SANJA PAHOKI with text by Remie CIBIS
Me and mju: The Olympus Mju Saga, 2008, 11m56s.
My grandmother died last year too. She was my mother’s mother. We called her Nana.
Nana’s death was somewhat of a relief. She had been suffering from dementia and a whole host of bodily ailments. It seemed as if she were dying for a long time, until she did, then she was just dead. So it was only so much of a relief.
It was very hard on my mother. She cried a lot over the months leading up to it and the months afterwards as well. She’s good at that. I’d never really understood it, or my mother. We’ve never really been close.
The first grandparent to die was my grandfather, my mother’s father. We called him Pa. I was eight years old and didn’t mind that he died. He was unimaginably old and his shit came out into a bag tied to his waist. He died of a heart attack. That seemed to make sense.
I thought it would be very sad. It wasn’t very anything. I couldn’t cry about it. It was awkward when everyone else did. My mother cried a lot. At his funeral I tried burying my face in my hands and spitting on the palms. I could then rub the spit in my eyes. It looked like I was trying to rub the tears away. It seemed necessary at the time.
After the burial my sister asked me why I had been smiling. I think I had tried to give her and my mother some reassuring looks at some point during the service. Apparently it had only upset my mother further.
When my second grandfather died, the one we called granddad, I didn’t bother spitting on my hands or reassuring anyone. It seemed that old men were inclined to die. I didn’t cry. I didn’t need to cry. Other people were doing plenty of that. I didn’t really get why.
So I didn’t expect to be very upset when Nana died.
I was at work when my father called to tell me. I had been expecting the call. The people at work said that I could go home if I wanted to. I wanted to go but only because work was boring. Otherwise I felt ok. So I said I would stay. Then I cried. I don’t really know why.
I went home to be with my family. My mother and I cried together. We sat side-by-side, sort of curving into towards each other’s shoulders. Clasping each other’s hands. It was nice to be so close to her when she was so sad.
Much later I told my friend. She said, ‘that’s why people have babies’.
Text by Remie Cibis
Work and text originally presented at Light Projects.
Sanja Pahoki is represented by Sarah Scout, Melbourne view more of her work HERE
Work presented here courtesy of the artist and Sarah Scout, Melbourne
This post is part of The People Project, a series of posts about people ranging from portraiture, self portraiture, performance works, still and moving image works, street candids and studio created works.