Graduation

Atkowki graduates with his Ph.D. in Biology in October of 1972. Baby Donna is three months old. Rachel and Atwoki are packing and preparing to leave for Uganda.
“How could you leave for Uganda?” Rachel’s Aunt Silvia asks her over the phone. Aunt Silvia lives in Toronto and was one of the early Vincentians to reside in the city.
“Atwoki will be a full professor at Makerere University,” Rachel says over the phone to her Aunt Silvia. “We will live in the married residences for professors and since Donna is a Canadian citizen, she can return here for graduate school.”
“Do you know what’s going on in that country?” Aunt Silvia asks Rachel. “Dictator Idi Amin is killing people there! You could get killed!”
Rachel falls silent. She had heard some things about that on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Atwoki enters the room. “Rachel, who are you talking to?”
“I gotta go, Aunt Silvia,” Rachel says since it is dinner time and she knows Atwoki is hungry for her Caribbean cooking. She is always amazed how a Ugandan man like Atwoki truly enjoyed Carib-bean cooking. She often wondered if that was his determining factor in asking her to marry so quickly.
“It’s dinner time,” Rachel continued to her aunt. “We’ll talk later.”
Atwoki announces at dinner that he was able to find extremely cheap flights to Uganda for the following day and they needed to leave quickly in order for him to start his job on time.
“I apologize for the rush, Rachel,” Atwoki says after swallowing some stewed peas. “They were the cheapest tickets I could find. They are incredibly cheap!”
“Atwoki, what about the problems with Dictator Idi Amin there?” Rachel asks.
Atwoki stops eating and looks at her, then looks at Donna in her high chair.
“The best we can hope for is that it’s not as bad as they say on the CBC,” Atwoki says. “Mother has not sent me any more news, however, I sent her a letter that I will be coming. You will be able to see my village and meet my brothers and sisters. Our life there will be beautiful, Rachel. My brother Jacob is part of former President Milton Obote’s government trying to oust Dictator Idi Amin. I don’t think he will be in power long. Everything should return to normal soon. Half of these problems are caused by all the transition from colonialism.”
“I can understand that from St. Vincent,” Rachel says. “But, there wasn’t ever any bloodshed when Independence came for us.”
“I don’t know why Africa is violent,” Atwoki says. “I don’t know why.”
They both fall silent.
“That’s why I’m glad I married you,” Atwoki tells Rachel. “You can always rest assured that you will find a peaceful woman when she comes from a peaceful country.”
Rachel smiles.
“Is that right?” Rachel says. “Then what does a woman get from a man from a violent country.”
Atwoki says nothing for several minutes.
“Let’s start packing,” he finally says.
That night while Rachel and Donna are sleeping, Atwoki sneaks out and goes for several beers with European George to say “goodbye” to him.

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