Nana

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

My grandmother is five hundred and ninety-two years old. Left to her own devices and the pitiless march of time this wonderful woman, who is actually my many times great grandmother, would have slipped away and into the finality of whatever the fuck death is five hundred years ago to this very day.

Its difficult for me to comprehend, but there are those in the world who don’t love their families. How content and relieved they must be as time it swallows the burden of age. But then, I am complacent. Not everyone is as filthy rich as we.

The money it took to develop the devices to snap our Nana away from the natural and over to synthetic cognition was as grotesque and it was well spent. It’s an ongoing syphon, but we’re family, we love her and it’s incomprehensible that we live this life with her no longer in it.

We implanted the electrodes that hang from her mind and through the wig that mimics the once tight white twist of her hair and fall as probing tentacles out of the sides of her face. How perfectly we caught that moment when she lost who she was, caught it and polished it and then handed it right on back.

This last Christmas we fitted her with an external drive, to store all the now countless names and birthdays and faces of her children and their children and their children’s children and theirs and theirs and theirs to come.

She once wrote a letter, when she still had fingers that wrote. She scrawled her name to a form and clearly she said that when her time it did come that no doctors should be called and that rather she thought to die in her room – surrounded by those that she loved.

But clearly her thoughts they were wrong.

Now as I walk down the hallway and the scent of the antiseptic hand-gel that I wring through my hands struggles to cancel the smell of bowels that involuntarily open and uneaten food that lays mashed in the cloche, I wonder.

Why, just why she would have wanted to end her life in this place? With these endless open doors that have forgotten about privacy and where the hollow cries of the lost they call out when all that they want is to go.

I’ve told her and told her there is no fucking reason for her to be in this place. That she could so easily exist for us in a great mansion of honed Scottish granite. But this is the one wish we allow her and strangely it warms, this the stark contrast of just how the poor they do suffer as they end and I am content as I enter her room.

There she is alone and many thousands of framed faces they plaster her walls and children’s art it hangs with them too. The crossword puzzle, its pages now yellowed and brittle, lays open on the tray at her lap, an unused remnant of the things she once did. And the rugby it loops on the screen.

I know she’d smile if only the muscles hadn’t long ceased to contract in her face and my heart again surges as her wail voice it croaks and begs from the hole in her neck.

“Don’t be silly Nana”, I say as I kiss her cheek and I know that she feels though her skin it swims behind plastic and she cries and she cries and I know just how grateful she is.

For Nana 1926-2018.

9 Comments

  1. andreavolpe34

    I have worked with the elderly in the past and this story touched me deeply. Wonderfully evocative language.

    • Hari Navarro

      Thank you andreavolpe34, it was with the utmost respect for the elderly that I wrote this.

  2. Clapboard

    Wow, what a haunting story! How could Nana’s family not realize what her wailing and crying means?!

    Small point: it might be time to give the “the noun it verbs” gimmick a rest. Seems like it should be less of an authorial fingerprint and more of a one-time kind of thing.

    • Hari Navarro

      People sometimes get blinded by the suffering of others when their own best interests are at stake. Plus, point well taken… I’m aware I have an “it” verb tick and have been attempting to cut back. Thank you for your comments.

      • Hari Navarro

        Really appreciate your constructive feedback Clapboard and have been reviewing some of my upcoming stories… might be a bit of an “It” storm before it passes 🙂

  3. xdhz8

    Emotional with a believable look at what the future might hold.

    • Hari Navarro

      Thanks David, my Grandmother passed away just this last month. As much as I miss her the consequences of a future were I could have prolonged her life, just so that I could have her there, seemed horrendous. She lived a very long life and saw many innovations but I’m very sure this is one shes glad she missed.

  4. djl

    Nice. Note, ‘many millions’ of descendants after 500 years.

    • Hari Navarro

      Thanks for your comment. The ‘thousands of framed faces’ were indicative of just how much room she had on her hospital apartment walls and not of her total descendants as a whole. The remaining millions were relegated to her hard-drive or so the story goes 🙂

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