The news had come to me in the evening as I prepared dinner. I had returned from jogging earlier on in the evening and sunk into my daily routine of putting my dinner to steam while I took a shower. I hadn’t had the chance to settle my nerves from the run when I was interrupted by a phone call from my brother. He announced sadly that our grandfather had passed away and his funeral was planned for the end of the following week. He mentioned how upset my mum was and I immediately made the decision to travel.
The events that followed were vague to anything I was used to. In less than a week I was on a plane from Paris to Douala after having mapped my route to coincide with the travel inventory of close relatives that lived in France. We entered Douala at dusk and the welcoming heat at the airport almost melted surfaces of skin off my body. After an emotional reception from my mum and other relatives we were led to my grand parent’s home. This was a good omen giving the circumstances as the huskiness in my voice and the crowd in the airport had made it difficult for me to say much when we landed.
Days passed by with lightning speed as we all chipped in, to comfort one another from the loss. Eventually the burial day came by and we were led into what appeared to be the equivalent of a mortuary to see my grandfather before his coffin was closed. He lay peacefully as though in a deep sleep and I watched him with curiosity rather than sadness. He had lived into his early eighties and I felt there was very little more one could ask for given the adventures he had enjoyed through his life. As others mourned at his loss I watched him thinking of the smile in his spirit. He had been a man of character living the life of a king and bringing so much into the world, having a large family of children and grandchildren that now mourned his departure. I couldn’t see what others saw. I understood their loss but for me he was alive in the spirit and only lay asleep. My grand dad died in the hands of my mum through illness and as tough as this might have seemed my mum had coped well knowing that he was a man that had lived a complete life. Seeing him now lying there made me remember one of the interesting stories that my mum had shared with us about his youth.
In my grandfather’s youth there was very little if any conventional means of transport as we have today. I daresay even if there was any at the time my grand father was not in a position to afford it. Besides it wasn’t necessary as the towns were vastly spaced with the adjoining roads merely stretches of paths cut into the forest. It was a period most famous for arranged marriages and my grandfather had set out early one morning with the intention of seeking his bride and starting a family. He traveled a distance on canoe holding unto his bike as he passed the swampy rivers of the humid environment and eventually having crossed the River Mongo in the central parts of the country he entered the vicinity of my grand mother’s village. He rode proudly into town hoping to be a handsome suitor to any of the beautiful girls he knew that could be relinquished from the village. He had eventually stopped at my grand mother’s door having heard from reliable sources of the number of girls that were available in her household. At the time my grand mother was already spoken for given to a man by her father yet on seeing my grand dad ride in on his bike she immediately sought refuge with her mum. She declared her attraction for my grand father and persuaded her mum to change the decision of her father. In that instance things being what they are and destiny being written by one supreme the confusion was resolved and they eventually married.
As I stood in the little room and watched my grandfather lying peacefully I relived this story in my mind. His past had not died with him but lived through his spirit as even after so many years I could still visualize a time in his youth. Many years may have seen the time of day yet his spirit through his youth lived on as I remembered a story that he had told his daughter. In a way I knew that if I passed on this story then he would live even longer through the memory of my children and grand children. In a simple concept I had found another path to spiritual wisdom. This was another interpretation of the word of the Lord and it was fascinating to see how much it meant to my spiritual journey.
The word of the Lord is told to us from the past yet even today we live our lives based upon these stories as if they are events that happened of recent. Watching my grand father made me remember my youth and the many stories that he had told us. In a flash from the past he was coming alive to me even in death by relating his past in volumes through thoughts that I had never really pondered about until then. As a child growing up in a country that was filled with superstitious ancestry, all the stories told then had a profound meaning to one’s imagination. We heard stories of times gone by when people survived events that could send a chill up one’s spine. My granddad had told us of an accident he had witnessed where a man was torn in half by a train and carried on talking even after his accident asking of his family and friends. As simple as it may sound today with all the rational explanations one could attribute to this, back then hearing this story as a child and the reasons associated with the mysteries behind them would have scared the life out of anyone. One went to bed then, scared out of your wits and wondering when your time would come to face the big bad wolf. Eventually as I grew up I realized that this wolf wasn’t out there to fight it was in man and the negative thoughts associated with his imagination that concocted evil. Evil was not in nature or the way the world was created, evil came with man and his desires and this was something that one had to fight through life to stay focused on the path of the Lord.