My Grandma’s house was a tiny house. The neighbourhood situated in was made out of tiny houses with no character. The people living in the houses had enough character for themselves and their small buildings.
People didn’t have much money, but no one ever starved. The women were always cooking things in big pots. On some days it was chicken, and on other days, it was the feet of the chicken. It never bothered the men, because they drank so much that they forgot to eat.
I loved sitting in the little room. It was the only room we had upstairs. We were the only people in the neighbourhood with an upstairs room. Everyone around us had tiny houses with no staircases inside.
‘Why do we have a room upstairs grandma?’ I would ask as a child.
‘…Because rich people have a double story house.’ I told your grandfather if he could drink like a rich man, then I want to live like a wealthy woman.’
‘Well Loa, how does a rich woman live?’ he would ask her.
‘I don’t know Belial. When I was a teenager I use to clean the houses of the rich people. I saw they had a double story house, a door bell, and two-ply toilet paper.’
The next day my grandfather went to the mountain to carve stone blocks. My grandfather never attended school, but he was excellent in geometry. The stones were perfect in shape and fit perfectly in relation to everything. ‘It is the flower of life’ he would tell me whenever I asked him about his perfect stone craft.
He built a tiny room on top of our house. He sold the other stones that were left over, installed a doorbell and bought two-ply toilet paper.
Although my grandfather beat the living hell out of my grandmother, he would always give her whatever she wanted. He went to the forest and got some wood. He sold it to have money every month for the two-ply toilet paper.
The women in our neighbourhood all envied my grandparent’s relationship. I remember one day my grandpa took the empty bottle of Whiskey and slammed the neck of the bottle across the table. Only sharp splinters remained of what was seconds before the neck of the bottle. He took the bottle and hit my grandma across the face with it. Afterwards, he beat her and bruised her.
As this was happening, the neighbour who was unaware of the fight came for her normal day to day visit. She rang the doorbell. When I opened, I motioned to her that my grandpa was inside and that he was beating my grandma. She found my grandma with a bruised face. Then she went to the bathroom and fetched some toilet paper to help stop the bleeding.
‘Ah, you are very lucky to have a husband like yours, he installed a doorbell for your house, and even the toilet paper I am using is two ply! What a great man he is,’ she said with an envious voice while carefully putting a bandage over my grandma’s beaten eye.
‘Yes, he is. He genuinely loves me! Do you want to see the little room he built for me upstairs?’ my grandma said as she removed the last splinters from her face.
And they both walked upstairs, my grandma leaning on her neighbour, in awe of the loving man my grandfather was.
*This is an excerpt from my book I wrote*