Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My ancestors versus the church

He was buried sitting down, in a cupboard built specially for that.

Grandpa was a pagan until death, and so his burial threw up so many weird pagan rituals. From the bizarre, to the downright hilarious. The three day ceremonies kept us very entertained; that is apart from father, who nearly went bankrupt.

Grandpa was a pagan; and he was lazy. Any fellow who could afford to be an artist in those days was lazy. But, by jove, the old man made some beautiful sculptures. Some of which I have kept, until the day I will go to America, where I will sell them for big money.

Grandpa was a pagan; and did not believe in God. He drank more than his fair share of the palm wine, but he believed in honesty and truth. He lived his life under one simple belief - that his ancestors were watching his every action; and would punish him if he told a lie, or took another man's property.

Grandpa was proud to remain a pagan; and rebuffed all his children's efforts to teach him about heaven and hell. He couldn't understand how we could go and sit in a church, and listen to a 'small boy' teach about right and wrong, when we could simply call our ancestors to come at midnight and clarify any confusion.

Grandpa was a pagan, but he was a good man. He was a drunkard, but he was honest. He was lazy, but he worked hard to entrench peace in his society. He didn't believe in God, or any gods for that matter, but he believed in his ancestors.

And so he joined them at 106, sitting proudly in his throne, secure in the knowledge that he did not disappoint them. He joined them at the round table, and I wonder if they are still passing the cow horn filled with palm wine around. I have begged, and begged, that they answer a few troubling questions. But try as much as I do, I never seem to hear them whisper directions at midnight. And the question I ask is: are they in heaven, or in hell?

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