My Grandmother and I

Graphic by Eshath Refah

My Grandmother and I

By Eshath Refah

A Grandmother or Nani plays a pivotal role in a child’s life. From saving them from their mother’s scolding to sneaking extra cash into their pockets, grandmothers are irreplaceable in a child’s life.

My relationship with my nanu moni was quite precious, but the verb ‘is’ changed to ‘was’ once she had been diagnosed with dementia. I remember back when I was still in kindergarten, my nanu moni used to be one of my favourite people in the world. Her achars might have been one of the major reasons for this favouritism. Whenever we visited her house, my main target used to be the fridge where she stored all the precious achar jars. She knew about this obsession of mine, which is why she used to be wary of me but would also make and send my favourite achars from time to time.

All of this changed after she was diagnosed with dementia a couple of years back. Her previously lively self seemed to fade as her eyes looked tired all the time. She can’t make my favourite achars anymore because she can’t remember what she had put in them. A year ago, she visited our house and stayed with us for a few weeks. That’s when I truly noticed how severe her condition was. Her deteriorating health made me realise how fragile she had become and how vulnerable that made her to others. People in my family thought of it as a trait of old age and so did I. This misconception created a great hurdle in understanding her illness properly.

As for our primary source of coping with her illness, we simply relied on doctors instead of learning more about it ourselves and modifying our behaviour. This was not helpful by any means as our distance only began to grow with her. She probably felt isolated and alone knowing no one else could understand how she was truly feeling. For me, the most excruciating thing is knowing that even though I can assist her at times, I cannot completely free her from this condition. Because to this day, there is no cure for dementia and it continues to affect families like ours every single day.