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Rated: E · Fiction · Romance/Love · #2312406
Love of a Grandmother
The cold and sterile atmosphere in the hospital ward was impersonal and did not do anything to comfort Elisha. She sat by the bed where her best friend rested, so still. Her best friend was also her grandmother whom she called Grammie Willie.

Elisha stared at her grandmother’s still placid face for the longest time and her memory flashed down memory lane to more than 30 years ago. She was then five years old.

She was four years old and her mother Tiffany was holding her hands and literally dragging her down the lane towards her grandmother’s house.

Elisha had been too weak and small, and allowed her mother to drag her, whimpering as she was hungry, hurting and tired. Her weak protestation had been met with a slap and a scream of Shut Up!!

Her mother in bellbottom pants, high heeled platform shoes and a flowery halter top with her long curly black hair was as beautiful as an angel. She was once a kind and angelic figure in Elisha’s life, but drugs alcohol and debauched men had transformed her into a snarling glaring witch.

Tiffany had lost her job several months ago that day, as a receptionist in a hotel. She had been absent too many times and her friends who had stood up for her had given up.

The management had caught up on her many absent days, her slack attitude and rudeness to hotel guests, and gave her a warning letter. That did not deter her, and she blatantly went against rules, smoking at the front desk and being drunk on duty.

Her attitude of course did not endear her to the bosses and one fine day she got her termination letter with a three months’ salary compensation, which was kind actually.

Tiffany had gone home that day and thrashed the house in her rage. Elisha saw that side of her then and knew that her life as a loved child was over. She wished she had a father, but she never knew one as she was a ‘love’ child. The result of her mother’s union with the flower children…any man…it was free love after all.

After that incident their life went down to the pits, there were long instances when there was no food, and long instances when her mother disappeared and Elisha had to climb up to the shelves to eat anything in boxes including cereals and biscuits.

She found some powdered stuff one day and in trying to get it made it spill to the floor instead. It did not look like food so she left it there. When her mother came home a day later, looking almost sober, she saw the mess and went into a rage so fierce and ugly that Elisha ran out of the house and hid among the plants.

Her mother found her of course and grabbed her in, and slapped her around. She did not know how long her abuse went or her screaming, but soon she lost her voice and went silent, just feeling the whack and smack on her small body.

As she sat there against the wall, numbed and trembling, she heard the door bell and a voice and then her mother’s voice. It seemed to be an argument. And then the door slammed, and Elisha was scooped up by her mother and brought out of the house. She was thrown into the back seat of the car and then the long drive began. Through the drive, her mother smoked and berated her, calling her stupid, a bad luck blob, a specimen of the devil. Elisha just kept quiet. She thought that she must indeed be bad for being called such and being beaten to an inch of her life.

An hour later, her mother pulled up along the road, and started crying. Her tears were cascades that got through wracking sobs, and low wails. Her head on the steering wheel, she shuddered through her tears. Elisha looked on in horror. After a while, her mother composed herself and drove on. They reached her Grandmother’s house in the country late in the evening, and that was the first time Elisha set eyes on her mother’s mother. She could not believe her eyes as they looked like twins.

Her grandmother had the same long black curly hair, the slim body and deep penetrating eyes. She however looked kind and warm.

The two women looked at each other for the longest time, and Elisha had expected them to embrace, but that never happened. Tiffany had just pushed her towards the older woman, Wilhelmina, and said ‘Take this stupid kid…” and then she walked away.

Wilhelmina or Grammie Willie to Elisha later, took the thin dirty child into her arms and hugged her for the longest time.

Elisha felt the tears in her eyes as she jolted back from Memory Lane; her Grammie moved one of her hands and she held it tenderly.
“I owe you so much Grammie…” she whispered.

The ward was silent, except for the constant bleep of the EKG monitor.
Her grandmother moved her head a little but she did not open her eyes. The tube going into her nose and an IV on her arm, made her look like a grotesque scientific experiment. Elisha stared at her face, so worn and lined now and recalled how brilliantly beautiful she used to be. She teared up and her thoughts went back to the years past.

On the pavement of her house so long ago, Elisha remembered again how she trembled as her grandmother embraced her. She had clung to the older woman who hushed her and rocked her in her arms. She felt a sense of coming home then.

The days ahead were spent with her grandmother in quietness, there were no screams or shouts, and there were no loud noises. The house where her grandmother lived in was surrounded by tall trees, and an orchard. There were flowers and vegetables thriving side by side around the house. There were also a few free ranged chicken and ducks running around. The pond at the far end of the garden was always occupied by ducks.

Elisha learned the real sense of tranquillity. Any normal child would have hankered for television but she only wanted peace quiet and love. She missed her mother every day, the way they were, laughter and bedtime stories, but she also learned to love her Grammie Willie. She was different somehow, strong and active.

After a couple of month, Grammie had enrolled her in a kindergarten. This was also new to her as she never had any schooling. She did not know how to read or spell. Going to the school was interesting and to Elisha it was also enjoyable. She met so many girls her own age that she could relate to and talk to.

She soon had a best friend named of Sheena, whom she sat with and chat to everyday. Elisha was so happy. She would come home every day and tell her Grammie about Sheena and how the other girl had a big farm house and that her parents owned more livestock than Grammie.

The elderly woman had smiled and asked the little girl if that bothered her. Elisha in her happiness had hugged her Grammie and said that she loved Grammie, and the house and the pond and the fish and the ducks…and she named all the animals around her, that the older woman laughed, swung her around and made her pick tomatoes for dinner. It was indeed the happiest moment of Elisha’s life.

On her sixth birthday, her Grammie had organised a small party for her and six other little girls. She had placed a table cloth on a huge tree stump that adorned her garden, and served the boisterous girls lemonade and orange juice, cookies and cupcakes as well as a chocolate cake that she baked herself.

The children sang Happy Birthday and stood around in delight as the birthday girl blew out the candle, and cut the cake. Soon after they were filled with cakes, cookies and fruits; the happy group ran around playing chase and pin the tail on the donkey. Elisha had a blast.

Later that Sunday afternoon, when the young guests have been fetched by their parents, Elisha snuggled with her Grammie on the chair-swing.
“Thank you so much for my birthday Grammie….so much!” she had whispered, her eyes closing as sleep took over. She felt her Grammie’s arms tightened against her and all was well in the world.

It was a sudden movement that woke Elisha up, her Grammie had stood up and she felt it. She held on tighter, her eyes still closed in sleepiness.
And then she was cruelly wrenched from her Grammie’s arms. Her eyes fluttered open and in horror saw that she was held by her mother, who was holding out a knife at her Grammie.

“What are you doing, Tiffany?” Grammie screamed.
“I want money, Willie…I want you to pay me for her…!” her mother screamed back.
“But you brought her to me…and after all those months. Its been more than a year….” Grammie stammered.
“I don’t care Willie…I don’t care! I just want the money. I don’t care…I could bring her and strangle her and throw her somewhere…but I believe you love this ugly monkey….so if you do, give me the money…or I will just break her neck right here and now….!” The younger woman said.

“Ooooh Fannie, please. Come home, I will take care of you. I know you lost your home and job, but you will be alright. Come home, Fannie, I will take care of you…you can get cleaned up and get a job…we will be together, all of us. It will be like old time….okay?” Willie said, gently.

“What makes you think that I want to be with you, or even want this little cunt eh? You stupid dyke!” Elisha screamed.

There was utter silence. Nothing stirred. Elisha felt the ground came up to meet her.

She came back to the present with tears in her eyes. Elisha pushed her chair nearer to her grandmother’s bed, and gently rested her head on the mattress. She sighed. She felt tired as it had been a hectic week.

She had gone to see her grandmother in the nursing home where she found the older lady on the floor. Grammie Willie had fallen out of her bed. The staff had called an ambulance which then brought her to the hospital. Elisha who visited her every evening before going home had gone with her and when they had found out that the old lady had suffered a stroke and had to be hospitalised, she had gone to her grandmother’s bedside every day.
Elisha sighed again, and closed her eyes.

On that fateful afternoon when her mother Tiffany returned, Elisha felt like it was the end of her world, her happiness and everything else that matters. She fell to the ground released by her mother from a vice like grip, and laid there stunned looking at the sky, gasping.

“Tiffany…” Grammie Willie had uttered the voice full of sadness.

“Oh…don’t you Tiffany me, old woman. I know what you are…o yes! My father left because he could not stand to be with you anymore! You were in love with a woman!” Tiffany spat, all the contempt and hatred she felt for her mother surfacing on her beautiful face,

“It was not like that Fannie…even if you hate me, don’t think it was like that. Your father left us for different reasons…” Grammie pleaded.

“Oh please!! Cut that out…I don’t believe a word you say. I know that Gloria woman was here…she was your best friend, wasn’t she , Willie…she came here to console you, didn’t she….by getting into bed with you….!”

No…! it was not like that at all….”

“Liar! You stinking liar!”

“Listen Fannie….listen,” Willie yelled as she strode towards her daughter.

“No you listen, old woman! You give me the money for that…that…”
“Fannie….I was never with Gloria. She came to visit us when I called her. Your father was leaving me and I had to have someone to talk to…”

“Liar…!! I won’t listen to your lies anymore…!!”

“Its true, Fannie…please listen! Your father had to go…he was sick, Fannie. He could not live with us any longer. He had leprosy, that’s why he left…and he never returned. He was in Foreign Service, remember….He loved us, Fannie, but he had to leave.”

Tiffany was quiet for the longest time and then she screamed. Her scream was so loud and forced that she did not sound human at all. She then ran towards the older woman.

Elisha had grabbed the knife that had fallen near her and rush…screaming too.

Her mother ran towards her grandmother, but looked back, and that was then that she fell as her platform shoes gave way on the soft soil. She fell towards Elisha and on her with a resounding whump.

Elisha felt the breath squashed off her and everything went swimmy for a while, until her Grammie got her out from under her mother.

“Oh Elly….oooh Elly…!” her Grammie moaned, as Elisha looked at the red liquid on her hands and chest.

Her mother moved and whispered ‘Gimmie that…” and Elisha looked down at her. Her mother grabbed the knife that was still in her grasp, and then she hid it under her.

“Go awaaaayyyy!!” her mother screamed, throatily and went still.

A neighbour who heard the screams ran up to see what was going on. Seeing the woman on her stomach with blood seeping out and the older woman cradling a dazed child and rocking her back and forth a few yards away, she summed up that something very wrong had occurred. She then called an ambulance.

Elisha did not remember what really occurred after that, but the funeral was almost lonely. Only Grammie Willie and her cousin Joe and his wife came. After the funeral Elisha sat quietly on the sofa, watching the black-clothed people milling around. Her best friend’s Sheena came with her mother for tea later that day. Sheena had told her that her mother was a suicide according to her mother. Elisha did not understand.

The episode was only mentioned years later when Elisha was going to college and leaving the house for the first time.

Her Grammie had said, “You know I will never really know if your mother ran to me to reconcile or to strangle me. But in the end, she was an angel. She loved us, deep within her, she did.”

Elisha had merely nodded.

On the hospital bed, Elisha smiled in her sleep, as her Grammie Willie opened her eyes and her hand moved to stroke the long curly hair. Wilhelmina breathed her last, as her beloved grandchild dreamed of Elysian Fields.-ends
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