Winter… the word springs up different emotions in people. To some, it is marked by the winter vacations and Christmas gifts that Santa brings. To a good lot, it means getting new winter wear, taking out rugs from the attic and ensuring that the heater system is in place. To the poor, it would mean a tough time ahead with not enough warm clothes and food to eat.
But to me, winter means my “Nani” is going to be home. My Nani (maternal grandmother) as we call her lives in the north of India. During the winter, it is very cold there and the temperatures often dip to below zero degrees. Given her age and fragile bones, she prefers to spend the time at a warmer place and our home is a natural choice.
So come winter, and Nani is here. The train from Lucknow comes to Surat station almost in the middle of the night and we sit at the station waiting to catch a glimpse of the train. During the nights, the train announcements are also few and not exactly accurate. But the wait itself is a part of the time I reminisce about those times. And there we see her alight from the train with lots of luggage of all shapes and sizes. There will be just one briefcase but so many bags… each stuffed with treasures unknown. We just can’t wait to go and unpack those at home.
And in the middle of the night, rather than going back to bed after picking up Nani, our eyes eagerly await the surprises which Nani brings in those bags. There are huge varieties of namkeens and sweets, some clothes that my cousins would have sent from the north, ceramic toys that are a specialty of that place, and what not.
What follows this initial excitement is a series of days of new things being done each day. My mom used to enjoy chatting with Nani to catch up on the family gossip and I used to lie there pretending to be asleep – though I hardly used to understand the gossip since the language was a different dialect of Hindi that I was not familiar with.
My Nani loved movies and TV. I used to have the afternoon fights with her over which serial to watch since she typically preferred soaps and mythological serials.
The best part of the whole visit was the innumerable movies that I used to watch in theatres with Nani on her pretext.
I just can’t forget the sunday head massages that Nani used to give me. Some of her golden nuggets of advice which she used to bestow upon me in the form of are still precious and valuable to me till this day.
My Nani is no more. She passed away 3 years ago.
I regret not having spent enough time with her. I wish I had done a lot more for her then I actually did. I wish I held her hand and sat through when she was ill rather than saving my leaves at office. I wish I visited her more often than I did. I wish I pressed her feet while she slept. I wish I read her out the books she loved so much which she couldn’t read any more because of her poor eye sight. I wish I listened to her endless stories of her youth which I remember getting bored with.
To me winter still holds the same significance…It brings my Nani back to me.