By Markson Omagor
The following day was a Monday, my first office day in Murchison Bay Prison since I arrived late Friday the previous week.
When the RP Ward ordered for Lock Up, I was fast asleep, actually I had just fallen asleep. It was Makwasi, my host who shook me into awareness. We were 46 as the night before, there was no Gate Pass (prisoner moved out of the gate for manual work) nor was there a release (This was obvious as I came to learn later that all convicts in Block C had more than 12 months of jail term remaining).
I slept off immediately after the Lock Up only to be woken up again by Makwasi. He told me were heading to the Labour Triangle (An area where prisoners were allocated different jobs/work) from where those of us without a PARTY (Specific form of job/work) could then come back to the Ward. It turned out otherwise.
Just as we were sloping towards the Labour Triangle, Deputy RP Labour signaled me to join a group of civilian wearing inmates who were squatting down. I joined them. We were shortly afterwards led to the Reception Office of the Chief Convict for admission (The Chief of Convicts).
Here the Chief Convict called out names one by one and then led us to the Deputy OC Murchison Bay’s office. This too turned out to be a simple ritual. The Chief Convict called out your name, you enter the Deputy OC’s office, sat down and the Deputy asks when you expected to be released and that was that. Admission concluded.
I went back to my Ward and took porridge, at least this one was brown but not burnt. I slept off afterwards. When I woke up, Makwasi had also come back from school, he was in Primary 2. We moved out to fetch water for bathing and this is when one of my fears was confirmed. After undressing in order to bathe, I saw a black spot on my white underwear. On close scrutiny, I confirmed it was a healthy louse, a further search unearthed three more, I shuddered but quickly realized my admission to Prison had just begun.
By the evening of that Monday, I still had nowhere to sleep, I had no plot. I looked at the Ward RP rather hopelessly, I had already reminded him twice that day and I thought to do it again would be a nag.
That evening, just before the last Lock Up something happened. Two fresh inmates were hurriedly ushered in by the Block’s RP and then two of our own were removed. We watched the events unfold unaware of the underlying intentions.
Mubiru, a usually quiet small man, always smiling to himself was as usual lying on his back with the knees raised up, quiet. He lay on the Corridor, a supposedly no man’s territory but because of lack of space, there he lay. One of the new entrants, a stout middle aged man hurriedly placed his folded mattress of Mubiru’s forehead. In a split second, Mubiru sprung up in a robotic style and landed two punches on the visitor’s forehead.
We were all taken by surprise however, at the end of it all, Mubiru got the Ward members support and the visitor was relocated to yet another Ward.
Then came the surprise, the Ward RP asked for my mattress. Makwasi gave me the half piece of his mattress which the RP placed on a space left by the departed inmates. That is the game the Ward RP played to get me a plot, and a plot near him. A plot meant, I had more space to sleep and turn, that I no longer had sleep reverse style with another.
My immediate neighbor on the left was an elderly Munyoro ho had a catheter on and on the right was a Muhiima of about 25 years who told me he had never eaten fish and birds. They all looked gentle and responsible.