Fortnight at the Hospital

I

She sat frozen on a wheelchair her daughter pushes,
bespectacled eyes staring at a world missed,
where grandchildren cluttered rooms with toys,
color pencils and scrawled paper, when mornings
were about opening bedroom blinds, grinding spices
and pouring bittersweet tea into porcelain cups,
when body was ignorant of tingles and tremors
and lips not afflicted with the poverty of speech.

Her mouth now is a perpetual cave
and she speaks with eyeballs and gurgles.

They emerged out of the doctor’s chamber
into the swarm of hopeful, disappointed, jittery
and terminally ill patients. But the long-faced neurologist
had given them some hope today.

II

A baldheaded woman walks with a question on her face,
fingers clutching a wet umbrella, eyes rummaging the room
of cash counters, stoic receptionists and complaining relatives
waiting for their turn to clear the bill.

She is a widow who is mourning for a husband who died recently. Nope.

She shaved her head in honor of her gods. Nope.

She has been through several chemo sessions. Yes.

III

A man from the north tells us his wife refuses to eat.
She has cancer in the rectum.

A skeletal boy grimaces on a stretcher beside
the operation theater. The only thing I know about him
is that he is alone.

As we sing and pray for one another inside the chapel
of candles and heavy hearts, a man cries for his friend
in the isolation ward, image worshippers garland
a cemented crucifix, and I blink at the flash
of a digital camera inside the shadowy room.

Image courtesy: http://dodd.cmcvellore.ac.in/DSCN1469.jpg

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4 thoughts on “Fortnight at the Hospital

  1. I’m enjoying reading your poems again, especially I Am Not Certain and Fortnight at the Hospital. Please keep writing.You communicate much in few words. I feel like I am right there in the setting with jumbled emotions of wanting to help the beggar but questioning my motives or right there in the aseptic hospital where life hangs just out of reach. A song that has been resonating within me is “I Need Thee Every Hour”, What do people do who don’t know Jesus?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Emily. These poems come out of the dilemma I frequently find myself in when engaging with human suffering. It gets too overwhelming too often. God’s love and compassion helps us love the least, stretching us when sometimes we have none left from our own. At times, it’s both mind-boggling as well as heartbreaking to see poor folks throw in the towel & give up. For example, two guys that I know (both from very poor background), suddenly decided a few weeks ago that it is better to beg on the streets than work for a living. In addition to that, they are constantly smelling of stale alcohol. Numb the pain, away with shame and personal dignity, come what may… seems to be the decision that they have taken… I engage with them regularly but they seem to have made up their mind too…

      Like

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