Good days/ bad days

There are days when you wake up

With a spring in your step

Energized, ready to take the world on

By its proverbial horn

A lot you accomplish in that day

You think such days would pave the way

For you to aim higher; more achieve

You are invincible, or so you believe

**

Then there are days when life drags you down

You shuffle your feet, your forehead has a frown

When all you wish is to crawl in your bed

Yet put one foot in front of the other instead

You manage to get work done somehow

Using as little energy as your body would allow

**

I used to think that that the days that made a difference

Were the ones full of energy and exuberance

Yet, with passage of time I’ve made this observation-

Sleepwalking through slow days just for self-preservation

Is equally important- it is the ability during such days

To put one foot before the other along the way

That propels us forward, for such days are many more

Plowing ahead during tough times ensures

That eventually the destination is reached

Your goal you have finally achieved.

Privilege and Parenting

Privilege is a loaded word

Often in discussions heard

Just by virtue of being mentioned

This word creates a division

Between the haves and the have-nots

Separates people into two lots…

**

On self-examination, however, it is hard

To know of which group you are a part

Privilege is a moving target, it appears

As the social ladder climbed by you or your peers

Especially, how do you judge if privilege extends

To the ones you love most, your previous children?

*

A group of parents professionally well- qualified

Was asked if as privileged they identified

Their children- and if so, was this in some way

A negative thing that could their upbringing sway

Into a lack of drive, boredom and a sense of entitlement-

Of course the question raised powerful sentiments

*

The question made me pause and think

Are privilege (or lack of) and strength of character linked?

We work hard to provide our children all comforts material

But do we make them too weak to face the world real?

Their success we ardently desire

Yet sometimes our efforts backfire

*

Like everything else in parenting there must be

A sweet spot, a middle ground, definitely

Where privilege and deprivation collide

And children have interactions on each side

That Holy Grail I shall try to find

So that my child grows up sensible and kind….

*

The mantra should be to live with a humble attitude

And accept privilege with gratitude…

The Artist’s Voice

I started an artistic endeavor merely

To scratch an itch of creativity

I had no definite plans to share

What was actually my heart laid bare

With anyone- yet I got roped in

To participate in a talent show kind of thing

The unexpected appreciation it received

Catapulted me into a different sphere indeed

Fortunate I was that my art

Got notice this week, I got a roaring start…

**

Success as an artist comes only to few

Passion aside, luck has to be on your side too

Bewildered I was, a bit, I must confess

And frankly afraid of the transience of the success

So I poured myself into my art in every way

To prove to myself first that I was there to stay

My artistic voice was fresh, my perspective unique

My art was good material for discussion and critique

Each artistic piece outshone the previous one

In public imagination, a place I had won

**

I had never thought my art would become

Not just the main, but my only source of income

Ah- art and commerce well do not jibe

(No wonder artists are a penurious tribe)

The pressure I therefore felt to produce art

Took a toll on my artistic heart

My creations became more formulaic

My art descended from exotic to prosaic

For a while it worked, because I could still satiate

The taste of my audience, but it was a temporary state

But that unique artistic voice I had before

Had become vulgate, it was interesting no more

Critics did not spare me, finances dwindled too

Finally I realized taking a break was what I needed to do

**

I let my mind wander, I looked around

I let myself be inspired, and then I found-

Free from expectations, that magic again

That deliberate break did not go in vain

I was back in form with a fresh perspective

Those moments of exhilaration I got to relive..

**

These cycles come and go, I am familiar now

With creative ups and downs, I do not allow

The highs or lows to affect me as I once did

I go along with the flow of my art instead…

Who am I?

statue

I had this perception of identity

That it was a finite, solid entity-

With a quality tangible, definite

Something that would in a neat box fit..

**

So growing up I never thought

Finding my identity would be fraught

With ambiguity, uncertainty, confusion

Was the firmness of identity but an illusion?

**

I struggled with the idea that my identity

Was a reflection of my outward personality

But then, how could my identity be defined

Without invoking the recesses of my mind?

**

So I tried to delve within my soul

To find the pieces that made me whole

It seemed the values that I held dear

Shaped my identity’s nebulous sphere..

**

I came to realize that wrapped around the core

Were layers that were fluid, layers that bore

Marks of my experiences, past and present

Experiences, both disappointing and pleasant

**

A missing part of my identity happened to be

People I respected, looked up to constantly

My mentors, role-models, those I emulated

My identity, with theirs’ was inter-related

**

The quest for my identity has taught

Me that immutable identity is not

It is fluid- a peregrination, a process

Who I am truly still eludes me, I confess…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am an Indian woman..

(This poem has references to the stories of Sita from the Indian epic Ramayana, Draupadi from the Indian epic Mahabharata and Rani Padmini, who was a Queen in the modern state of Rajasthan in the 13th century. Most Indians have some familiarity with their stories.)

 

Sita

 

I was a goddess supposedly

That was not enough to let me be free

To have a voice, to be able to protest

Decisions unjust- at my husband’s behest

I had to leave my palace in a delicate state

Be banished to the forest-such was my fate

Decided by gossip his majesty overheard

I did not even have a chance to say a word

About my innocence-mind you, I had already

Walked through fire to prove my chastity

That was after months of humiliation

That I had faced in my imprisoned situation

Throughout my life decisions had been made

By the men in my life, the path for me had been laid

Goddess I might be, but the rules of patriarchy

Did not prevent me from blemish, you see

**

Draupadi

You know a colossal war was fought over me

That changed the course of Bharatvarsha’s history

My husbands fought gallantly but I must say

They had the cowardice to gamble me away

I was violated publicly, my crime had been

To make fun of Duryodhana which he had seen

As an affront to his male ego, this, in a world

Dominated by patriarchy, a monster unfurled

After the war, on our heavenward journey

I was the first to fall, bringing more humiliation to me

My sin- to one of the five, partiality I had displayed

Love was not a choice I was allowed to have made..

**

Rani Padmini

 

Little did I know what would ideally be

A positive quality would turn out for me

A death sentence-what was worse

The women of my kingdom fell with me, such was the curse

Of my beauty- that caused a battle to be fought

Tragedy struck, without our men, our lot

Was doomed- patriarchal rules were such

That honor was important, life not so much…

So we committed large-scale harakiri

This forced cowardice, ironically, is labeled bravery..

**

Modern Indian woman

 

We talk about strong women in our culture and history

Yet on closer examination you see

That their stories follow ultimately

Rules established by patriarchy

So when I fight for gender equality

I am fighting thousands of years of history

The patriarchal mindset is deeply ingrained

In both women and men- though we have gained

Some ground in addressing this issue deep-seated

Frequent crimes against women leave me feeling defeated..

We need to change mindsets, one by one

Starting with our daughters and sons

Physician, heal thyself

This post deals with depression in physicians (and no, it has nothing to do with me). An estimated 300 physicians die by suicide in the U.S. per year. Physicians who took their lives were less likely to be receiving mental health treatment compared with
non- physicians who took their lives even though depression was found to be a significant risk factor at approximately the same rate in both groups.

I had never thought I would live to recount

This story, I was convinced I could not surmount

The veil of depression that had me shrouded

In abject despondency my life had been clouded

I was losing my purpose as a physician

Helplessly battling what I knew was clinical depression

Unable to seek help-the stakes were too high

The stigma was strong- and ashamed was I

The never ending demands in professional life

Infiltrating into personal space, causing strife

At home- had driven me to my wit’s end

That I was normal, I could no longer pretend…

*

In a flood of depression somehow I had made up my mind

To end my life – no peace I could find

I stood on the bridge, saying my last prayer

What happened next, I’m not quite aware

A gentle tap on my shoulder woke me from my trance

Someone exclaimed- “there’s the doctor who gave me a second chance”

I turned to find what can best be described

As a smile that was as genuine as it was wide

Belonging to a patient who had been treated by me

Several years ago- from death’s door to an astounding recovery

I had spent days and nights by her bedside

Her remarkable recovery had been to me a source of pride

*

Being worldly-wise, I suspect she did comprehend

That my life I was contemplating to end

Because very quietly she took my hand in hers

Looked me in the eye, and with all the experience of her years

In a soothing voice she reminded me

That if I could fight for her, I could fight definitely

For myself- she made me recall

Why I was a physician, why after my fall

I needed to get up, not wither away

I might have saved her once, she saved me that day…

*

I turned, went back home in gratitude

Forced myself to adopt a proactive attitude

I sought professional help to manage my depression

Found myself again, found enthusiasm for my profession

*

Someone was watching out for me that day

My work is not done- I still need to stay…

 

Hyphenated Identity

This piece reflects the dilemma of all the immigrants who have a hyphenated tag to their identity- reflecting their ethnicity and the country they (or their ancestors) immigrated to- eg. Indian-American

Have a unique identity, I am told

Be your true self, be authentic, be bold

But what am I supposed to do

When my hyphenated identity is confusing to you?

*

I am expected to switch constantly

Between the two sides of my hyphenated identity

Depending on the need of the situation

I am expected to change colors like a chameleon

*

Sometimes I’m confused, which side to display

Leaning towards one or the other can sway

My experience of the moment from positive to negative

This is a constant conundrum through which I live

*

Halves of me I try to project as whole

Sometimes it feels like impersonation to my soul

I struggle with being authentic, being true to my form

My hybrid hyphenated identity does not with expectations conform

*

The two sides of the hyphen represent

An amalgamation of two cultures, two languages, two accents

I am that hybrid, that amalgam, you see

Let me stay true to this identity

The Equality Manifesto in a Patriarchal Society

When we talk of patriarchy it’s almost implied

It has only affected women worldwide

The really short end of the stick they’ve received

While men do as they please, so is perceived

Now let me frame this in a different way

It might be controversial, what I have to say

I think men are victims, equally

At the hands of a patriarchal society

Taught to behave a certain way from an early age

Bottling up emotions that turns into rage

Buried under the weight of societal expectations

Trying to project strength during stressful situations….

Toxic masculinity results when patriarchy prevails

Oppression of women increases, the social structure fails

To preserve the balance it was supposed to maintain

Neither women nor men unaffected remain..

No one benefits from gender hegemony

Imbalance of power is the worst enemy

Equality, not feminism, is the need of the hour

Equal recognition, equal expectations, equal power…