this once."
"Make your choice today! What time do you pick me up?"
she asked him as she eyed him like a leopard about to spring upon
"But, Jane, stop being unfair. You very
well know that I am a married man. I have duties to perform in that
respect. One of them is driving my wife home after the After Party,"
George said firmly.
"Tonight of all nights, she will go home alone like I always
do," Jane retorted. Then she added, "At midnight, I will
be waiting for you near the Post Office." Then she marched
away, swinging her behind with exaggeration.
"Okay, see you then," George addressed
her back. He walked away feeling as if a bucket of ice-cold water
had been poured over him.
As soon as she reached her car, Jane rang
another guest at the same wedding party. This one had no qualms
about leaving his wife stranded. "Meet you at eleven p.m.,"
he agreed. They spent the rest of the weekend at the Collins Hotel.
Before the party ended, George explained to
his wife that he had a patient in serious condition to attend to
at the hospital. Feeling victorious, she kissed him goodnight and
walked to a special-hire taxi which dropped her at their posh Kololo
When George looked in the parking lot at midnight, Jane's car was
not there. He instead found a note on the side mirror of his car
telling him that she had changed her mind about meeting him.
"That bitch!" he cursed. He put
the key into the lock and opened the door. He then lingered out
for a while wondering where to go.
When he woke up twelve hours later, he was
in a hospital bed. He was told that the force of the explosion had
thrown him a safe distance away from his car. Who had planted the
bomb under his car, the police wondered. George was scared when
he was told how he had narrowly escaped death. He dared not speak
his thoughts out loud.
She sent a bouquet of flowers and a card to him at the hospital.
The card read, "The leopard skin you wanted is too expensive
for you. Somebody else has bid higher. I believe the god she prays
to answers her prayers. Lucky her. Bye and wishing you a quick recovery."
has taught in many secondary schools in Uganda. Trained
as a textbook writer she now writes stories for children and does
the Children's Page in New Era magazine.