Memories of my childhood have been on my mind recently. In particular, I remember one person whose smouldering love is unforgettable.
She brought my father to this world. As a child, I remember her causing a lot of stress for my parents. I really didn’t know what she did but I remember whenever her name came up tension would rise in the air. So much tension that a knife could cut through.
Without being told, I started disliking her. A woman I once loved so much and could not wait to tell all my school tales during the holidays. She was the first reason I kept a journal. I would have a draft of everything that happened at school so I had enough stories to tell her when my brother and I went to spend holidays in the village. I wondered how and why she never got tired of my talkative self. This same woman is the person I was not allowed to see. This same woman was spreading thick tension in the air whenever her name was mentioned.
There were a lot of hush-hush discussions going on in the house. I could not make much of the discussions but since I was old enough to decipher that there was a problem, I only kept mute and tried to listen more.
Now, she’s long gone to the land of our ancestors. Today after more than sixteen years since her death, I remember her. With a bitter-sweet memory of a grandmother I was once fond of. Not willing to accept the bitter part of our relationship. How it soured and her eventual tragic death. I called my father to investigate what really happened those years.
The question came as a surprise to my father since such discussions never came up between us. Not when I was a child, not at her death or burial. I sighed and told him I wanted closure and did not want my last memories of my grandmother be filled with the pain she caused.
The discussion opened with a shocking revelation. She didn’t do anything in particular and that was where the problem was at the time. There was sibling rivalry at the time amongst her children and she did not take a decision; she didn’t take a stand. Rather she decided to have individual relationships with each child. This decision was causing more rift and dragging a deeper wedge between her children and it just worsened the whole issue.
Heaving a sigh of relief, I discovered this emotional tension is one I had harboured for such a long time. And having this information did two things.
For one, I discovered that my instinct was right not to judge the woman. To have given her the benefit of the doubt to have love her despite what seemed like I have experienced her being convicted for a crime. I believed I knew her enough to trust her and not judge.
The second thing is that this situation confirmed that many of us shared the blame in this situation. Too many of us were self-righteous – so consumed with the idea of righteousness that we let bad become worse. We let our society go haywire. We say to ourselves, as long as we are not affected or as long as we are not seriously affected then all is well. Who are we kidding?
Evil exists because good men choose to be silent. Bad things continue to happen because you and I refuse to do anything about it. Family feuds become bloody because we are silent. I already feel a sense of relief and forgiveness towards my grandmother. I now have closure and peace in the fact that my grandma’s memory is preserved but I wonder how many family members have become distant. How many broken homes, how many friendships have been destroyed because of incomplete information, assumption, and lack of trust.
If you’re on the other end of a frayed relationship and you still care for that person, I encourage you to wave the white flag, investigate and forgive. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those hurting from the pain of difficult relationships today. May the Lord heal you and give you lasting peace.