I slowly ran my fingers over the brass plaque. It was cold. The grass was speckled white with snow. My eyes were hot, tears streaming down my face. It was early January of 2008, yet I still remembered.
* * *
He sat on the porch; he always did. He greeted me with a big smile, arms outstretched, ready to hug. I loved him. I loved the way he always waited for me when I got back from school, sitting on his garden bench, waiting for me. I hugged him. I could smell the strong smell of tobacco laced into the threads of his crisp white shirt.
Everyday after school, I helped him in the garden. He had turned our yard, previously full of patches of crabgrass and dirt, into his own paradise, his Garden of Eden. The rosebushes in the garden were always red and sparkled in the warm Georgia sunlight. I remember that his rosebushes scarred his arms; I never knew something so beautiful could hurt people.
One night, I awoke to bright red lights outside my window. It was 3 am. I pushed the curtains aside and saw a body being put into a white car with the red lights. Tired, I rubbed my eyes and went back under my covers. I held Duckie and hoped for everything to be okay. Mom came into my room and told me that she would see me in the morning.
Early the next morning, my dad and I drove to the hospital. It was a long drive. We arrived and went to the seventh floor. Room 708. Outside the room, mom and grandma talked to a doctor. Flowers littered the area outside the door. Mom forced a smile and grandma seemed detached. We went downstairs to get breakfast. Unable to eat, we returned to the seventh floor. I ran into his room. He was laying in the hospital bed.
“Grandpa, wake up! You should have seen the sunflowers this morning! They’re taller than the house and…” He had no response- “Wake up! I’ll stop arguing with you, and I won’t fight for the TV. No Lion King, I promise!” My eyes got hot and I was getting frustrated. I grabbed his arm; it was cold and his scars were red against his brown skin. My mom and grandma were weeping. “Nana Bhai, wake up!” My grandpa never ignored me. I cried and cried and everything became a blur.
* * *
It was ten years ago, and I still remembered. Tears flowed down my face. I placed the bunch of red roses on the plaque. There was a lump in the back of my throat. I turned to my right; My brother stared blankly at Nana Bhai’s grave, unaware of why my family drove so far, only to cry the whole ride home. I put my arm around him and gave him a loving squeeze. “Zahin, I have a story to tell you about your Nana Bhai…”