Written by Anisha Ray
How are you, Nanny? It’s been so long since I last spoke to you. I didn’t know where or how to reach you. It wasn’t until late that Mum told me you moved to a new place called Heaven. Must be crowded since there are so many people out there. Did you meet Gran? Are you in the same Heaven? I wrote to her too, but she’s yet to reply. Anyways, I hope you are well in Heaven, but I wish you told me before you moved away.
I’m in fourth-grade now. Mum says I’m a big girl. I can fold my own clothes and plait my own hair. But I still miss the way you’d brush and tie my hair every day. I wish you taught me how to do my hair before you left. Oh! Did I tell you about my school friends? I have so many. And such sweet and fun ones too. I’m so glad I listened to you, when you told me to just be myself and there will be people who’d appreciate me for the way I am. My friends come over often and we play and eat popsicles all day! I told them about the orange popsicles you’d make. I wish they got to taste yours too. They were the best popsicles ever.
Mum is just the same, behind a huge pile of paperwork. She only has time for me during my etiquette classes, but to be honest, those classes are so boring. “Don’t do this”, “don’t do that”, “a lady doesn’t behave like this”, and on and on. We often have many people over from the Women’s Association. They smoke in the parlour and chatter away in loud whispers. During these parties, I usually stay in my room, avoiding Mum’s constant rebukes and remarks. Daddy too stays in the study, writing pages after pages, signing books after books. His last book was really well-appreciated. I think he’s working on something new.
Oh! And did you know there’s a huge uprising in Mississippi? It’s about something called the Black Movement. I don’t really understand what is it about, why are so many people being killed? The other day, as I was leaving for school, Mum stopped me because something had happened at school. Turns out, someone burnt our bus! Why would anyone do that? I hear Daddy sigh in the evenings, as he sits before the typewriter and writes. Why are people being mean and attacking each other? She said that I was too little to understand. I asked Daddy to take me to your street so I could play around a little but he said it isn’t safe anymore. I wonder how the place I felt safest in suddenly became dangerous.
The other day, I was playing in the orchard with my dolls and suddenly I remembered the broken swing on that tree. Do you remember that day? Even the memory of it makes me shiver. The fall, the blood and oh, the pain! But you ran to me barefoot, thorns pricking your feet. You picked me up and ran home. I still remember the feeling of the wet cloth on my forehead, your soft voice singing to me and a strange cool breeze blowing. I remember waking up on my bed, the sky dark and with countless stars and you asleep near my bed. The next day, Mum had the swing removed and before she left, she looked at me and said, “a lady doesn’t swing high. This is what happens when you don’t listen.” Her words were so bitter and felt so cruel. But it didn’t hurt for long, for your warmth conquered them all.
Anyways, that’s pretty much how every day is for me. What are your days like these days? Are you looking after another girl like me in Heaven? I wish you’d take me to Heaven the way you used to take me to your house out here. I used to enjoy so much plucking tomatoes from your garden or skipping around the block. Daddy often admits missing you. He speaks of how delicious your caramel pudding was and how funny you were.
I have a new Nanny now, her name’s Nelly. She’s thin and quiet and always so nervous around us. The house has gotten so quiet overtime. It’s just the monotonous sound of the kitchen fan, Daddy’s
typewriter and the occasional creaks of the doors and windows. You know, Nelly often makes this delicious thing called pancakes. I eat it with maple syrup and it’s so yummy.
Oh Nanny, do you remember that storm from the other day? Oh My God it was so scary! I was just playing with my dolls in my room, when I heard the windows open and shut so hard. It was so loud and dark, with trees swerving everywhere and dust in my eyes! I cried when the lights suddenly went out. Daddy rushed into my room and grabbed me. I cried and cried. We went to an underground room and Daddy held the door shut tightly as the wind’s whistles kept getting louder and louder. I really wished you were there with me. I was so cold and scared. For the first time, Mum held me tight against her chest and she shivered with me and I felt a little warm as I slowly drifted off to sleep. When I woke up, it was morning, and a horrible sight! The chairs from our orchard were broken and all apart. There were so many broken twigs and trees all around. Mum’s garden had been ripped apart. That was the first day you didn’t come home.
We waited for two days to hear from you. We were all very worried. We hadn’t heard from you in days and we missed you. On the third day, Daddy drove to your house. When he came back, he looked so sad. I had never seen him so upset before. I kept pressing on him to tell me what happened, but he kept hesitating. Eventually he gave away and said, “Nanny’s in Heaven”. I was devastated. I had so many questions in my mind. Why did you leave without telling us? When did you leave?
I miss your gummy smile, your big hands that would cuddle me when I’d cry, your laugh, your smell. How are you Nanny? I miss you. I’m happy and I hope you are too. I wish we could be happy together, just like the old days. You know, they say, once a person goes to Heaven, they never come back. Will you never come to meet me Nanny? Nanny, if I go to Heaven, will I see you? Will you be happy to meet me?