Sunday, May 28, 2023
Support Our Journalism
HomePageTurnerBook ExcerptsGoing to school after cancer treatment — My son’s brave journey

Going to school after cancer treatment — My son’s brave journey

In ‘Blaze’, Nidhi Poddar and Sushil Poddar write about their son Divyansh Atman who was diagnosed with blood cancer and his tough journey.

Text Size:

My arrival in Jerusalem was timed to perfection. The actual treatment was soon to commence. I had heard a lot about the Wailing Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. It’s a holy place of the Jews where they lament the destruction of their temple and pray for its restoration. On a Sabbath Day, the ambience of this place was absorbing. Jews across all ages stand up along this wall and read the Torah. Besides, this place also draws teeming tourists who throng there for a feel of its magnificence. Visitors to the Wailing Wall follow the practice of putting small slips of papers upon which they write their prayers and wishes into the cracks between the stones. It is believed these wishes are granted.

As Divyansh was to embark on a tough journey, I thought to pay a visit to this holy place before that. We visited the place on a Sabbath Day. What I saw there moved me. The atmosphere was electric. Sushil and Divyansh followed the local practice of wearing kippah before entering the wall premises. Ladies are not supposed to wear it. First, we washed our hands and then picked up small pieces of papers from the basket there. We each wrote our wishes and put them in the cracks of the wall. None of us spoke to each other about what we had written. We didn’t even dare to ask each other for fear of risking the fruition of our wishes. It is said that eyes can’t lie. When I looked at Sushil’s eyes, I could decode that we had written the same wish. As for Divyansh, I never knew, though I was intrigued about it. I am still clueless about his wish that he had written on that piece of paper. 

As I write his story now, wisdom slowly permeates me which makes me feel that our wishes may not have been fulfilled on the face of it. However, a deeper understanding of the divine design gives a peek that this might have been fulfilled if we evaluate the subsequent events of Divyansh’s and our lives from a different perspective. It is not a question of whether someone’s wishes are fulfilled. On a higher pedestal of life, we must realize that what has to happen must and will happen. That is the ultimate fulfilment of our wishes. Who knows, the great Wailing Wall may have fulfilled our petitions kept in its core in a more majestic way. It is up to us how we look at it and assimilate.”

Also read: Two-third Indians with non-communicable diseases fall in 26-59 age group, survey finds


In the middle of his regular treatment, one day, Divyansh was returning from the day-care centre along with Sushil. He looked a bit pensive and Sushil observed him looking outside the window of the car, searching for some answer from a constituent of the cosmos he felt attached to. That was 12 August 2014. Gazing in the same direction where he was, he asked his father, ‘How much more treatment is left to be taken?’ Sushil consolingly replied, ‘Divyansh, we are halfway through. Don’t think too hard. Time flies.’ Divyansh didn’t ask any further questions. 

Sushil felt he was not able to answer him convincingly, and Divyansh must also have felt the predicament of his father so he chose to give a brief reply. He was not gazing outside with a blank face. Actually, his father had replied with the key word ‘halfway’, which was expanded by that constituent of the cosmos he was communicating with. By the time he reached home, his countenance had changed and he looked more relaxed and at peace with himself. It seemed like he had got the answer he was looking for. 

That night, he wrote the third poem of his life titled ‘Halfway Down the Path Not Untaken’, in less than two months of his literary journey. This poem he had written for himself, finding answers to all his questions, which only he could have given himself. His contemplative ode evoked a sense of wisdom not only in him, but also to us. He, through this poem, again lent a helping hand to us by letting us realize some of our own unanswered questions.

Here are some excerpts:

Unfathomable are the ways of God, No, we cannot gaze it,
He is a whimsical artist,
Who sways His brush as He wishes.
I was about to plant my feet
On the lush, green track,
But I guess He had other plans for me, For He chose to change my track.

Now, as I stand halfway down this path, I have finally understood
The nature of adversities
As quoted by all.

You see, adversity is
A poison with its own antidote,
A thorn with its own red rose,
A mistake with its own moral lesson That always makes you realize
Its profoundness at core.”

Also read: Districts in Arunachal, Mizoram see highest new cancer cases in India, govt report shows


Divyansh went to school for the first time after seven months of lay-off. Donning the white school uniform and a black skull cap, when Divyansh stepped onto the paved narrow strip leading to the assembly hall, he looked a bit shaky. Sushil wondered what must have been going on in Divyansh’s mind when he would face his peers and teachers after a long time. Actually, they knew what had happened to him. And the skull cap is always testimony of a person just coming out of treatment for cancer. 

Sushil said that just before entering the assembly, Divyansh had looked up the sky for a moment, and then, with complete elan, walked inside the assembly hall. Sushil couldn’t hold his tears. It seemed his tears were accustomed to seeing the world when no one was around.

Divyansh Atman passed away at young age of 22 years after fighting against blood cancer for 10 years.

This excerpt from ‘Blaze: A Son’s Trial By Fire’ by Nidhi Poddar and Sushil Poddar, published by Rupa Publications, has been reproduced with permission from the authors.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular