“How do you do it?” Bethel asked, through tear stained eyes
“Do what?” Granny’s hands reached out to rub her hair neatly tucked in seven fat zanen yawo (cornrow) lanes.
“Exist. Live. stay sane in this broken world?” she responded, her position causing a reverberation of her voice on her grandmother’s thighs. Granny tilted her face until they locked eyes and Bethel could see the cataracts clouding her eyes, her tobacco and kola-stained teeth up close, and feel that old, familiar breath that was more stale than anything, on her face. Then Granny said on a soft whisper,
“Existing is painful. It is joy and sorrow with a dash of hope. The cocktail of mankind, our daily lot. You can not live in this world without knowing pain and peace. It is you grieving the loss of your mother and celebrating the birth of a little brother. You can not separate the two my canary. To love is to hurt.” She concluded, her eyes closing dramatically as she always did when a horrible memory flashed through her mind. Granny has lived through eight decades and half, she has known and lost more people than anyone Bethel ever knew.
“Why?” Bethel’s lips trembled with the question as her own fresh grief flooded her.
“Because, we are living, breathing, walking stories my canary. Stories need plots. They need a stage, conflict, purpose, passion and they need characters. Our journey through life moulds us into characters and we have to enter and exit the stories of others. We can not remain on their stage forever. We must learn to embrace the departure with grace as we do the entrance. On a small sigh, Granny said “ even if it hurts. Especially when it hurts, because that is living. Living is feeling.”