My Grandpa: In search of memory.

Shristi Dahal
He was looking intently at his own portrait while seated in a rocking chair. Enclosed in a wooden frame, I had gifted it to him on his seventy-fourth birthday. It wasn’t merely a picture but a manifesto of my true feelings for him. His daring eyes showed the radiance of insight. A slight curve on his roseate lips spoke of the zeal of living life to the fullest. I discerned the rhythm of elation reaching its great heights within his heart. Undoubtedly, it was the mirror image of my Grandpa.

It was then, when we lived in perfect accord. Life was a garden of utopia. Each time we walked on it, the fragrance of love and exultation enlivened the kernel of our spirits.

However, we were unaware of the diversionary nature of time which had something else in store for us. It was changing the map of our lives in unprecedented ways.

Grandpa was eyeing his portrait, deeper this time. But it was going dimmer from his sight. His eyes were jammed with tears, intent on rolling down his cheeks. Yet his hands were too rigid to wipe them. His hair had grayed and his skin had stacked up. He was experiencing the final flight of his life on senescent wings. He wanted to walk down his lane of reminiscences. But something had stopped him from doing so.

I clearly remember that day when Grandpa, as usual, was telling his story:

???.Sheila’s prediction turned right. Suddenly, the blazing sun closed her eyes. The nature surrounding her began to darken.

Grandpa stopped.

What happened after that, Grandpa? I asked, getting interested.

What happens when the sky gets cloudy, dear? he asked, looking perplexed.

It rains, I replied confidently.

You’re right, dear,he said with a faint smile. Then he continued:

The cloudburst gripped the soil. The leaves of the tree beneath which Sheila was standing began pouring water drops. She loved the touch of the downpour on her soothing skin. She wished the rain would drain away the smudges of negativity within her heart. Then a flash of lightning brought a crash of thunder. Then her heart started aching.

I was waiting impatiently for Grandpa to conclude his story. Suddenly, he lost his train of thoughts. He wouldn’t utter a word. He simply walked out of the room, leaving me alone. I followed him; but then, I stopped. I thought he hadn’t made up his mind on the story that day.

However, the next day onwards, Grandpa never narrated his tales to me. I wanted to ask him why, but I didn’t. I thought my days of swinging in the cradle of infancy had come to an end.

I could differentiate Grandpa’s changes in personality with the passage of time. Once we were to visit my uncle’s place for a party. I got ready and came downstairs to see if Grandpa was ready too. I was astonished to see him in pajamas. Moreover, he had put his shoes on wrong feet. I burst into laughter.

What’s this Grandpa? I asked, pointing to his pajamas. He kept staring at me as if I had committed a blunder. I opened his wardrobe and chose the right clothes for him. He put them on, taking his own time.

At the party, a friend of my aunt’s father approached Grandpa. They were nearly of the same age. The old man shook hands with Grandpa and introduced himself. But Grandpa surprised everyone, especially the old man, by remaining quiet. He was, in fact, striving to remember his own name.

He’s Mr Pranay Sharma, my dearest Grandpa, I said, trying to normalize the situation. Back home, Grandpa seemed to be fine. I thought that his confrontations with difficult situations had ended.

But, in fact, the ugly days had just begun.

Although I would stand before him with the hope of being caressed and embraced with love, it would make no sense to him. I felt the aloofness beating my chest. I spent nights in the dark corner of my room with a tear-stained face, wondering what had made him so unaware of me. It seemed the days we spent in full flush of joy and happiness belonged to another era. I cursed him for his behavior. The seeds of hatred for him began sowing in my heart.

Later on, I realized I had been misjudging him. After all, it wasn’t his mistake. He was still in the chair. It all began with the memory lapses that restricted him within unfamiliar boundaries. The lights in his brain began turning off one after another. There was no way to rekindle them. He couldn’t even remember what day it was. He wouldn’t recognize me either. He had been suffering from an irreversible brain disorder.

I gathered my courage to bring back his lost memory. I labeled every appliance and article that was within his reach. I listed the names and telephone numbers of our family members and relatives, along with their photos, and kept it by the telephone. I also placed our enlarged family photo adjacent to his portrait. I assisted him in getting dressed, with his meals and other daily chores and activities. I read stories to him and played soft music for him. At times, I just sat close to him. I massaged his body to comfort him.

But it was too late.

Grandpa was unable to walk or even swallow his food. His brain was getting hollow steadily. He was breathing the air of desolation. His heart was writhing in pain. I stood in front of him and said I love you, Grandpa. But he couldn’t figure out what that really meant. He had even forgotten how to smile. I was a complete stranger in his eyes. Alzheimer’s disease had impaired my Grandpa’s functions. He was indeed in search of his lost memory.

I knew then I was losing him: That my long goodbye to my beloved Grandpa had already begun.


One Response

  1. Every grandchildren must be like u who careful about their grandparent. I like your post very much.It gives good moral to grandchildren who love their grandparents.

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