Nanu is visiting us for three months. The last time she came here was seven years ago - back in my immature days. I remember being very rude to her - being annoyed when she asked me to do little things, hating the way she walks so slow, thinking that its pointless that she writes everything that happens in her diary. I never really appreciated her. We went to Bangladesh at the end of the next year. I still didn't like being around nanu very much. I preferred getting up to mischief with my cousins and talking to my choto mami about girly things. The next time I saw her was the next time we went to Bangladesh - when I was seventeen - and I still haven't quite grown up yet. I still got up to mischief, to a slightly greater degree than time before. I still didn't like hanging around nanu.
Then I finished school and started university. A lot of things changed. When I think about it, I realise how much Allah has blessed me all my life, and especially these last few years. I started to figure out who the important people in my life are, realised what my priorities should be and cleaned up my act a little. At the end of first year, I went to Bangladesh again. Since I had bad experiences for the past couple of times, I was a bit weary of going back. I knew that the adults didn't have a good impression of me, and at the same time, I knew that the things I got up to in the past no longer interested me. I felt like I had to wear a mask of happiness. When I told my sis about it, she said something really important to me - something that I still live by. She said that the happiness doesn't have to be a mask, I can make it real. I don't have to only seem like I am enjoying my stay, I can really try to enjoy it. Instead of thinking 'I just have to be patient these six weeks and then I can relax', I can really try to get to know the people, experience whatever I can and change my life a little.
Things started to seem very different to me. I didn't feel like getting up to much 'mischief'. (Although... my cousins and I did sneak out in the middle of the night and almost got kidnapped once.) I could see through a lot of people and their fake concern for my well-being. Amongst all of these self discoveries, B was getting married, so everyone in the family was pretty much in one place. That was the time that I really got to 'know' some of the adults in our family. Nanu told me about the different proposals that nanabhai got, and why he rejected all of them, and how he ended up married the 'dark-skinned' girl. She told me about her life before marriage and the things she studied. My mum's sisters and brothers told me about all the mischief they got up to when they were little - the times they got into trouble. There are some things that they still don't feel comfortable talking about in front of their mother, even though its been years and years! Some of them stopped caring of their ego and admitted their weaknesses. I really felt like I connected to them.
And at the same time, I yearned to come back because I hated everything else. I hardly had freedom because of the lack of security. At home, I can leave home any time I want, go anywhere I want and come back at night if need be. I remember walking back home around 10 pm once because of some transport issues, and my parents were still not overtly worried. But in Bangladesh, the furthest I went without a chaperone was to a shop in the street that we stayed at. They got worried if I went up on to the roof for too long! And then there is the issue of corruption. Everyone is lying everywhere! Kids are lying to their parents, parents are lying to their kids - trust is absent from the place where trust is the most important - a family. And everyone expects everyone else to be distrustful, so they live very suspicious lives. That was far more suffocating than the pollution.
Both of these factors led to one thing - my inability to create change. And there's only so long a person can watch things that need to be changed and stay quiet with the guilt. Eventually, you learn to shut everything out and turn into zombies like everyone else. Alhamdulillah - my current life makes me feel very lucky in that sense. I am doing things that has a direct positive effect on other people's lives, in the short term and in the long term. And a life lived in such a way is so much more fulfilling!
So the best combination is, having nanu over here. And that's what I have now! I have intellectual conversations with her, talk about the past, talk about things she worries about, learn from each other. The thing that I love about nanu is that she really listens - she doesn't just hear things - she takes words to heart. So speaking good words to her is definitely worth it. Now, I love the little things she tells me to do. I love her stories, I love the way she scolds me. I love the way her skin crinkles, I love the way she laughs (she laughs a little like me... I was told my laughter is like my other grandma, but I am finding similarities with this one too. When any one of us laugh, our entire body shakes). I love the way she speaks.
May Allah bless her forever.