On Saturday, the rain fell hard and long……
After spending the better half of the day confined in my bedroom by heavy rains, I got up to take a shower….the rumblings in my stomach and the urge to pee that I had ignored for three hours had reached their peak. I dressed up and went in search of food. I met my grand mother in the living room eating sardines. “Mummy na now u day eat breakfast?” “Yes na now ah day eat.” I asked for my mum…she was in the living room reading Aminita Forna’s Ancestor Stones. “Mummy whats up?” “Na now you ready fo talk to me? You sef whats up?”. “Mummy u don eat?” “Noh”. “U noh angri?” “Ah angry but I cant be bothered”.
I left her in the living room and headed to the back yard. Two of my aunts were washing their clothes. “Koya da ooman don make im fryfry”. “Yes im don don” “Okay ya 5000 go buy fryfry fo me en mummy, make im no put beaucoup oil day oh…infact ah no want no oil”. The plate of fish, plaintains, sweet potatoes, akara, with gravy arrived a couple minutes later….and ofcourse it was oily….after all it was fryfry
I divided the food and sent a cousin to take the food inside to my mom. I devoured my portion with my fingers and ate every bit of what was on my plate except for the bones of the fish. I asked if I had any ginger beer but I couldn’t get an answer so I walked into the living room to sprawl out on the sofa….see if I can catch a dose of nigaritis. My mom was also finishing her food.
She could see my hands were wet. “Vickie, you didn’t wipe your hands?” “Wipe it on what?” “There are kitchen towels under…..” I wiped my hands on my sweats before she could finish and she shook her head at me
I searched for Amy Winehouse on my ipod and reduced the volume on the speakers. My mother continued reading but I could sense a cloud had descended over her. Maybe it had been there all day and I hadn’t noticed.
She asked me if I had enough credits on my phone. “I do but not enough to make an international call”. She picked up he phone and verified the last four digits of the number…”2956?”…”yes 2956”.
She dialed the apartment in NY trying to reach my uncle but he wasn’t home. She put down the phone. “Mummy what’s wrong?” I asked her knowing it had to do with my granny. She said oh nothing….and got up and walked to peep into my granny’s room.
“Is mummy okay” knowing from the look on my mom’s face that she wasn’t. “Mummy isn’t doing so well today her stomach’s bothering her….she’s in pain. She says she’s okay but she was crying earlier”
My body stiffened and I felt my eyes filing up as the helplessness in my chest began to choke me. I didn’t want to cry but the thought of my mummy lying on her bed in pain and crying was unbearable. I started to cry uncontrollably. My mom came and sat next to where I was…..caressing me. I wasn’t crying very loudly but my mummy heard me in the next room. She walked over to me and turned my face to her. Her face was blurred….this is what she said:
“ Vickie can you hear me. Listen to me good. I am going to die and I can die any day from today. I have to die before your mother that’s the way it is. God can take me anytime, whenever he is ready. You should be happy you have come and you can be here with me. What about Amadu and Salwa and everybody else who cant be here with me? So you have to decide that you’re going to be strong now. I am ready to die. Anytime God takes me I am ready. I have raised all my children and I raised all of you. When God takes me I will be ready. I have done all I have to do and I’ve enjoyed my life. The only thing that bothers me is this illness is taking me in bits. Otherwise I am ready to go, So be strong.”
She walked away.
I cried harder and harder as I lay on the sofa limp.
My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago and we’ve been trying to manage the disease. Unlike my mom who’s been here with her from the beginning I was away at school and in NY. Even when she was in NY briefly I didn’t feel the gravity of the situation as I for some odd reason thought she would get better. Now that I’m here in Sierra Leone I am face to face with my grand mother’s illness and watching her live through the pain is heartbreaking. To some people their grandmother is a distant gray haired personality who brings gifts and what not. But for me my grandmother is my mother. She’s always been my mother. I don’t know how to accept that she has accepted that she’s dying. She’s 69 and I’m not ready for her to no longer be here with me. But even more than that I wish I could stop her from suffering.
So today I cried as much as I could. When I finally did stop crying I felt a powerful urge to write. As I started writing the rains began to pour down mercilessly again.
Later on my mom and my grandma walked into my room. My grand ma had a tape measure in her hand. “Vickie cam make a take yu measurement”. She was altering one of my mom’s dresses to fit me. I got up she took my measurements and remarked that the size of my waist was exactly what hers had been at one time. I smiled “well, enti u know…bon me a fiba u”. “Vickie u wan cam take all me clos dem enti”…my mom said half smiling….. “Da paticula clos day no to u yone again so make u pull at day oh”
We all laughed and walked out of the room. My heart was light….things were back to normal