Early this year, before my oldest son left for university , we went to visit Grandma A. I felt it necessary because I heard she was immobile so I knew we had to go and see her. I wanted her to meet my children, her grand children. She is my father in law’s brother’s wife. I am not sure how I should call her, but she is the grandmother of my children. Her late husband, my father in law’s brother was the person my son K was named after. In these parts extended family can become close family. It really takes a village to bring up our children.
When you are named after a family member, a bond is born and you end up revering the person. Now Grandpa’s children see my son K as their father. Not necessarily a replacement since he is young, but they give him the respect they would give to their father. That is the power of names, in Ghana.
At school a group of us have a book club. We are reading Sara Ahmed’s book, Being The Change, as part of our discussion of Chapter one, we shared the ‘stories of our names’. It was a truly powerful discussion that did not only reveal our names but the history, family, culture, friendship, locations, gender, language and sentimental stories. These are a few of the areas and themes shared from the stories of our names. K’s name is a significant part of his being, Grandma tells us he is just like her late husband who was a senior policeman and a true gentleman. At age 18, K is a true gentleman, all six feet of him, a responsible policeman and a tender hearted human being. Grandma calls him, my husband.
After the visit in the new year, I promised to visit Grandma every month and have kept my word. This month she beat me to it. From her bed in a tiny room of her marital cottage, she called me. That was a surprise phone call.
Juliette, she croaked, “I have made you some of the plantain chips K likes please send for them anytime.”
“Grandma, I’ll send for them on Saturday when I come to your area.” I promised and totally forgot.
Early Monday morning, Grandma called again,
“Juliette are you at school?” “Send for the plantain chips, I have kept some for you.”
I felt embarrassed and hid behind the phone call. I thanked her and quickly sent for the parcel.
Grandma, has the recipe for the most delicious crispy, lightly fried, thinly sliced ,salted, plantain chips. She has taught her house help to make it. From the bed she controls the affairs of her kitchen. She gives us enough to feed a village, I share it with my friends.
This is a slice of gratitude and a reminder that you are never too old to care. She feels obliged to take care of us and does not forget us at her age, she is almost ninety and is still caring for all of us.