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Getting busy with daily chores

Image credit — Google images

The past few days have been particularly hard for Dad. The pain’s been unbearable at times, especially in the evenings when he returns from office. As Dad returns, has tea and finishes praying, the pain in his throat and tongue starts taking over him. He lies in bed, tying a handkerchief around his head, hoping that the pain will recede. It doesn’t. It takes over him, coming out through tears and gritted teeth. Often with helpless moans and wriggling palms. As I watch him cower himself in pain, all I can do is rub his feet and palms, and calmly tell him that the pain will go away. He tells me things won’t get better now, I sternly tell him, he doesn’t know that. He says, his situation won’t get better, I tell him, he’s no doctor.

Often times, I’m bewildered at my own stoic behaviour, knowing that inside I’m a very emotional and vulnerable human being. I try to maintain as straight a face as I can, when I see him crying. I know that expression of him is etched into my mind, for the rest of my life. It is only after he takes a painkiller, that his pain numbs. It gives him some respite and suddenly, he’s okay. He talks, eats, drinks and gets busy.

And this, seeing him get busy again, is what acts as the most positive element of the day. Dad starts discussing if a vegetable market visit is needed, or takes the car out to the petrol pump, or goes out for a walk, or starts chatting with friends on WhatsApp, or enters the kitchen and starts cleaning it, anything.

The fleeting normalcy is the most cherished part of our house these days. That one hour before bedtime when Dad feels okay, and we discuss stuff like a normal family, is precious. It revives in us the hope that things can get better even in the most dire of days. Dad also relaxes a bit, knowing that the pain’s gone for a few hours, and tomorrow will bring a new day with an old set of routines to be busy with.

Tomorrow will involve, getting ready for work, driving to office and sitting there for a few hours, answering calls and replying to official emails, praying, taking naps, having tea with mum and family, etc etc. In the middle of this all, the pain will return. The painkillers will return too. And so will the worry. But for now, in the moment, he feels okay, and that’s all that matters.

Hi, I’m Mariyam, thank you for reading my post. This is part of my series on finding positivity and decoding the ‘be positive’ attitude as my father fights through aggressive oral cancer.

If you liked it, you can read other posts on

You can also follow me on twitter @MariyamRaza for more. Much love 🙂

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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