Forget not the hand that feedeth you…

Saturday December 19 2009

The title itself hints at the sobering account in which the author, like in most of his novels, convincingly captures the lifestyle of the greedy hedonist and the ramifications associated with overt love of sex, booze and money. Written in the first person, Bury Me in a Simple Grave is also an implicit examination of the steadfastness with which the elderly view or handle life in contrast with the reckless approach of their young counterparts.

Rev. Thomas is an affable and retired cleric who long after the hand of death has snatched his beloved wife and close relatives, except for his nephew Robert Mugisha, lives a modest and contented life because of his unshakeable trust in the Lord Jesus. Indeed all is well until his equally old house begins to leak. When he requests his now devastatingly rich nephew in the city to help, the young man is shockingly offended. Mugisha wonders what makes Mzee Thomas think that just because he brought him up and paid his school and university fees after the death of his parents, it gives him reason to get money from him.

“Grandfather,” he writes back curtly, “You seem to think that money grows on trees, and like ripe fruit, it is there for picking. Wrong. Money is sweat and labour. No free money. At your age, what do you want money for? You ought to be sitting quietly at your house, waiting for the end. I want you to send me the list of all the money you spent on me…I will send the money to your account, and hope that you will stop harassing me with demand for supplies.”

Mugisha is clearly a representation of today’s arrogant, insensitive and young ingrates who when they have attained riches abandon and disrespect elders as well as forget the good Samaritans or relatives that made them. And by the time they feel remorse it’s too late. The author, Godfrey Mwene Kalimugogo, validates the biblical notion that the love of money is the source of all evil but also stresses the point that the sinner always pays, at least as seen by the way HIV/Aids wrecks Mugisha, who dies, leaving behind the old man he had long written off because of old age.

In modern times where the pursuit of money and women by ends and means is arguably the greatest preoccupation or temptation, the author gives the reader something to ruminate about when he asks the classic rhetorical question: “Is money, in the absence of moral and social values, any good?” Released last month by Baroque Publishers, the 105-page novel is available in all local bookshops at Shs10,000.