Am not a good story-teller and truth be said, i don’t even know any stories that are worth repeating. Am a 90’s kid, that makes my generation the last to sit around a fire and listen to grandmothers tell tales so old they sound like myths. I remember those days, i was around 4 or 5 years old, running around with my cousins, whom i thought were my brothers and sisters because that’s how we were raised. Back then, when someone got a kid, the family contributed to that child’s growth in one way or another. And i am digressing. Anyways, we would run around half-naked in pure bliss, having not a care in the world, chasing grasshoppers and just being young. We would tire of grasshoppers and play hide and seek, African version, which was and still is way cooler than hiding under the bed! But the best part of the day had to be the evenings. When we would all crowd our grandmothers kitchen, and sit around the fire, cramming ourselves together, and closer to my grandmother, who would be seated patiently waiting for us to be quiet. And then when we all settled, she would start weaving the tale. Tales of when she was young, of how she followed her brothers to the forest, of how her father was a great man and who on certain occasions, transformed to a warrior. We sat and listened, never interrupting, until some dozed off and had to be carried (more like dragged) to bed. And the last of us, we listened to her voice drone on and on, and we traveled with her to when she was young, and the fire would die, and we would cram even closer, and the source of light, koroboi (a small lamp), would flicker this way and that way. In my head, there would only be the flickering light accompanied by my granny’s voice, and that,s how i would drift off to bed, literally drift to my bed. My grandmother had a lot of rules for us to adhere to, and her rules were law in that compound. You don,t forget a law! Not hers anyways, and if you find yourself stuck in a situation where you had to break one, well, you don’t! And that’s why we were never carried to bed, it was a rule! You slept where you dozed off!
I am named after her and spent half my childhood with her, it’s right to say she raised me. Almost all the memories i have of my childhood, whether bad or good, have my grandmother in the background. And so a part of me always assumed that one day, i would have my grand kids sit by a fire and i would tell them tales of my grandmother. Back then, when i sat by her feet and rocked to her voice, i imagined that i would be seated in that chair and kids would rock to the gentle hum that would be my voice, but that will never be.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, the world changed, as it does everyday! My world changed and i changed with it. My evenings with my grandmother were replaced by “Like sands through the hourglass….so are the Days of our Lives” even before i was old enough to save the tales and sift through them. Even before i could test whether i would be as good a story-teller as her, phones hit the market and that was the end of that era. Technology took over!
My granny has gotten too old, and i guess life hasn’t been too kind either. Where once there were kids at her feet, now she gets surrounded by dirty dishes. Last time i went to see her i thought ‘Cucu has changed’! But in reality, she hasn’t. The world has changed and she has witnessed the change but has refused to conform to it! She is still the same woman who would start with her stories right after supper. The only difference is the content. Gone are the days we skipped in our imaginations to be with her in her tales. Now she laments about the change. About the phones ringing too loud and interrupting her line of thought, about the amount of time i spend on my phone rather than talk to her. About how machines are making us girls too lazy, and about how, in future, she would not be surprised if girls started paying dowry to the boy’s parents.
Most of the time i smile at her, profile my phone to silent and keep it aside, explain to her how Indian girls are already paying dowry when they are getting a husband, and think ‘life has made her bitter’. But has it? she is still the same woman who raised me. Yes, she is old and in a lot of pain related to age, but her gait has not faltered and her mind is still as sharp as i remember it to be back then. She will repeat a story more than thrice and still punctuate it the same way. Her memory is that intact!
I may not have gotten the opportunity to tell stories to kids who have teary eyes because of the smoke from the fire, which chokes them to sleep, but i do get to tell my stories…here…we just call it blogging now!