Sheila Nani died today morning at 5:00 am. She was my mother’s aunt – the wife of my Nana’s youngest brother. Herself only a few years older than my mom. Her children are our age.
She fought a long, long battle with cancer and finally succumbed. She was diagnosed with rectal cancer around 8-9 years ago. The diagnosis was delayed so she had to undergo rigorous radiation therapy. In this case the medicine proved as dangerous as the disease. Her cancer was cured but the wounds left by the radiation never healed. Abscesses were formed which kept leaking pus. She was always in a lot of pain. Couldn’t even sit and had to either lie or stand. Once the wound got so infected that maggots bred in it and had to be removed. Whenever I thought of her I would selfishly wish that God please don’t ever give me so much pain.
She never had an easy life. Her mother died when she was young and her step-mother never treated her very well. One she was married her life improved but it was still hard. Her husband didn’t earn very well though he brought home a decent salary and she was never able to afford a maid. She did all the housework and cooking and brought up two children. When her husband retired they came to live in the house they had built. My Nana has four brothers and they have five houses in adjoining plots of land. It’s an ideal arrangement. Everyone has their independence but with the advantage of living with family. They are forever in each other’s houses and enjoy the visits of each other’s children. This would have been the easiest period of her life. Both her kids were well settled and earning well. They had a house to call their own. She had finally kept a maid to help with the housework.
I think she enjoyed that for maybe only a year or two. Then she was diagnosed with cancer and has been in terrible pain ever since. But I have only ever seen her smiling. I went to college in Banaras which is where they live. I would go over to Nani’s place almost every weekend and would meet her too. In spite of the pain she would always smile. She would make jokes about her cancer. Whenever anyone came over to visit she would serve the tastiest home-made snacks unless she was very ill. She was an excellent cook. I don’t know too much about her or her life but the thing which always struck me the most was her ability to smile in the face of pain. She attended my wedding which was in Banaras and also my cousin’s last year. In fact last year she was finally healing a bit and seemed much better.
Her dying will be a big loss to Nani who was very close to her. Mummy was very upset on the phone when she told me today. I can only imagine the grief her husband and children must be going through. May her soul rest in peace and may God give courage to her family.