“Hello, mama,” I said, “It’s me, Nakor(u).”
Her sightless eyes shifted back and forth as her face broke into a huge smile. “Nakor(u)! How are you?”
“I am fine, grandmother. I have been sick for the past few days, but I’m getting better. I haven’t seen you in a while – how is your place?”
“I’ve never seen you!” We laughed. “Our place is fine. The baby is well. My daughter” – here she reached out, grasping for her daughter’s hand – “is fine.”
“I’m going home now – my head is hurting. Greet all in Kopetatum.”
“Yes, child, you go home and rest. You will get better. Greet everyone I haven’t seen!”
I love her.
After Kopetatum village burned down last year, we went to see if we could help with the rebuilding. My dear “grandmother”, Tata, who has no family save her daughter and granddaughter, was in need of some help. So I joined them in the mudding of the house. Her daughter, Namer, would carry water and dirt, I would mix it and carry it into the house, and Tata would throw it onto the frame that would support the mud walls.
After a while of bending over, her back became sore, so she took my hand and showed me how to throw the mud onto the walls properly. I took over for her for a while, so that she could go rest. I did what I considered to be a fairly good job, slapping huge chunks of mud into the spaces. Since the house had already been thatched, it was quite dark inside, so it wasn’t an easy job for someone who relied on their eyes. The smoking remains of a fire only added to my discomfort, and soon I was sweating, aching, sooty, and covered in mud.
When Tata returned, she ran her hands over the walls. “No,” she said. “You have to throw harder. It isn’t going deep enough.” She bent down and felt around for the mud pile, not knowing I was already bending over it. Our heads collided with a CRACK. Pain exploded in the back of my head and I fell forwards.
“Ai….aiee…..” As the stars cleared from my vision, I turned and saw Tata clutching her forehead. “Sorry, Tata, sorry…” I said, still reeling.
She moved her hand out of the way and leaned towards me. “Is it bleeding?”
“Okay, good. ” She put her hand on it again. “Aiee….”
When I was leaving, she thanked me. “You can’t give us money.”
“No, I can’t.”
“So you gave us your strength. Thank you for helping me. You are my daughter.”
“Thank you, Tata. I am your daughter.”