dear naana

decade after death

I miss you so much. Words fail me in description. You were the person I loved most in the world. You were the greatest man I knew.

I will never meet anybody who could amount to half of whom you were: a selfless, loving, invested, larger-than-life, animated, funny, wise, passionate, generous and noble grandfather, patriarch, mentor, teacher, friend and so much more.

You were beautiful. You were tall. You were lanky. You had a perfect smile. You had a great beard. You were a stylish, polite gentleman. You had this magnetism, this charm, this eloquence.

Yours was a rags-to-riches kind of story, of an orphaned youngest child, who was self-educated and read by streetlight during your youth in south India. You moved your family to the newly formed nation of Pakistan where you raised eight children, then finally emigrated to America, land of opportunity. You went to the library nearly every day without exception for over a decade. You used to hand-deliver groceries to your daughters after your retirement.

You spoke flawless British English, with a really cool accent. When your wife lost her battle with dementia, you lost the will to live yet still marched on for your family. You lived simply, giving away money, time and advice, keeping only few material things but plenty of wisdom, experience and love.

You lived to the ripe age of ninety, long enough to witness one world war, two wars of independence, three different nations, television, computers, the Internet and smartphones, great-grandchildren, even a black president!

The greatest lessons you taught me about life came through your death. Thank God, for putting you in my life, and putting me in yours. I have made my peace with your departure: you are in a place better than this, with that which is better than us, God.

For this reason, I pity myself and those left living. Now I will continue to march on, study, work and succeed, one day become a doctor — you would have loved to see that — and salute you at every step along the way. To you, Naana!

RIP Syed Abdur Raheem