Anita and Me

by

Meera Syal

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Meena’s maternal grandmother is a joyful, caring person who takes an immediate liking to Meena. She recognizes her granddaughter as a wild, boisterous soul—perhaps just as mischievous as Nanima herself when she was young. Very talkative (though knowing no English), Nanima enjoys telling stories about India and plays an important role in making Meena proud of her Indian heritage. Meena believes that Nanima has the special powers of a sorceress, because she is extremely perceptive about people’s behaviors, instinctively hating Anita and understanding that Meena is involved with the disappearance of mama’s necklace. Nanima also proves capable of emotional healing, often comforting Meena by holding her and talking to her in Punjabi.

Nanima Quotes in Anita and Me

The Anita and Me quotes below are all either spoken by Nanima or refer to Nanima. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oberon Books edition of Anita and Me published in 1996.
Chapter 8 Quotes

It was all falling into place now, why I felt this continual compulsion to fabricate, this ever-present desire to be someone else in some other place far from Tollington. Before Nanima arrived, this urge to reinvent myself, I could now see, was driven purely by shame, the shame I felt when we ‘did’ India at school, and would leaf through tatty textbooks where the map of the world was an expanse of pink, where erect Victorian soldiers posed in grainy photographs (…).

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Nanima
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr Topsy/Turvey watched her with devoted eyes. ‘I served in India. Ten years. Magical country. Magical people. The best.’

‘Shouldn’t have bloody been there anyway, should you?’ I muttered under my breath. ‘Who asked you to lock up my grandad and steal his chickens?’

I was by now walking fast, making Nanima puff and trot a little to keep up, but I could still hear him shouting behind us, ‘We should never have been there. Criminal it was! Ugly. You look after your nan! You hear me, Topsy!’

Related Characters: Meena Kumar (speaker), Mr. Turvey (“Mr. Topsy”) (speaker), Nanima
Related Symbols: The Big House
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:

‘. . . understand why, but just think if you could use all that energy to do some good. Find out who the real enemies are, the rich, the privileged, not the other people trying to make a living like you, not people like . . .’

Related Characters: Uncle Alan (speaker), Meena Kumar, Nanima, Sam Lowbridge
Related Symbols: The Big House
Page Number: 226
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Anita and Me LitChart as a printable PDF.
Anita and Me PDF

Nanima Character Timeline in Anita and Me

The timeline below shows where the character Nanima appears in Anita and Me. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...mother was feeling depressed, seemingly due to problems related to money and her own mother Nanima. Meena preferred going to the theater because she felt as though she had no one... (full context)
Chapter 7
Friendship Theme Icon
...by new emotions, and when she wakes up her father announces that her maternal grandmother Nanima is coming to England next week for a visit. Meena is then appalled to realize... (full context)
Chapter 8
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
When Nanima arrives in Tollington, welcomed at Meena’s house by her family as well as Auntie Shaila’s,... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
In the house, when Nanima sits down in the chair that always makes leather farting sounds, she begins to laugh... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
During the rest of the evening, Nanima answers people’s questions about home, though she tells stories about people no one actually knows.... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
When Meena goes up to her room, Nanima is sleeping on one side of her double bed. Although Meena is initially reticent to... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Nanima’s arrival revolutionizes life in Meena’s house. Nanima’s presence has magically allowed Sunil to distance himself... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Through her exchanges with Nanima, Meena learns about British soldiers stealing chickens from her family and sending her grandfather to... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Meena also discovers some of the less romantic aspects of life in India. After Nanima mentions how difficult it is for the poor to receive an education, mama tells Meena... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
...beginning of Easter holiday, when Meena, Sunil, and her mother come home, they cannot find Nanima. Walking out to search for her, they run into Deirdre and ask her if she... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...and her mother then go to Mrs. Worrall’s house, where they are bewildered to discover Nanima speaking in rapid Punjabi with Mr. Worrall, who tries to grunt and gesture to her... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
Ten minutes later, Meena finds herself walking in the street with Nanima and Sunil. Meena attempts to use the few Punjabi words she knows to communicate with... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
...whom Meena calls Mr. Topsy arrives, everyone is shocked to hear him speak Punjabi with Nanima. Meena then discovers that his real name is Mr. Turvey, and feels furious about the... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
...that encouraged Sam Lowbridge’s racist comments at Fete—does not want to go in and sends Nanima in alone with a list of groceries. She watches as the man looks mockingly at... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
When Nanima returns, Meena counts the change and realizes that some is missing. Furious, she walks back... (full context)
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
...if she is angry at him. Meena feels overwhelmed with anger and a headache, but Nanima quietly steps forward and everyone falls silent, though Alan then greets Meena’s grandmother. (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...side. She asks him for water and her father gives her a special tea that Nanima made. During the night, she asks her father if she can play with Anita the... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Later during the night, Nanima comes to lie down and whispers sentences to Meena in Punjabi that Meena is surprised... (full context)
Chapter 9
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The next day, Meena leaves Nanima alone with mama, who is also on holiday. She goes to Anita’s house, where Tracey... (full context)
Chapter 10
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Throughout the evening, Meena notices that Nanima is expressing a strong dislike toward Anita. She blocks the television screen from her and... (full context)
Chapter 11
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...to India. Papa then decides that they will go to India for Christmas and bring Nanima “home” in person. Although Meena is happy about this, she wonders if her father considers... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
...that she is perhaps being unfair and simply accepts that the necklace is lost. However, Nanima hears about this, she looks at Meena suspiciously, convincing Meena that her grandmother, to whom... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Racism and Violence Theme Icon
...Tollington, to the point of suffering from head injuries and broken ribs. Although papa tells Nanima that nothing has happened, Meena and her parents avoid eye contact. Unlike Nanima, they know... (full context)
Chapter 12
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
...believe that she has already been in bed for six weeks. When she notices that Nanima is refusing sweets—highly unusual behavior—she asks Nanima what is wrong and sees her grandmother wipe... (full context)
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
At the end of the evening, Nanima leaves, blessing and lauding Meena in Punjabi, and it is only once Meena’s family is... (full context)
Chapter 13
Family Discipline and Guidance Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Culture and Belonging Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
...her more desirous to rebel. Now, though, after having strong emotional experiences such as losing Nanima and Robert, Meena is able to see things with greater perspective and concludes that she... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Truth vs. Lies Theme Icon
When Meena remembers that the pain she felt for Nanima and Robert was much more intense than any emotion Sam or Anita made her feel,... (full context)