Touch me not…

Preparation for the coronavirus outbreak is more than washing our hands; it's not freaking out and keeping our minds in check, too.

In this pandemic while we lose much..

I am mourning the loss of human touch

**

Never thought a day would arrive

When in a collective attempt to survive

The most basic human need in times of distress

Would become so conflicting to address…

**

The first instinct when things are not right

Is to hug our loved ones tight

Yet counter to where our instincts go

Staying away is how love we show

Deathly terrified of the virus we stay

A minimum of six feet away

From  our loved ones, afraid of transmission

However painful, it is the right decision

When we work in minefields each day

Stepping on mines inevitably comes our way

Going to work fills us with unprecedented fear

Made worse without contact with those we hold dear

**

As a physician, the immense power of touch

Can hardly be exaggerated much

Physical examination, considered the holy grail

Of the practice of medicine- no longer does prevail

By electronic devices we now communicate

Who knew medicine would be in this state

And when sick patients we touch to provide care

Under layers of protective gear, the connection simply isn’t there

Extending a hand to comfort someone in pain

Has been sacrificed at the altar of the virus again

**

Nostalgic for old days, mourning the inability

To touch, I bring my palms together in humility

And pray fervently to the powers divine

That one day, soon, human touch will be fine..

(Image source: https://images.app.goo.gl/iPnkYjbyQ3bN2YSv5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am afraid..

These are trying times, and health care workers are afraid as they try to navigate their personal and professional lives in the face of shortage of personal protective equipment, especially in the United States. This is an attempt to give a voice to all the physicians on the front lines..

Many times in my life had I been afraid

Worried sick, my emotions swayed

By fear of the unknown that I had allowed

To take hold of me, somehow…

I thought I understood fear

I did not though, now it is clear

*

Never in my life have I before

Felt fear that shook me to the core

This is fear at a completely different level

This is fear so feral, so primeval

Fear of the unknown, like a dark cloud

Threatening to envelop like a shroud

There’s no one to turn to, answers there are none

And the apocalyptic nightmare has just begun!

*

I was going through life with the thought

That working in healthcare a special fulfillment brought

I knew occupational hazards did exist

Yet most infectious agents I would comfortably resist

Never did I imagine that my source of pride

Would be replaced by constant fear by my side…

*

This fear is multidimensional, which is why

To try to understand it completely I

Am at a loss- besides the obvious fear of illness

And death- I have that additional fear to address

That if I work with complete dedication

I place my family and patients in a perilous situation…

Who do I protect first- this has become

A morbid riddle, an unsolvable conundrum

I am still learning to be torn apart

As I distance myself from those near to my heart

*

Fear envelops me, as I contemplate

The impossible decisions of deciding the fate

Of patients based on criteria that in better days

Would be considered discriminatory in criminal ways

My medical training had not equipped me to

Play God (or the Devil?) as I might be required to do..

*

With fearful thoughts raging through my mind

I try to trick myself to fall asleep, I remind

Myself that sleep is necessary to ensure

My immunity works and I can endure

Working in these times dystopian

Putting on a brave front as a physician

Yet the only action that my fear alleviates

Is acquiring knowledge, therefore I educate

Myself on the disease- feeling hopeful each time I read

About any promising treatment indeed…

I did not intend, nor do I care

To be called a superhero- to be fair

I am not one, so I should not be expected

To stay well without being protected

There is one fear I can allay-

If I get protective equipment, I can say

I am there for the sick, as I am required to do

Without feeling like a sacrificial lamb too…

*

I am afraid, and at the end of the day

I close my eyes, and simply pray…

Ramblings in the time of COVID scare….

corona

Someday I’ll talk about a cataclysmic

Event that changed the world, a pandemic

A virus swept the world by storm

Fear over its spread became the norm

In terms of social media trends

The “crown” it took for days on end

Spread like lightning, helped by the conveniences

Of modern day travel- breaking all defences

Lives it claimed, and economies too

Each day created panic anew…

 

*

While all this is happening today

I hope I’d remember the pandemic in a different way-

Survivors would survive, hysteria would die down

But I hope there would remain a positive legacy to this “crown”-

In a decade that had begun sharply polarized

Coronavirus would be remembered as the medium that made us realize

That health and illness do not discriminate

On the basis of politics, religion, country or state

I hope that 2020 would go down in history

As the year that united every country

Because all the differences that the world had to face

Paled in front of this massive menace

I hope one day I would talk about how the world

Came together, and a war on the virus unfurled..

 

*

Call me a fantasist, but I hope for change radical

And I believe this pandemic might be the vehicle

For us to take a step back and evaluate

The mindless consumerism that has been our state

Temporary restrictions on mobility

Might make us reevaluate and see

All the things that we consume versus all the things that we need

This would be the time to learn how to live sustainably indeed

 

*

Someday I hope I would remember

The year 2020 as a defining year

When a virus by causing a pandemic

Ripped apart our world’s flimsy fabric

And forced us to redesign our lives

In a better way, that let humanity thrive

 

(Corona means “crown”)

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