There he is, resting on his bed. The machine keeps beeping
every other second, monitoring his heart rate. I forget I am in his bedroom and
not in a hospital. You can hear his heavy breathing echoing the room. He lifts
his eyelids sluggishly but his eyes remain fixed, looking straight out of the
window, unable to move. He isn’t the granddad I knew. He doesn’t look up to
check who has come into the room. Have I become a ghost to him now? How did his
health suddenly deteriorate so much?
Granddad never met the stereotypical image of a grandparent.
I would never associate words like boring and old with him. His mere presence
bought a smile to my face. His tall, six foot figure would tower over me but it
would never intimidate me. My mother used to say that everyone back home would
fear my granddad. It was not only his height but his anger. He had the shortest
temper. His rage was like lightning out of a blue sky. Granddad was dark
complexioned and always had an exceedingly proud and attractive expression. His
grey hair was always finely combed. His voice was slow and he stumbled on his
words at times. Every time I would meet him he always was bursting with energy,
eager to joke around and narrate all his countless stories of the past.
Now, it feels almost strange remembering the last time I saw
granddad in his energetic form. It was during the summer of 2009, my second
visit to Bangladesh.
As soon as I stepped out of the airport, the heat scorched
my body. It was only early in the morning but the sun beat down. The air was like
breathing liquid fire. After an hour in the taxi, there was still a five minute
walk to granddads village. As we wheeled our luggage into our granddad’s
village, the spell of ground spices and curry made my stomach rumble. Women wearing cotton sarees were drying their
clothes out in the blazing sun. I thought to myself, these clothes will be
toasted in this glorious sunshine. Everyone was smiling and greeting us as we
walked by. As we moved further into the village, there were children running
about enjoying themselves.
I saw a tallish figure in the distance, waving in
excitement. The figure was getting closer and closer. It was granddad standing
with his arms wide open with the greatest smile on his face. As I hugged him,
the warmth of this hug made me forget the scorching heat. He sat us down inside
his house and the moment I slid into my chair I was served an enormous platter
of food. Later that day he took me and my sister to the village shop and told
us that we could eat whatever we wished to our heart’s content.
I now understand why granddad would talk hours and hours
regarding Bangladesh. The simple life seemed so attractive and interesting.
These people were able to live such simple lives without technology, yet be so
content. While our lives now revolve around technology, we forget those most
important to us. We tend to forget the true meaning of life, of family.
Granddad lived such a simple and happy life for many years in Bangladesh and
taking him out of his comfortable environment caused him agony which he never
The sudden shift in his health startled me. It was due to this he left his homeland and
moved to London. I remember him complaining to my aunt ‘Why have you taken me
to this polluted country? This environment will never make me better, I know
that for sure! Eventually, he adjusted to the new environment and in the
holidays I would to visit him at my aunts. When I visited him, he didn’t look
sick. His stories of Bangladesh would last days. He would be able to take the
stairs unaided and seemed to have a sharp memory despite being in his eighties.
Then I stopped going to see him due to the pressure of GCSE’S.
A good year went by
and all exams were finished. I made a visit to see granddad in the Christmas
holidays. My aunt told me that he could no longer go to the toilet unaided or
even remember anybody’s names. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My aunt alone could not look after him;
nurses had to come every morning and evening to look after him. All he would do
would be to sleep the entire day and stay inside his room with the curtains
All these thoughts made me forget that granddad is lying
beside me. I try and communicate with him ‘Hi granddad remember me, your
favourite grandchild? He continues to stare at me. He says nothing. I keep
trying but nothing miraculous happens. I stare at his deep wrinkles which seem
to carve a map of his life on his still facial features. His eyes are framed by
white eyebrows and on his stubble chin are white whiskers. Where is the
granddad I knew?
Is that what old age does to a person? It makes you turn
into a completely different person. One day, you are yourself and the next you
are unrecognisable. You are no longer strong but frail and must rely on others
to help you do the basic necessities of life. It feels like a daunting
experience pondering what old age will do to me. But we are here for a couple
of days, life is not guaranteed. Like a flower we will lose petals and one day
we will be gone. Each day we must make the most of our time. Without death,
life would go largely unappreciated. Life is a blessing, death it’s
preservation. Live for every waking moment, before it is too late.