“Acha Naanu, main chalta hun”, I said, before bending down to touch his feet as a gesture of respect. (Naanu is my grandfather, Ma’s father)
He hadn’t heard me. He couldn’t have. There he was, the man I idolized while growing up, and the man I someday wish I can emulate in life, carefully using a spoon to give water to Naani ma, his wife. All his attention, his focus was there. I could tell. Because he was taken aback by my touch and right after with a smile, he returned back to tending to Naani.
Had I stayed there for a moment more, I would have broken down. Like the numerous times I have broken down since Naani has been bed ridden. The last 3 times, I have not even had the strength to go and sit by her side. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to face what is incoming.
Some people see me as a forthcoming, energetic and caring individual. These are the gifts I got from Ma and from Naani Ma. These two ladies who have been instrumental in shaping the positives I carry in me. Ma tells me Naani’s stories. Turns out my love from travel has also been inherited. I have missed her love, all these years since she has been on the bed. Now that she can’t even speak, I even miss her voice.
The last we talked, her words were, “Tell the girl you eventually marry about me, once I am gone. Tell her that your Naani Ma loved you! And hold a satsang for me.” On my next visit home, I found her weaker than ever, unable to speak. When I tried to talk, she couldn’t respond and had tears rolling down her eyes. Now she doesn’t know me.
Despite the pain this puts me or anyone close to her through, I am thankful to life. Had it not been for these two folks, I would have missed a lot in life. So what if she can’t talk now, a lot of what she has taught me, through her actions, through her teachings and through the unconditional love she showered upon me all those years.
When I was young, oblivious to my memory now, I had been on a pilgrimage with Naanu, Naani and Ma. Naani never failed to remind me of how I would cry there asking to go back home to my father’s mother. I pity myself now. That trip has no photos because I don’t think anyone had the means, or reasons to afford a camera then. I wish, at this very moment, that there were.
Also, life as brought me enough failures in personal life. The last one has all but robbed me of any faith in love. I am unsure of people, of how to ever reciprocate again and whether people actually mean it or if everyone is a bloody good actor?
And then I see my Naanu smiling at me. The kind of smile which is so pure, the kind of love which is so loyal and innocent that you can only feel it and fail to express it in any other form. In that fleeting gesture so many of the good things I had unlearned have come back. I have, in these holidays, probably the last ones ever, lost respect and value for the little joys of life. I have treated my parents, and brother, basically my family in a way not befitting of their care and affection. I have been angry at everything, have been ungrateful and have even stopped helping my friends the way I used to. As a lazy sloth, I have gained many a kilos, and in the process seemed to have lost the humane side of me.
And then, among all the darkness, among the tears that have just dried up, I see my Naanu smiling at me.
PS: This was the first piece I have written in over 6 months. It is deeply personal, and if I am sharing it with you, I hope you will respect my privacy. If you have had someone in life, who has showered with you with love you can never imagine exists, I hope you smile and say a silent Thank you to them. Be grateful, for those who love us don’t come around every day. They are rare and they are the ones, truly beautiful.
This post is dedicated to my Grandparents, Naani and Naanu. To the lessons, values they have given me, along with the kind of Love which I will, forever, remain grateful for. And Naani, if ever I do find someone to be my partner, she will know of you, as so will a lot of my friends.
I miss our talks Naani, and I miss all the beautiful things you used to teach