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.
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.
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