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Watching gran-daddy take his baby steps


There he was, his walker behind him, his walking stick on the ground in front of him. Let me mention the characters in this narrative: there is gran-daddy whom you already know who lives in a town called Nigeria you have to take a aeroplane to reach because there is so much bush and forest between here and there.

There is also gran-mummy, who is not gran-daddy’s wife. She lived in a town called Zim where mummy sent left over food from time to time. And also cloths. There are mummy and daddy, and my sister and I. Now the narrative can go on. Then mummy calls SH, that is Saturday help. Which reminds me that the narrative is not complete without the Saturday Help and the All Week Help. Two people could not be more different from one another. All Week was older, much older than Saturday. With daughters and sons. All Week wore a trench coat all day except when she’s ready to leave on Friday. Both did the same things: looked after us, worked the washing machines and cleaned the house. They also help to manage the heaps of toys which occupy one sitting room.

There he was. . . but how did he get here? We woke up one morning in July to find him in the study. Asleep. In spite of the fact that he was sleeping he was the talk of the house. My sister and especially I are usually the talk of the house. I must stay close to him then.

He came from Nigeria a troublesome place unlike Zim an empty place. They could not look after him there hence they brought him here.


He stayed at home for some time and then he went to hospital. The way he left for the hospital was not nice, like we would never see him again. Especially since my sister and I couldn’t go into the hospital to see him. Children under some age were not allowed into the hospital. But he came back and he slept less and noticed us rather more than before.

Then, one morning he was off to the hospital again. But this time he was cheerful and we waved good bye knowing he would be back soon. As we expected so it happened. He came back with white patches of plaster over his body but he was even more cheerful. Except that he had a temple set up in the bath room. Before he went to the hospital he had showers lasting for so long.

Now, he had this set up with chair and upside down drum with a bowl placed on it. The upside down part was a wonder to those no explanation was provided. That’s why Saturday turned it upside right thinking that someone was not right in the head turning everything upside down. Anyway Grandaddy sat in chair, squeezes some bath liquid in the bowl, and then proceeds to do a Zulu bath.

The Zulu in the mine camps do this type of bathing. You dip the face towel into bowl of foaming water, twisted water out of the face towel, and then rub the part of the body chosen for cleaning. First the case, remembering to clean behind ear and within the ear. Then the arms, avoiding the plastered area. Then the thighs and legs. Each rubbing is followed with a big towel rub to clean off the soapy water. Some times the part of the body cleaned is dry before the big towel came, but no matter. With the whole body portioned and cleaned our Zulu Granpa was ready to leave the bath room. He ties a large white towel around his body and he begins to walker-walk to the study, his bedroom. He lifts the walker, follows with the right leg and then the left. Up the three steps that separated the bathroom level to the mid-sitting room level All of Daddy helped him up the steps. It is the same when he wished to stay in uppermost level of the house with four steps.

One bright winter day Grandaddy decided to walker-walk outside the house, to get some sun. Outside the ground was not level and he had to be careful how he went. Out side the house, left to the tree shade he complained that he was tired, he needed to rest.

One of the dining table chairs were brought. As soon as he sat down he fainted. Just like that. Gone! Aunty and Mommy called the ambulance and within minutes a man and a young woman arrived in an ambulance. The driver must be in the ambulance. By which time Grandaddy was back alive. The ambulance pair introduced themselves. They took his bp and pronounced it satisfactory. They asked him if he wanted to be taken to the hospital, he was fine.

“Well, we can take him to the hospital against his wish,” said Zwalakhe, the man. “He says he’s fine.” With that they took off the bp machine, greeted everybody, Aunty and Mommy thanked them and they left. Luckily Grandaddy did not go into one of his tiresome comparison of South Africa with Nigeria. Like “Where would you find ambulance three minutes from your house? Impossible! In your dreams! The politicians have stolen all the money!”
“You scared us Daddy!” Aunty said.

“It happened before,” Grandaddy said casually. “I was receiving blood in the hospital. That time I knew I was fainting seconds before I passed out. This time I felt nothing. I must be so tired!”
He got up with willing help from Aunty and Mommy. He took his walker and walked back into the house, down the steps and into his room.

So, we all were used to see the walker walk Grandaddy in the house and around the house. Imagine that morning, himself standing in front of the walker taking one hesitant step after another. “Why don’t you use your walking stick,” advised Mommy. Remember the Physio said after walker, then walking stick, and then you walk on your own.” So, the walking stick was fetched and there Grandaddy was, taking his Granbabby walk!!!


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