This past weekend I went to visit my grandfather, partly to keep a promise I had made to myself, to spend time and get to know my remaining close grandparent, and partly because I wanted to get out of town. It was an urge that could no longer be delayed.
Nairobi has always been a place one passes through, a way station in life, not a place one makes a home. I was going home, a home, a place of no urgency and no push, absent of the futility of constant rush, anger, and the often accompanying unrequited ambition. I digress.
I arrived in the evening, just after he had gone to bed. I did not want to wake him up, but one of my uncles did, to let him know that I had arrived. He looked happy to see me. I was glad to see him. He was unwell the previous week, and he seemed back to his usual jovial self.
We got to spend a few quiet moments together the following day, and I got to explain, in clumsy and faltering vernacular, what this is (I had carried my unit) and to tell him that I work with the company that makes it.
I was a bit disappointed when he did not ooooh and aaaah like my uncles. At almost ninety-years old it should have occurred to me that nothing surprises him any more. I described to him that you can get to know what is happening around you, in the larger sense of course, and even listen to music using it. This is the best I could do without embarrassing myself.
He seemed pleased about the part about getting to know the goings-on in the world, not so much the music. Music, he said, is not as important as knowledge. Can you also get to know about siasa (politics)? Them they love hearing about siasa.
I laughed, yes, you can get to know about siasa. He holds knowledge and education in high regard, and I get the feeling he wishes he had gone to school. He, however, did teach himself how to read and write in the native tongue and worked hard to ensure we all got an education.
Not all of us went to school as he had envisioned. No matter. He says he feels vindicated when his sons (two of them) and grandchildren (also two) park their cars in his compound. Despite being saddled with a sack of mangoes and getting caught in the rain on my way back, I look forward to going again.
Such visits should be more regular. The silence and the warmth of that Sunday spent under the tree outside his house pass quickly while napping and reading a book. I do not have to wait for December for this slice of heaven.