I still remember how he smiled when we met

Thursday December 19 2019

After 20 years of marriage, Jackson and Annette

After 20 years of marriage, Jackson and Annette have learnt that they we cannot change each other and so, they just embrace their strengths and weaknesses. Photo by Edgar Batte 

By Edgar R. Batte

Annette had just lost her job and was feeling distraught so she decided to visit her childhood friend Jennifer in Kamwokya who happened to live near Jackson.

Meeting for the first time
“Before we met physically, I saw him on television news. He was among a group of journalists who had visited a military facility in Gulu District. The military were showing them a huge cache of arms which had been recovered from the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels,” she recounts.

A few days later, he went to fetch water near Jenifer’s house where Annette happened to be sitting at a balcony.

“He couldn’t take his eyes off me. He stood there smiling as if we already knew each other,” she says.

He was struck by her beauty. She was and still is an exceptionally beautiful woman. Like any young man, Oboth had a mental picture of the kind of woman he wanted to grow old with.

“When I first cast eyes on Annette, she fit my description of the woman I wanted to spend my life with,” Jackson says.

Jackson was a young budding journalist at the time, looking for miss right.

“Interestingly when I saw her, I thought she was already married to a man who lived a block away from my house. I later discovered that they were just neighbours,” he recalls.

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First impression
When she first saw him, she didn’t know what to think of him then. He looked like a serious man and the fact that he was a journalist meant he was educated.

She had been brought up never to judge people based on their ethnicity so she was open minded.

Jackson made it a point to pass by Annette’s home every evening, wearing a huge smile. She remembers wondering whether he was just a jolly man or if there was something in particular that made him behave like that.

Winning her over
One evening, he met her and offered to escort her to the shops where she was going. As they walked, he poured out his heart to her.

“I did not take what he said seriously but I remained open-minded. From the way he expressed himself, I knew he was a gentleman and a Christian too,” she says with a smile. The fact that Jackson was one of the youth leaders at St John’s Church in Kamwokya even softened Annette’s heart more.

His strategy towards winning his heart was to ensure that he saw her every single day and smiled at her even if he didn’t say a word.

So, in ‘shooting’ his best smile, he waved at her too, to which she would wave back, hesitatingly. He thought he was not making any headway with that so he decided to change strategy.

“One day I walked over to her and greeted her. With a smile, she responded to my greeting and to my surprise, called me by name even before I could introduce myself. I was elated ,” he intimates.

The proposal
“I had a feeling he was going to propose to me on Valentine Day in 1999 but that plan was thwarted by bomb blasts in Kabalagala where we were supposed to meet that day,” she says.

“That day, we were scheduled to join another couple, Prossy and Sam Tukei for a double date. The two were our closest friends. We survived that blast because Annette was delayed at her work place so we arrived at the venue more than two hours late,” Jackson says.

Oboth adds, “We were just a few metres away from the venue when the blast went off killing four people and injuring scores. Luckily , Sam and Prossy survived, never mind that the explosive device was place right under the table they were sitting with two chairs reserved for us.”

The fateful day turned out to be an important day because after that incidence, the two found themselves inseparable as if God Himself had ordained their relationship.

Sealing the deal
On the day of their introduction ceremony, Jackson arrived in Kisoro with a busload of friends and relatives. At the reception the elders joked that the fact that he was able to make it all the way from the extreme east (Tororo) to the extreme south (Kisoro) was proof enough that he had immense love for their daughter and therefore they would not hesitate to give her freely to him.

Lessons
“We have learnt that marriage and harmony revolves around accepting our individual differences, forgiveness and tolerance. We also learnt that we cannot change each other and so, we just embrace our strengths and weaknesses. And by God’s grace, we have weathered the marital storm for 20 years,” Oboth says.

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