Every afternoon, after finishing our meal, it was time for our much needed afternoon siesta. Supporting our overfull bellies like a mother carrying a child, we’d head to the chambers for our impending slumber. Right when we were about to doze off, Nani would enter the room with a sigh, exasperated at our indolence. Sleeping was obviously considered misusing the little time we get at “Nani- house” and hence, looked down upon. Instead, we could learn the craft of sewing. Highly competent at the art herself, Nani believed that sewing was a life skill, crucial enough to be discovered by her beloved grandchildren. With a persuasive grunt, she’d wander off to another room to get the cloth leftover after sewing ornate skirts for us. This would serve as the perfect yet inexpensive canvas for us to perfect the art. What would follow was a set of intricate directives aimed at mastering the skill.
Being CEOs of Bhavika and Disha’s Exclusive Massage and Acupressure Freelance Services or BaDEMAFS for short was not easy. Every night, we had one fixed customer- Nani. We would press the acupressure points of her palm and her feet; occasionally giving her rejuvenating manicures and pedicures. In return, she’d give us money- not just any amount she wanted- we were a legitimate business with a legitimate rate card. It was a gracefully designed rate card adorned with clumsy stars and flowers. With all the resources at our fingertips, a regular customer and no miscellaneous expenses: it was a fool proof plan to generate profits.
Ever been to a supermarket with endless food isles and a cosmic budget? Well, we have. All thanks, to-you guessed it right-Nani! If we were to choose one delightful summer memory, going to the supermarket would definitely be it. The tedious chore is hardly what you’d classify as a “delight” unless you’re going with Nani. In that case, it’s an undoubtedly novel affair. We’d each take a trolley for ourselves and stroll down numerous aisles, each one crammed with lip-smacking items. And whatever fancy packet caught our eye was conveniently placed in our food cart. There was a “No Questions Asked Policy” that Nani would follow. No matter how pointless, expensive or worthless the item was- she’d buy it for us-our 10-year-old brain unable to process that we’d go home with everything we fancied!
Golden puffed rice, amalgamated with cubed potatoes, caramelized onions and a zesty squeeze of lime. Something about this frugal ‘Kanda Poha’ was my kick-starting fuel in Ahmadabad. And that Nani always remembered. Cyclically, a hearty breakfast of Kanda Poha will always be my first breakfast. Moreover, Nani made sure I get my cup of chai ready on arrival. Not just that, she improvised. She prepared an array of accessories that amplify the chai. Every single year. Nani always remembers.
All of us huddle up and it is time to formulate a game plan. Fifteen days and umpteen items, there is only one man for the job: Nani. We rush to her and start reciting all our food demands. Without any interruptions, she stood with an earnest smile absorbing our cacophony like a thick curtain. She marched into her room and appeared back with sheets of papers and sketch pens. Each of us were entrusted with two sheets and were asked to list any dish that caught our fancy. This litany was hung in the kitchen and with each scrumptious meal, we got to strike through the items on our lists.
With Nani around, it was like Mom’s powers were curtailed. Now, there was a High Court Judge to overrule the Sarpanch’s judgment, and we couldn’t be happier. We knew the scales were always tipped in our favour. Consequently, we could eat junk food right before dinner (a novelty otherwise not allowed), and Mom couldn’t say a word. After all, Nani was on our side!
I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if someone mistook ‘Nani house’ to be a guest house. Each summer when we’d go there, we’d see relatives and friends flock over in multitudes, with Nani more than happy to host all of them. Each visitor would go back with a stomach full of delicacies and a heart full of warmth. Nani loves having people over- the umpteen visitors, proof enough of her social nature. In a world where our relatives are nothing more than a ‘contact card’, Nani found her way to every person’s speed dial.
Three hundred and forty-eight days without a single morsel of chocolate. Multitudes of people pledge to sacrifice their most favourite habits to fulfil their deepest desires. With the hopes of writing a prophesy for myself, I gave it a shot. Without submitting a notice to my family, I relinquished my Achilles ’ heel: chocolate. Every fortnight, my mother would persuade me to stop the madness but in vain. Every month my friends gave me exasperated looks, but I did not budge from my decision to stop eating chocolates. With seventeen days to complete a year without chocolate, Nani highlighted the crux of one’s morals. She showed me the selfish side to my sacrificial front. That night I blissfully devoured Hide-n-Seek biscuits. Somehow, it stuck when Nani repeated the same set of words that mother chanted all through the year?
The Sun exudes a gravitational force that keeps all the planets revolving together. It is the essence of the solar system; it’s what gives the planets their _ support. Without it, they’d all collapse. Well, for us, Nani is our metaphorical Sun. She provides our little experiences with a deep-rooted meaning and is the glue that holds us all together. Just like the Sun, she steers us through life, lighting up the right paths.
Every summer was a rendition dedicated to our childhood orchestrated by Nani. Her Herculean gravitational pull had the cultivated wisdom of Athena. If Summer had a symbol, it would be the Sun. Transitively, if we had to define summer in a single word, it would invariably be Nani.
Written by Bhavika Daga