That shaky ground..

Why do I stand on such fragile ground

My confidence is like a rootless tree

Prone to being ravaged and thrashed around

By the slightest omission committed by me..

*

Why do I feel such a pressing need

To be infallible, to always be right

I have internal encumbrances that feed

This anxiety that I constantly fight

*

I wonder if it is the world around me

Or my fragile ego that inspires more fear

That failure is a step to success, I cannot see

Thus I hang on to the status quo dear

*

Confidence may be the first step to success

And that is what I need to somehow find

I may not win, but at least I would make some progress

If I let go of the fear of failing from my mind..

*

As always, when the going is tough I seek

Solace in words arranged in a verse

Suddenly the world does not appear as bleak

I’ve conquered a small slice of my universe..

Doc, am I doing well?

In all these years of being a physician

Striving for better communication

With patients each time they were seen

I am embarrassed that unaware I had been

Of the power of genuine praise-

That can a patient’s spirits raise

Give a positive spin of motivation..

To their anxiety and apprehension

*

I would start my patients on medications

And provide them lifestyle education

When patients with positive results would present

I would view it as the effect of appropriate treatment

While bad news I would deliver with utmost care

Good news in a matter-of-fact way I would share

I had no idea how my patients yearned to be

Applauded for their efforts by me..

*

As luck would have it, in a reversal profound

In the role of a patient myself I have found

When I see my physicians I confess

A lot of resources I have already accessed

Thus test results and what they mean

Before seeing my physician, I’ve already seen

I channel the most disciplined part of me

Into taking care of my health actually

I know that my disease I’m managing well

There is nothing new for my doctor to tell..

Yet I realized recently, to my surprise

That being a “good” patient in my doctor’s eyes

Actually felt good, I felt that the efforts made by me

Were being validated, being recognized finally..

*

As a doctor, this has been a revelation for me

My words have influence beyond that I can see

My praise can positive reinforcement provide

To motivate patients and make them take pride

In improving or maintaining their health actively

To bring about the change that I wish to see

*

There are things that you never realize

Until you find yourself on the other side

Of the situation, only then you can place

Yourself in the shoes of the person- you face

The scenario from their point of view

It is a moment of revelation, of growth for you…

Changed words in a changed world..

I had grown up reading books of one kind

I had devoured stories that in my mind

Epitomized the Western civilization

That reflected, in hindsight, colonial domination

Others writers were nowhere to be found..

Even authors of other backgrounds

Had their writing passed through the sieve

Of the dominant narrative, they could not cleave

Their stories from those of their colonizers indeed

For their voices to be heard, the world saw no need

*

The world has changed, too late, I must say

As we head towards decolonization in every way

My reading repertoire has expanded to include

Voices from minorities previously subdued

Their (dark) sides of history are now being told

With fresh narratives, hidden truths unfold

In a truly free and decolonized world

Democratic should be the printed word

I applaud and hope all minorities

Continue to acquaint the world with their stories

Maslow’s hierarchy of social media needs…

Original Maslow’s pyramid
New pyramid

I am afraid that I am guilty

Of falling prey to Maslow’s hierarchy

Of social media bragging, where self-actualization

Comes from greater success at self-aggrandization

When views, likes, shares and followers reach a peak

You’ve reached the top of the pyramid you seek

Climbing through a bewildering array

Of painstakingly curated photographs that say

That you are accomplished, well-traveled, made of success

You have a lot of followers you have impressed

If you are not there yet, the second tier of esteem needs

Is closely tied to your social media posts indeed

Unfortunately that is where I am right now

Sharing the highlights of my days to allow

Likes and comments on my posts to inflate

My self-esteem that often threatens to abate

As I compare the daily grind of my life ordinary

With the highlight reels of all and sundry

I wonder how those at the top of the pyramid live

With inexhaustible resources and sage advice to give

Then I remember that Maslow’s pyramid was not designed

With social media and the internet in mind

So I should turn away from my devices and leave

The peak of Maslow’s pyramid as something impossible to achieve

(Image credits: 1. thefemalebrief.com

2. yourstory.com)

The things that I own..

Where is all the stuff that I used to hold dear

Where did my beautiful possessions disappear?

Since I know my house has not being raided

They must be in “safe places” that have faded

From my memory, they were precious to me

So in order to care for them meticulously

I cleverly hid them in corners where they could lie

Untouched, undisturbed, away from a prying eye

Those curated objects could be

retrieved

As often as I fancied, or so I believed..

*

With social interactions minimized during pandemic years

I “lost” my possessions in my house, I fear

Things that in a thriving social life were in use

Are nowhere to be found, I rack my brain for clues

The special hiding places have slipped from my mind

Whatever I look for, I never seem to find

*

My frenzied quest does unearth forgotten treasures

Finding things tossed into oblivion is one of life’s pleasures

I pledge this time I shall put my things away

In more obvious places, that can in my mind stay

Who knows whether a year later I would be

Able to remember their locations perfectly?

*

I wax philosophical and wonder if my possessions prized

Are actually that valuable to me- and I realize

That to say that I love them is an exaggeration indeed

They are objects that fulfill a material need

Sometimes they lift my sagging spirits for a while

By making me feel beautiful, they make me smile

But objects cannot love you back anyway

Even the brightest diamond’s magic does not stay

So I use them, store them away and turn my attention

To the things that matter- like social interaction..

Bookended by weekends

Within my sleep deprived brain

Echoes this near-constant refrain

Why is it not the weekend yet

So that work I can briefly forget

And indulge in activities hedonistic

Or flex a dormant muscle artistic

Or simply catch up on precious shut-eye

All week long I wonder why

The days are long, but not the nights

Every morning drowsiness I fight

I build up sleep deficit through the week

But when the weekend rolls, thrill I seek

By reading a book way past midnight,

Or conjuring up ideas that never see daylight

I take the idea of weekend fun seriously

And time just flies by mysteriously

Before I can rejuvenate and rest

Or explore one of my (varied) interests

Monday is knocking on the door

And it is time for last week’s encore

I immerse myself in work, dreaming again

Of the upcoming weekend to alleviate my pain…

That miracle cream..

I look at the advertisement on my screen

With promises of results never before seen

I am lured by the luxurious anti-wrinkle cream

Truth be told, I am being sold a dream

When I buy a product that promises a miracle

I am letting go of reason, I am being gullible

Because my life feels empty and I want to believe

Desperately, that this cream would help me achieve

The elusive youthful wrinkle-free skin somehow

That would make me feel beautiful, that would allow

The void within to be obliterated at last

My confidence would see an improvement vast

When I invest my moolah in a product of this kind

I invest my hopes and dreams too, I find

My cognitive faculties remind me quick-fixes there are none

But my bedazzled heart has already begun

To dream of the flawless skin they proclaim

Some part of my past I hope to reclaim

*

Millions of women like me search each day

For happiness to magically come our way

By way of capsules, creams, hair products or lotions

Leaving logic aside, buying what appeals to our emotions

Looking for a panacea, that something elusive

That would make life feel a little easier to live

We delude ourselves that if only we could

Look more youthful, more beautiful, healthier, we would

Be happier in our lives, and for that we need

That one thing touted on instagram indeed…

*

Next time I am lured, I must try to remember somehow

That it is our inherent insecurities that have allowed

The beauty industry to prosper and grow

This is a fact all of us should know

Before we spend money on “miracle” stuff

We should remind ourselves that we are enough..

Grounds for confidence…

I’ve had compliments showered on me

I don’t remember them, regrettably

At times I expected them and at times I

Thought they were untrue, I was quick to deny

That I deserved any praise, whatever I had done

Was nothing special, no Nobel I had won

To be completely honest, I realize now

That in all my years, I’d never learnt how

To accept a compliment graciously

For what it was meant to be

*

On the other hand, any critical or negative remark

Would leave on my psyche an indelible mark

When I recall those words, spoken years ago

My confidence ebbs again to a new low

If I was perceived as flawed, it must be true

There are so many things I cannot do

As well as most people around me

I can never be good enough, I think repeatedly

*

Why does my confidence stand on such shaky ground

Why in all these years I have not found

An unshakable belief in myself after all

Why do I let myself shatter after a fall

Is it my fault or does societal conditioning play

A partial role in making me feel this way?

To be modest when praised was supposed to be

The way to behave in polite society

I was taught to do things to minimize

The possibility of being criticized

To never swerve too far from the norm

For the fickle society, I was expected to perform

*

The world tries to be critical, yet there are few

Who pay genuine compliments too

To accept both with equanimity

Is the goal I am striving towards currently

Let my confidence be planted this time around

On solid, unyielding, rocky ground

I am a lonely doc…

I read in disbelief that my profession

Is one of the loneliest, in truthful admission

My first instinct was to say it could not be

Physicians deal with people constantly

Listening to their lives’ details intimate

Being empathetic to them in their most vulnerable state

Our lives’ rewards and punishments we measure

In the most “human” way possible, we treasure

The sacrosanct patient-physician interaction

Talking to people gives us satisfaction…

*

But then there is that dark side

The isolation of long hours trapped inside

The stark, barren hospital walls

Foregoing personal lives when duty calls

The self-inflicted pressure to perform at the level highest

At all times, leaves us with little time for rest

And relaxation with friends and family

We connect with strangers, but we fail to see

How we end up neglecting those we hold dear

Distance grows, this is how loneliness creeps in, I fear

We seek in our work, comfort and solace

As the discomfort at home grows harder to face

Thus we end up lonely, missing out on connections

With family and friends, despite our best intentions…

*

Our work fulfills a higher calling, it’s true

But life exists outside of work too

To strive for a work-life balance does not take away

The profound impact of our work anyway

To cultivate loneliness is not our intention

To family and friends, let’s direct our attention…

The Apologetic Immigrant

You learn to shrug your shoulders and move on

When you sense a whiff of discrimination

You justify to yourself that since you belong to a minority group

Your behavior has to be above reproach, you cannot stoop

To a level lower than ideal even for a brief moment

(And the standard applies to your children, even infants)

So when you commit a faux-pas you promptly apologize

Repeated experiences have made you realize

That being nonchalant could invite hurtful comments

Your obsequiousness can some unpleasantness prevent

So you learn to apologize rather liberally, as if your existence

Itself is a cause of some inconvenience

You apologize for your accent, for asking someone to repeat what they said

For your child crying loudly, and so on, carefully you tread

On the public space, in a country that you call

Your own, the land where you can get it all

They said you can make it big here by hard work alone

But in the land of the free, your mannerisms you’d better not own

You have to play by the rulebook of the majority populace

Or else, harsh words or punishment you could face..

*

Lower your expectations, lower your voice

You came to this country, you made that choice…

Remember to always stay in your second-class lane

You don’t want to be reminded again and again

I live every day…

“Live life as if it were your last day”

The duality of this statement blows my mind away

On one hand, it tells you not to wait

For tomorrow, because that may be too late

On the other, it forces you to think

Morbid thoughts, to exist at the brink

Of catastrophe waiting to take

Your precious life- I wonder what to make

Of this philosophy that tries to infuse

Urgency in your life, such that you lose

The joie de vivre in every moment

And that, my friends is my predicament

How do you savor each moment as if it’s your last

Remembering that death could come to you fast?

*

If a constant reminder of your mortality is in your face

Your attachment to life grows stronger in the first place

And all the good you would have liked to do

All the altruistic inclinations within you

Take a backseat to the selfish desire to cling

To life, it becomes the most important thing

You end up consuming more than you give

As a fulfilling life you try to live…

*

Let me confess I cannot live each day

As if it were my last, this is what I have to say

Let me detach myself from the desire to live

As much as I can, let me at least make an effort to give

Back to the world, suppressing my selfishness

Let me try to give a little more, take a little less…

Thou Shalt Not Share Your Troubles…

I had troubles in my life that made

It difficult for me to wade

Through life’s stormy oceans

Worry was my predominant emotion

Unfortunately in retrospect I now see

How annoying I used to be

Talking compulsively about my woes

To family and friends, anyone who was close

I don’t know if I was looking for solutions

Or just a sympathetic ear, I carried an illusion

That airing out my problems would be

A way to get rid of unreasonable worry..

*

My worries never really disappeared

The more I aired them, the more they appeared

To take center stage in my life, until one day

A rare moment of introspection crossed my way

For the first time I realized I appeared

A whiner, a complainer, even to my ears

Embarrassed, I decided I could not be

Such a negative person constantly

*

I started with the biggest object of my lamentation

And stopped mentioning it in any conversation

I followed it up by consciously trying to refrain

From voicing my troubles and complaints

Gradually I noted I no longer seemed to

Dwell on them as much as I used to do

In not mentioning my worries at all

I found it harder and harder to recall

All the grievances I had from day to day

This deliberate elimination paved the way

For me to transform from a grumbling person

To someone with a more optimistic disposition

*

Old habits die hard and not talking about my problems

Sometimes a little overwhelming becomes

Then I share my trouble with someone close

But since it is done in a small infrequent dose

A complainer I do not appear to be-

I am a worrier absolved of worry!

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