Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Love and sorrow

Today marks one month from a day that was far too unexpectedly eventful, when a number of things changed in very big ways and pretty much none of them for the better. And the worst of them was, Naani died.

I don’t have a childhood, teenagehood, adulthood full of memories with her, because she lived in India, and I live here. But I still have a wealth of memories from the short spurts of time I did get to spend with her, and her larger-than-life personality helped fill the gaps left by time and distance.

She had a unique way of talking, a blend of proper language and slang that was inimitable, though Mama does a decent impression every now and then. Whenever I would hear Naani say something unintentionally hilarious, or drop a pearl of colorful wisdom, or when Mama would quote her dropping said pearl, I would think to myself, ‘I really should write these down, or record them or something, before they are lost forever.’ I never did get around to it, but in retrospect, it makes those memories and moments so much more precious.

My earliest memories of her are colored by the vagueries of childhood. We would collude in my mischief, in sneaking me treats and TV time. We would tease Mama together. Naani would help me win Hide and Seek, or protect me from Kanu’s wrath after my merciless pestering (while gently scolding me along the way). Whenever I was in India, she became my Mama Bear, and heavens help you if you messed with her grandkids.

I learned to love our conversations – by phone when I was home, or over chai and kachodi when I was in Kirti Nagar. Naani was a spiritual person, unphased by almost any trouble life threw her way. She came into her self-assuredness through preachings, and passed those along to us as we grew old enough to digest them. She emanated the same serenity otherwise only found at the temple.  

Naani was always thinking of us, her grandkids across the ocean. She had the most exquisite taste in fabrics, and would get beautiful suits made for us whenever we visited. She would make sure I got to eat all my favorite foods whenever I was home with her. She was selfless with her time and her spirit. She had such a big heart…but she really hated hugs. I made sure to give her extra ones whenever I was there.

I’m going to miss her voice, with its rough gravity. I’m going to miss bantering with her, and teasing Mama with her. I’m going to miss her palpable presence in their flat, filling every single room. I’m going to miss her playfully swatting me away when I would try to hug her. I’m going to miss curling up on her bed next to her, with my head in her lap and her hand on my head, grounding me in a way no one else could.

I’m going to miss Naani. Period.