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Children Stories Tragedy Inspirational


archana deo

Children Stories Tragedy Inspirational

What Lives On

What Lives On

7 mins 523 7 mins 523

This is the true story of a young boy and his battle with cancer.

Rohan was the cutest baby, happy healthy and full of fun. As a toddler, he was always racing about, getting into trouble and then charming his way out of it. A very engaging and interesting child, the youngest and most spoilt darling of the family.

He swam, played football, tried his best to get out of lessons and homework, and had lots of friends.

From an affluent and indulgent family, he loved designer brands, was into the latest shoes, coolers and hairstyles. A blessed child.

Then his parents separated. Soon after, each remarried. He was 12 at the time, but had no real choice ...his father and stepmother had uncontested custody. Overnight, it seemed, Rohan turned from a sweet kid into an angst-ridden teenager. He was defiant, angry and resentful. He missed school, did not turn in his homework, got bad grades.

His parents were busy with their new lives, his older brother was in a hostel in another town. He became introverted and lonely.

The years passed. It seemed that the sweet little boy was lost somewhere. The parents blamed each other, but had neither time nor inclination to seek counselling. Somehow, Rohan scraped through his 10th board and got into junior college.

Now his behaviour became even worse. He was always angry, had no interest in studies, did not want to spend any time with family.

Then he started complaining of headaches. His family assumed that it was just an excuse to get out of tuition classes. One day he fainted in the car on his way back from college.

Concerned his father took him to the hospital for tests. The scans revealed the shocking truth...Rohan had a tumour in his brain and required immediate surgery.

This was performed within the next 2 days, and the worst fears were realised as the tumour proved malignant. Then began radiation and chemotherapy. And then from that sick, depleted body emerged a strong resilient soul.

Rohan took the news calmly. He went through the surgery and the often painful treatments with no sign of fear. One eye was affected, and he wore a pirate-like patch on it with style. His hair fell out...and he was so particular about styling it!... But he wore a cap and made it look trendy.

At this point there came a wonderful chance. Through the good offices of a family friend, he was accepted for free stay and treatment at a hospital in the United States.

It was a tremendous piece of luck, but a little overwhelming too. The treatment would require him to stay at the hospital in Miami for a year. how would he feel about being in strange surroundings?

Rohan did not seem worried about the prospect. If anything, he thought it would be exciting to live abroad for a whole year, not have classes, travel business class...! The adults were relieved, though they knew it would be no walk in the garden.

He must have known it too, for he had already had the operation, several tests and a few rounds of radiation by then.

Who knows if it was some hereto untapped vein of courage and endurance, that made him let his parents see only excitement with no underlying anxiety to add to their own, or if it was the innocence of childhood that did not truly comprehend any cause for fear?

Both parents and step-parents now put their differences aside, put their careers on hold, to take turns to be with him there.

In the United States, Rohan had to undergo another surgery. This was followed by several rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. He was nauseated, sick and in pain much of the time. But he seemed cheerful and optimistic. Perhaps seeing other children as sick as himself, some of them younger as well stirred his compassion. He spent a lot of time visiting the new friends he made in their wards, or talking them through the procedures.

After 11 months of treatment, he had a last round of tests before being discharged. His parents and grandparents were eagerly planning his welcome party. He had told them he had to have his favourite butter chicken and naan as soon as he got back.

His results showed that the cancer was back....and now beyond hope. Further surgery would not help. Even with continued aggressive treatment, he had only months to live.

His parents were devastated. This completely unexpected turn of events was a bolt from the blue and they just did not know how it could happen to them or their child. What were they supposed to tell him? How were they supposed to tell him? It was a nightmare.

The doctors in the cancer hospital saved them from that dilemma. They said the patient deserved to be told, and they would tell him. The psychologist there spoke to Rohan and told him the entire truth.

That 16 year old boy, mature beyond his years, tempered by pain and suffering, made his own decision. He said, "if all I have is months, I want to go back to India. I want to be with the people I love and who love me."

He returned to India a week after that. If he was afraid of what he would face in the days to come, he did not show it. If he wondered "why me", he did not show that either. He seemed to not just accept, but embrace the short time he had left.

For two months he seemed well enough. He enjoyed company, had friends visiting him every day. He took up drawing and painting and took part in a charity exhibition raising funds for children suffering from cancer. He watched movies, played his favourite rock music constantly.

On good days he would go out for a meal with his family. He mended fences, not only with his parents and step-parents but amongst them. All they wanted now was peace and comfort for their child.

When the radiation chemotherapy round had to be restarted, he had to be hospitalised again. He was calm and cheerful when he recovered, encouraging visitors to take selfies with him, and joking about how they were waiting on him.

He couldn't walk on his own by this time, couldn't go out. He indulged himself window shopping (and sometimes actually shopping!) Online.

He made elaborate lists of who would get what when he was no longer there. Only his brother could eat whatever Australian chocolates were left. His best girlfriend could take the cool hoodies he had got in the US. And so on. It was heartbreaking for the parents, and yet they could see clearly he was ready to go.

He confided only in his old nanny, who had been with the family since he was a toddler. He told her he had let go of all his anger and rebellion, and he wanted both his parents to be happy in their own lives. He was ready to move on and join his grandparents in heaven and party with them. He wanted to be remembered with joy. He did not want to go back to the hospital, though.

But of course, he did go. When the pain grew worse again, when no medication helped at all, he had to go back one last time. That was the only time in the 14 months of his illness that he was angry again...the pain and the futility of the treatment was worse than the disease.

Two days later, his parents at his side, he breathed his last.

His last wish? He wanted to continue helping other children with cancer. His parents, friends and relatives set up a donation to a children's cancer hospital in his memory. His father who is a musician holds charity concerts every year for this cause. His mother who is an artist donates paintings to be auctioned.

So often our best efforts come for the saddest reasons. Rohan never asked the question himself, but those he left behind cannot help asking, "why? Why him? Why when all seemed to be well, why hold out hope and snatch it back?"

Who knows the answers. But perhaps it was to distribute that hope to so many others who have been helped for his sake.

Rohan went back to his heavenly abode at peace with his world. Shorn of all the negative emotions that had messed up his childhood. And while there were many tears at his memorial, celebrating his short life with rock instead of bhajans, there were also smiles as his antics were recalled. And the tree planted with his ashes grows healthy and well cared for.

Rohan lost his battle with cancer, but by his courage and generosity has inspired many. He won the most important battle, for his life though not long was meaningful. His suffering purified his soul and left behind a legacy of compassion and kindness.

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