Another step on the path

Looks like I am about to be on the move again. I’ve been back in Ghana for a little over a year now spending time with the family, working at an interesting and intellectually fulfilling job and getting back to scratching my martial arts itch with Judo (In the process of which I also began to eat properly again and shed about 15-20 lbs of accumulated fat from being sedentary earlier)

In that time I’ve

  • Seen my grandmother dance at her 90th birthday
  • Seen my father turn 60
  • Connected with parts of the family I didn’t know as well as I wanted to
  • Started to find the physical and mental discipline I used to have
  • Started writing again (more on that soon)
  • Become a much better coder

Now its time to move on. Starting in a little over a month I return to graduate academia, this time in the heart of London(back to Physics too btw). I’m really looking forward to this. I’m a lot more prepared for this than I have ever been and it’ll be nice to put my brain back on the high speed treadmill and see what happens. With luck I’ll still get to hit people on the side. Maybe get someone to teach me the basics of parkour too.

Wish me luck people

Father’s Day

Yesterday was Father’s Day and to celebrate my brother and I took my father out to dinner. Thankfully it turns out he loves Indian food. Its the kind of thing I haven’t done too often and it felt really good to be in a position to show my appreciation to him for the person he is and the person he inspires me to be.

This is not to say that he’s perfect, no one is. For the most part he is a really good man though. There hasn’t really been a time I’ve really needed him when he hasn’t come through for me and I’ve been a little lax in showing how much I appreciate that. Hence, last night was a good night for me. One I hope I get the chance to repeat a massive number of times.

The beauty that is family

My maternal grandmother turns 90 on saturday, which of course means that there will be a huge family gathering to celebrate this fact. For me this is a great thing because it means two of my favourite cousins are in town for the party and we get to hang out. The older cousin also brought along her new husband, an Eritrean she met while working for an education non-profit in Angola.  Yes, I have an interesting family that way.

One unfortunate side effect of this is that I’ll be missing the next I2CAP regional competition which is on the same Saturday. Hopefully the co-workers will bring back some more pictures for me to put up.

I’m going to enjoy the weekend though, my grandmother is a very remarkable woman and it will be great to celebrate her life with the family she is very much responsible for shaping

And the wheel continues to turn

In the space of three days last weekend I gained a cousin, lost an uncle and saw my father turn 60.

My mother’s younger brother died on friday night of cancer. A couple of months ago he fell off a chair and fractured his leg. When it refused to heal he went in for tests and found out that there was cancer in the bone. When they took him in for an MRI they found masses in his leg, his lungs and his brain. From then on it was all pretty much downhill. And pretty fast too.

As of my World Cup post he was lying in bed doped up on painkillers, but still lucid. A couple of weeks later he could barely put together legible sentences and couldn’t remember some people. He spent the last two weeks of his life in the hospitol being watched over by his family and slowly slipping away. By the end I was just hoping he wouldn’t have to be so helpless or in so much pain anymore.

Last Thursday his younger brother had his second chld. A boy. He gets named today. On friday he passed away. Friday was also my father’s 60th birthday.

Not quite the day any of us wanted. At this point I just take comfort in the fact that he isn’t in pain anymore. It hurts to see my mother broken up though. Things have been bad enough for her as it is recently. I’m just hoping we’re done with the bad news for now.

Spend all the time you can with those you love people. You don’t know when or how you’ll see them again

Old Friends

The other thing I did this week was finally get back in touch with an old friend from college who I haven’t spoken to in a couple of months. She was a casualty of the instability I went through after my mother came down with cancer and my grandmother died. I feel really bad about the fact that I cut her off because at the time she was going through some serious marital issues and I should have been there for her.

Swan and I became friends sometime in my sophomore year of college, her junior year. We just got along. We had similar tastes in music and movies and similar views of the world. Where we disagreed, we were both willing to argue things out in a civilized manner and respect each other’s positions. She changed my mind about some things and I changed her mind about some things. We definitely learned a lot from each other. There was never really a romantic connection there, though at a certain point half the campus was convinced we were sleeping together. I think at the time neither of us was looking for anything and by the time we were both looking again the friendship had progressed beyond that point. I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if we’d met under different circumstances.

We’ve been there for each other through several relationships and all sorts of family issues. Right after college, she fell in love, got married and had a beautiful daughter who is, by all accounts, as smart and stubborn as her mother. The marriage kind of fell apart after she gave birth and one of her closest friends died. I tried to be there for her for a while, but then family issues got in the way and I dropped a lot of stuff I should have cared more about, including her. I feel like shit for doing that. She’s pretty much family to me at this point and I’m supposed to be the kind of person who will give anything for those I consider family. She deserved a lot better from me. Thankfully her marriage seems to have weathered the storm, and so has our friendship. I just hope I never screw up like that again. Life is too short.

Black History Month

The longer I stay in this country, the more aware I become of how absolutely necessary the idea of Black History Month is. With this increased awareness, however, comes the increased frustration of seeing it turned into a marketing tool and watching the history of black people in this country and wordwide reduced to MLK’s “I have a dream” speech and George Washington Carver’s work on peanuts.

I have a little cousin in middle school who is growing up with this as his perspective on black achievement. At least in Ghana he’d have gotten a decent education on the history and beliefs of the major ethnic groups plus colonial/postcolonial Ghanaian history. Plus he would have gotten to see the forts and castles where slaves were kept before being shipped off. Now, granted, The history curiculum back home needs to be widened in scope. A lot of my knowledge comes from personal research and college classes but compared to what he gets taught ,he has less to start with than I did. Thankfully he has his mother and his cousins to fill in the gaps.

For my own peace of mind, though, I will be making a couple of posts, mostly about black people in the sciences. Enjoy

Goodbye Mama, I’m sorry

My grandmother (Mama to her grandkids) died in her sleep about four months ago. She’d been getting progressively sicker for the better part of decade so I cant say it was totally unexpected. Somehow it still managed to blindside me. We weren’t particularly close, I saw her on sundays after church (back when I went to church) and she lived with us for a brief while. I hadn’t actually seen her since the last time I was in Ghana, almost three years ago. I always had mixed feelings about her. Truth be told, I hated her for a while. She hurt my mother more than once and treated all her daughters far worse than she treated her sons, even though her daughters took care of her. I’m not a vengeful person by nature. Generally I’m good at letting stuff go and not holding grudges. Except if you hurt my family. The things my grandmother did hurt my mother deeply and I never forgave her. After she died, I didn’t mourn. A part of me felt happy in a perverse sort of way. Mostly though, I was conflicted.
A couple of weeks ago, I visited my aunt. While I was there, she handed me a huge stack of pictures she had taken when she was in Ghana for the funeral. Most of tham were pictures of family. My parents, cousins, uncles, aunts, family friends. Buried somewhere in the middle of the stack were two pictures of my grandmother in her casket.All of a sudden, old memories rose to the surface. I when I was a child, my mother would pass by her house every sunday after church. I’d run up to her and give her a kiss on the cheek. Then I would grab whatever sweets she had for me and run into her sitting room to watch cartoons and read my grandfather’s old encyclopedias. When she got really sick for a while and came to live with us, she would be sitting on the porch every morning reading her bible. I would go by and kiss her in the cheek and watch her smile. Whatever she did in the past, she’s still my grandmother and I’ll never get to see her smile again. That hurts alot more than I expected. Wherever she is, I hope she can forgive me for carrying this grudge around for as long as I did. I’ll miss her.