“Where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about? You better cool it off before you burn it out” – Billy Joel in Vienna.
I have a life. Or at least I claim to have one. But off late when I am jobless or just not doing my work, I find myself thinking about my life and what I am not doing with my time. A Morgan Freeman-like voice goes in my head, “Congratulations! You are born. Dying is offered with full compliments!” Mortality at the age of 23 is not something one takes seriously. I need to live before I start dying right. Yet, I am also going through a stage when some of my family members may not be around after a short while. And I am sure I am probably not the only one going through this.
I lost my grandfather some months back, and I admit it was the first death of a close family member that I was old enough to grieve and feel. Oh that dreaded phone call, “Come home ASAP!” I am glad that I could make it on time to see his piercing blue eyes twinkling while he enjoyed his last cup of tea. While I was holding his hand, this memory from my childhood came to me. I used to clasp his hand tightly and refused to let it go while crossing the road. When I was eight, I had gone crying to him when I failed to run an errand for mom. He accompanied me, not letting go of my hand while he sorted out the issue. He was my rock and my shield from the big bad world. Fifteen years later, that same man could barely move. When he passed away, I realized that I had done my grieving a long time back as he slowly became a shadow of the man he once was. The tears I shed were for the pain he went through, the look on my grandma’s face and the gaping absence in the room. That night, I didn’t see my father and my aunts when they were repeating “Baba” “Baba”. Instead, I saw three children calling their dad.
Our parents have lives. So do their parents. Many of us have not been around for even half their lifetime and yet we often treat them as if we are their sole purpose of living. We have incessant demands for which even a grateful ‘thank you’ is not spared. But there was a time when they all were ten, baking mud pies and writing dirty words on cars. They used fly down the stairs and scramble up on all fours as if hooligans were chasing them. They flirted in their own style and had the same showdowns with their parents. But now, they have slowed down. Their bodies have slowed down. They look at what they eat. There is a faint trembling in their hands while handling stuff, an apologetic look in their eyes when they request you to pick something they dropped or repeat something that you just said, and they are completely out of depth when we hand them a smartphone because it is “easy”.
And us? We don’t worry about savings, future or our health. We live for the moment, and often live for our friends and peers. We fail to give consideration to that gentle nurturing that comes our way at home – especially from Aji Ajoba. I swear, no one can love us the way our grandparents do, not even our own parents! And touch wood, their amazing sense of balance and control has left them healthy, satisfied and content, free to pursue what they want.
Our parents, grandparents are a mirror and a time-machine put together. We talk about our futures yet we are blind when a big part of it is right there in front of us! We build ambitions and want to do ten thousand things (Oh God those “31 things” and “27 places” listicles!) But maybe the one thing we need to is to pause and take a quiet trip home. Have a glass of wine (or bournvita) with your parents, talk about small immaterial things which suddenly take a new light and feel that weight get off our shoulders. We may be older now and independent, saddled with millions of issues – but when we are with family, there is that comforting assurance that everything will be all fine – because one part already is!
Looking forward to the long weekend with family 🙂