When my grandmother passed away five years ago, I couldn’t remember her the way she left. I could only remember her the way she was in her old days—when she was healthy and active, before she started getting sick, before she started forgetting things and not recognizing people.
But with my grandfather, the image I’m left with is the very recent one, because until his end he was alert and sharp—still watched the news every day, still asked about me every time he talked to my mom, was too weak to read Quran but still prayed every day.
Sometimes when you think of your first retrievable memory with someone, you begin to realize the paradox of time. There were days when I was so small that I couldn’t reach the bottle of sweets that sat on top of the metal wardrobe in our Karachi house. My grandfather would get it down and put a few in my tiny palm. It seems like it was yesterday, and so long ago, all at the same time.
When I sketched out a family tree this morning, I realized he was father, grandfather and great grandfather to thirty children altogether, who all have very special bonds. The house that has grown story on story as the years passed, where people moved in and people moved out, where weddings took place, where grandchildren screeched with delight, where renovations were made, where mangoes and guavas were served after every meal, where he waited so intently for each of those thirty kids, that he’d ask Farheen Baji repeatedly the timings of their flights—that house is home.
You are being missed, Nana Abba.