Living with a cancer afflicted parent — A Series — Part 30

The worth of revisiting childhood

Image credit — Google Images

We all have some fond memories from our childhood, don’t we? Sometimes they sprout back through the aroma of your favourite savoury dish, or when a childhood beanie pops out of the winter clothes’ stack, or when you recall the summer vacation trips to cousins’ place as old photo albums are found in the store house. Such memories are abundant, but usually not present in regular conversations. We are too busy in the daily affairs of lives to look back.

However, cherishing those moments on purpose can lead to pleasant discussions, driving away the heaviness of one’s situation. They can act as positive distractions and lead to easier thoughts.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been having such conversations with Dad and these have always turned out interesting, amusing and often compelling Dad to zoom out of his boredom.

Today, as Dad was aimlessly scrolling through this mobile phone, reading through a news app, I sat by him and asked, “As a kid, where all did you go for vacations?” He replied dryly, “Arrey, we didn’t go anywhere.” Not wanting this to be a dead end, I nudged further, “Was it only the summer house in Nainital? You also visited Pakistan right?” Dad replied, “Yes. Once in, uhh, 1969.” “‘69! That means you were around 11–12 years old? So you must be remembering most of it,” I said. “Yeah, we went for a month. We visited Lahore, Karachi, Hyderabad. We had relatives all over. But our Nani (maternal grandmother) lived in Karachi.”

I didn’t have to question further. He continued telling me about his second visit to Pakistan in 1986. The overnight train journey in Punjab Mail from Bareilly to Amritsar. Then the change to Atari Station, and the one hour ride across border to Lahore. The quick payment made of about Rs.100–150 to get immigration done faster at Pakistan border, and then another 24-hours journey to Karachi. Dad ended telling me how he missed meeting his grandmother on that trip due to some confusion in dates as she left for England a day before he arrived in Karachi. He never met her again. She passed away a few years later and he did not get a chance to visit her.

I was looking for a fun conversation, but I opened a box of memories in Dad’s mind. A memory of love and affection for his grandma. A memory of being young and carefree. A memory pausing him to think of happier times. I could sense a feeling of longing clouding him back to the reality of today, as he walked back to his bedroom to lie in bed. I pressed on. “So you could bribe an officer to cut a line at Pakistan’s immigration?”, I asked. “It wasn’t a bribe. The lines used to be miles long. We got done quickly,” he said. “Okay, if you say so”, I mumbled. As he lay in bed dozing off, I thought of a more interesting conversation to have with him the next time.

I don’t know if that conversation really helped Dad in any way. But it did bring a spark in his eyes as he traversed through his memory lane, trying to remember the details of his journeys. Those ten minutes peaked his interest away from the quiet of a winter’s noon. It made him keep his phone down, indulge into a light conversation, unwrap his mind and think of something he hadn’t in a very long time. That chest of happy memories long shut was finally getting dusted.

I guess, that’s what I was aiming for.


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 🙂

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