By Eunice Aber
I spent last Christmas with my grandparents. I always spend Christmas with my grandparents. I don’t remember the last time I didn’t. Oh! The last time I refused to go to the village for Christmas was about ten years ago. In the “prime of my adolescence”, when I thought I was too old to make those trips to the village. That is what I told my parents or a twisted version of the excuse.
The real truth was that I was following a soap which I had become too engrossed in to even miss one episode. It was as though my life and joy began and ended with those thirty minutes the soap was aired, twice a week. And that Christmas week, the TV channel was being more generous in showing the soap. It’s as though they had made a plan to wreck Christmas with my family. How interesting life can be. I have since gotten over the soaps and moved on to more exciting and realer issues of life.
But all this was not what I was thinking about last Christmas. As I watched my grandparents, my mind was taken aback to a life I missed, but had never lived.
As I watched my grandparents, I missed the life I never had. The childhood I never got to enjoy. The early youth I longed to go back to and relive in a whole different way. For a second, I despised the whole issue of emancipation. I wanted to trample under my feet all kinds of technology and the hurt that came with each new wave.
I missed seeing parents exchange words – “quarrel”; not out of hatred but because of love. I missed seeing them argue over simple issues and then talk to each other like nothing had happened just minutes past. As though minutes ago they had been talking about a game, or a neighbor’s party; yet they had been arguing over who put what where, or why this was done that way.
In the evening, as my grandmother eagerly waited for my grandfather as he took long to return from a meeting or gathering, I wondered how it had been before. When daddy went out to fend for the family and mummy stayed home to care for the family. When the children didn’t have to live like baby birds, with their mother leaving to search for food and then coming back to eager beaks awaiting a portion of the spoil. I missed that feeling; yet I had actually never experienced it.
When my grandfather asked my grandmother about simple issues and decisions such as whether to have the turkey for Christmas or the chicken instead; I longed for those years never lived. I wished I had witnessed that childhood. Where mummy was daddy’s chief advisor; not his bar-mates or office colleagues. When the man was the force that got everything going. But the woman was the voice that set the seal upon each force. Where they needed each other more than they didn’t need each other. I like it that way.
As we laughed with my grandmother and grandfather and made cheap jokes that filled us with joy, I longed for the days before the blackberry stole our hearts and the iPhone stole our minds from each other. Those days when joy came from home, and not outside of it. Those magical times when you waited for daddy to bring life to the home and mummy to add warmth to it.
As I sat, with the newest release of technology in my hands; WhatsApping here; Tweeting there and liking every post and photo on Facebook; I just felt the emptiness of it all. I longed for the warmth and life of family. Of brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles and cousins laughing in unison. The beauty of blood undiluted.
I felt guilty for desiring a life that was long scorned and left by everyone; including myself. We had all moved on to more occupying things like emancipation, legalizing abortion, children’s rights, women’s rights, sexual orientatio – name it all; never knowing we were suffocating the very unit that gave life to all.
As we worshipped at the altar of technology and gave the human race every moral freedom imaginable; we killed the beauty of family – the sacredness and purpose for marriage. We invited divorce into our world. We dined with adolescent delinquency and moral breakdown. We shook hands with religious division. We embraced single parenting and discarded virginity. All creeping in so slowly and stealthily and taking over too fast we couldn’t control it; we’ve all just decided to let it happen.
For a second, and with a tinge of guilt, I wished the computer had never been discovered, the iPhone didn’t see the light of day. I wished the internet had been a total failure. Just so I could enjoy the pleasantries of these beautiful memories never lived.
I felt guilty for being so greedy. So greedy, I wanted both lives. I wanted the life I had today; my touchscreen, my WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and internet. But I also badly wanted the life I had only heard about. The one I had only read in books. The one I had come to actually witness from my grandparents and confirmed that it actually once existed. I wanted it all. I wanted the independent working class woman but I also wanted the mother who never left her baby’s side. I wanted them both, but I knew only one could reign at any moment; and at this moment,the latter reigned.