I have known my Nani my whole life, but did I really know her?
My Nana passed away recently and it made me question that. I have always looked up to Nani, but I would observe her from a distance. Sometimes I felt I was too sensitive to her advice, I misunderstood it as criticism.
Sonia's Nani and Nana on their honeymoon
Recently, I attended a wedding with Nani - she loves to dress up. It was a lot of fun getting ready with her, we showed up pretty late to the wedding, but Nani looked great! I asked Nani if I could take a photo of her, she loves to be photographed. I could tell she was having fun, we were having fun. Nani stayed with us for a month in Juhu and I feel like I really got to know her in that time. She told me about her childhood, about the partition, how she came to Bombay and then later went to Chennai. It was very insightful. She got emotional talking about it, we stayed up till 4am talking sometimes.
Nani's father was a professor in Karachi, at the time of the partition. During the time of unrest, her father asked her mom to take the kids and go to India, to Bombay specifically as they had some relatives there. Nani and her two brothers lived in Borivali with their mom and waited for their father, but it seemed like he would not leave Pakistan. Things were tough for her mom in Bombay, raising 3 kids on her own. Eventually her mom left Bombay with the oldest son, leaving Nani and her brother in the care of an Uncle and Aunt who lived in Bandra. Nani was 7 at the time and her brother was a few years younger. Her brother took it a lot worse than she did. They later learned that her parents had more kids back in pakistan, her parents came to Bombay hoping to bring the kids back with them. But by then neither Nani, nor her brother wanted to leave. Their Aunt and Uncle had raised them with so much care and did not have any kids of their own, and they considered them to be their parents. Nani’s brother too went on to become a professor and still lives in Bombay. Nani then met Nana and moved to Kerala and eventually Chennai.
Left - Sonia's Nani as a child ; Right : Sonia's Nani and her daughters
When she spoke of her childhood, it seemed to me that she did not have the privilege of being a child. Like many children in that generation, she had a lot of responsibility. So when she showed me that photo I was so struck by her body language and her posture. To me it seemed like she just KNEW something.
Later on during her visit, we went on little adventures. We went to Mohammad Ali road, she took me to temples I had never been to. I spoke to her friend on the phone, we got our nails done, we went on walks, she sang songs, she met my friends. I felt like I needed to document it all.
Sonia and her Nani getting their nails done.
Old people are often overlooked, but there is so much to learn from them. It is true, Nani really does know best. Nani has a youthful spirit that I really admire. Her age does not stop her from doing anything or going anywhere, she is very playful. That comes across in her photos. I think her instagram is a constant reminder to me that fun should never end. I found other Nanis on instagram too and now people tag @naniknowsbest when they take photos of their Nanis!
Nani's just want to feel special. Say hi to your Nani from me!