death and its other nightmares
I was not sorry when my grandmother died. When I first read Tsisti Dangarembga’s opening line in Nervous Conditions I was taken aback by such indifference towards death. “I was not sorry when my brother died”, Tambudzai says of her brother Nhamo’s death. Like Tambu, I was happy that my grandmother died. For different reasons though. Not because I didnt love her. Not because she never mattered to me. Not. Not at all.
So yes, there you have it. I was born when my mother was only 15 years, or was it 16? Whatever. Now you can imagine what my Gran meant to me. She was my mother. My mentor. My, my, my my everything. The greatest love I ever had. I miss her now that I am talking to strangers about her. She breast fed me even though my mum was her lastborn child and I am telling you those sagging-sacks-once-known-as-boobs had milk enough for me and whoever else would have wanted. So yes, my granny died last month and I am still stuck with this and I am still not sorry. I am sad. No, not so sad but kinda happy.
So mum tells me that Granny was in pain before she died and I have a feeling that she is tryna make me feel better about it but yes, she was in pain, I believe her. Well, wouldnt it be better if she remained in pain and I could still see her? No, that’s selfish, isnt it? Ok, so now I am happy that she died and wasn’t in pain anymore. This makes me sad.
I spoke at my Gran’s funeral and perhaps what I should have said is that I am just a drunkard, a smoker, an ass that my Granny never wanted me to ever be. Perhaps what I should have told all those people is that my Granny always made me cry when I thought of how much she had sacrificed for me. For us. Her grandchildren. I never told them about people she had said should not even bother coming to her funeral. I refused to tell them because my uncles and aunties would have kicked me out of home. Especially now that the only one person who cared for me soooo genuinely was no more. Now that she was gone, I would have been sent to my father. A father I never had. My Granny was my father. She understood my tears. She read the subtext in my smile. Yes, she lives on in my life.
And with this t-shirt hanging on my wall. The t-shirt I wore at her funeral. With her picture and her favourite Bible verse. I see her everyday. I hear her telling me to take care of her family. I hear her so clearly. I look at her and feel the pain but though I cry, I shall not feel sorry.My Granny covered up death’s ugly face. I never knew anyone in my family could die. Not her. No. Anyone but her. She was so immortal to me. When she hit 70 and prepared us all for her death, I ignored. I knew she wouldnt die. She didnt. Years, many years after she often went into a coma but I still knew she would live. This immortal woman still lives. To me she is not dead because I refuse to humour death.
But when my Granny died I went to see her at the morgue just before the funeral. And oh what beauty! I want to have a good looking corpse when I die. All the pain was gone. Absolute beauty. Granny made death look like a cool thing. She really did. Her death was exactly as she wanted it. Her funeral just as she told us. Church dress, white shoes, next to grandfather, Bible verses, hymns etc. My Granny buried herself. My Granny organised her funeral when she was alive. And that there is pure genius.