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Nanu and Me: A Grandfather’s Love

Nanu and Me is a heartwarming short film about the transformational effect our support for each other can have. It centres on the story of Erum, left alone in the world at the age of twelve, and the sweet bond she develops with her grandfather who brings her up.

When Erum was twelve years old her mother was diagnosed with cancer, soon succumbing to it. Her father had left long ago and was an absent parent. Left alone in the world, Erum’s loving grandfather stepped into the breach and raised her in a safe environment, while supporting and encouraging her to step into her potential.

Erum hugging her grandfather in Nanu and Me

When Erum has grown up, her grandfather encourages her to spread her wings and fly, and go abroad to study. “I flew around my entire life,” he tells her, standing in the courtyard of the house. “By picking up twigs from everywhere, I built this nest, where both you and your mother grew up. Man only settles down in one nest when he loses the courage to fly. I am like that parrot. I’m afraid to leave. But you are like that sparrow. You have the courage to fly.”

Erum's grandfather in the courtyard with the parrot

Erum is sad to leave her grandfather, who has been her one true support in life. She travels to London to study for five years, and writes to her grandfather every week. He writes back reliably in his beautiful handwriting, which she tries to emulate, even when there is not much to say.

Erum in London

After five years of corresponding with him from London she receives a letter and finds that her grandfather’s handwriting has deteriorated significantly. Knowing what this means, she realises that she must return home immediately. Arriving back at her grandfather’s house she says,

“Today after exactly five years I returned to my nest from whence Nanu had taught me how to fly, and today I saw that nests become deserted when birds leave them and fly away.”

Erum returning home in Nanu and Me

Erum is devastated to see how much her grandfather’s health has deteriorated, and determines to be there to make his last days more comfortable.

“Sometimes, someone’s company alone makes life more blissful and makes life worth living again,” she says. “The way Nanu raised me and filled my days with happiness… today by returning I may have made his remaining days more blissful.”

Erum sees her grandfather much older in Nanu and Me

A beautiful elegy on the importance of family and generational interdependence, supporting but also giving each other wings to fly, Nanu and me is also a sobering reflection on youth and old age, weakness and strength. It shows the need to support each other at different life stages, giving each other the strength and courage to get through difficult times. Reflecting on her grandfather in his old age, Erum says, “Old people and little children are very alike. And for them, perhaps receiving someone’s support, or having someone wipe away tears from their eyes, or being helped to climb down stairs, or being fed, or being tended to when they fall sick, that hand of support is sufficient to change someone’s world completely.”

Erum feeding her grandfather in Nanu and Me

This emotional tearjerker about the sweet grandfather-granddaughter bond of Erum and Nanu highlights the importance of being there for one another and how relationships can transform our lives. Nanu and Me underlines the pricelessness of the gift of providing the love and support we need when we are weak and also of giving each other the strength and freedom to take flight and fulfil our potential.

Erum reading letter from her grandfather in the short film Nanu and Me

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Writer Awa Farah and filmmaker Alice Aedy talk about the making of Somalinimo in an interview about their film, which explores the experience of being Black, Muslim, Somali women at Cambridge.
The award winning short film 'The Present', set in the West Bank about a father and daughter going shopping, shows the dystopian reality of everyday life for Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

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