Just call your grandma.


Distraction is inevitable. In the pandemonium of the modern world, trying to escape the raging and perpetual noise of people, news and phone buzzes can be a difficult, nearly impossible process. We are too tuned in, too caught up, to be able to take a step back. We’ve come to accept the constant hubbub and commotion of life, and subsequently we’ve come to the point where we deem ourselves “always busy.” Too busy to sit down and read, too busy to pick up a new skill, too busy to call our grandmas.

To be clear, I love my grandma, a lot. For me, my grandmother’s home is synonymous with warmth, community, and good food. As a child I was always looking forward to weekend sleepovers, anticipating with excitement the dinners that had a 50% chance of being classic Indian staples and a 50% chance of being chicken nuggets. The following mornings were early ones, with scalding hot tea cups of sugary chai on matching saucers, followed by long car-ride conversations on the way to get breakfast, backed by warbley, old bollywood songs emitting from the car radio. In the late afternoon we’d go swimming in the shade, with me and my sister racing each other as my grandmother brought out mango juice and my late grandfather would try to spray us with the freezing cold water from the hose.

These are only a handful of the multitude of memories I’ve made and shared within the walls of my grandmother’s home. Having my grandfather teach poker to me and my cousins, watching Cartoon Network late at night, heading to the fridge for the rare treat that is Pakistani cream soda, admiring the display plate painted with little faces of my grandparents and their eleven grandchildren – these experiences and others continue to persist and linger in my mind. Time spent with my grandparents was a formative part of my childhood, an integral component to my upbringing. And yet, despite the seemingly impactful and lasting nature of these childhood and early-adolescent experiences, I suck at calling my grandma.

There is no explanation for this, nor any reasonable justification. My most common excuse is one carelessly thrown out by everyone my age, overused to the point where its sentiment has lost any and all value: “I’ve been busy.” And while my words are tinged with guilt, it isn’t enough to weigh down on me for the remainder of my day. Instead, I simply go back to whatever I was “busy” with, which is never anything that actually warrants the use of such a word.

This comes off as apathetic, and to an extent it is. Here is an individual that played a crucial role in my childhood development, who spoiled me with gifts, who nourished me with love and food, who helped instill in me the ethics of my community, who brought a cultural outlook to my americanized identity, who simply provided affection and company, and I can’t even grant her fifteen minutes of FaceTime.

It’s a problem, one that is persistent and insidious – a poor reflection of my psyche and behavior. It’s not an issue of intentional negligence, but more so an issue of chronic laziness and an inability to realize the fleeting nature of such a precious relationship. It is also a widespread issue, with grandparents everywhere feeling pitiful and forsaken, due to the incompetence of their grandkids, who would rather use their phones for mindless scrolling and posting thirst traps than engaging with those who really matter.

There is a struggle to find an outlet, a means to rewind, to disconnect and reconnect with what’s really important. Everything seems hectic, and the outlets we often turn to are falsehoods, presenting themselves as an escape when in reality they take us deeper into the tumult and “busy-ness” of modern life. Distraction is fickle and fleeting. Family is both fleeting and lasting. So call your grandma.