She remembers that brown patch of earth just behind their home in rural Eldoret. There is this banana tree that grows next to it. She ate a ripe banana from a bunch of bananas she was told came from that banana tree. They were interestingly sweet, they have always been sweeter than any bananas she has ever eaten so much so that she could tell just by the scent of them whether they were from that signature banana tree.
Her grandfather was a sweet soul.God rest his soul in eternal peace. His grave is shielded from the scorching sun by the shade of this defiant banana tree. She flirts with the idea that just may be the sweet bananas are her grand fathers way of still sharing his sweet soul with the world. The brown patch of earth she remembers is next to where her grandpa is buried. She recalls her granny telling her and her cousins in their native tongue, “I want to be buried here, next to my sweetheart.” It looked like just one of her stories. They would all shrug and say “Gogo wewe bado uko na miaka mia moja!” (Granny you still have a hundred years left in you!”) Granny would smile at their ignorance of life and how meaninglessly short she knew it to be. She would, of course, never let them in on her thoughts. Even in her old age, she knew that childhood is a blissful fantasy that she should never take away from her grandchildren.
She recalls, growing up in the village, how her granny would insist on having all her grandchildren around for two weeks. She argued that they needed to know their roots. Granny would gather them all round and tell them tales of how their grand father was a fearless mau mau warrior. They never got to see him, but the stories made them feel like they knew him all their lives. Granny would tell them stories about her childhood and how things were simple. How they all lived at the pleasure of the work of their hands and how school was an option back then. Sometimes she would gather all the girls together and talk to them about boys and men and keeping the home. She would call the boys together and tell them about how a man should carry his weight in society. She shared pictures of her husband, their grandpa, and answered all the questions that they asked. Times with granny were golden and grand. It was like living a life of endless joy without a care for tomorrow. She always made sure they were not troubled because she believed that childhood is best when cushioned from the raging pressure and tides of this demanding world. The fondest memory she has of granny is when during holidays her cousins and herself would team up and teach granny Swahili and some English. They would have such joyous laughter at granny’s attempts to speak whole sentences in English.
They are all grown up now. They all know that the world is not such a good place but appreciate granny’s effort to shield them from the realities of it all.
She is at the morgue in the waiting bay. Granny died two days ago. Her diabetes got complicated and her organs failed. Two days before her demise she made her son take a picture of that brown perch of earth next to her sweetheart and the renegade banana tree. She told him that she want to be buried there and that they should do a quick job about it too. She stares at the picture in the family whatsapp group from her phone screen and tears sting her eyes. Her cousins, uncles and aunts were all seated in that lobby waiting to view what was left of granny. Silence. Salty silence.
Loss is a salty mess on an open wound. Painful but necessary. You never know how to process it all. You tell yourself that you will learn how to do it all soon, that it will be okay, that you will make it through it all. The truth is, you never really do get over it all. You just learn how to take it all in an ounce of salt at a time until it is mostly gone.
To all those who have lost their loved ones, may time and grace accord you some semblance of healing and closure.