Friday, November 07, 2014

Nani

Written in a train in India:


I am in a train that will whisk me to Delhi. In a couple of hours I will be on a plane heading back to London.
Back to grey, bleak London.

The noise and the chaos and the love and the affection- all left behind.

I came to India looking forward to two things and dreading a third.

The two things I came for were Diwali and the launch of my second book.

What fate held in store for Nani (my maternal grandmother)- that I was dreading.

Diwali happened. The book was launched not once but twice.

And we lost Nani.                                                                                  


All in a matter of a few days.
The thorn lies next to the rose. The rose lies next to the thorn. And such is life...


To go up on stage and laugh and joke and talk about my book when all I could think about was Nani’s death was one of the toughest things I have ever had to do. But I did it, not only because it was the professional thing to do, but also, as cliché as it may sound, I felt that was what she would have wanted.

Nani is gone now, never to return. The finality of it all is difficult to come to terms with but we have the satisfaction of knowing that she lived a long and happy life (she was 92 when she passed away).  She died in the same room she had been brought into as a brand new bride a gazillion years back. A red bindi, a symbol of a married Hindu woman adorned her forehead when she breathed her last.

Her demise has made me think a lot about death. At some level I feel convinced that it does not all end when we die; that there is a great, fun adventure awaiting us on the other side of life; that Nani is thoroughly enjoying hers and chuckling to herself as I type this.

I also feel that I now have someone up there, next to God who will listen to me when He is too busy sorting out the rest of the world. That image gives me a lot of courage.

I know Nani spoke often about my books. She was very proud that I write and very touched that I had thanked her in my first book.  But what Nani liked most was to have a full house. A house that burst at the seems with her 7 kids, 14 grand children and 7 great grandchildren.

At her memorial service as I stared at the hundreds of people who came to pay their respects, I realised that Nani had done it once more. All of us (most of us, atleast) were there, under the same roof, together. My uncles, aunts, cousins and parents bid her her final goodbye with a lot of dignity and respect and as a mother, I know she must have been very proud.

My cousin made a montage of sorts for Nani that day. We switched off the lights and huddled into a darkened room to watch it. Image after image of Nani appreared on the screen. Nani looking stronger than I remembered,  younger than i could have imagined, more serious than she was in her last few months. 
Images that contained bits of a life now gone forever, preserved in those (now priceless) pictures. When we switched on the lights, there was not a dry eye in the room.

Today in the train, as it chugs to Delhi Railway Station, sitting next to me is a thin, wrinkled , yet oddly robust looking retired Army officer. He says he is 94. I have been helping him with whatever it is that I can- simple things really- opening the food packets, helping him walk, simply talking to him etc.

A few minutes back completely out of the blue, he turned around, folded his hands and with a warm, kind smile blessed me and told me that he is very grateful for my help.

‘No, No’ I said hastily ‘ its my pleasure. And really, to be honest, I am helping you for very selfish reasons. I have four grandparents , all of them your age. If I help you, maybe someone will help them when they need help’

And then I stopped short, as another unexpected wave of grief hit me.

‘Not four anymore’ a soft voice inside my head said to me reminding me yet again of the void that Nani has left behind in many lives.


In Nani's honour, putting up a pic of us together a few months back. This is the first time in almost a decade that I have shared a picture of myself on the blog.

Rest in peace, Nani, and come back to us as you promised me multiple times the last time we met. I wait patiently to meet you again in a few decades.

10 comments:

Aditya said...

Hello,

I simply saw your website and reading your blogs and its fascinating.

You are extraordinary author, ravishing and lovely young lady, I would like to meet you once, whenever; you will back to our golden-bird.

btw; Your wonderful reader :)

Aditya kacker .

Have a safe journey !!

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Nisha said...

Beautifully expressed. Rest in peace, Nani..

mystupendoussalvation said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mystupendoussalvation said...

May the kind soul rest in peace. Grandparents are precious and they become more special when you have actually lived with them for ages. (Ask me, I have been very unfortunate in this case)

I have been an ardent reader of your blog. I fell in love with your writing even more when I finished The (In)Eligible Bachelor. Today, I came here to post my comment on your Book, I Do, Do I.

I have my moment of joy and laugh while reading the book. I laughed a hysterical laugh till 3:00 AM in the freezing cold of Delhi. I actually woke up all my building guys and one of them actually came to ask whether I am.. :-P (trust me, I am not exaggerating). I couldn't sleep the whole night and I decided to complete the book in one go (still few pages are left). Man!! You are brilliant. I have few questions and I will ask once I am done with the reading.

Thanks for introducing Kasturi and Purva to me (its like my own story). Desperately waiting for after marriage hiccups. ;)

Anonymous said...

This is a very heart touching feeling .because I know very well how important grandmother and grandfather for us .I remember in 2011 I lost my grandmother.she was very hard-working lady and she usually said to us " kam karte rho nam japte rho "It means when you work start so you should to remember "god" with on that time when you work something .

Shweta Singh said...

your words went straight to my heart...would like to share that your nani was our Prof. Shukla's mother... RIP nani...

sreelekshmi s said...

Losing one's grandparents is very unfortunate...
May your Nani's blessings always be with you.

I came here after reading your book 'I Do,Do I?';read almost half of your posts.
I liked the book and this blog.
Please continue writing : )

Tarang Sinha said...

Yes, her blessings are with you, always...

Lovely picture! A beautiful moment captured to cherish forever!

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