My grandmother was a pious woman who believed in God. She took the Lord at His word and made the earth her own. At least a little piece of it, which was her garden. When I think of my grandma I see her in her garden, knife in hand. My grandma was all about knives and the sharpness of their edges was legendary. You could pick out any knife of her kitchen drawer and cut paper with it. She had large ones with long blades. Kept them on the counter in a wooden knife block for everyone to admire but not to use. They were expensive. My father gave them to her as a birthday present once, so she would have a good set of knives, so she would replace the cheap ones. But the fancy knives were used on special occasions only, like Christmases and birthdays. For all other occasions, she used her ordinary knives. They were small, their edges scratched from all the sharpening. Their handles were made of cheap plastic with subdued hues of orange and green that gave away the decade they were bought in. She did everything with those small knives.
As a child, I used to assist her in the garden. My grandmother’s garden was bigger than her house and there was always something that needed doing. Most of it was keeping the pests away from the plants. Once, I collected potato bugs to keep them as pets in a mason jar. She was after the slugs. I made the mistake of looking what she did to them. She picked up the brown slimy creatures I did not dare to touch as if they were not disgusting at all. She put them on the path that cut through her garden right in the middle like a concrete edge. The slugs retracted their antennae and curled up like they were expecting great pain. Grandma took out of her starched house dress the orange kitchen knife she loved best. Then, with a swift and resolute movement, she cut in two the curled up slugs. They are not brown on the inside, you know. Yellow gunk spilled out of them and I was appalled at my grandmother’s callousness.
In the end, it was only logical that her beloved kitchen knife did one last deed for her. It cut into her arm with a decisive movement that went deep and created facts. Strangely, when I first was told about my grandmother‘s suicide, I was proud of her for she had been as bold and callous with her own life as she once had been with the slugs‘. It took me a long time to understand, that she maybe never was fearless or heartless. Maybe she did what she felt was necessary and her way of doing it fast, with one stroke and a sharp knife, was an act of mercy. She wanted to make sure death came fast and painless – for the slugs, and for her. Due to the circumstances of her death, my grandmother received a devotion in the mortuary, not a requiem mass in church. I wonder if the God to whom she prayed took her in nevertheless. I wonder, if she died fast and without pain. I wonder if her wrists looked like the bisected slugs. I never wonder about the knife, though. I am sure it was sharp. And I am sure its handle was orange.