Lilies and lavender, overgrown by tufts of grass, are what remains of her. Time cares less about the departed. They are the past and the present, a salient memory.
Time—so much of it has passed. Before the wooden stands filled with crawling insects, when the soil was as red as the blood that went extinct underneath, before the lilies and the lavender… I was only fourteen. Losing my best friend, my confidant, broke me. I stood but cold like a stone—a cracked block; unbelieving, untrusting my mind.
I still see her under that old chepeitet, cedar tree. I can see her imperfect set of teeth, older than I was, warming up a beautiful, indelible smile. It was one of the times she would tell tales of the days and their old ways, knitting something as she spoke, chewing something along with her words. I idolized her—a woman I looked up to, feared, and loved with all my might.
Stories would then shift stations and the old chepeitet would not be enough. We would need fire to poke and sticks for the job. We would need a kettle of tea for our thoughts and brew cocktails of imagination.
I sit at the fireplace now, the stones old, cold, and unused. I poke imaginary flames, thinking how many tales I have to tell—how much I wish grandmother was with me. We would brew and prod, our thoughts sizzling, our bodies close, and our hearts bound. Perhaps she was there with me, a stick in her hand, poking imaginary flames too. Only, I wished I could see, touch, and talk to her.
This is the day she died—the 14th of July. I am twice as old as I once was but I don’t feel old. Most times, I’m 12, cuddled to grandmother and watching her hum.
Chepeitet is Kalenjin (African) for cedar.
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