Regression

Her great great great great grandmother did not go to school, you know

Her great great great grandmother was more fortunate though

She learnt to read and write, kept the books, taught her children ABC

Her great great grandmother could go to university

She marched to earn the right to vote snd won

A new era of equality for women had begun..

Her great grandmother lived through adversity

Became the primary breadwinner of the family

During the world war- her grandmother came of age

As women in the workforce started taking centerstage

Her mother has been a role model of independent thought

Who raised her to believe that she could not

Be made to do anything against her will by anyone

She entered the workforce after the “Me Too” movement had begun..

*

When her daughter was born little did she know

The world she lived in would be transformed so

That women’s freedom would be overturned overnight

Her daughter would not even have the right

That her grandmother did, with one stroke of pen

Patriarchy re-established control over women

What did I sacrifice

“Sacrifice” is a sacred term, uttered with reverence

Conjuring images of stoicism and suffering intense

In which one human gives up something of value profound

To benefit other(s), without boasting around..

Ah what an altruistic ideal to aspire to!

“Sacrifice” is the epitome of virtue

For our families, all of us to some extent compromise

That gets elevated to the throne of sacrifice

The word is thrown around for emotional blackmail

“I sacrificed for you, now do as I say” never seems to fail

**

What can truly be called sacrifice

Exacts from the sacrificer a very high price

For our loved ones the compromises we make

Are usually quite minor, not much is at stake

Calling them sacrifices denigrates the word

When nothing earth-shattering has occurred

**

Life calls for compromises often, I agree

But sacrifice is rarely necessary

I have made adjustments in life, admittedly

Without sacrificing what is truly important to me

Thoughts from the Ivory Tower

Sitting in my ivory tower I churn out

Manuscripts on a subject obscure

Of which I am an expert, no doubt

My research is authentic and pure

I write treatises, travel everywhere

On this esoteric topic I expound

To the same group of academics who care

Enough to hear an “expert” renowned

*

There are days when my work appears

Groundbreaking, and important to me

There are other days when I fear

That I’ve lost touch with reality

I’ve toiled hard, narrowed down my field

To reach my level of expertise

In my research arena, influence I wield

In every other sphere, I am ill at ease

*

I worry I would be rendered irrelevant

If I could not publish, perish I would

That had certainly not been my intent

When at these hallowed portals I had first stood

*

The ivory tower makes you climb so high

You lose touch with reality on the ground

Let me descend from the limitless sky

Down to where real wisdom is to be found

Let me apply the knowledge I have gained

Towards practical use, I know it can be done

Among intellectuals I might have reigned

Now there is a harder challenge to be won…

Shiny New Things…

There is much I want, but how do I prioritize?

New distractions constantly arise

In the form of things shiny and bright

Letting my values get out of sight

Suddenly the desire for material things

Becomes stronger, pulls at my purse strings

Making me fall under the dangerous impression

That life would be better with a shiny new possession

Once acquired, the novelty of that object wears off fast

The thrill provided by a highly prized item does not last

Cognitively I understand this fact quite well

But the desire to buy more objects is not quelled..

*

When I think deeply, I do not really want

To acquire bright things, there’s no reason to flaunt

Possessions that are meant just to be used

But I confess my priorities are often confused

I often take pride in things inanimate

Until someone bursts my bubble, and my enthusiasm abates

Then I go back to the abstract values that bring

More meaning to life than shiny new things..

I rushed in where (they) were afraid to tread..

I take a step forward, then hesitate

Am I being impulsive, should I wait?

Conventional wisdom raises its voice

Weigh every option before making a choice

Haste in making a decision is not good

The likely consequences should be understood

Before committing to a decision that can

Be life-altering, there should be a backup plan

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread

Every step should be premeditated in your head..

*

I know rushing headlong into things

Without thinking through, without planning

May be a recipe for disaster, but on the other hand

Life has a knack for not going as planned

So why should I not just close my eyes

And just listen to my heart, and its advice

If my instinct tells me it’s the right thing to do

The challenges ahead it would carry me through..

*

Let me shut out all noise and take a leap

Into uncharted waters that run deep

My heart gives me hope that I shall swim

Even when my chances appear dim

Cross over to the other side, and live to tell

I jumped on intuition, and life turned out well

Money Woes..

“Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.” ~Ronald Reagan

Do you know what uniformly causes most pain?

It is rising inflation, time and again

No health issue including a global pandemic

Gives you the same feeling of being sick

As watching prices rise every day

Subject to the market forces at play

When each fuel refill costs you much more

Your heart aches for the price you paid before

Now that it’s time to socialize after two years

You have a dwindling bank balance to fear

So partying hard seems like a distant dream

Delayed gratification remains the dominant theme

You wonder why this decade seems to be

Determined to not let you live freely..

*

Each time you open your purse strings

You are annoyed thinking of all the things

That are less affordable, but the feeling goes away fast

As you replay the events of the pandemic years past

Suddenly you are grateful to be alive and well

What you face now is just a lean financial spell

You remind yourself that you still have enough

You can keep going though the going is tough

Can I call a spade a spade?

The idea for this poem came from a discussion among friends living (and practicing as doctors) in different countries, struggling with being politically correct while talking about sensitive issues such as gender, race, size etc.

Traditional terminology has now been obsolete made

So can I still call a spade a spade?

*

I am asking, because it’s not my intent

To hurt unknowingly, anyone’s sentiments

I grew up in a world with labels countless

But since then the world has made progress

Such that the adjectives traditionally used

May be (mis)construed as abuse..

*

Freedom of expression is necessary

Nothing’s black and white or binary

Free speech has to be filtered through

A sieve of politically correct voodoo

Anything other than the most liberal point of view

Is subject to not just ridicule but cancellation too

*

It has become necessary to be hyperaware

To discrimination, to tread with utmost care

Lest a forbidden word make its way

Into your speech some fateful day

Your words that come from thoughts innocuous

Could be interpreted as representing a bias unconscious..

*

Then I remind myself that in a changing world

We are continuously changing words

The rigidity of the past has to be discarded

For the erstwhile “outliers” to be “normal” regarded

Change is hard, and seems imposed on me

But that is how we grow collectively..

*

So, in a nutshell, this conclusion I have reached

I shall incorporate the new term for “spade” in my speech

Anger is the Elephant in the Room

This is a deeply personal issue that is coming up increasingly- as a society we are angrier in the aftermath of the pandemic and rising inflation, and being vulnerable as a patient can trigger anger directed towards health care providers, which adds a layer of complexity to the patient’s relationship with his/ her care team

Why are you so angry at me?

*

I am in a place where I may

Be able to help you in some way

As a trained professional equipped am I

To help alleviate your suffering, then why

Do you not give me a chance to explain

To you the disease that’s causing your pain

You are frustrated, I understand

By your illness, things seem out of your hands

Your life is dominated by your disease

You cannot do anything as and when you please

But why is your anger directed at me

That I am on your side, why can’t you see?

*

You know when I suggest a form of treatment

I am basing it on my professional judgment

Why do you assume there is a vested interest

I want to work with you to find the treatment that best

Fits your unique situation, your unique constellation

Of symptoms of the disease that cause you consternation

Unfortunately your lifestyle choices that your health affect

Need to be discussed, with due respect

*

Unfortunately anger turns out to be obstructive

In the path of finding a solution constructive

Anger brings an element of mistrust

To our relationship, and both of us must

First address that elephant in the room

Let all hidden frustrations be exhumed

*

While you are trying to grapple with your anger, I

Am learning the art of patience, I would not lie,

I have to give you the space that you need

Before I give up on our professional relationship indeed

Cognitively I understand that your anger here

May be directed more at your illness, but I do fear

That in my role as a physician I have failed

I admit that albeit briefly, I let self-doubt prevail

*

I hope your anger shall eventually dissipate

And together a treatment plan we shall formulate

Before the Manic Monday

It’s Sunday night and I can sense

My mind and body getting tense

Going into a fight or flight mode

For the work week’s substantial load

I must say that I am excited to face

New challenges at the workplace

At the same time the constantly running treadmill

At the workplace and home daunts me still

I have sorted as many chores as I can

Most everything fits into a watertight plan

Meal-preparation, laundry, cleaning are complete

Accomplishing them on the weekend is no mean feat

I do not know what the week has in store for me

I don’t know if I shall breeze through it or be

Weighed down by a mountain of work in such a way

That I am exhausted completely by the end of each day

*

It’s Sunday night and I must go to bed

To face the challenges of the week ahead

Vulnerability

I try my best so no one can see

Me enmeshed in vulnerability

My outer shell does toughness portray

I reassure the world nothing can sway

Me from my stoic stance here

While my insides tremble with fear..

Because I know that if I were to display

My vulnerable side, I would’ve given away

The power that a calm demeanor wields

I believe a display of strength shields

Me from criticism and discouragement

Makes me feel more confident..

*

Sometimes the charade is too much to bear

I want to open up to someone I hold dear

Expose my insecurities, my vulnerable side

Throw away the mask behind which I hide

Then conquer all my fears one by one

Because I think success cannot be won

By skirting around fear, without going through

With my close confidant, that’s what I hope to do…

*

To unmask my vulnerability I need

Unflinching and complete trust indeed

To find a person in whom I can place

Such level of trust is a daunting task I face

Because when you yourself hide behind a mask

Looking for someone who trusts you is a bit much to ask..

*

Someday I’ll gather the courage to not hide

My fears and insecurities deep inside

I hope to express freely, and not hesitate

In sharing with the world my vulnerable state

The Calligraphist

Summary

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://passionunbridled.com/2022/02/23/the-calligraphist/ — Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/shuchita-gupta/support

Transcription

The school of massacre

My insides are stained

Indelibly

With the blood

Of innocent children

They came to learn

They came to play

Not in bulletproof vests

Not with bulletproof backpacks

They were not trained

In how to restrain

An active shooter on site

They screamed, they fell

Their silence now dwells

Within the confines

Of my walls-

I am marred

By bodies charred

By a weapon of destruction

The weapon that was

Not the problem, they said

It was the mind, mind you..

I only know this is true-

My walls could not

Protect the children inside

I had no corners

Where they could hide

I grieve, I mourn

I am now an infamous place

My name added

To a list unfortunate

The list that grows

Every year while those

Who should have grown

Shall never get the chance..

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