Do you remember the last time you hugged your mom and told her how much you love her? Do you remember the last time you caught your dad’s hand and told him how fortunate you are to have him? I do, because I do it every single day. It’s very important to tell your loved ones how much you love and cherish them because if you don’t, you might regret it for the rest of your life.
17th February, 2012 was the most miserable and sorrowful day of my life. It was on this day that my Nana took his last breath. The news of his demise came as a shock to all of us. I was filled with sadness and grief, unable to grasp the fact that my beloved nana was no longer alive. At just 69 my nana’s death was a swift one, caused by cardiac arrest. His pain and suffering was short lived but the heartache and anguish that I experienced on his death was a long and painful one.
He was the most loving granddad a child could wish for but for the world he was Mr. Harshavadan Badiani – perfectionist, spirited, ambitious and a dynamic businessman who never minced his words and knew how to make his dreams come true. My nana was a short man with a gracefully aged face, thinning hair that he resolutely dyed black to fight off age and intelligent eyes that would always shine with unbridled joy and vitality. He was an interesting man who led an adventurous life. As a child, he was mischievous and headstrong who loathed studies. Every time he was sent to a boarding school, he would run away from there and go back home. He was sent to ten different schools but he would always manage to run away or get thrown out due to his disobedient and unruly behaviour.
Even though he lacked formal education, he made up for it in terms of worldly wisdom. He started off by training in the business of selling dates with his uncle, but with a quick mind and sharp business acumen, he branched out, expanded the business and was one of the most revered and successful dates trader in Gujarat. During every summer vacation I would go to Jamnagar- my nana’s home, which was undoubtedly my favourite place in the whole world.
Nana would always say- “Your wish is my command” whenever I made a request for a new toy, clothes or an electronic gadget. He was my personal genie and unlike Aladdin, I had no limit on the number of wishes. Every evening he would take me to ‘Veeral Baugh’ the children’s garden to sit on swings and slides and at night after dinner, he would take me to the paan shop ‘Shree Ram’ where I would indulge in mouth-watering gulkand, sweet red cherries and fizzy masala soda. Nana would personally go to the market and pick out the best, juiciest and sweetest fruits for me. In the evening we would sit on the porch swing and talk for hours. Spending quality time with my nana would make my summer vacation all the more special. On my birthdays, nana would never forget to send my birthday present.
As I grew older, my visits to Jamnagar became brief and few. Burdened with studies, my vacations would be spent completing projects and studying for upcoming exams. On my 18th birthday nana gifted me my first expensive cell phone- Blackberry Torch, which was the most fashionable and popular phone of that time. That was my last birthday gift from him. 8 days after my 19th birthday, he passed away. I continued using the same phone for four years although my friends would often tell me to buy a new one. But for me, that phone was very special as it symbolised my nana’s love and affection. Once, out of curiosity I asked him, “Nana, why do you always wear a white shirt?” To this, he replied, “That’s because white is my favourite colour and it stands for peace and purity of the heart, something that I truly believe in.” These words have always stayed with me.
Today, I miss him terribly. I miss his kind eyes, his bright smile and warm and fragrant hugs, always the same scent of Davidoff Cool water and even today if I get a whiff of that scent, it immediately reminds me of him. He left this world so suddenly, so quickly, that I had no time to catch his hand and tell him how much I love him. I now realise that we must never take our loved ones for granted. You never know that a moment spent with them might just be your last one together. I regret not spending more time with him in my growing years, never knowing that he would depart so soon. I now make it a point, to spend more time with my loved ones and tell them in no uncertain terms, how much I love them and how lucky I am to have them in my life. I am indeed very grateful to learn this valuable lesson and the only person I have to thank is the man in the white shirt.