Published by Fountain Publishers (Uganda) in 1995, Recipe for Disaster is part of the ‘The Fountain Living Youth Series’, a selection of stories that focus on the youth and the arduous task of growing up in a fierce environment. The novel is mainly set in the city of Kampala.
Lillian Tindyebwa pens a story about an adolescent girl, Hellen Ntale, who is led astray by the choices she makes in the course of her life. She gets expelled from St. Joseph’s Girls School, then ultimately abandons school altogether three months before her high school final exams.
Ignoring her parents disapproval and influenced by a friend Suzie, she ends up with Kevin, a 42 year old man who should know better than to ask a 19-year old to choose between school and becoming his bedfellow.
The life Hellen signs up for with Kevin is short-lived and it is only later that she confesses the mistake of her airy pursuit in the form of an idealistic sand castle she had built in her mind;
“But now I know that the glitter that I craved for was like a mirage. The minute I’d reach the point I had been aiming at, I’d find that actually the most glittering part had moved even farther ahead. And that there were many more obstacles to clear along the way before reaching that ever elusive paradise.”
Kevin, we come to learn, has HIV/AIDS, having contracted the disease from a former girlfriend. In Kevin’s affluent world, AIDS, “was a disease of the poor and illiterate people”, which makes it all the more tragic when Kevin’s first wife Samalie succumbs to the disease – a victim of her philandering husband’s transgressions. Sadly, Hellen gets caught in the same tragic set of circumstances.
Tindyebwa’s Recipe for Disaster is a a beautiful story which also ponders on the challenges of parenthood. Despite their strictness and religious stance; the Ntale’s could not save their daughter Hellen from the probing tentacles of the likes of Kevin and Suzie, and a society that preaches, “You Only Live Once” (YOLO).