25 May 2017

Remembering grandma

Too much of culture-related content in the conference today made me miss grandma so much. We called her 'ina' (mother, in Dusun), following our mom, aunties and uncles. She passed on in 2007, and yet it feels like just yesterday I was talking to her, listening to all her stories.

Grandma wasn't the most open person when it came to personal matters. She was kind of private and the only time she actually talked about her past in length was when I met her last before she had a stroke, which led to her passing on.

So the thing I wanted to know the most was her first husband. The fact that Dusun people of her generation married a few times before settling with their final spouse is quite well-known. The reason why they divorced have to be coaxed out of them though.

And so I asked her quite bluntly...why did you divorce your first husband? At first she refused to tell...but my persistence got to her and she told me her story in an unusually gentle voice, untypical of my military-like grandma.

She, like most girls of her generation was match-made. And funnily enough, she thought at around 13 she married late. People in those days got married but didn't sleep together...until...until...they discovered what conjugal love meant. Grandma was married-off but still lived in her relatives' household (having had lost her parents early).

A few month after the wedding, an elder relative told her she was to be divorced. The reason was, her husband who stayed in his family farm had his eyes set on another girl. In those days, openly liking a person was a taboo...much less liking a person when you were already somebody's spouse.

I asked grandma "aa ko ddi tinumogod?" (Didn't you get angry?). She simply answered in the softest voice, "nunu gia katagadan?" (What was there to be angry about?)

At that moment, my respect for grandma increased a hundredfold. She accepted her destiny and moved on. Perhaps that was because she never did discover a wife's feeling for a husband. But she could still have had her pride bruised and got angry. Yet she didn't.

She lived up to the saying "If you love someone, let him/her go. If s/he is yours s/he will come back to you. If s/he doesn't, it is never meant to be..."

Grandma, a wise woman long gone. Still our inspiration.

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