My grandmother was a great woman. She was dogged and ensured that she achieved her goals. She told me the story of how my mother passed on during my delivery and how my father disappeared when he learnt that my mother could not make it after having the baby.
Left with no other choice, my grandmother had to breastfeed me. Though aging at the time and visually challenged in one of her eyes, she strapped me on her back and took me to do her farm work. She fed me with every kind of food she ate, but she never failed to go miles from our village to the town where immunization was administered to children at a cottage hospital.
My grandmother never had a formal education herself, but when I was at the age of seven, she followed in the company of other women and took me to the
registration center in preparation for school. She used the shadows of objects to understand the school timing and went back home to wait for me after school every day.
I was quick to learn from families around me, though I had neither any aunt nor uncle. I had no understanding of who a cousin was, but my grandmother taught me the need and importance of showing love and giving help to other people. With her, I appreciated encouraging friends and being encouraged when hopes seem to have been dashed.
She shaped my life with her words and never failed to remind me of how proud she was of her late daughter, my mother. She always said to me that, “I will be fulfilled when you grow up as a man that would make your mother proud wherever she is.” Then, it sounded funny, but now I see how much sense she made.
During my high school days, I couldn’t be like the other boys of my age, because my grandmother would prefer to come and wait close to the football field where I played with my friends so that she could take me home. Sometimes I was laughed at, but she told me that she would rather protect her own than lose an irreplaceable gift. She would stroke my hair and pat my back. We prayed together in the morning and at night.
We both faced a tough period of separation when I had to go to the university. At the initial stage in school, I looked forward to our daily lifestyle and hoped that I could go back home often, but Ibadan was far from home. After five years of university education in Nigeria, I got a scholarship to study in Canada. Leaving my grandmother was tougher, but she encouraged me to go and be great.
I spoke with my grandmother for every day of the 19months that I was in Canada before visiting home. Not only was her welcome embrace warm, she made me cry for joy when I saw how cheerily dressed she was to receive me!
Though she was happy, but I noticed that she had become very ‘bent over’. She has had to do all her chores alone since I was away. She had taken ill sometimes and never told me. She turned down my request to take her back
to Canada with me because she knew no other place but her place of birth.
We had dinner and talked about everything we could simply remember. As the night draw farther, she needed to get some sleep and asked that we prayed together. I sat beside her on her bed and we held hands to pray.
After praying, she urged me to me to change my clothes to something lighter and come back to her. On my return, I met her faced to the wall with both hands on her chest. She was gone.
I wept like a little child on the death of my grandmother, the only love I knew and grew up with. I couldn’t wait any longer after the burial, but I remember in my heart every day that my grandmother was ‘my success driver’ and that she was a great woman.
By Ekus T.(Lives and works in Canada)