As I made my way into the deep green rolling hills on the back of a motorbike, being careful not to fall on the slippery orange road, Molo Julius and I approached a family’s compound. We got off the bike and started walking inside and we were greeted by several sweet children yelling “Sista! Sista!” as whenever they see a white person, they associate them with the Nuns who also live in the village. We were then greeted by an elderly man, their grandfather. Before we even began a conversation, he handed me a bundle of small bananas, the sweetest I had ever tasted. He kept on telling me to eat more, as Cameroonians are exceedingly generous, but as I kept seeing more and more children running around, two was enough for me. He didn’t speak English, but his demeanor and his eyes spoke volumes. Molo Julius began speaking with him and translating for me. He was the grandfather of seventeen children, all of whom lived in that one compound. Most of the parents had died from AIDS and other natural causes.
The only other adult figure was the grandfather’s mother who was blind and almost crippled. The man wanted us to meet her so he stood up, confidently, and assisted her out of the other room into the common-space. She was bent over and used a walking stick, it was truly an incredible sight; and if my memory serves me well, she was well over one-hundred years old. She had a seat next to me and I stood up out of respect, and she grabbed me. She began to caress my hands, placing her four fingers on the bottom of my hand, and her thumb on top. There was something magical in her touch. It was the touch of wisdom, of woman, of life. It was the transference of an energy that I had never encountered before. The woman started speaking and Molo Julius was interpreting as best as he could, as it was hard to understand her. Julius told me that she said “I know she isn’t Cameroonian.” I was confused for a moment, and I asked Molo Julius why she said that. He replied, “Because your hands are too soft…”
Warmest, Lauren K.