By: Adut Wol Akec
My grandmother is the reason I love unconditionally.
She had a way about her love that left an imprint on all her kids. I’m her kid’s child and even I have that same imprint. It’s not something I can describe, it’s something I can sense, I can feel it, in the air, in my heart and even in my memories. It just floats there, hovering over everything that is my being. I know it’s her love because I can recognise it’s warmth and texture.
My grandmother loved us, she loved us like she loved her husband, her siblings and her children.
Even at our worst, she was there.
At our best.
At her worst.
At her best.
She loved us even harder when we left, she never let go. From across the ocean I could still feel her grip.
She loved us while we were gone.
Even when I returned home to her with unfamiliar tongue, weight and height, she still recognise the love she left on me.
I liked watching her, everywhere she sat I adored her with my eyes and heart.
I loved watching her do her thing,
Drinking her cold beer or eating her small meal.
A small meal which she still forced the little ones to share with her.
Even when she was yelling at the little ones to behave, I enjoyed it.
I spent most of my time just watching her from a distance. Most of the time I tried to dodge her, and figure out how to hurt her less. I was afraid of how the news of my foreign tongue was going to sound in her ears. I didn’t want to speak to her not because I was afraid to speak to her, not because I couldn’t speak to her but because I was ashamed that I had forgotten our language. The language that told stories and formed memories of us.
I had forgotten.
My grandmother couldn’t speak English and even if she did I still would have wanted her to speak in our native tongue. Our native tongue was one thing that held us so tightly together, but I had forgotten it. And with that came a fear of what my grandmother would think of me.
Would she love me less now that I am nothing but a moving picture?
I was afraid if she knew I forget our language she would think I had forgotten her too.
I was afraid she would think I forgot all the memories, laughter and love we shared
At 18 years of age and weighing 80kg, my frail grandmother forced me to sit on her lap.
I was reluctant at first because she was so frail, all I saw was bones, flesh, and love.
She looked at me and slapped her thighs repeatedly, these are my thighs, you used to sit here and you will continue to sit here.
Creative Direction: Adeola Naomi
Photography: Wonuola Lawal
Adut Wol Akec
Is a South Sudanese writer who currently resides in Australia.
She took up writing as a means of distraction to keep her awake in class until one of her teachers found some of her work and encouraged her to take her talent further.
She now writes for therapy, as a way to put some voices to sleep inside her.
She leaves bits and pieces of her writing on Tumblr and Instagram. @Adutwol