The memory is fading… but I remember one cup of coffee I had with my grandma long ago. It was just me, her and Mimi, on a weekday afternoon. I had finished university early and I decided to visit her before meeting my friends in the busy streets of Ceolondia.

I always loved it when it was just grandma and I – without any other distractions – hoping I would get to know her a little more during the time we still have together.

I loved it when it’s just her and I… well, me, her, and Mimi, her “help.” 

“I love how soft your hair is!” said Mimi, running her hand through my wavy, long, hazel hair, “and I love how much control you have of your curls!” I try to return the compliment, unsure of how my days would have gone if I were a woman with curly hair like hers, and skin that dark. 

That was a time before the world started to crumble and the economy jumped into a freefall.

The small talk I made with my grandma on her old yellow tinged couch is vivid in my memory;the heaviness in the air was suffocating.

I can still taste it in my mouth. Was it the bitterness in the coffee that she made? Grandma always dumped as much of the black powder she could dissolve in the rakwe with as little water as possible. Every sip was a punch to the tongue, and the brain. The entire kitchen, corridor, and living room would be enveloped in its soothing smell- a contrast to its taste.

“It’s alright dear, you’re studying and setting up for a nice career, and if that doesn’t work you’ll always end up married anyway, having your husband and children to take care of, I’m sure you won’t be bored then.”

Oh lord, why did I tell her that I was bored?

“I can’t wait to see the beautiful children that you’ll have… dear god give me the longevity to see them.”

I curled my wavy hair through my fingers, it was much easier doing that than saying, “heh, kids… little do you know grandma,” and getting into an existential debate with a 76-year-old woman.

Somehow the conversation shifted about my cousins. Then my uncle. They all had a special place in granny’s heart. 

“Glad to know his work is going well. What did you cook today?” This was my favourite question to ask to cut off her rambling about my mom’s brother, before the green of my eyes could shine with poisonous envy.

Were my mom and her sisters jealous too? It’s baffling how much love was cast onto my uncle and his family. 

But I wouldn’t be surprised if mom wasn’t jealous. She was wiser than to think and mope about such trivial matters. I, however, was not.

How can you hide your jealousy from what feels like it’s always being flaunted in your face?

How can you hide your jealousy when people who haven’t tried as hard as you have more money, more friends, and live in a nicer area closer to the heart of Ceolondia? 

Mom would ask me why I’m always so quiet when we visit them. “I’m not quiet, we played a little,” is a lot easier than explaining to her how deep my green roots run.

It’s not like I haven’t talked about this with mom before…

“You do realise that grandma treats uncle differently than how she treats you and your sisters… right?”

“Different.” Different is all I could express, while remaining the decent daughter my mother raised.

My mom would listen, but never really keep up the conversation.

“Uncle’s business was grandpa’s. Why does granny act like he’s this independent hero that dug through concrete with his bare fingers to grow his money from the ground up? He didn’t. It was handed to him on a silver platter.” 

Mom would chuckle, nod and say, “just don’t say that in front of anyone else, alright dear?”

Why shouldn’t I say this in front of anyone else?

Why shouldn’t I tell grandma that, even though she has a bright and warm soul, she is full of misogynistic bullshit?

What is it with you people and the male offspring? 

“That’s always how it is in our culture, sons are just treated differently, it’s nothing really,” my mom would tell me, without a care in the world. She was so over this, like this wasn’t even what she would think about…

Maybe it was not a thing that she thinks about… maybe she lived her days ignoring this. She probably knew better than to try and change how grandma is.

Considering societal judgment, regressive mentalities, and the author’s privacy, the gender of this piece’s main character was switched, and the location was altered to become the fantasy city of Ceolondia, to allow for more authentic and deeper explorations of wounds that have yet to close. Thank you for reading. Be better than the grandma in this story.

By The Mage Armada

The Magi were masters of the 5 elements, fire, water, earth, air, and thunder. 

After going through one too many battles, the mage Armada, now explores areas often left uncharted, whether it was societal norms, or why people mourn the dead. When the mage is not practicing his spells, he’s writing something, or pondering life with his friends.

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