When I was a child, I had this pleasant grandma who used to come visiting on Sundays. She would embrace me and recite our family oríkì with her shaky voice. I was always looking forward to the sweets and biscuits she gave me. I didn’t know much about her and I didn’t care. It was later that I got to know that she was a wife to one of my (late) paternal uncles.

I grew up and got married, but I still didn’t care. I didn’t remember her. I didn’t ask after her. I didn’t even know her phone number or how to get to her house. Until one day, when I was told to contact her, perhaps she could link me to one of the big men of Ibadan in order to help me land a job. Can you imagine? That was how I met her again after more than two decades!

It was a shame. I felt guilty. I felt embarrassed. It wasn’t because I had forgotten about her and only went to visit her when I needed help. It was because she remembered me vividly and called me by my first name, the moment she saw me. I was prepared to give her a hundred excuses for my disappearance since all those years. I assumed that senile dementia would have taken over her mind and I was rehearsing how to introduce myself. But I was shocked.

After that day, I erased her again. I never called back to say thank you. The next thing I heard, three years later, was that she had died. I am still beating up myself for ignoring someone who was so kind to me. She made a little impart in my life. She didn’t play a major role. But she was there, she’s still there in my memory. I had the chance to thank her, to let her know I was fond of her, but I blew it. May her gentle soul find repose. Amin.

The moral of the story? Never underestimate the little act of kindness anyone shows you. Never delay in showing gratitude. Never wait until you lose someone before you realize how helpful they have been.

Khadijah Sanni-Tijani


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