“*Naanimaa!! Don’t touch my things! How many times have I told to not mess with my stuff?” I bellowed.
“But *beta, I was just trying to tidy your room”, she said softly.
“Don’t!! I like my room messed up!” I shouted.
She tried to reason with me but I just refused to listen. I told her to get out of my room. I am not usually this way but that day was exceptionally bad for me. I fell down on the bathroom floor while taking a bath and hurt my ankle, missed my usual 8:15 train and reached late to college. Since I was late, my class teacher refused to take my assignment. After begging her to finally take it, she gave me a B grade and an ugly red remark stating ‘LATE SUBMISSION’ on it. I had spent the entire night doing the assignment, so this was particularly nasty of her to do so. As if all this was not enough, I had a fight with a friend on a petty issue. All burnt up, I reached home and tried searching for my novel that I had put on my couch the previous day. Obviously, Naanimaa had cleaned the room and had put everything in its proper place (that means I will never be able to find it). I lost my temper and I just blasted her out of my room. I never realized that I would regret all this one day. It hurts me to this day on how I behaved with her.
Now, let me introduce my Naanimaa to you. She is a real sweetheart to say the least. She told me funny bedtime stories when I was child and I must say she was extremely good at it. Not only that, she was the one who had spoilt me to the core. She would hide my mistakes from Mom so that I could avoid the punishment. She would listen to all my sob stories patiently and always give me good advice. She used to do my part of household chores so that I could enjoy some extra time for play. She would bring for me all the junk goodies that children crave and even give me cash for my extra expenses. My naanimaa was also an adventurous and funny woman. She would take me to the garden often and she was the one who taught me how to ride a bicycle. When I attained puberty she was the one who told me the birds and bees stories. She was a cool Grandma and I loved her for all the little and big things she did for me. She was never stern with me even when I used to experiment all kinds of pranks with her. Once my prank misfired and she hurt herself. But she never told mom about my naughty and obnoxious behavior She would sit with me and explain everything so calmly and coolly that I learnt so many things without even knowing I had learnt them. I became a matured young lady thanks to her. I loved her so much yet I never told her so.
But all this had to end someday. My grandma was turning old. She started getting ill often. The doctors said she has to live with these conditions as this was due to old age and hence could not be cured. Her health started deteriorating and she was no longer the cool grandma I once knew. She used to get irritated quite often and I started veering away from her. I never realized how much she still adored me. Then, she fell very ill. My mama (mom’s brother) came and took her away stating he was in a better position to take care of her. I felt bad, but was relieved to get rid of grandma. Grandma needed a lot of care and nursing and Mama had people who could take care of her. My family had just three people. With mom and dad working, I had to attend college; there was no one in the house to take care of her. But my granny wanted to stay with us. Her heart and soul dwelt here. She adored us. When she was in mama’s house she kept calling us. I always ignored her calls. She had a hearing impairment and I had to yell in the phone for her to understand what I was speaking. I never found the time to go and meet her. Mom visited her occasionally and on one fine Saturday, she told me that Grandma was inquiring about me. She had become frail and old and kept asking for me. I wanted to meet her too but I was always so busy. I told mom that next Saturday I will definitely go and meet her. Mom nodded in affirmation. That night I felt very uneasy. I thought to myself, instead of next Saturday I will go and meet her tomorrow itself. I had my exams on Monday but I made up my mind. I slept sound that night.
Sunday morning I woke up to loud wails coming from the interior of my house. I shook myself up and went to my Mom’s room. My Mom was wailing like a maniac. She was shivering and papa was trying to control and console her. I stood there frozen in panic unable to ask what had happened. My Mom suddenly came and held me and whispered, “Your naanimaa…” and she trailed off. I could not react. I knew I had lost the chance of going and meeting her. I had lost the chance to tell her how much I loved her. I had lost the chance to tell her that she was the coolest naanimaa on planet earth. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me. I could not face myself. I regretted every moment I lost when I could have been close to her, nurtured her, and been there for her. I regretted the times I was rude to her. I felt ashamed of myself when I realized I had never told her how much I loved her. Now I had lost her, everything was over.
The once lively woman who adored me lay before me lifeless. I would never hear her stories again. I would never be able to hear her laughter!! I would never be able to hug her and cuddle her. Memories flushed through my eyes. My eyes started swelling up with tears and I could only whisper in the ears of my dead naanimaa “I am sorry…”….
How many times have we been ‘too busy’ to go and meet our loved ones? How many times have we been ‘too ignorant’ to tell our loved ones we love them? The regret eats you later on. You start cursing yourself. You beg the time to rewind. The past will not let you live in peace and your future will be filled with “ifs”. If only I had done this… If only I could have told her/ met her… and so on… Do it before it is too late. Make memories...
The saying goes, “On your death bed no one will remember the presentations you made, you will be remembered for the memories you shared.”
*naanimaa: Hindi word for maternal grandmother.
*beta: Hindi word for son/daughter
*beta: Hindi word for son/daughter