My grandfather walked 156km from his farming village to the city, when he was just a small boy, so that he could attend middle school. A journey like that would’ve taken him days, but he did it alone, all by himself, with nothing but the road signs to guide him.
I learnt about this story on my last visit to see him, when he was lying in hospital, in a vegetative state.
When I asked my mum why he had done that, she said: “He had a vision.”
What she meant was that he was the first of his family to get an education, when nobody else thought to do so. And in doing that, he led our family out of a life of poverty.
My grandfather had such strong blood in him. I didn’t see it then, because he was just a tiny, fragile old man. But I see it now.
He fights and claws at the caretakers when they stick tubes down his throat. He stares them down if they cover his hands with mittens because he likes to take the tubes out of his nose.
He is very much a leader trapped inside a dying body.
But he was strong enough to wait for us to come back so that we could say goodbye.
He was strong enough to walk 156km for an education that would otherwise never have been given to him.
I am not strong like him, but on the day of his passing, I realised he had left a legacy.
So I asked myself, what would I walk 156km for?