Edmund was no decrepit man suffering the rigours of gout, arthritis or any other kind of rheumatoid affliction. He was by no standards an “old man”. Of this kind of man, they often say, there is a light that dances in the dark whirlpools of his eyes. There was no light in his eyes, His complexion and the texture of his skin, gave nothing away about his age.
Mum said that he was in his early seventies. He sat in the corner of the room, a light shawl wrapped around his legs. His head didn’t lull in a doze, it didn’t look up through the clear glass at the trees and greenery that swayed gently in the warm afternoon breeze.
The room was silent as I stepped in. “Edmund”, I called gently. I moved slowly toward him and set down the tray of tea and biscuits on the cracked wooden table that nested in the shadow of his seat.
“Mum, said to bring you tea”. He looked up at me, but didn’t smile. His acknowledgement was appreciation enough for me. I couldn’t blame him. We hardly knew each other. I crouched down and slowly let my knees touch the floor. I stirred two teaspoons of sugar into the dark, piping rooibos brew, and poured into it several drops of cool milk. I gently laid the warm cup in his outstretched hands and left him to sip quietly as I returned to the kitchen.
“Where did Uncle Jimmy find him?” I asked my Mum, as we stood in the kitchen looking out from the window at the dogs growling and playing in the grass as they often did on sunny days.
Soon it would be time to prepare the dogs bowls. Mother was about to begin fixing dinner, for later. She liked to start early, boiling the meat for hours until it was tender enough to fall off the bone. My mother had a thing. She was committed to hearty meals, full stomachs and smiles of satisfaction. She would whisper up a prayer asking God for a tasty supper, a pleasant mood and happy eaters. I had watched my mum repeat this ritual since childhood. I don’t ever recall a bad meal. If there ever was one, surely God had blessed me, in never having let me witness it.
“We found him at the bus station,” she replied as she gulped down her now cooling tea. Mum didn’t like cold tea but she didn’t like to waste nor did she like microwaves. She’d refused for me to warm it up. She had the kettle boiling on the stove so she could replenish the diminishing cup.
“Oh,” I pondered,” what was he doing there?”
“I don’t know. Jimmy called me from his cell phone. He had just arrived from Harare and was walking towards the cabs that always line up opposite the bus station, when he heard Edmund calling. Jimmy was a little shocked; it wasn’t as if he expected to find Edmund anywhere near here. He fled home many years ago, during the war. So Jimmy just stood there for a while, staring at him, wondering how he’d wound up here”
Jimmy was my uncle, Mum’s older brother. He lived with us and had done so since he’d lost his wife two years ago. His children were all in Australia now, pursuing some career or other. Mum didn’t think it was right that he should live alone.
“Perhaps it was providence”, I whispered contemplative.
“Theresa, you know that it is divine providence! Only God could have brought him here. You know we don’t believe anything else.”
I shook my head, as I continued to think about my long lost grandfather who sat alone now, in the family room while the afternoon whittled away. “Edmund”, I muttered to myself, the name of an elusive man, who had become a legend in our family. An enigma sat in our home as everyone wondered by what miracle he had found himself here.