Granny wont pay for sweat



Around this time last year my sweet maternal grandmother (who had vowed upon her life and the lives of others that she would NEVER set foot in Kampala again) suffered a fall which significantly compromised the design of her skeleton, and she had to be brought here suddenly for treatment.

In an unusual and shocking cooperation of my fates, this coincided with a time when I was working only evenings and got to stay home for the bulk of the day.

What followed were the best days of my entire life as I got to spend A LOT of time with her and it turned out the injury wasn’t as bad as it looked (it corrected itself eventually).
We shared so much and she found it strange, perhaps even troubling, how fascinated I was with her. I had previously not seen much of her in my adult days and my only childhood memories of her are as bitter as the herbs she had always forced me to drink and the several beatings she earned me from my mother when most of my veggies were discovered in my pockets or under the table. She detested my mischief and I her lack of solidarity.

Now here we were- both women.

She’s a tiny little woman with a lovely smile and strange laugh that sounds like she’s labouring through various protests from her rib cage to deliver. Nonetheless she’s faithful to this endeavour and manages to ALWAYS laugh and smile.
A tiny little thing that usually nestles herself in a corner. You could in fact easily walk past her, believing it to be a bundle of someone’s laundry. But in this small package is so much wealth, humour and insight.
I could never exhaustively relay the wealth she left me with, but I always remember her very eye-opening take on most of my activities that caused me to STOP- and think. They were usually simple moments that had profound depth.

One day, I returned home with my face pale and eyes, a light pink tint.
She looked at me and let out a shriek!
Between laughter and sighs and the continuous shaking of her head, she was thorough in her description of the ghost I looked like.
I explained to her that I had been to the gym and thereafter, the steam bath. I had simply forgotten to put some moisturiser on my face.

She asked me more about the steam bath and as I explained in far greater detail than she cared for, her facial expressions shifted between mild amusement and piercing bewilderment.

Finally she asked, “and so do you pay for this activity?”

“of course we do,” I responded.

She looked at me with eyes drier than the pale skin of my face. I could see that something had left her face. I continued to search her little face for the thing that had left. I found out that it was ‘hope’ when she responded…

“I’m not sure whether it’s a privileged or foolish generation that BUYS sweat.”


Rita Kwenkazi


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