As we sprinkled damp soil in the deep hole, tears dripped gently and had to glide down my cheeks. I watch the grave diggers gently pile soil on your coffin. The thoughts, the memories of a fallen hero, a friend, a teacher, a role model and grandfather continuously keep showing up. “You are still alive,” I try to convince myself. Hours earlier I struggled to make a speech. There were thousands of people at our home to say goodbye and I couldn’t talk about you. It was overwhelming for us your grand-children. We could not avoid it but think of how soon you were gone.
When we were young, we had a craving to visit your home every holiday. Your stories about our origins and the lessons we could learn from them. The knowledge and wise words you would offer were only for you. At your age, you had seen it all from the wars, the regime changes and the brutal/harsh treatment.
“You look out for yourself and the friends you have,” You would tell us. “Be careful, not all the friends you make have want the best for you. Some of them want to use you so they can get to a certain level,” you would caution.
I remember at your burial, that politician who lied about your thoughts on the current regime in power. If I am to remember your words and the clippings you gave me, you had always cautioned me to be careful with the current regime in power.
You specifically pointed out how agriculture was on the decline and you squarely blamed the current regime.
“We used to get more money from our tea estates when we had co-operatives. This government seems to have less concern for us,” You once told me.
Your stories on courage and the suffering you went through while reaching out for the people near Queen Elizabeth National Park. I remember your story on the encounter with a lion, an elephant and buffalo. There is that buffalo horn in the house. A souvenir for the achievement you had made after killing that animal (With help from two men).
The suffering and torture you went through when preaching the word of God in witchcraft infested area (Buyaruguru). How you were scorned, rejected, spitted at and at times received death threats. But you remained unshaken to the point that you eventually transformed that place.
Your faith was always an inspiration. You never abandoned God. You believed he had all the answers in this world. Even when grandma passed away, you kept strong. Your faith was also clearly shown in the disappointment you had for the church. You never liked how the church was very “secretive”. How reverends and canons were committing horrific acts of evil and yet continued to grow within the ranks of the church.
Your selfless nature was probably the greatest fruit that you had grandpa. You and grandma only had one child (My mother) but looking at all the people who had taken care of, you would have probably been one of the richest men in Western Uganda. You never loathed material possessions and all you wanted, was for people around you to be happy. You took care of so many people and they were all at the burial to say goodbye.
Thank you grandpa for all that you taught me. Each time I saw you and we talked, I learnt something new. I remember at a time when the teenage boy in me was about to end my academic lifestyle. You stood by me and got me a place at a High school. It was clear you believed I would change and become the person I am right now when some people had already given up on me. When I finally became a scribe, you were always proud of me and each time you meet people you tell them of your grandson who had become a journalist. Thank you gramps.
For the past few days, I have been thinking about you grandpa. Whenever I talk to my family, we seem to reach a consensus that you are alive. It’s hard to believe that you were placed six feet under. You were only diagonized with cancer last year and it is shocking how soon you had to leave us. There are so many cruel people who were always jealous of how much you loved and cared for us. In us you are still alive although we miss you greatly. You are irreplaceable in our lives.