Diary of an Ibadan Girl: Entry 10
Grandpa died today.
I was in the kitchen pouring Garri inside cup to drink when Maami got the call from big Mummy’s husband. No disrespect, but I feel like big Mummy’s husband could have done better in relaying the news. As an Agbalagba. I don’t know what he had said exactly but from Morola’s tone when she told me who had called and the way my mother was crying, I could have sworn he had said something like, “Baba yin ti ku o”, “Your father is dead” over the phone, just like that.
I remember there was a time they wanted to renovate grandpa’s house and they were supposed to contribute money. A fight had ensued because Big Mummy’s husband had asked that why were they spending that much for grandpa that would soon die. In his words, he had said, “Shey e fe kiwon ju s’aye ni?”, “Do you want him to live forever so that he can decay alive?” In my opinion, Grandpa should have known better when he was collecting bride price. Big mummy’s husband is just somehow. Tobaya, they would say they are the Opomulero of the family and they are out here acting like this.
My mother has sha been crying since even though we have said everything worth saying at a time like this.
My mother is the fourth born of her father and the first of her mother. My grandfather was 96 years old the last time I checked and I kind of think what hurts my mother most is the fact that she was expecting him to push it till a 100 before he let go. Apparently, God had other plans. I feel bad for grandpa’s death but clearly not as bad as I would have felt if it was grandma that died. I love my grandma to death and I’m just really glad she’s not the one that died today.
I never really saw much of grandpa or spent a lot of time with him while growing up because grandpa was a polygamous man. He had thirteen official wives and about 5 unofficial ones. My grandma was the first wife but she had a really hard time giving birth earlier because “legend” tells us that grandpa’s mum was a witch and she didn’t exactly like my grandma. So, they sort of had a hand in delaying her childbearing and that was when grandpa first started bringing other women into the house. Although, they no longer lived together in recent years, I still feel like my grandpa really did love my grandma best and vice verse. Have they even told her that her husband has died? They should better not allow anybody tell her so that we will not end up doing double funerals o. Grandma that’s hypertensive before.
I guess I would miss grandpa a little though. Especially because he genuinely cared for all his children and grandchildren. Grandpa has 18 kids in total and like 35 grandkids (I’m not exactly sure of this number because it could be higher, honestly. Grandpa was the Mandem) and he was always letting us know that he loved all of us equally and no one held his heart dearest so that people would not start to feel jealous. I remember during festivals when we were younger, when he would give grandma enough money to buy the same cloth as his for all of us. He always said we all made his heart warm and whenever he sees us, grandpa would say, “Inu mi dun bi Sugar” meaning he felt genuine sweetness within him which is equivalent to that of Sugar. He was a happy man and I think he lived well to his heart content. May his soul Rest In Peace.
I hear they are taking him to the mortuary today and maybe I’d be the one to follow Maami to the place. I’ve never since a corpse before, I just hope I don’t faint.
We just got back home from grandpa’s house where my father came to get us. He had to come because Maami and I were being a mess back there. It first started when we got to grandpa’s house and there was only Iya gidi that we saw at first. Iya gidi is grandpa’s immediate younger sister and there’s a story behind why everyone calls her Iya gidi but I can’t go into the details right now. Hopefully, I’ll be able to tell it later.
My mother then started asking questions that where was everybody and Iya gidi started crying that they’ve killed her brother and left her to be alone in the world. The sight of her like that was what first did it for my mother. They started crying together and it could have gone on forever if big Mummy had not come out from inside grandpa’s house and asked us to come inside to come and see grandpa’s body.
The first glimpse I had of him was what did it for me. He was lying on his bed with his eyes slightly open which made it look like he could still see us. He was wearing the green Ankara Buba and Sokoto that was the asoebi at Aunty Derinsola’s wedding that they had sewn for him. He had one hand on his chest and the other stretched out beside him on the bed and it was stretched outwards as if he was trying to reach for something at his final moment. Perhaps his walking stick? I guess I would never know now because it was then and there that the realization dawned on me that my father’s mother had just died and gone forever. Then, I went to hug Maami and we both started crying together because it was too painful to hold on to that realization all by myself.
Eventually, we were led away from his room into another room where some other relatives started consoling us and said stuff like, “Baba ti lo sinmi ni”, “Grandpa has gone off to rest”
“E Shey ara yin giri”, “Take heart”
“Eleyii ki Shey Oku ofo o tori baba ti dagba” , “This one is not a terrible death because grandpa has lived long”
“Oku Eba leleyii ke”, “This one is going to be a funeral of festivities”
It went on and on and at a point found it so weird how people never wanted for words in situations like this one. How it was easy for them to say these things like “don’t hurt yourself by crying too much” and not feel the same pain that the bereaved felt because it was not someone that was so close to them that had died.
I would have loved to write more about the many things I thought about at that moment but my mother is still quite shaken up a little bit and I think I should go and check her now.