My Mother’s Death, the Unknown Identity of My Father: A Story of Bereavement


The wind blew with bravery when the nearly rotten jackfruit fell next to Brenda, who was digging in the banana plantation. She stood there, her heart in her gob, recalling a neighbor, an elderly man who had died the day before. The clouds were thick and mysterious. The moment had been frozen by lightning strikes and thunder. Her heart was racing with worry as she dug deeper. “It’ll be like this when it’s time to tell the story,” she relieved herself.

Brenda got up early every day to work in her neighbors’ plantations to earn her school fees. Catherine’s mother had been ill for several months. Brenda had to work extremely hard to care for her mother while also paying her school fees. Mukisa, her father, fled and never returned after Catherine informed him she had missed her periods, implying the baby was on the way.

On her way to school, she frequently encountered a man. Kenneth was his name. Kenneth pulled over his Range Rover one morning, “Hello, young lady. Can I offer you a ride?” Brenda’s school was a 12-mile drive from their house. She agreed and got into the mirror-tinted car. This occurred several times before the two became close. Brenda told Kenneth her story one day. He was the Education for African Girl Child Director. “Oh my dear Brenda, I am sorry to hear all that you are going through,” he said with compassion and grace in his eyes.

Brenda couldn’t wait to tell her bedridden mother, Catherine when she got home from school. Catherine was overjoyed for her daughter and invited Kenneth to their home. Brenda was peeling potatoes for supper while Catherine slept on the mat under the pawpaw tree on Saturday evening. Kenneth returned, this time in a jeep.

Brenda dashed to open the front door of the house, but Kenneth got out and stopped her, asserting he was not a significant visitor. He approached Catherine from behind their shabby grass-thatched house and bent to greet her. With Brenda’s help, Catherine struggled to wake up. “Maama Brenda, how are you doing?” Kenneth greeted with compassion. Catherine responded in a shaky voice, looking straight into his eyes “Thank you very much, Mr. Mukisa. How are things going for you?” Brenda was surprised that her mother knew Kenneth’s surname, she struggled but didn’t show it. Brenda’s father! it was her daughter’s father? Mukisa Kenneth! Kenneth tried to remember Catherine, but sickness had rendered her unrecognizable; she had lost her hair, her skin had peeled off, and her bones were clearly visible. “Brenda, get your mother ready. We’ll take her to Victoria Hospital on Monday.” Kenneth spoke confidently. Brenda was overjoyed and thanked him for being such a nice man. Catherine, on the other hand, was weeping already when Brenda hugged her securely and asked her to be strong because they were taking her to one of the best hospitals.

Monday was only about an hour away. Kenneth kept his word. Brenda, too, was ready to go to the hospital with her mother. Brenda broke the silence as they drove silently, “Mum, how did you find out about Uncle Kenneth’s surname?” Catherine had never revealed to Brenda that Kenneth was her biological father, who had fled when she told him she was pregnant. “Kenneth is a wealthy man with a good name in this town. He has assisted poor and vulnerable children. He is the owner of one of the best-performing schools in the district. I can’t imagine not knowing such a person.” Catherine responded. She indeed responded!!. Kenneth agreed with a nod of his head. Kenneth was familiar with the hospital and almost every member of staff when they arrived. He laughed with the doctors and nurses. The doctor returned after taking the blood sample to announce the results. Catherine was discovered to be HIV positive!

Catherine was advised and encouraged to begin taking her ARVs. Catherine’s tears streamed down her cheeks as she looked at Kenneth. Kenneth was the one who had infected her. Catherine’s first cut was Kenneth, and she had never had another sexual relationship since Kenneth left her. Brenda couldn’t believe her mother was infected with AIDS. She remained skeptical until her mother began taking her ARVs. Meanwhile, Brenda enrolled at Purity College on Kenneth’s full scholarship. She was a bright student who always finished first at the end of the semester. Brenda was retained by the school as an assistant teaching staff member of Literature and English during her senior six vacations while she awaited the results of her exams. When the results were declared by Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB), Brenda excelled, she scored 20point! The government-sponsored her to pursue a Bachelor of Arts with Education majoring in literature at Makerere University. She dashed back home to inform her mother of the exciting news.

Catherine’s joy at her daughter receiving government sponsorship was immeasurable. Brenda, too, was relieved that she would be a teacher, a profession she planned to use to advocate for the education of girls and people living with HIV, as her mother had been a victim. Kenneth continued to pay her visits and take her out on occasion while she was at university. He invited her to Holy Hotel for tea one evening. When Kenneth arrived, he requested a bottle of water and asked Brenda to place her order. Brenda requested a bottle of soda. In less than a minute, a waitress was at her service. She drank the first, second, and third sips before feeling dizzy and weak. Kenneth held her gently into his car and drove off.

Brenda awoke the next morning in Kenneth’s bed. She was completely naked! She was gushing blood from her private parts. Kenneth was snoring and sound asleep next to her. She picked a towel, wrapped it around her waist, and awakened in search of her clothes. A wardrobe was located in the bedroom’s right corner. She checked her clothes and found them to be well put together. She put on her clothes and tried to open the door, but it was barricaded. She turned and looked in the drawer, which contained a number of keys. Alas! ARVs were viewable! Kenneth was infected with HIV/AIDS.

Brenda sobbed as she left Kenneth’s house. She debated whether or not to tell her mother the entire story. The pain in her private parts was becoming unbearable. She decided to tell her friend Charity, who advised her to seek medical attention right away. Brenda complied. Nurse Olive at Mercy Clinic was friendly and professional. She handled her with care and direction. She performed all medical examinations and informed her that the results would be available in two hours. Brenda and her friend were sitting outside when her phone rang “Brenda, your mother is critically ill at Kawaala Health Centre. Could you please come and see to her?” A stranger made an announcement. Brenda leaped to her feet and bolted like a maniac. She had arrived at Kawaala in less than a minute. Her mother was motionless on the sick bed, with no one around to care for her. She petitioned her breath to speak when she saw her, but it was in vain. She extended her hand and handed her a piece of paper with the words, “Brenda, thank you for being a good caring daughter. Make me proud by studying hard. I apologize for not informing you that Mukisa Kenneth is your biological father, who abandoned me when I told him I was pregnant.

Brenda was in a coma during her mother’s burial. Kenneth paid her medical bills, and Charity, her friend, visited her in the hospital. Brenda gradually regained consciousness three days later, and the final graduation list had been pinned out. Brenda had a first-class degree, and her graduation ceremony was the next morning. She composed herself and went to graduation with the help of her friend Charity. They considered going to Mercy Clinic first to pick up the results of the medical examination. While she was there, nurse Olive informed her that she was not only HIV positive, but also pregnant! pregnant of her father Keneth!

Brenda found herself alone and silent in the white graduation tent at Freedom Square, where ecstasy had reigned supreme with shouts of joy and greatness from her peers; this wasn’t Brenda’s lot.

Written By: Mwebaze Paul Clever

Edited By: G.L.Maria

Note: This is a true life story Brenda shared with the writer at their graduation ceremony; the writer has told the story as Brenda narrated it with her permission. Brenda asked the writer to remain anonymous, so names have been changed.

If you consider telling your own story, email us at or WhatsApp at +256757201724.

  1. Dribareyo says

    Thank you for sharing. You do write well.

    1. GLM news says

      Thanks so much Dribareyo

      1. GLM news says

        Welcome and thanks Clever

  2. Clever says

    Thank you so much for sharing such stories.
    Great work!

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