Friday, February 12, 2010

Time to say goodbye

As a child, my older sister and I were constantly tearing each other apart. After the umpteenth fight my grandmother who usually intervened changed tactics this time.
She commanded us to fight till we drop.

Now imagine at 7 years old a thoroughbred tomboy, getting the green light to fight!!! My first thought was: Yippie!!!!!

Permission granted seemed cool at first but quickly wore off and within minutes we stood exhausted, heaving and panting, facing one another and waiting for the other to make the next move.
My grandmother then came with a collection of sticks and gave each of us a piece.
She asked us to break them, which we effortlessly did. Now she handed each of us the whole bundle and asked us to break it. Ofcourse, as much as we tried, we could not break the bundle of sticks.
Then she said: These sticks are you guys... United you can conquer life's challenges, but divided you don't stand a chance.

We never ever fought again after that day.

My grandmother was a very unusual and in someways utterly terrifying living legend who died a few hours ago at the ripe old age of 103.
She was not your typical fat soft huggy granny who pampered and protected. She was a strong, tall, fierce, blue-black amazon of a woman. A terrifying character with the power to freeze anyone young or old in their tracks with one look.
As a child, I was completely petrified of her and could never escape the wrath of her tongue or the extra pair of eyes located at the back of her head.
From my childhood perspective, she always seemed to be punishing me for being a weakling even though I did my best to toughen up and survive in her world.

For school holidays we kids got dumped for weeks with her in the "bush". It was a life of survival as she lived in a hut had no electricity, running water or any single form of modern comforts at all. There, as a regular Mowgli, I learned to live the traditional life of actually hunting your supper and catching it alive together with other naked bush kids and learning what plants, animals and places in the wilds to avoid.
Her only visible form of affection was in the endless stories she told. A walking, breathing reservoir of ancient wisdom she was. Truly the last of her kind.

Later, as I grew older and life's challenges came pouring in, Grandma's words and her lessons on indestructability were the strenght and stability I could find when all else seemed to fail.

Now, finally the time has come for me to let her go and say thank you, great one and good bye, because:

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.( Messiah's Handbook)

Chinello Ifebigh
"If we build it, they will come".

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