Friday, 29 January 2016

Death in Paradise

Death. Even just thinking about the word makes me wince. It evokes images of black, darkness, doom. Yet nobody can escape it. It is our final destination. There’s nothing scarier than the unknown. I believe this is why when we lose a loved one, it causes us to go on an emotional rollercoaster. All we can do is hold on tight and ride it out.

In September, my Grandma who I used to call Nanima died. It all happened so fast, we never got the chance to say goodbye. I loved the fact that she lived in Mauritius, one of the most beautiful countries in the world. However, it meant she was alone at the end.

Last month my mum and I travelled out there to put her affairs in order and to say a proper goodbye. It may sound strange, but despite the sombre situation, I still enjoyed my time in Mauritius.

When I visit Mauritius, I feel at ease and can fully understand why my Grandma chose to live there. Whilst I’m British born and bred, I can’t resist being absorbed by the Mauritian culture. It rained at some point everyday whilst we were there, but it was hot rain. It made me giddy sloshing through warm puddles in my flip flops. It made me smile when a car tooted its horn at me, something that’s been happening since my first visit when I was eleven. It makes me feel like a local, included. The fresh beach cuisine is amazing, simple food, spectacular food. The soft sand, the wistful waves. The buses that hurtle at crazy speeds. My mum’s aunties, my family that fuss over you, tell you you’ve put on weight then feed you until you’re about to explode. Happy, strong, loving and lovely ladies. The sega sound that instantly results in you jiggling your hips. The common carefree Creole language. The purity of the people. My heritage.

No country is perfect though. Tourism has significantly helped Mauritius to develop, but poverty is still rife. The education system appears to be exceptional, much tougher than in England. Nevertheless, many of the younger generation appear to be heading overseas to find work, as it doesn’t seem to be available in Mauritius, which is such a shame. The roads have improved remarkably, yet I know road traffic accidents are a major problem. The healthcare service is also obviously nowhere as near advanced as here. When we visited my Grandma at the cemetery, a surprisingly modern peaceful space, I asked my mum to read some gravestones out to me, as I was curious to know who my Grandma was near. I found it heartbreaking to learn that so many of the graves were occupied by young people. People in their teens, twenties, thirties, forties. My Grandma was one of the oldest at 78. That says a lot about the country, which I never really realised since my Great-Grandma lived into her nineties in Mauritius.

I look like my mum and she looks like her mum. This means I look like my Grandma. In fact my mum has always told me how alike we are and as I got older I began to notice the similarities between me and my Grandma too. I also possess many of my mum’s features, but I’m most like my Grandma. The things we had in common include: a needle phobia, weak bladder, taking vitamins, being healthy, mannerisms, always direct/blunt, good organisational skills, needing our own space, stubbornness, an interest in words, tough love, hatred for the cold and most importantly a strong will. My Grandma had a lot of knocks in her life, but she always got back up again.

My mum says it is unlikely that she will return to her childhood home again. I’m determined to go back one day, maybe with my own child so they can hopefully experience the Mauritian culture and treasure it as much as I do. I’m so grateful that my Grandma decided to live in Mauritius, otherwise I may have never got the opportunity to learn about and appreciate my roots.

Forever in my heart

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