Living with a cancer afflicted parent — A Series — Part 11

Dinner table jokes

Image credit — Google images

Two days ago, I saw Dad laugh, really loudly and freely. It was a laugh that I registered so well, that I want to write about it. Write and remember. So whenever I come back to reading this post, I can cherish that moment again. To give a little insight, my Dad’s always had the most remarkable laugh in our family. His laughter is infectious, invokes other members to participate, repeat the joke, until everyone’s stomach begins to ache. Usually the last one is me. But because of the disease, those moments have been limited and difficult to experience. So it came as a very pleasant surprise when Dad was laughing out loud, over the silliness of his sister.

It so happened, that my very careless aunt forgot how many slices of bread she had eaten over dinner, and started speaking to herself in the third person, as a way to find the answer. It doesn’t sound funny as I write it, but it erupted into a cackle over dinner. Mum, sister, Uncle and Dad couldn’t control their laughs over my aunt’s forgetfulness, and it turned out to be the best joke of the week. And it was there that I witnessed Dad roaring with laughter. For a few minutes, it seemed just like old times, when dinner jokes were so common.

Whether it was over having less salt in a dish, or disappointment over getting less mutton marrow from a very tempting meal, the jokes were endless, and are still repeated over our table as reminiscent of old times. Kids have grown up, schools are done, parents have aged, empty nest syndrome has struck and made home and made peace too, eating habits have changed, some like more sugar, some like less ghee, but the dinner jokes have stuck.

Jokes about the kid who stuffs bread pieces under the table or inside pockets only to be discovered by Mum later as she did laundry, jokes about who would get the chicken leg this time, jokes about who ate too fast or too slow, jokes about who dislikes eating with hands or who uses the spoon too loudly, jokes about burping carelessly, jokes about who has to clean the dinner table and who gets to skip eating with family to watch the cricket match or Batman, jokes about who gets to sit next to Dad, jokes about who loves mutton chops and hates bitter gourd dish, jokes about who hates eating lentils unless it is kidney beans, jokes about who gets the biggest scoop of ice cream post dinner, or who serves it; I could go on. More than half of these became jokes much later, and were earlier termed as arguments over dinner. However, I realise it now, how important it has been to remember those times and relive them and laugh over them.

Mum and Dad have always made it a rule for the family to eat together, so naturally there will be fights, arguments, serious nerve-wracking discussions, since there’s no escaping with food half finished. But till date, the most important ones have stuck as happy memories, and after seeing Dad laugh that day, I realised that we need to create more of those. Despite the hard time, our family is privileged to have meals together. And that becomes the most important positive activity of the day for Dad. He dislikes eating food these days, primarily coz it’s become a task for him, the medicines and pain, kill the appetite.

But maybe, just maybe, having a cheerful discussion, a small joke, a little leg pulling of one another, can bring that much cherished smile on his face, making it the best meal of the day for our family.


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 http://mariyamrazahaider.com.

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

Leave a Reply