My grandmother, my Nani, my mother’s mother, my (I am not ashamed to say it) favourite grandparent, died on 19th March. It was sudden, she was fine till around 10 in the night, she went to bed and started vomitting and then lost consciousness. There were multiple haemorrhages in her brain and there was no hope. She remained on the ventilator for a day and then her heart just stopped beating. She was 79 years old. She had a good life and she had a good death. No lingering in the hospital, no long illness, she didn’t even make her children have to take the decision to remove her from the ventilator. She saw her 3 children and 6 grandchildren prosper. She played with 5 great grandchildren. She was looking forward to the marriage of her youngest grandchild in November. She was eager to meet 2 new great-grandchildren later this year. She died in the midst of family. She and my grandfather were at my Aunt’s house, spending time with my cousin (her eldest and in some ways favourite granddaughter) and her 4 month old twins.
I had sometimes imagined how I would feel when my Nani died – specially since my paternal grandfather died 2 years ago. I am somehow less devastated than I had imagined I would be (and yes the guilt is there for that). Maybe because it’s still not sunk in, maybe because my heart has still not fully grasped what it has lost. Maybe because I also feel so incredibly blessed, blessed to have had her as my grandmother for 30 years, blessed to have been born in this family, blessed to have spent a lot of time with her both as a child and as an adult, blessed to have felt her love, blessed to know that Anna gave her a lot of joy, blessed to have been so very close to her, blessed to have learnt so many things from her, blessed to have her copy of ‘Far from the madding crowds’ and to know that I can pass it on to Anna, blessed to have her live in my heart and the hearts of all those who loved her.
We got the news on Monday morning that she was in hospital. My mother immediately left, she was staying at my brother’s place. My brother and cousins and I left the next day. Anna had fallen sick and I was not going to go – but R booked my tickets at the last minute. I love him so much for doing that – I would have never forgiven myself for not going. I did come back in only a day and didn’t reach in time for the funeral but I went and it means a lot to me.
I talked to her on Sunday. Mummy was staying with us for the day and her phone rang. She was having a bath and even though I was as usual rushing around, I picked up the phone. I talked to her. We had plans to meet later this year. She was going to come and stay with Mummy when I went there in September/October after having the baby (Yes, I’m pregnant, that was my big news which I had mentioned in the last post. The baby is due in August and I’ll be 20 weeks through tomorrow). Then we were all going to get together for my cousin’s wedding, the last on my mother’s side of the family.
The regret of not having spent more time with her, specially in the last few years, is always with me. I last met her when they had come to Bangalore in June 2011. We were going to meet in February last year but last minute work at R’s office made us cancel, I was going to go in August last year but again it didn’t materialize, I was going to go in February end/March beginning this year but we went to Goa instead thinking that in any case I will get to stay with them for a long time once I’m on maternity leave. When will we learn? When will we learn to understand what is important and what isn’t?
I still can’t imagine a world where she’s not there, not there to smile her dimpled smile, not there to cook fabulous stuff for us, not there to tell us stories, not there to lie in the dark and talk for hours, not there for us to scold when she ate too much sweet (she was diabetic), not there to call and say ‘Hello Nani’ on the phone ever again, not there to take care of my grandfather, not there at all. That I can never say ‘she is’ ever again.
My mother is devastated. And I am here, in office, ‘working’. Way to go.
I don’t want to end this post on a bitter note. So I will write some more about Nani. She was born on 18th October 1933/34. The date on her records in 1934, but she was an infant during a bad earthquake in Bihar which happened before October 1934, which indicates that it was most probably 1933. Her father was in the state government and they lived all over Bihar. She was a B.A from Women’s College in Patna. She got married to my grandfather on 3rd March 1952. She had 3 children, 2 girls and then a boy. She was very good at knitting, stitching and embroidery. Anna has a sweater made by her and we used to get new ones every year when we were kids. She was a very progressive lady and I really admire her ability to change with the times. She was lady in every sense of the word – poised, always well groomed and stylishly turned out, caring and kind, compassionate but also strict and firm when she needed to be. She was and will remain, loved by all those who knew her.
Rest in peace Nani. I will always and always love and cherish and remember you.
December 2006, Delhi. Nani is knitting socks for me 🙂
July 2010. A cousin’s wedding in Banaras. The photo is taken in Nani’s house.