Nana

I always anticipated traveling to India every couple of years as I would get to see my mom’s side of the family – some of the people who mean the most to me. My grandpa, or my nana as I called him, was a very important man to me. He was one of a kind. Even in his eighties my nana would still try to be active by going on long walks every evening. He would buy groceries for the family, take care of his grandchildren, and do whatever it took to keep the household stable. 

Once when I visited at the age of 14, my nana and I walked hand-in-hand around the busy streets of Bombay. We needed to purchase a few grocery items for the house, however, the walk was lengthy with many twists and turns. I remember that day vividly. It was a comfortably warm, foggy and dusty, blue sky turning into a gray kind of a day. Children of all ages laughed as they danced around each other. Street vendors yelled out to people walking by to try and persuade them to buy their goods. Stray dogs, cats, and chickens roamed around barking, meowing, and clucking. Maybe to the average person it would seem overwhelming, and trust me, it was. Yet, I felt at peace being surrounded by my blood, my kin. 

When my nana and I arrived at the shop we desired, he selected the items he wanted to buy, and then proceeded to bargain. Him and the street vendor argued and argued. I admit, it was amusing, but the stray dog in front of me is what truly caught my attention. Petting the cream-colored canine would have been a poor decision, which is why I chose to slowly approach it and see what would happen. I felt bad for the dog. It was rolling around in its own filth and muck and I wanted to help it, although that was completely out of my hands. A disheveled man a few inches taller than me had caught me off guard. He came very close to my face and grabbed me by the wrist and tried pulling me. I was more perplexed than fearful at that moment, but the way the man stared into my eyes made me uneasy. “Nana!” I called out loudly only being a few feet away from him. Alarmed, my nana immediately turned around and pushed the man on his chest very hard so that he would ungrasp my wrist. Nana put me behind himself and he and the man began to yell at each other in Hindi. I understand Hindi well, but the speed of which they were quarreling made it difficult to comprehend. My nana told the man to go away and fortunately he did. 

Fresh fruit at a street vendor in Mumbai, India.

On the way home, my nana explained to me that I need to be more careful because there are bad people in this world who just want to see others hurt. But he also said that there are also good people who I can learn from and look up to. People that are selfless, compassionate and kind. He said to never forget the good ones, something that I will always remember. And here I am, typing this almost four years later. My nana was the most selfless, compassionate, and kind man. I never forgot you, nana. And I never will. You are the best kind of person you can find in this world.