My Soulless Hometown

My Soulless Hometown

Obiro slightly opened the window to take a look at his hometown. The topography of the valley appeared quite straightforward to him from the bus.

He was returning to his hometown, after a long gap of 8 years, and it didn’t seem to him that much had changed. The small town was still bearing the same old sleepy sombre look. The drizzling afternoon rain was also throwing some additional gloom to its appearance.

Many wooden and bamboo house with rusted tin roof were still looming over nearly all landscape. The distant smoke emanating from a house suddenly brought back all his childhood memories. He vividly remembered how he and his siblings would gather round the hearth, on such dull day, to make popcorn over an open fire.

His siblings – all married and well-settled – now lived in a different town.

Obiro was oblivious of his surroundings. He was lost in his thoughts. So he didn’t heed the bus conductor entering the  passenger cabin. He cleared his throat and announced out loud that all passengers must alight at the station as they were not allowed to drive through the main market, and this roused Obiro from his daydreaming.

He didn’t expect any of his relatives to receive him at the station. He disliked the idea of sharing information of his travel plan to anyone. And most of his friend had also moved out of town to make a living in cities. So they won’t be there either.

Some passengers seemed to be in a great hurry. Obiro saw them retrieving their luggages before the bus pulled to a halt.  The energy of this sudden activity became very infectious, and the other passengers seemed to be drawing it in as they also started salvaging theirs from the rack. When the bus finally stopped at the station, everyone struggled to get off before all others. Obiro waited for all of them to disembark. When, at last, he stepped off, he found his one foot in a pothole, which was filled with muddied rainwater. He had to ignore his wet shoes, soiled trousers and the muddied pothole lest he might knock over his luggage in the puddle.

The muddy road ahead was all too familiar. The potholed road had been disregarded way too long by the officers. Obiro said to himself that the corruption had sucked the last bit of life from his hometown.  Suddenly, it occurred to him as if a black carpet had been laid out to welcome him.

He decided to persuade his widowed mother to live with him in a city and walked home silently.

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