I had long been staring at Jackson, his forlorn face carving out to the three little boys who were sitted infront of him.
Jackson was a short-stable man with a pumped out chest that was covered in a creased African Kitenge shirt, his brown trousers were old and weary but so were his shoes that had a toe peeping from them. He’d been sitting in the compound of Luuka Health Centre IV for almost his entire morning handing out prescriptions and returning to his thoughts.
He barely had hair, the grey strands popping out muscled out the dark strands that died out towards the centre of his head. He kept neat nails and an old ribbon watch on his hand that he flipped around every time I interrupted to ask for an interview.
Our car had pulled out of the brown dirt road that connected Luuka to the Kamuli highway a little beaten. Its gears were back to one, the body dirty and the tyres roundly puffing out some pressure. The bumps and humps and sometimes no road to speak of had done their fair share, you’d have imagined with the swamps that flooded the road, the car would have been washed clean but the dirt carpet hovered well over the blue NTV logos of the car.
Jackson looked stunned that the little Suzuki car had made it through the journey, even as we carefully sought where to step at the health centre, he looked mused that we’d reached in a piece.
After being at Luuka for three years, he knew not many cars arrive at the health centre, even those with drugs – those mostly.
Ayazika, as he preffered to add to the Jackson name, said cars would take over 30 days to deliver drugs to them and sometimes motorbikes were used to ferry the drugs from where the truck got stuck.
The road network in the Busoga region generally wasn’t much to write home about. The region, previously holding a city in the ‘70’s had pasted old tarmac on its major town Jinja that died out as the villages pilfered out.
Luuka town council sat deep in the district of Kamuli and its health centre IV of two buildings stood out in a town of few buildings. It had been up for over ten years but the shacks of emptiness had made the job of doctors as easy as prescribing drugs.
The staff quarters, where Ayazika should have been spending his nights had been given up to make a make-shift maternity ward prompting him to rent out a house nearby for 60,000 shillings a month. He couldn’t afford any price above that, as he described for me.
He’d taken a loan off his 900,000 shillings salary and the bank had religiously taken off 300,000 shillings on each payday for the last one year and two months. The 600,000 shillings left was for him to take his five children to school and look after himself. His only prayer for the presidential campaigns was that the politicians promising a salary raise would stick to their word when he voted for them.
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