My mamas, my mother’s brothers, made a big fuss of us and devised treats for us every weekend. They took us to see the magnificent Murchison Falls. We went to Jinja on Lake Victoria for Sunday picnics. We saw crocodiles whose big teeth and gaping mouths scared me. I wasn’t to know that a few years later, Idi Amin would throw countless dead bodies into Lake Victoria, feeding the crocodiles on human flesh. But even so, the crocodiles were menacing.
Suleyman Uncle loved children. He was very tall and well-built with thick, black hair tamed with coconut oil and black glasses. We all clustered around him and sat on the swing in the back garden near the gardenia bushes.
“I want to sit on your lap,” I said.
“So do I,” Raheel and the other children shouted.
“Everyone can. You can take turns okay beta,” he said, smiling. His black dog, Sher, was nearby wagging his tail.
He took us to see the new hotel the family had bought in the middle of town and ordered vanilla and chocolate ice creams for all of us. “Eat, eat. Do you want more?” he asked us as we ate scoops of ice cream in glass dishes.
Without Suleyman, life would have been very different for the family; his actions changed the trajectory of their lives. He used his salary to pay for the four boys and the daughter, Gulaab, to study in England. Suleyman was not interested in girls; rather, he was serious and devoted to the family. But since he was getting older at twenty nine, his mother urged him to settle down. They sent him to Nairobi to meet some prospects.
“We have a list of girls for you to meet. There are five girls, and if you don’t like any of them, we’ll find more,” Gulaab Aunty and Mum told him.
The one at the top of the list, Shirin, I think you will like, I have known her for years, and she is clever and pretty.”
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