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“What exactly is the meaning of life?…”
Odeta had asked himself that question and having failed to get a clear answer by himself, he asked many in his circles. He was a soldier who was known for his bravery in times of war, he served his nation with one heart, did everything right, followed all the rules that his bosses echoed unto him submissively.
Hailing from a poor family background, he was the first-born of 13 children, nine of them being boys and only four being the opposite. It was during a deadly time in history that he decided to make a decision to join in service to his country. He had not attained much academically when he decided to join the army. Together with many of his peers-comrades as he called them, Odeta found his way into the army which was later renamed UPDF after a successful political movement. He served his country diligently for a decade and a few years.
During his time in the military, he cared so much for his family that through his elder brother, he would always send a huge amount of money home to support his family. There were no mobile phones during those days and the only way to communicate was through postal cards and letters.
“My brother, I will send Shs400,000 so that you can start building for me a permanent house home there.” He had written on one of his many letters.
He kept on sending those letters and money severally for two years until he eventually on a Sunday evening paid a visit home after he was granted leave.
The house that his brother had always told him he built was not even started. Alarmed, Odeta asked his brother where he had put all the money he had been sending. The brother after knowing that Odeta was very furious decided to call a clan meeting and accused him of wanting to kill him.
Odeta’s wife was illiterate and therefore didn’t know the kind of information contained in the letters.
“Your husband has sent you some 10,000/= and he also said you use it well because he will not send money again for two months.” Odeta’s brother used to tell his wife.
He always lied to Odeta’s wife who believed that her brother in-law had the best intentions for her. The man bought himself several big bulls from Ocor Imongin auction with the money that Odeta always sent. When Odeta aired out his grievances during the clan meeting, his brother was quick to rubbish them claiming that Odeta never sent any money that was enough to even buy a brick.
Odeta went back to the military a very disappointed man, he had decided to take along his wife since during that time, there was massive drought and famine in Teso sub-region.
Being a responsible man, he knew his old mother would not make it through the drought if he had not chipped in to help her. Some of his brothers became alcoholics and were always working to earn what they can spend for the day. The remaining brothers also went to distant lands in search of better lives and the only remaining brother was Orot.
Orot happened to command a certain level of authority in his village that people found it hard to believe Odeta when he claimed that Orot had taken advantage of his absence to use his money for his own benefit.
Like fate had it against him, Odeta got involved in a fatal “accident” that almost claimed his life while on active. He became disabled, stayed for a few years and therefore had to be released from the military.
“Onaceka, alupok nu abu cabot ateker otiakak kolo eong nu do ber bobo ikoriei ijo?” He asked a few days after coming back home to find Orot his brother ploughing his land.
“Agh aah, abu kolo papa itwegelik eong akon alupok oroko nges etwana.” Orot lied as he made false references to their late father who passed away 9 years earlier claiming their dad sold his brother’s land to him before his death.
Odeta relaxed knowing that his pension money would soon fall in and he would use part of it to buy land elsewhere. The money he had saved had almost depleted. He had used most of it to treat himself since the injury he got while in the military was so severe that he was no longer allowed to carry anything heavier than 7.5kg. His spinal cord was permanently damaged that doctors initially concluded that he would be paralyzed for life. It was a miracle to see him walk again after just two years of the fatal incident.
The pension money never came as he thought, he called for help from his clan members most of whom feared Orot. The wise old men of the clan had passed on leaving behind a few drunkards who could only be bribed with what many used to call “Apadala”-a small bottle of liquor.
Soon, Odeta became a squatter in his own father’s land while Orot had cemented his legacy in the village as a very enterprising man. He became a man of influence in the community and many people respected him.
The pain of watching his brother parading himself with the money that he used to send, the land that their clan had apportioned to him made Odeta feel horrible. His brother made him a topic of discussion at drinking joints. He called him a fool who worked for 18 years in the army and never built a house or even buy land. He would look at him during some days with his bloodshot eyes and ask himself,
“What exactly is the meaning of life if even my blood brother betrays and does this to me.”
He eventually decided to reach out to one of his (comrades) seeking for help. He needed a fire-spitting machine to put an end to somebody’s life. His friend knew his story after he had narrated to him a few months earlier.
And like they say, “once a soldier, always a soldier”, Odeta got himself a gun and planted 10 bullets into his brother’s chest. He thought for a while and didn’t want the community to keep judging him.
He penned down a letter that read,
What is life if my own brother robbed me off everything I bled for.
What is life if even after robbing me, he still smeared my name with dung.
He turned the hollow end of the fire-spitting stick on himself and ate lead a few minutes later. That marked the end of his life.
So, here comes the question, what did you expect Odeta to have done in this case?
Was his final decision justifiable?
To you soldiers, be careful of some of the people you leave home. Military service doesn’t last forever, someday you will need to return home, a good home, a house..
Go home and build your own house.
Verify most of the information you are fed before you make big money transfers.
Be brave both in service and off service.
Written by; Eninu William
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