When I think of nana, almost invariably, a kaleidoscope of images rushes through my mind. Among them is of nana sitting at the sofa in the TV Lounge, reading a newspaper with glasses perched on his nose, or looking up expectantly to see who has arrived. Another one is of nana, sitting on the same sofa, observing everybody as different activities took place over the years. Whether it was one-dish parties or Maria Baji’s Nikkah or Chand Raat when he would watch us make packets of sweets, I can still remember how his eyes would twinkle with laughter and a smile would play upon his face as he watched over us all.
He called all the girls and women of the family “Munni”, and all the male members “Lala”, a fact which used to cause great pleasure to me and the rest of us girls when we were younger, because, of course, Munni is so much more affectionate and flattering than Lala. In my mind, I can still here him calling out, “Munni, yahan aao zara!”
Nana was a person whose presence could be felt throughout the house. It was his own personal touches, the little things he used to do, like fold the newspapers a certain way so they wouldn’t ruffle from the wind from the fan, or how he would, at the end of every day, make a check of the house, make sure the katoras were in their right place at the edge of the kitchen-counters, and that the iron was facing the right way on the iron-stand. They were little things, but they were a part of nana.
In my opinion, Nana was one of the most unorthodox people of his generation. From what I’ve heard from Ammi and other people, and from my own experience, he was always open-minded and encouraging. He gave everybody sanguine advice, but always supported his children’s decisions, whether they wanted to go abroad to study at a time when very few people were doing so, or they wanted to buy their own house.
When nana sometimes got angry, it seemed as if the whole house would shake. It used to scare me at the time, but now, when I think about it, it makes me smile, because even if nana got angry and yelled and shouted, the next minute, his anger would have completely disappeared and he would again become the kind-hearted person he was, smiling at the little kids and calmly resume talking.
When nana passed away last year, I wondered how we would ever be able to go on living without him. The house seemed empty and cold, his absence hanging over everything and everyone. His loss is still felt sharply by everybody. But now, my heart rests with the assurance that he is now in a better place, and that he lived his life on earth in the best possible way, surrounded by those who loved him dearly, and teaching everybody how to live their lives with happiness and contentment. His loss will be felt by every one of us our entire lives, but we will keep his memory alive forever in our hearts.