Yesterday I stumbled upon my late mother’s retired frying pan.
It looks dejected, with rust erupting from it like a bad rash. Streaks of oxides run across it like ancient tears. Before it got to this state, how many chapattis had it churned? How many rumbling stomachs of hungry village boy had it made glad? How many hearts did this frying pan touch before it got broken?
Alice Walker, the Black American poet talks of keeping broken things. Things whose beauty is that don’t ever need any fixing. Things that remind us of someone who is forever dear to us. In my house there remains an honored shelf on which I will keep broken things. I will keep this broken frying pan which always reminds me of my late mother. I will keep her.
We all have that thing, that family heirloom, which reminds us of our mother if she went to be with the Lord. It may be a physical thing like my broken frying pan above. It may be a whiff of Lady Gay pomade which she used to wear every morning. It may an old sepia photo of her in Afro and bell bottoms, like a girl groupie from the 70s.
We all keep such things in our houses, our hearts and minds, not because they are new, but because they are broken. But above all, because we are broken by the loss of our loved ones which they remind us of.
We keep broken things because we are pilgrims of sorrow hanging on to broken things that need not ever be fixed.