I stood for more than 10 minutes watching myself in the mirror, it was the first time I wore a halter blouse after all! I was nervous, tens of questions hovering over my head and I heard a knock on the door followed by an old voice, “Hey Bhagwaan, you look so pretty… directly from a bollywood film..” and we laughed out louder! Meet my Grandma, she is the cheerleader of my life.
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I have often seen her giggling with my mother, giving advices on critical issues, working together for every house chores. She is more a friend than a mother-in-law to mumma. Definitely a good friend to me too, as I shared all my secrets with her and she happily gave me those… so needed advises. Granny and Papa? God, never seen a son so dedicated and a husband so caring! Everything was so balanced, until one day when she was pulling my leg on how chubby I look these days, I saw blood in her mouth and she wouldn’t even feel it!
This was followed by few rounds of high fever and bone aches which was normal for people of any age but wait.. she was losing her smile, her changed aura was something which started disturbing me. Upon asked, she would say, “I will be all fine, I am a strong woman.” I kept myself busy with college exams coming in and since a week she looks healthy to me. I hardly get to meet her as classes, group studies and late night schedules ate up my extra times but it didn’t last longer as I completed my exams in 10 days. Now, I will have some great fun with grandma.
No.. the image shattered all my dreams! Next morning, I see my mother rubbing my grandmother’s back, while she has puked all over the floor. Not normal human puke! My father stood there with a glass of water! I looked at him, fierce and scare had accompanied my eyes seeking many questions. He said, “Your granny had denied us to inform you..She..” and he broke into grieving silence. I stood there blank.. still worried and there she spoke “Are.. kyun tension de raha hai use? Let me tell you, I just have 1st stage Leukemia! I will be all fine, I am a strong woman.” “Come here to me”
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They hid this news for a month so that I can concentrate on studies. I was hurt, not because I wasn’t told but because I ignored her for so long keeping all my attention to myself, I was sorry! That night I cried and they were awake, whole night. She was given bone marrow injections, which not just weakened her but also slowly, her took away her giggles, the masti was missing, not that we did not try, we did but the charm had compressed!
In Doctors words they weren’t sure, how long she may live! It can be months or years, completely depends on how her body reacts to the multiplication of bad white blood cells. Having seen my grandmother suffering from cancer, I know what they go through. My all time foodie dadi, started losing her appetite, my energy booster now talks about why is she been punished with this, when she never consumed liquor, meat or junk! Years passed and I see her losing her weight, her beautiful hair, she even lost the dusky complexion she was proud of, turning into pale almost transparent skin, which even displayed her thinnest body veins.
Mumma and papa were their pillars, thanks to them, that they never made faces to anything they had to do for grandma. As a family, we were all suffering. We stopped going out to functions, only so that we could take care of Dadi all the time. At times, she would shout with pain, begging us to kill her!
One day, when I came from the college, granny said, “Take this scissor and cut my remaining hair.” I was painfully surprised, to this she cried out louder taking support of my shoulder, “I puked while I was asleep, all my hair was stuck to the cough I threw out and your mother had to clean it.. I am sorry, so sorry I make you all do these.. forgive me please..” After I failed many denials, she forcefully made me shave her head and it broke my heart.
I saw her in deadly pain, pain which no one else can share. I saw her bones melting and been thrown out in green and black in the form of excreta and puke. I saw her talking to god and asking forgiveness, I have seen her cuts which took months to heal leaving her in more pain. I have seen her guilty, for she thinks it is so awful to force us look after her, which really wasn’t! 18 tablets a day just prolonged her life for 13 years but gave her nightmares. Yes, she lived with the cancer for 13 years. No, I wasn’t happy as she died every single day with a new misery. We need to understand, actually sink into their pain, those few days they have to live! We need to make them relive!
I remember the last day, mother was next to grandma the entire morning, left only to check on the groceries. Meanwhile, “Sharada…please come here to give me medicines, I wouldn’t disturb you now, just the last time.” Upon being scolded for saying so, she smiled and said, “I am tired, tired of being bed ridden, I will fly high now to the eternal world to send you back never ending happiness.”
She slept and never woke up again!
People with Cancer are just like us, do not consider them a patient but a family member. Let’s have patience to bear their painful days with a smile and encouragement this World Cancer Day. Let’s be the reason for the smile every moment, as we never know their last moment!
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