We were all scared of granny. Like really scared. She wasn’t anything like the American grannies we saw on tv that wore woolen sweaters, sat in rocking chairs and gave out candies. Granny was agile. Her wrapper was always tied firmly around her waist and her blouse never matched it, whether in colour or design. She nearly always had a stern look on her face. She was the symbol of discipline. She would wake us up early to sweep the compound, we were constantly doing dishes and every day we would pound yam.
“You have to be strong.” She would say. Or, “pound that thing like you have bones in your body”
So we were scared. We would scurry like frightened mice whenever she came visiting (which was often), we would sit indoors and not go out to play. It didn’t matter that all the kids in the neighbourhood were out playing ten-ten or building houses with sand or playing catcher. As long as granny was with us, we stayed indoors.
When we were naughty, mum would say
“I’ll report you to granny when she comes next week.” She was the parents’ secret weapon.
We would wail and beg and apologize, and then we would be on our best behavior for one week straight till granny showed up. Often time, mum forgot to report and we would be excited. But with granny in the house, it felt like a military training ground.
That was many years ago when we were much younger and the first set of grandchildren. We grew up, granny grew older, more aunties and uncles got married and had more kids and granny gradually lost her ginger. It was all too much for her to keep up with.
The twins were six years old when they came over for a holiday. Granny was around too. The twins would run up and down the house unhindered. They would yell at the top of their voices and no one could keep up with them. They were the spitting image of mischief. Their eyes twinkled with it, their aura exuded it, they were just it- mischief.
And that day after running up and down the place and ignoring granny’s feeble attempts to keep them calm, one of them snuck up behind her and pinched her on the arm. Granny winced and turned around immediately. The culprit grinned from ear to ear said
“Mama, e pain you?”
For the first time ever, granny did not twist an ear, pull a cheek or send for her cane. She just shook her head and said to no one in particular.
“I’m going to lie down.”