Friday morning dawned cool and overcast, the storm clouds cresting lazily over the more sequestered parts of Mgbada. Passively, the weather appeared at odds with the sign fronting straight onto Chidi’s fence – HOT & READY – a ‘tin-can iyabasira‘, neither impressive in style nor wanting in quality, just ‘everyday’. You get what you expect, mostly; flies and smoke – asides the food, and smoke.
My grandfather, yellowing teeth and glassy eyes, parcelled out Igbo wisdom to us on odd days. His senses were gradually sublimating. “Nna”, he would venture, “é-lozóna ebe isi-wé pùta”, punctuating the maxim with a toothless grin. But that was a few years ago. Now, he only doled out insight whenever he managed to get a grip of his wits…
…which was only when we could afford the medication
…which was only around payday
…which wasn’t a real thing
…which killed him more than it did me.
Old age is a blessing, when it hits you at the right angle. Other times, it simply denudes you from the core.
Grandma had been out of the country for a year n’ change, tagging grandpa as too much of a chore for her to keep up with. He’d already burnt through most of the goodwill hived up over the years from numerous friends and acquaintances, until the only form of assistance anybody was willing to offer was by way of sheer sympathy.
Chidi’s mother owned the iyabasira down the street. Occasionally, she’d send a plate or two of something hot over, resting on the comfort that she met her quota when the time came. Her assistance was more obligatory than heartfelt. We appreciated it still.
Static bled from the rechargeable radio on the kitchen shelf, they’d just brought the light.
It was a few minutes shy of eleven, and grandpa had pissed himself, again. We waited till we were done with our game of ayò.
He made a swift move.
He won the game.
I let it happen.
He chuckled and shot me a smile, the kind of smile wrought from wan discontent, or something more flattening.
And at that point, I think I died.
Hope is a thing with feathers.
But today, I wasn’t ready to fly.
ff on instagram @sixisms. I love wine