I sat entertaining Buzz while D went to pick up food at this small Indian eat out place. I caught something from the corner of my eye which has me turning my head in a rush of smile. The words ‘Nani’ came to my lips before I saw the head turn a little. Words left unsaid as I looked on. Not Nani. No this was not Nani. How could it be her after all?
I sat and stared. The same body type, the same wrinkled hands, the same white hair tied up in a messy knot, the same way of draping the dupatta on the head, the same lines on the face. She sat with her back to me and I just wanted to get up and hug her.
It has been way too long since I last hugged you Nani and felt you engulf me in your warmth. It has been too long Nani since I saw the smile on your face and the light in your eyes. It has been way too long.
For the 10 mins we sat next to each other, I lived in the illusion that this was Nani. That she would turn any minute, smile and call out ‘Chuhiya’. For the same insane reason, I did not want her to turn because that would shatter this beautiful dream I was building.
We sat and ate. My eyes returning to her ever so often. I could not form the words and tell D what I was going through. All I did was look on. Saw her family come up to her. Saw her pick her little granddaughter and kiss her. Saw her care in her every action. All the time the lump in my throat grew bigger and bigger.
Do you know Nani how much I have been missing you lately? Do you know how much I think of you these days with everything that is going on? Do you know how much I wish I could run and hide in your lap?
I glanced at her, one last time, as we got up and left. She stayed unaware of me and my scrutiny the entire time, but now almost a day later I wish I had the guts to go up to her and touch her feet before I left. I know she was not my Nani. But she gave me that one flash of memory that I never thought I would ever see again. And for that moment when she was Nani to me, I wish I could get her blessings. I wish she could tell me things will be all right.