Nana

I visited Nana in Bombay during my summer vacations. Since Nana and Viju both worked they would give me detailed directions about the bus and train routes so I could travel alone.

“You have to be careful of pickpockets here, Acchu. This is a big city,” he said.

Then one day he took me to the Fort area to show me the commercial market. We took the train. We were the only passengers on the platform. The ticket booth was at the entrance to the station. Nana paid for two tickets in cash. The train arrived and we took our seats. Nana started checking his pockets and looked worried.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Did you see the clerk give me the change?” he asked. “I am sure I gave him a twenty rupee note. Now I can’t find the change.”

“It should be in one of your pockets.”

“No. I looked. It’s gone.”

“You were telling me about pick pockets.”

“I know. But, you saw there was no one on the platform.”

We never solved the mystery of where the money disappeared.

That weekend Nana said I should visit the famous Juhu beach. The beach was famous for the big bungalows owned by famous actors and other rich people. In conservative, puritan India the ladies never ventured out in a swim suit. They would enter the water by just raising the hem of their sarees above their ankles. The Christian ladies, however, had no such inhibition. Looking at them in their swimming dresses was a novelty and sense of curiosity.

I went to the beach as directed and returned home without getting lost.

“Well, how was it?” Nana asked. He had returned from office and was taking tea as he read the newspaper.

“It was good.”

“Did you see anybody swimming?”

“Yes. But they were all old.”

Nana broke out in loud laughter. I didn’t realize that I had made a joke.

In the evening Nana would take me out with him to meet his neighbors who gathered on the front lawns of the complex. We sat on the grass as the men talked of politics and the rampant corruption everywhere — how it was difficult to get anything done without greasing palms. Nana would turn his face once in the while and spit the tobacco juice.

9 thoughts on “Nana

  1. नानांबद्दल वाचून मजा आली ,छान लिहीलेत। गीता वहीनी

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      1. Hello Achunana
        Your write up on Late Nana mama is interesting. I too remember the incident mentioned by you in the article. When he was in translation dept. he used to occasionally drop me at keshav memorial school en route to his office . Your article is best tribute to Late Nana mama.
        Regards
        Dinu

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  2. My eyes welled with tears on reading this. As Oscar Wilde’s quote on parents, I did judge him and later understood where he was coming from. He used to think I am like his father and would spend all money and be penniless in the end I proved him wrong on this! He saw me succeed in life , following a different path. In the end, he used to ask me to be always thankful to god for all the personal success , not take credit personally, as I used to do. Anyway thanks for writing with such compassion and in detail regards Pankaj

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Pankaj: I understand. Sometimes we are quick to judge people around us. Especially in youth. Over time we have a different perspective. It is never too late for redemption.
      At first glance I was surprised to see a comment on something I wrote two years ago. I am glad it is you. Take care.

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