Let me drop what I am doing…

Exhausted, famished, but feeling accomplished anyway

I returned home after a brutally busy workday

Still riding high on the wave of adrenaline

That had through the day my companion been

I felt exhilarated to have finished it all

At work, I felt more than ready to heed the call

Of domestic affairs, I was completely wired

To multitask like the superwomen I admire

I breezed through chores, promising my son

I would read to him, my day was not done

Except- in crossing all t’s and dotting all i’s

I had not noticed the drowsiness in his eyes

After completing my tasks, I found

It was too late for him to stay awake and stick around

For the precious few minutes he wanted to spend

With me- suddenly my productive day came to a rude end

How could I take pride in the work I had done

When I had neglected the innocent need of my son…

Guilt washed over me, I know nothing should be

More precious than time spent with family….

*

Work is work, that never should encroach

On precious family time, I need to follow this approach

Tasks can be completed later, or left incomplete (within reason)

But I would always regret the moments missed with my son..

Finding my way- from my heart into the world

If you are lost in the world around you

Maybe there are cues that you can use to

Find your way back to the path you were on

But what do you do when you feel lost and forlorn

From within, when the routes in your heart and mind

Run in different directions and you cannot find

A coherent way forward amid the chaos

Conflicting paths seems to criss-cross

Leaving you rudderless and in a drift

How then, from confusion to directed goals you shift?

The vicious cycle of a lack of direction

That further erodes your attention

Makes it increasingly difficult to wade

Through the maze that has been more complicated made

*

How do you find a way, from inside out

A clear path forward, not riddled with doubt

This was the question my anxious mind

Had for years been trying to find

I read extensively and tried to imbibe

Conventional wisdom from my tribe

The conclusion however remained but one

This battle had to be in isolation won

*

One day I just closed my eyes to the mayhem around

Gave my thoughts a “time-out”, and found

Emptied out of racing thoughts, my mind seemed to be

Calm, peaceful, ready to think coherently

Nothing earth-shattering happened that day

But it altered the course of my life in a huge way

The merits of meditation were revealed to me

As I meditated every day, an emerging path I could see

This way forward emerged from within my heart

I embarked on the path, it was a good start

And have not looked back since then

I carry within me my personal heaven

I said yes, but I meant no

I said yes when I meant no….

From there I didn’t know where to go

Reluctance clouded my affirmation

I was annoyed with the situation

I didn’t want to do what I was asked

But I had given my word to complete the task

I was angry, both with myself and with the one

Who had asked me for the extra work to be done

I couldn’t say no, so I found myself stretched thin

I procrastinated, lacking time and motivation to begin

I hemmed and hawed and half-heartedly pursued

The task, my performance was with irritation imbued

I completed it, because I had given my word anyway

Heaved a sigh of relief, and called it a day

*

Later I reflected on the motivation behind

My saying yes with no on my mind

Saying no could invite conflict, I knew

That was something I did not want to do

It was not worth it because I did not

Do justice to the task, I thought

From this encounter the lesson I needed to learn

Was to say what I meant, in the future not get burnt

I am not as good as you..

Those who had their sovereignty taken away

Those who were told they were inferior every day

Less capable, less intelligent, less human too

The message leached into their bones through and through

The sense of inferiority changed their DNA somehow

This deep-seated conviction would not allow

Generations later, their progeny born in nations free

To believe in their potential, to believe they could be

Good enough, at least until they could emulate

The culture of their colonizers, their mannerisms incorporate…

*

The tentacles of colonialism widespread remain

Scars from the past surface again and again

Who is superior, and why, has no answer rational

But it still drives inequities in a world post-colonial

Let me serve myself first..

Did she do something wrong when she ate

Before filling up her family’s plates

She was famished after a long day at work

It’s not that any responsibility she had shirked

She had missed lunch, others had not

So she ate my dinner without much thought

Until she was made aware in a snarky comment

Eating before the men “were fed” was not how traditions went

Apparently she had insulted customs age-old

To eat before others was a step far too bold..

*

Ah the archaic customs that disregard

The needs of women working hard

Both at home and at the workplace

Dismal discrimination at home they face

Which, quite frankly, can be much worse

Than gender gap in the work universe

At work laws prevent egregious discrimination

At home everything is fair in the name of tradition..

*

She ate when she needed to, therefore

The demands at home she was able to endure

Subjecting women to arbitrary deprivation

Is the patriarchal way of ensuring subjugation

This is not something that should even be

An issue to discuss, but it is, sadly

Don’t quote tradition to perpetuate discrimination

What should be normal should not need “normalization”

I forgave

Would I be weak if I forgave?

Or to the grudge should I hold on

In the end what should I try to save-

My peace of mind that has gone

Away from me from the day that I

Exploded in anger and made the resolve

That the mistake was egregious, I didn’t see why

I should forgive, or let my anger dissolve

Or- instead of trying to retrieve that elusive

Mental peace, should I let my anger stay

Let that be a powerful sentiment, obtrusive

Enough that I avoid a similar situation every day..

*

The lava of anger bubbles inside

I have not forgotten, nor forgiven

My anger has dug a trench wide

Within my heart, it is a sore open

That festers, leaving me discontent

I am a bitter person, that’s true

I now realize the true extent

Of what unbridled anger can do

*

I may not forget but I have to forgive

And not for the one who wronged me

I have to do this so that I can live

Without being embittered, peacefully

*

So I compose a note, granting forgiveness

To the one who had hurt me years ago

A weight has been lifted off my chest

I shall sleep better tonight, I know

Dream

Let me dream outrageous dreams today..

Let flights of fantasy carry me away

To the mythical land that in future exists

Why should I audacious dreams resist

They are not in my grasp at present, I know

But if I don’t envision how far I can go

How would I find the line of demarcation

Between reality and expectation

If I limit my dreams, my vision now

How would my mind ever allow

Me to explore my hidden potential-

This is my question existential

I can live in the present in gratitude

I can have contentment as my attitude

But what of the dreams that push me

To explore further than I can see?

*

Let me dream improbable dreams today

Let me lose myself, get carried away..

Woman, know your power!

On this international women’s day

Let’s not wait for applause from anyone

Let’s march forward, building each other along the way

Let’s forget about getting recognition

From the other gender, why do we need

Validation from them only to perpetuate

The patriarchy that should be demolished indeed

Let’s be designers of our own fates..

Let’s build each other up, and witness

Shattered glass ceilings everywhere

Let successful women generate success

Consolidate their strengths and share

Let’s build ourselves up on the bedrock

Of qualities characterized as being feminine

Let’s talk the talk and walk the walk

And pave our way with empathy genuine

*

To change the world, we’ve always had power

Even in a world where men pulled our strings

To recognize this is the need of the hour

So we can confidently expand our wings..

Extra special

March is trisomy awareness month. The most common trisomy is trisomy 21 which causes Down’s syndrome manifested by learning difficulties and classic facial features. This poem describes a woman’s younger brother born with Down syndrome.

Even though I was only four years old

I sensed something was wrong without being told

My baby brother was about to be born

My mother told me with an expression forlorn

That he would be “extra” special, little did I know

The “extra” was chromosome 21, that came as a blow

To my parents who were visibly upset

Of course I did not know who we would get..

*

Then you were born, and unfortunately

Tears flowing down my mother’s cheeks incessantly

You looked so beautiful, I could see

That you were extra special for me

I thought you were coming home but no

You had open heart surgery to undergo..

*

When you first entered our lives we were tense

And terrified, but gradually your presence

Brought unbridled joy in our household

Your cheerful demeanor was able to mold

All of us, we were used to being fast and impulsive

You made us slow down, be more attentive

To you and to everyone else around

You taught us patience, brought changes profound

In how we viewed the world who thought

You were disabled- but you are not

You are capable of independent thought

*

My baby brother, to me you have been

My closest confidant, you have seen

Me go through travails of adolescence

And calmed me down with your presence

Now you are a precious uncle to my son

You know exactly how to have fun

With a child, because you still possess

The innocence of a child, which I confess

I have lost irretrievably in growing old

You have your pristine heart of gold..

*

You are that blessing for our family

We had not known, we could not foresee

You are “extra” in ways more than one

Far beyond the extra chromosome 21..

Deprived in abundance

In the midst of abundance

Restraint is of the essence

Strict rules about what to eat

How much and when, to defeat

The temptation that is omnipresent

Food is unlimited in extent

Almost everywhere, unless

You happen to be in the wilderness

The thrifty gene makes us gravitate

Towards food that indulges our palate

Sugary, fat-containing, calorie-dense

Foods attract us the most, hence

We try to exercise self-control

Deprivation becomes the goal

Food should be perceived as nourishment

Instead, meal-time equates to punishment

When you have calories to count, plates to fill

The Epicurean delight of eating is killed

Despite consuming food that healthy appears

Its benefits are diluted by many (often baseless) fears

Fear of weight gain, or inability to lose weight

Leads to a perpetually deprived mental state

Overindulgence results in guilt profound

You look for solace and comfort around

What can be more comforting than food

It fills your senses and life feels good

For a short while until guilt regains prominence

Brings back deprivation in the midst of abundance

(Image shows “Chhappan Bhog” or 56 dishes presented to Lord Krishna, a Hindu deity)

Panacea

Fatigue, brain fog, joint pains,

Her muscles ached, she had migraines

Modern medicine offered her remedies none

To alternative treatments she had begun

To gravitate, different modalities she explored

Yoga, tai chi, qi gong, aromatherapy and more

Acupuncture, massage, herbal supplements

Meditation, biofeedback etc.- her time and money were spent

Increasingly on treatments that seemed attractive

Promised her that a healthier live she could live

Emphasized that following these methods she could

Get rid of chronic stress that otherwise would

Continue to plague her and a vicious cycle create

Of vague aches and pains, that would further stress perpetuate

*

Initially everything seemed effective

(Credit to the placebo effect I would give)

Gradually she found herself getting stressed out

At constantly running from one treatment to another without

Taking a break to rest, even the practice of meditation

Instead of being calming, became an obligation

In trying to eat less inflammatory foods, she was forced

To cook more at home, that ate into her time of course

As more and more “stress-busting” activities she participated in

She slept less and less, she felt stretched even more thin

Her workload was the same but she had added even more

To her plate that was already full before

*

Until the day she was so tired she could not

Do one more thing, so without further thought

She crawled under the covers and turned off the lights

And woke up refreshed, with no aches in sight

Thus the crux of “natural way” of healing she realized

A good night’s sleep was essential, though it was the first thing advised

She had made sleep optional while running pillar to post

To find the one treatment that would benefit her the most

Doubt..

What, I wonder, do I have to say

That has not been said until today

Is it worth stringing the ideas that crowd

My mind, into words, should they be allowed

To crystallize into prose or verse to add

To the plethora of writing that’s mediocre, or bad

Do my words have the potential to create

An impact on the reader, can they resonate

With someone, or would they fall flat

I have no way to predict something like that

I know what sells, but formulaic I cannot be

My words have to represent authenticity

*

I decide to put my thoughts on paper despite

This conundrum, the only way to fight

The monster of self-doubt that keeps raising its head

Is to actually write, whether or not it is read

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