Today, I turn 24. I pull a stool and sit outside in the sun basking. I am bending forward scrolling my phone through facebook, twitter etc for any new gist. I slowly drift into deep thoughts. I revisit my childhood days till my 24th year. My parents and maternal grandparents were present every step of my life. However my dad and grandpa were more present. But my grandpa stole my heart.!!
Whenever I had the chance, I visited him.He made me feel loved, important and protected. He never had any money to take me out to swing and play on bouncing castles but protected me with all he had. Anytime I cried or threw tantrums, someone was in for trouble. I had older cousins who loved teasing and pinching me when grandpa was away. I would hold my tears for when I would see him coming. Then I would run to him crying and clinging onto him as if I had just been beaten. He was not strong enough to carry me. He would hold my hand and walk into the compund talking angrily and threatening to chase everyone away and be left alone with me.
I would hide behind my grandpa as he scolded my cousins. I woud occasionaly peep to see how they were feeling. I would make faces to show them that I had won. After that we would sit on some stones around the house and he would tell me stories. I always boasted to my mum that nobody was supposed to beat me cause my grandpa would also beat them.He narrated about when the state of emergency was declared and he was arrested from 1952-1959. He had just married my grandma when he was arrested. A young newly-wed couple cruelly split up like that, for seven years. Anyway, that is for another day.Sometimes I would fall asleep while he was still storytelling.Later, I would wake up to find myself in bed.
Years passed and the bond grew stronger than ever. One time, I was probably 21. An old lady friend of grandma passed by the house. She started scolding me for not carrying some bananas for my grandma. I tried explainig that I did not know that she had gone the farm. The friend would have none of it. I stood and bitterly took in the scolding. I could not talk back lest I get cursed. All this time, my grandpa was listening. He feebly walked outside using his walking stick and asked grandma’s friend to leave me alone and go away. Well, I did not like that she was chased away. But that grandpa would still defend me regardless of his age made me feel like a four-year-old. I have held on to that memory to date.
My grandpa loved education. He always reminded me that if I did not study smart enough to get a degree, our friendship would not last another day. Then he would spit saliva on his chest and say “I have blessed you. You will excel and get twenty Degrees. My descendants will be in Kenya and beyond”.When I was admitted to university, we laughed and rejoiced on my success. We looked forward to my graduation.
When he started losing memory, he never forgot my name. Sometimes he addressed people by my name. His sun was setting and even he, knew that. He talked to me and made me understand that no one has control over their life. That he did not fear dying because he had lived his life the best way possible. He asked me to tell my mother to buy clothes that he and I would wear on that day.I will never have the right wordsto explain the pain I felt. It was too sad to be real. For a whole week, I would lock myself in my room and cry. I would go back to him to see whether he had a change of mind but no. He was slowly wasting away.
Finally, he crossed over to the far beyond. A dagger had just been pushed in my heart, all of me was being crushed. He did not wait to see me graduate or celebrate my 24th birthday. Today I found myself wishing that he was here with us. Home has become so empty. Whenever I get to the gate, I want to go back where I came from. The emptiness and loneliness. I remember one night when I stood at his door to say goodnight. And he replied saying “farewell” in an accent that sounded Americanised. I was so excited and made sure to make him say that word as many times as possible.
I thank God that he gave me and you, grandpa, 23 years to live together. The wisdom, the advice and the love, I still carry in my heart. As long as I live, you will be missed by me. And in my heart, you are irreplaceable.