July 24, 2017

Lessons from My Grandmother

By Gatuiri Kathendu

I miss my grandmother. The woman I have been named after. There is a character that was in that woman that intrigues me up to date. Very early in the morning, my grandmother would start her journey to her children who are kilometres apart. Her simple mission would be just to say hi to them and take some goodies to the grandchildren, and by mid-morning, she would be back to her cool home. The home we loved to visit and eat the traditional ‘ngunja matu’ (mixture of maize flour and vegetables).

Sometimes I sit back and wonder how many mothers-in-law can be like my grandmother? You see, all the daughters she had, their husbands were so much in sync with her that you would never tell who her biological sons were; because to her, they were all hers. And the daughters in law? Well, they were hers.

Today, I look back and see the fruits of her labor. The solid foundation that she erected for her family-her children and her childrens children. Togetherness. It’s true that we do not meet often or even visit each other as often as she used to, but there is that bond that she put that always makes us want to not only catch up with each other but also know how we are faring.

Today’s family institution is automatically challenged. Life is demanding everyone to be either on their feet or behind a screen almost 24/7. Unless one makes a deliberate choice to spend time with their family.

My grandma would leave home, go to the furthest home of her child just to know how they have been, then go back home with a content heart that her child, and her childs’ children are well. Just that.

The best days were Sundays. Of course, she would get to the church earlier than the Sunday School kids, sit at a certain corner near the door that was beside the pulpit. Then after church, she would come home and we would have lunch and watch Joy Bringers, followed closely by Mahabarak (the Indian drama) among others. and yes, she would nap all through the programs. And the moment she arises from her sleep, she would be like, “This thing will never tell anyone to go. Have a good evening.” Then she would start her long trek home.

Till today, I remember her burial day with nostalgia. It was not a mourning day. It was a day to celebrate a life well lived. Celebrating a woman who lived by uniting her family. Her community.

I see the role of a woman in todays society. Even with all this rot in our society and filth within this institution of marriage/family, if the women made a deliberate choice to work things out, a lot of good can come out us.

If mothers just took time with their children, teach them how to pray, work and earn their living diligently, then the society would not get worried over the kind of wives or husbands that might be the end result.

If mothers stopped focusing on their failures and weak points but instead focus on their inner strength, and release it to the world around them, only then would the society become a better place.

I learnt a lot from that woman, my grandma. And I hope that one day, my grandchild will sit behind whichever machine they will be having those days, and write this about her grandmother. Me.

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