When we arrived in Nigeria my granddad who I had never seen before came to meet us at the airport. He was my dad’s dad he came with my aunt who I had seen before. That wasn’t the only family I met I saw my dad’s mum. As well as them there was my four cousins’ in Nigeria, Demilola, Mayowa, Corrodey and Ayo. I didn’t see my great grandmother because we came for her funeral so I never got to ever see her apart from when she was in the coffin. Altogether I saw a lot of family that I haven’t seen before.
This slim, petite woman greeted me with open arms and the widest smile at Murtala Muhammed airport. That is where we met for the first time, enveloped in the close shroud of humidity. Sounds of strange birds and unusual trees crowded my first few moments on Nigerian soil.
And Grandma – she didn’t speak English, I didn’t speak Yoruba, but we both understood the joy.
At church in Ilesha on a hot Sunday I suffered a never-ending nosebleed. Nothing could stop it, it just flowed and flowed and flowed and flowed some more. Packs of ice were delivered, prayers were prayed and still it stopped not. In the end I was taken back to Grandma’s compound and left with her to look after me. I lay down. She went to prepare a herbal remedy.
It was horrible. Green bitter leaves boiled in water, this concoction was administered… directly into my nostrils. The razor sharp juices felt almost corrosive as they dribbled down the back of my throat imprinting a foul taste in my mouth as they went.
I tried and tried to resist, but Grandma stood strong and immovable – she was not going anywhere and I was not getting out of having this medicine. So I surrendered and she sat with me, watched over me and prayed for me. My private moments with Grandma – mostly silent but full of tough love.
The remedy didn’t work so in the end we went to the doctors and the bleeding was stopped – a story for another day.
But that is my strongest memory of Grandma – I remember her as wiry, strong, tough and joyful with a twinkle in her eye – full of love for her family.