My grandfather’s battle against Cancer

I tell you of a memory when I was a child, so it may be hazy. But, it’s worth sharing.

It was probably summer and we were in Guwahati (India) – mom, dad, my elder sister and me. My maternal grandfather had encountered throat cancer, so my granny called up from Upper Assam to inform my mother. My mother, a nurse by qualification and a home maker otherwise, immediately arranged my granddad to be brought to Guwahati. She did so because there were better medical facilities there and she would be able to take care of her ‘dad’dy in a more direct way.

Grandpa arrived in Guwahati, to our residence, and we starting taking care of him. Mom and dad took him to the hospital as per the norm. Mom used to give him timely medicines and food. I also started spending more time with my granddad. He would tell me stories and have a friendly chat with me.

I used to read a lot, those days. So I started giving my grandpa a copy of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, one by one. He enjoyed reading the author’s works. He read it till ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.’ My grandfather underwent the entire process of cancer treatment. He even had chemotherapy, though he was old. I could see that he would look weak after he came from the hospital. I would get emotional often, because I loved spending time with my ‘Nana’ (Grandpa).

The best news was that he was completely cured of throat cancer. He was a smoke addict, so we thought that was the main reason for the cancer. He did give up smoking while on treatment. He was cured. 🙂

The story doesn’t end here though. Maybe for cancer it does. But not for him.

Nana goes back to Hatiali, to be with his wife, my grandmother, a practicing nurse. He was well for quite sometime, years actually. However, my maternal uncle and his nuclear family started living with Nana and Nani now. Also, grandpa had got back into smoking.

It was early 2009, when Nana fell sick again. He was old and was preparing himself for his demise. He starting reciting the rosary, personally. He asked for forgiveness to everyone he felt he had offended, knowingly or unknowingly.

I did go to see him. He was lying on a bed and was on drips. Probably he wasn’t eating properly. I could see his veins. I asked him, “How are you, nana?” I was 16 back then. He replied, “I’m fine, Ishan! I am well.”

I returned to Tinsukia, where we were residing at that time, a 30-45 minutes car ride away. I had my 10th Grade central board exams knocking at the door. I kept preparing and also thought about my Nana now and then, how he would be. He had asked me for the next copy of the Harry Potter series. But, I didn’t lend it to him. He was dying and I should have, but I didn’t want him to die reading an unfinished book, I guess. Later mom told me, it would have helped.

My nana passed away, right between my board exams. I couldn’t even go for the last rites. I remember I went crazy, momentarily. My parents went to Hatiali and I played loud music at home because I was sad and could do nothing about it. I had lost my granddad.

I did go to Hatiali, during the months-mind, for the prayers and other customs. Many unknown relatives had come to visit. Some known but forgotten ones too.

Thank You grandpa, for your stories, laughter and care. I love you. May you rest well in Heaven.


Late William (Bill) Walker, my Nana