I wonder if Mandela feels like my grandmother at this point in time

June 11, 2013 § 15 Comments

IMG_0680

Old people die because they are old not because they are sick. On January 27 2011, after Nelson Mandela’s hospitalization, he released the following statement, “I am not sick, I am old.”

His most recent hospitalization reminded me of old people within my family. My mother’s side of the family has been blessed with longevity. My grandfather, Alfred Kaiser Boyce, had four siblings, all of them died over the age of 85 bar one who lived a short life of 66 years. To the rest of her siblings, it was like she died a mere teenager. The oldest was 98 when she passed on, although I have even heard that she was 108 according to some accounts because there was no birth certificate. My grandfather was 87 when he finally made the curtain call.

I remember one of his siblings, Nofour Boyce (yes, that was her name), who got married into the Dandalas, who passed away at the ripe old age of 94, was old as far back as I can remember. She was always old, always had a walking stick, always wore glasses and her hair was always grey. She was never young in eyes.

My grandfather, Kaiser Boyce, would visit her every single day. They lived in the same village some 3 kilometers apart. They would sit on her veranda all day talking, sometimes my grandfather would leave in a huff and get on his horse because of some argument they might have had. Yet he’d be back the next day.

After his wife, Victoria Boyce, passed on, he’d get on one of his horses to visit his sister more frequently than before. More often than not, the horse he rode was Commando, his favourite one. I remember how mad he would get if he gave one of his horses to someone for one errand or another and it was returned with sweat stains. That always told him that whoever rode the horse rode it hard and didn’t much care for it. The culprit would never ever be given one of his horses ever again.

I was not in the village when he passed away a few years ago. He was in extreme pain from his illness for a long time. Seeing him in pain, pained us. It was as if pain was slowly taking life away from him every time he had to be rushed to hospital. When he eventually passed away, there was a sad relief that the pain had finally decided to give him rest.

Nofour was left alone when he died. Her husband had passed away in the early 70s. Perhaps my grandfather felt a brotherly responsibility towards his older sister. He was after all the only male out of all his siblings. As Xhosa culture dictates, he had to be the man of the house now.

Nofour Dandala became really lonely when Kaiser Boyce passed away. There was no one old enough to share the memories of old with. And she became very sickly. Every now and then she would be rushed to hospital after she turned 87. When she fell sick, she would ask the villagers to call a priest for her because she thought she was going to die. When the priest did eventually arrive she would chase him away.

As she advanced further in years, her memory started to fade and so did her eye sight, so much so that even the glasses did not seem to help. She began to forget her grandchildren too. Yet she never forgot me even though I was not one of her direct grandchildren, I was her brother’s grandchild. Perhaps that was because I’d visit her with my grandfather as a child.

One day while I was visiting her at the hospital in Johannesburg a few weeks before she passed away, she said to me, “You know my child, I realized my mind was not what it used to be when I asked for my brother a few years ago. I was angry because he had stopped visiting me. I was so mad at him. I wanted to know why. Then I was told that he had passed away, and that I had been at the funeral. I cannot tell you the pain I felt that day, missing my brother and realizing that my mind is also going. I know that it is time for me to go now to be with my siblings.  When you are old and have no one, you just want to go because you are just tired.” A few days after that she stopped talking all together. My cousin and I would go to her bedside everyday and we’d joke amongst ourselves, every now and then, we’d see a faint smile through her closed eyes and through the pipe in her mouth.

Now, as Mandela has gone on another hospital trip, I wonder if he feels like my grandmother, or as we called her, uKhulu.

Tagged: , , , , , ,

§ 15 Responses to I wonder if Mandela feels like my grandmother at this point in time

  • Phuti says:

    Touching but truthful story indeed.

  • Thandi says:

    @ Khaya you are an amazing writer!This piece u wrote about u Tata is beautiful,thought there was more kanti kuphelile *sadface*

  • musicpowerandpolitics says:

    This is a beautiful piece, I really hope that this is not how Mandela goes as I feel that it would be when others want him to sign out and as you beautifully put it Nofour Dandala was ready to go it was never before her own will.

  • bowsandbooks says:

    Reblogged this on Speak Up. Shut Up. and commented:
    The most sincere blog pondering Madiba’s feelings in the Winter of his life through a personal family account. Beautiful.

  • malome says:

    Indeed, I also wonder.
    Nice piece. Personal story but relevant to this weeks headlines

  • phb says:

    Great real piece, old folks do get tired & lonely… phb

  • Angisiwe says:

    Wowzer Khaya! Wish the whole country could read this. So profound yet so true. Just like when kids to childlike things. We always have this expectation of people who’ve long served their time, a purpose that was boundless. I can imagine the claim & responsibility tied to it that we South Africans lay on uTata is like that pain that your grandfather endured. We tend to be leeches. And like leeches, there are good & bad benefits. It’s like an unspoken fear most people have that when he is gone, for he will leave us, it will catapult us further into our self-made destruction.

    I could blabber on. It makes me sad. I see the statement that he released as a sign of encouragement that we as South Africa can still be the great nation our elders fought for without him. A nudge to say, it’s ok. Each beginning has an end, make sure it’s a story worthy of the reader!

    Thanks Khaya!

  • Angi says:

    Wowzer Khaya! Wish the country could see this. So profound yet so true. Just like when kids to childlike things. We always have this expectation of people who’ve long served their time, a purpose that was boundless. I can imagine the claim & responsibility tied to it that we South Africans lay on uTata is like that pain that your grandfather endured. We tend to be leeches. And like leeches, there are good & bad benefits. It’s like an unspoken fear most people have that when he is gone, for he will leave us, it will catapult us further into our self-made destruction.

    I could blabber on. It makes me sad. I see the statement that he released as a sign of encouragement that we as South Africa can still be the great nation our elders fought for without him. A nudge to say, it’s ok. Each beginning has an end, make sure it’s a story worthy of the reader!

    Thanks Khaya!

  • Reblogged this on beforesheimplodes and commented:
    So yesterday a new group I just joined and myself where talking about Mandela seeing as he was back in the hospital yet again. It was yesterday I found that he wasn’t 84 but 94! Thats hella old… I was saying the man is probably trying to leave. It seems to me like the black South Africans wont let him…because he’s the Mandiba you know?
    This story doesnt even make me thinkof him…it reminds me of my grandpa. Nofour Dandala reminds me of grandaddy…lol Sigh.
    In his dementia he was still so cute… I miss him. RIP Grandpa

  • kumyoli says:

    This story reminds me of my granny who used to say “angibhubhi angiphili kanti ndenzeni uThixo engandithathi” when being asked impilo. Your incite is amazing keep the flag flying high Khaya. Amazing stories

  • Ntombi says:

    Wow Khaya, you just made be think f my own grandfather and how he passed on *teary eyed*…It was one of the saddest things I have ever gone through, but also a relief (he had prostate cancer and the cancer had metastasized to his bones, it was painful to even touch him). I was glad that he was no longer in the pain. I think Mandela is feeling like you grandmother and the best they could do is make sure he is comfortable and spend time with him….laugh with him and around him cos that definitely helps….

  • An amazing piece of writing, Khaya. Thanks for sharing. May we link it on our (coming soon) “Your Stories” page on our website? (www.dignitysa.org).

  • Zezethu says:

    Such a beautiful story and I relate to it.. I have a 93 year old grandfather.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading I wonder if Mandela feels like my grandmother at this point in time at Khaya Dlanga's life on the "internets". All on one blog..

meta

%d bloggers like this: