Friends and colleagues I concealed the death of my grandmother, which occurred about six months ago from you; mainly because I feel you might not be interested or rather I do not want to spoil your mood with death verses. But it is interesting to note that everybody dies, even the pope. Humans claim to be powerful but of course not against death. Show me a heavyweight champion and I will fix a fight between him and death.
‘We will all go to Africa one day, don’t you worry,’ Mr. Medouze had said in the movie ‘Sugarcane Alley’ but he was metaphorically speaking of death as a home – as Africa, from where he was taken slave. Now let me briefly tell you about grandmother, since this is what the post is about.
Born in 1911, Grandma never had any formal education, eventually trained as a potter and got married to my late Grandpa in 1947. They had seven children, twenty-eight grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren. Of course now cars and houses are valued above humans but in indigenous Africa, wealth is about people. Perhaps the most important thing I wanted to say with regards to such a large household is that grandma always preached forgiveness. It was like her philosophy. She never pointed out who was in the right or wrong – just forgive and forget, we are family she will say.
I have come to realize this emotional truth after her death. Those who fail to forgive end up spending extra energy, thinking and planning revenge which will hardly earn them anything concrete. But forgiveness cleans your mind and heart of all negative emotions so that you can live your life afresh – it is not easy to forgive but also not impossible. However, be careful! I am not telling you to go about hugging and dining with old enemies. If people don’t like you, there is really nothing you can do to please them. But it is very important to let go of the past and focus on the future. Forgive whoever had wronged you because one day, death, that terrible darkness, will part the two of you and it will too late to say ‘ It’s ok, I have forgiven you’. Grandma died at 102. She was confined to her room for nearly 20 years, during which she continued to sell tobacco. Now I can’t sneak in and sniff tobacco anymore. She is gone forever.