When Language is Lost the Love Remains

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.











Image credits:

Creative Direction: Adeola Naomi

Photography: Wonuola Lawal

Model: Saffa

Hair: Favour

Makeup: Jo



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


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

18. July 2017 at 16:28

Your grandma is such a beautiful sould from your words. I wish I can grow to be like her . You are blessed to have each other . Such an inspiring article.

18. July 2017 at 19:22

Beautiful piece! Reminded me so much of my grandmother!!!

18. July 2017 at 20:38

The relationship you have with your grandmother is beautiful.

Teresa Daw
19. July 2017 at 2:59

Love this piece Adut, wish I had the opportunity to return back home and see my grand mother when she was still with us, to share and reminisce on all the beautiful memories of when I was younger.

20. July 2017 at 5:46

I love the way you write. You have a gift of pulling the reader into what they are reading and opens up the imagination to visualize you sitting on your grandmothers lap, her sharing her food with the smaller kids, etc. Great piece.

21. July 2017 at 4:16

This really is beautiful. The last time I saw my grandmother she was really frail, but she was still so strong. Her laugh was the strongest.

21. July 2017 at 7:04

I loved this story and your writing style. To me this piece tells the story of how universal love is, it really has no language. The relationship you have with your grandmother is beautiful.

21. July 2017 at 14:11

What a beautiful ode to your grandmother. She sounds amazing and I love the essence of this black girl magic of this photoshoot to evoke the emotion of your love for her.

21. July 2017 at 14:22

What a beatiful depiction of your grandmother and her love for you. I love reading stories like this! You are pretty btw.

21. July 2017 at 14:24

This was a beautiful piece about your Grandmother! Sorry for your loss, may she rest in peace. Beautiful imagery as well.

21. July 2017 at 14:31

A grandmother’s love is so precious. They love us unconditionally! I have two grandbabies now and they bring so much joy to my heart. It’s beautiful.

21. July 2017 at 14:45

Nothing like a grandmother’s love. I had that and I cherish it to this day.

21. July 2017 at 15:32

This a beautiful piece. Your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman!

Elle (CleverlyChanging)
21. July 2017 at 16:53

Very heartfelt. I enjoyed reading about her grandmother’s love.

23. July 2017 at 14:12

The bond between a grandmother and grandchild is special; there is nothing like a grandmother’s love. You’ve expressed that in your writing.

26. July 2017 at 4:11

This piece along with these photos are beautiful. I wish that I knew my cultures native tongue I encourage you to learn it again.

Distinguished Diva

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