the actors in the short film “What Happened in Room 13”
Last week, I wrote about “The Secret Life of Adulterers,” as I reminisced about the first major film I made, What Happened in Room 13. Some suggest it’s the finest short film ever made in Uganda, a masterpiece, but it’s mostly because of the Oscar-deserving performance of the actors.
They are famous comedians in Kampala. Richard Tuwangye, Ann Kansime, Veronica Namanda, Gerald Rutaro and Bugingo Hannington, famous names from the famous Fun Factory. At the time of making Room 13, I was inexperienced. They, however, did a great job of making the script come alive. Without them, the film might not have been as successful as you see it. I saw them perform at a fundraising for a heart patient a few days back, and it confirmed my belief that they are the finest actors we have in Kampala. I would like to work with them again and again. Don’t be surprised to see them in the feature film I plan to make next year, The Felistas Fable! Well, I was amazed seeing Veronica as a pregnant woman, which seems like her favorite role. If you watch Room 13, you will be forgiven to think she was actually pregnant! She reminds me of the only pregnant woman I ever saw while working in that lodge (where I got material to write Room 13).
a pregnant woman cheating on her husband
This pregnant woman was maybe six months gone, her stomach so big it looked like a pot. The maternity dress was so tight I feared it would tear. She waddled in one hot afternoon. Her lover was already waiting in the room. Five minutes after she went in, screams ensued. Such loud screams it might have been a rehearsal for the labor ward! -At first, I wanted the cheating woman in Room 13 to be pregnant, like this one. I don’t know what stupidity came over me during the re-write, it would have given the story a richer flavor—and you’d certainly enjoy watching a sex scene involving a very pregnant woman. 🙂 -Well, after about ten minutes of screaming with pleasure, this pregnant woman wanted to get out. The door wouldn’t open. I passed them the key through the window, but tried as she might, it wouldn’t open. I gave them a whole bunch of keys, but after an hour of trying, the door just wouldn’t open. So she started to wail, “This is my husband’s juju! He has used juju to trap me! What shall I do?” I called a carpenter who broke the lock and opened the door. The woman dashed out and ran as fast as her pregnancy could allow, crying, “I’ll never do it again!” Her lover ran after her, trying to sweet-talk her, saying, “It wasn’t juju! The carpenter opened it so it wasn’t juju! Please let me do it again!”
the fear of juju
Adulterers live in fear of witchcraft, the most common method to stop a philanderer. The media fans this fear with strange tales. I once read in the papers about lovers who got stuck in each other. After the man penetrated, he failed to remove his penis. It got stuck inside her, until the witch who cast the spell came to release them. Hard to believe, but I read about it in The Monitor. It happened in Jinja, and the witchdoctor who cast the spell was said to be a very rich man. The mere mention of his name was enough to make a cheating spouse confess! A friend, however, told me that this has a medical explanation. You see, when a woman is not relaxed during intercourse, her vaginal muscles go into spasms and contractions, that it acts as some sort of a clamp. You get the picture.
Because they are always panicky and restless, they leave used condoms all over the room. There was, however, a clean man who never left a used condom behind. One day, the maid was surprised to find a used condom in his room. Thinking he had only forgotten to clean up, she discarded the rubber. Hardly had she done this than the man returned in a big hurry. He headed straight for the room and started a frantic search. Failing to find what he was looking for, he turned to me with terror on his face.
“You cleaned the room!” he screamed.
-I was confused. I nodded sheepishly.
-“Did you get—eh—condom?” he asked. I nodded again. “Where is it?” I couldn’t make out what he was saying? “The condom! Where is it!?” -I showed him a basket in the bathroom, where we dropped the used condoms. He rummaged through it, picking one condom after the other, sniffing each and throwing them back into the basket. Finally, he picked out two and said, “These are mine.” -He wrapped them in a polythene bag, pocketed the bundle, and fled from the hotel. I guess he was afraid someone would pick his condoms and bewitch him.
how to keep a secret
Secrecy being key to a successful adulterous affair, many of them came under the cover of darkness. These were mostly married men with students, or prostitutes. There’s one particular man whose face I never saw. The only time I heard his voice was the first day he came. He talked to me while hiding in the darkness of his car. He said, “Whenever you hear three honks, switch off all the lights.” He whispered so that I wouldn’t be able to recognize his voice if I heard it again.
He came regularly, almost twice a week, at about 8PM like clockwork. Whenever I heard the honks, I turned off the main switch, plunging the lodge into darkness. The man then emerged from the car with his girl. He paid me in the darkness and I led him to his room. After they were done, he banged on the door three times, I again turned off all the lights and he would leave the lodge. He came with a different car each time, which was probably hired from taxi drivers, or car dealers.
the bold ones
A few bold adulterers don’t fear being seen in the lodge. They never bothered with hiding their identity, and some became my friends. One of such men one day boasted to me, while talking about the husband of the woman he slept with, “He can’t manage me. He doesn’t know I do it with his wife. I go to his home and we talk like old friends do, his wife makes me tea. But he doesn’t suspect a thing. I’m wiser than him. He is very stupid. He can’t manage me.” Another man, with gray hair and beards, said to me, “That woman is becoming arrogant. I tell her come, she doesn’t come. Why? What do you think happened? Maybe her husband these days satisfies her . . . But I don’t care, I will get another one. There are many frustrated women.” And a woman one day said to me, “Spend fifty years with one person? Shya. Look at me. I’m twenty-five. And I’m supposed to stay with one man for the next fifty years! God! Every morning I wake up, I see his face. Every night before bed, I see his face—for fifty years! No. I can’t bear that.” I could go on and on—probably I should write a book about it. But well, now you know where I got the idea for the film, What Happened inRoom 13. And if you like it, follow us on YouTube.com/dilstories to watch more short films. You May Also LikeThe Secret Life of Adulterers The Magic SongMy Friend is a Prostitute Water! Water! I’m burning up! Page edited by Reiza S Dejito