My maternal Grandmother Atsa Dokhriekhono (1923-2018), has gone on to be with her Maker at 95-years-old. It was just about two months ago when I had a conversation with her which would be our last. We both knew, though it is in God’s hands, that her time to leave was nearing, as she would tell me,
“When you heard of my passing, you don’t have to shed no tears for me because then I’d have already gone only to be with the Lord where I will also be reunited with all my children who are already there, and I will continue praying for you all along with all the saints there.”
As we continued our conversation, she told me she was praying for America (USA). My Grandma was always a fervent prayer warrior her entire life and I undoubtedly knew she would be praying for anything that she thought she needed to pray for. A bit surprised by what I heard, I asked why she was praying for America. She told me that the missionaries who brought the gospel to our people were from America and for that reason she always felt indebted to this great nation.
My Grandmother, born on 30 April 1923 in Khonoma village, was smart, witty, loved the Lord, funny, and a treasure of wisdom. We, her grandchildren, for some reason, all ended up calling her “Atsa Keciino” which means “Little Granny.” But in life, a survivor of the WW2 and the infamous Indo-Naga war in the fifties, she conquered giants and overcame many life threatening situations with her God given wisdom and her faith that was resolutely anchored in Jesus Christ alone. She became a Christian from her early years when it was extremely unpopular and almost taboo for a member in the village to break with the ancient old animistic religious practices and the way of life of the day. As a result, she was ousted, persecuted and shamed by her own clansmen for her newfound faith in Jesus Christ as was common in those days. Life, as told, was cruel to her in certain ways and it’s true the world does not have much to offer to some people, yet, by God’s grace, she survived and lived to impart the lessons learned from each misfortune encountered along the way. Even in her old age, she was never buried in bitterness nor had any hatred against anyone as I knew her, but lived a life contented with what God had blessed her. She truly was a grateful soul.
As a daughter, she received little formal education as such privilege was given only to the sons in the family and hardly any family could afford their children’s education due to financial difficulty. However, she labored hard and learned to read and write quite profoundly well in her dialect, Tenyidie. She also learned to read sheet music/staff notation from the Supplees, who were missionaries in the Angami region. She later taught the illiterate elderly how to read and write, and taught church music to the women folk in the church in the early days. My grandmother, besides being a homemaker, was also a highly skilled tailor, capable of making fine blazers and dresses of the day. She was one of the few Naga women who knew how to use a sewing machine. And as a patriot, she would stitch uniform coats and hats for Naga Army Officers in those days.
In her later years, (My grandparents relocated in Chumukedima area in the seventies where my Grandfather still lives.) ever passionate to serve God and to preach the gospel, she volunteered to serve as an evangelist to the early settlers in the area. During this period, my Grandfather also served as a pastor in a church. Although over the years I have lived worlds apart from her, whenever I returned to the country, the first thing I would do was to visit my grandparents and spend time with them. There was always a lot to catch up with them especially with my Grandmother. Sometimes she would recount her daring days as an evangelist with precise details. It was almost scary, how well she could remember events that happened long ago.
In her own words,
“Back in the days, with my Dao scabbard hanging in my back and the Dao in my hand I’d cut through the jungles or sometimes crawl under the bushes to get to the next village. There were times when I’d hear the hissing and groaning of wild lives from nearby, other times I’d come to a place where wild elephants had just left.”
Hers was a life of service to God and to others. Despite her own human limitations, she continued to serve as a pillar in her local church until ageing started to take its toll on her in the recent years. She went to church as long as her physical strength allowed her to. She was a fervent prayer warrior; a survivor and an over comer in the face of adversary ; a couturier; an evangelist for Christ ; a patriot who made her comrades look sharp; a builder of the Church; a conscience of the community ; a Bible teacher; a musician and a composer in her own right, a faithful wife, an ideal mother ; and she was my grandmother of many gifts. We were thick as thieves and I thank God for giving me such an outstanding woman to be my grandmother. I am going to miss her a lot in the years to come. Thank you, Grandma, for all that you have given me. Until we meet again.