“There is nothing I can do.” These words of dejection were heard quite often by Raghav’s grandma. The 5-year-old was abandoned by his parents when they considered him a burden due to the expenses of his cancer treatment.But his grandma was not the one to give up easily. She visited doctor after doctor, but all her efforts went in vain. She was ready to give all she had just to see her grandson live a healthy life. As Raghav’s grandpa had sacrificed his life for the country, his grandma only had Raghav.They found happiness in small things in life.
Raghav had always been fascinated by his grandpa’s uniform. His grandma would retell her beloved’s innumerable stories and anecdotes which would bring out his undying spirit. His only dream was to wear the uniform with pride and make his grandma smile with mirth. “If a man says he isn’t afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha ” was his grandpa’s favourite quote. Even at this meagre age, Raghav had known adversity. But he wasn’t afraid to die, he, in fact, wanted to live for his grandma.He saw his grandma toil every day, providing tiffins to the college students near by. He only wondered why fate had played such a cruel game and if his cloud had a silver lining to it?
Being an heir to such a brave man, Raghav was not going to give up easily. Although sometimes he would ask his grandma “Why me?” To which his grandma used to say “Your fight has a purpose, to inspire others to have faith in life.” And one fine afternoon the doctor informed his grandma about a trial on leukaemia immunotherapy. Being so desperate, they decided to give it a go without even a second thought. And boy, did it work wonders! Despite being painful it was a success. Sometimes you don’t know how strong you are until being strong is your only option. As for now, it was a time for celebration for he and his grandma, but was the road ahead easy for them?
Raghav, now in his teens was on the brink of adulthood. As days passed Raghav could see his grandma, slowly wilt with time. She was his only tow through the pain and adversity. He would sit with her every night telling her about his day and his adventures in college. She would be very happy to see him make new friends and mix up. One sombre morning, Raghav went to her room, only to find her in serene sleep, a sleep too deep to wake up from. His world came crashing around him as his only family was no more. Despite having parents Raghav felt like an orphan that morning. His inspiration to live and the light in his eyes was alas burnt out forever.
Despite all this, he believed that his grandma will be always on his side, unseen, unheard. He always remembered the last thing his ill grandma said to him the night before her death, “God always gives the toughest battles to his strongest soldiers.” His parents lost all his respect when they didn’t even show up in grandma’s funeral. He waited tables so as to continue his education. Somehow he managed to carry on with this. On the eve of his 18th birthday, the stars finally decided to shine on him as he was allotted Armed forces medical college. His long awaited dream of becoming a doctor and serving the army was in touching distance.
Being a doctor, a healer is the best way to serve mankind. And Raghav did this to not only serve mankind but serve those like him. He served the underprivileged children who could not afford cancer treatment. A successful oncosuregeon now, he performed many pro bono surgeries for the poor. As the years went by, Raghav became an eminent name in the field of oncology. On his grandma’s 20 death anniversary he finally let out a contented sigh. The first patient he had operated on and who was a cancer survivor inaugurated the paediatric oncology wing in his hometown’s hospital. And at that moment all he could remember were his grandma’s words ” Don’t ever give up son, resilience and persistence are the two things that let the grass survive ” And now he was a tall, sturdy tree, grown from nothing but a meagre plant.
“The above story has been written in collaboration with Alok Vaishya”