The last few days have been surreal, and a bit of a blur to be honest. I lost my Nana, who was a central figure in our lives, early on Saturday. And every moment from that point on – waiting for an eternity in the queue at the check-in counter at the airport, willing it to move so that I could get to Mumbai quickly, not realizing that it would take the same time regardless of my impatience to performing the last rites at the crematorium – has been unreal.
Despite having lost my Dada a few years ago, this hit me more than I could have imagined. And maybe it’s because his place is the only one where I felt truly happy as a child. The time that I spent there studying for my board exams, the stamp collection that I inherited from him, the food and the fruits that he’d sent, the time that I spent on the swing in his balcony listening to the radio, those lazy summer afternoons I’d spent on Nani’s bed reading Enid Blyton and Franklin Dixon through my early years in school, using his house to change and host my friends during annual days and sports festivals, using his cell phone – a Nokia 3350 – when I wasn’t allowed one by my parents, and the humility in the stories of his time in Kenya that he would share with his children and grandchildren. The sum total of all these memories – and the unconditional and undifferentiated love that we all found there – made Nana’s house my happy place for the longest time. I am thankful to whatever force there is out there, that he could be there for my wedding, and that my partner could experience some of the love that we’d all lived with for all these years.
Selfless and kind, Nana was clear that he had to spoil us – be it weddings, birthdays, Diwali, or a simple dinner on a Sunday evening. And as I write this, I can’t help but think of a short story by Ruskin Bond called The Cherry Tree. I always saw my Nana as Rakesh’s grandfather from the story, someone who guided Rakesh through the vagaries of life and saw him and the cherry tree blossom into beautiful beings.
Rest in peace Nana. And thank you for everything. You meant a lot to me, more than I could ever tell you.