She left her puttar over a decade ago.

I adored my naani. Probably more than my mom did. An extremely pious woman, I remember how she would sing bhajans and mantras all day long, in the hope of making me learn them by heart. She had pristine white hair, a wrinkled face and a breathtaking smile. She was the most peaceful person I have ever known. 

She had a mole on her right cheek which I didn’t really notice back then. But now, I remember every little detail about her. From her neatly-trimmed nails to the stray strands of white hair on her chin, from her favourite saree to her favourite food, from the way she called my name to the way she would scold me when I didn’t get home on time, I remember every last detail.

I shared a special relationship with my grandmom. Naani was always by my side. Whenever mom scolded me, naani would defend me. When I needed money, she would reach for her purse. And when I needed some love, she would give me one of her magical bear hugs. It was like they came with a silent assurance, a promise that everything would be all right.

She was my goddess. The excited little kid in me always wanted to be like her. From wearing her sarees to putting on her bindis, what all I did to look like her!

Naani was suffering from Parkinson’s. She couldn’t walk or work without assistance. It was a serious, incurable disease but my badass naani never let it dampen her spirit. She continued cooking for me, and would still do all her chores herself.

But that day was different.

It was a Sunday and as was the ritual in my family, mom was making aaloo paranthe. The clock struck 11 but strangely, naani hadn’t gotten up yet. When she didn’t get up by 12, mom got worried. She went to check. Naani was lying on her side, facing the other side. She didn’t respond when my mom called her. So she held her face in her hands and turned it towards her.

We were shocked when we saw her face. It was purple. No blood flow. We rushed to call our neighbours to get their car out so that we could rush her to the hospital. We didn’t have a car back then.

In the meantime, I constantly rubbed her feet and hands. No reaction. Checked her heartbeat. Still no reaction.

Mom and dad took her to the hospital. She lay in my mom’s lap in the car, not knowing what was happening. Or perhaps, she did. Maybe she knew it all along.

Everyone went, leaving me alone at home. Every second that passed, I prayed. I prayed hard. And every minute that I waited, I died a little on the inside. It was as if my heart had stopped beating too. My dearest naani, what was I going to do without her, I thought.

I saw the car return from afar. Naani was there, still sleeping peacefully in my mother’s lap. My eyes were glued on hers. It was mom who came inside first. I asked her what had happened. “Gone,” was all she said.

I tried to control my tears but I couldn’t. They burst out like a river. My dearest naani maa had gone. My naana informed the relatives in an emotionless voice. “Tumhari taayi puri ho gayi. Subeh sanskaar hai,” he would say and disconnect the phone.

Seeing her lifeless body is the saddest thing I’ve experienced in my life. What does a 13-year-old kid know about death? Losing a grandparent taught me all that life never will.

It taught me the value of relationships, about loved ones and about the cruelty of time. But most importantly, it taught me to value people because they won’t be around forever.

When I miss my naani, I think about that wrinkled face and that magical smile and I can almost picture her looking at me, saying: “Puttar, you’re doing great.”

On other days, she makes do as my social media passwords. 

All images via Unsplash /  Feature image for representation purpose only