THE WOODEN BOWLS
Last week, Junior, Missy and I went to visit grandpa (Obinna’s dad). We arrive on time and make our entrance and I felt so good seeing grandma again. She was looking frail, I must confess, but she still had something nice to say to each one of us. Lately the arthritis had escalated and her hands were shaking.
Obinna and his ‘latest’ walk in and after pleasantries have been exchanged we walk to the dining room and take our seats while we waited for grandpa to make his entrance. I wasn’t so fond of ‘grandpa’ he was manipulative and cruel. Unfortunately, he was still full of life and still made absurd demands (our compulsory Sunday lunch being one of them). He walks in and offers a grunt at our greetings. Grandma shuffles in and takes her seat on her a wooden table and chair by the corner of the room set with wooden bowls. Why isn’t she on the table? I am about to ask the question out loud but Junior beats me to it.
“Why isn’t grandma sitting with us on the dinning table, grandpa?”
“She is pretty old and her hands shake a lot when she eats. Food rolls off her spoon and messes up the table cloth. It is very irritating and messy and particularly embarrassing when I have guests. She has even broken a dish or two because of her unstable hands. So I have set the table at the corner for her to have her meal in the wooden bowls”.
Junior looks at him cooly. Obinna nods his head as he chews his food. I almost weep with pain. I almost scream with disgust
Oh my God. This man is so cruel. I fight the tears that threaten to fall. I glance in grandma’s direction and I noticed she had a tear in her eyes as she sat alone. My Junior notices it too and looks away but it is clear he has lost his appetite.
Today was another Sunday and though I didn’t want to go, I had to for grandma’s sake. How sad she must be in that house with a cruel husband. Junior had insisted on carrying his backpack to grandpa’s place. I couldn’t imagine why since he didn’t have any homework to do. I let him anyway. The ride to grandpa’s house was uneventful. We got there and exchanged pleasantries again. This time, Obinna and was waiting alone.
As we sat down to lunch (grandma in her corner), Junior opened his back pack and brought out four wooden bowls with a flourish.
“This is for you, grandpa”, he says as he hands him two of the bowls.
“This is for you, dad”, he says again as he hands the other two bowls to his surprised dad.
“What are they for”, grandpa asks.
We all look to Junior to hear what he has to say.
He responds sweetly as he fills his mouth jollof rice, “The bowls are for you and dad, to be used to eat in your respective corners when you are in grandma’s condition”.
“Whatttttttttt!!!!!!!”, Obinna thunders.
“Take it easy dad”, Junior replies, “In church last week, we learnt to do unto other what we want others to do to us. So I figured you put grandma in that corner because you wouldn’t mind staying there too, like an outcast, when you also begin to mess up the table.”
He turns and looks at grandma and asks with a straight face “Isn’t that right gran” and I look at grandma and see that she smiling. She wobbles up on her feet and shuffles to her grandson and gives him a kiss on the head.
Smiling, I glance at Obinna and his father, their heads are bowed as they ponder, I hope, on the lesson learnt from my amazing son today.