Monday, April 18, 2011

Broken Images from a Hospital

Both of them were old and weak,
But she was still holding his hand,
Together they looked confident,
But when they took him to the examination room,
I saw fear in her eyes.

He stood outside the labor room,
Hugging the new born,
He was crying,
He was waiting ,
For her cold body to be brought out.

She kept on glaring  at the mirror ,
At her bald head,
It was fear and disbelief that she saw in the mirror,
Then she looked at her old photo,
A weak smile came on her face,
She indeed had beautiful hair before cancer came for her.

He was being pushed to the operation theater,
They had to remove the lump from his bladder,
They told him, "You will be fine".
He replied, "I am a doctor",
"Do not lie to me",
"I am a doctor".

There was the astrologer,
Waiting for his blood test reports,
Finally, when it came, he knew he had a kidney failure,
Reports said, "cause unknown",
For once, he also didn't know why?
Doctors said, " maximum six months",
For once, he was being given his time.

His mother was inside the ICU,
They had said "can't give her medicine without money",
He was 6 years old,
He went around and begged,
By the time he came back with a towel full of coins,
She was gone,
Along with his loud wails,
I could also hear the coins dropping on the floor.

When they took her baby  to the mortuary,
She also went with them,
She had carried it in her womb for nine months,
It was taken back the same day she saw it for the first time,
She was going to stay with it,
Till they bury it in the mud,
She hadn't seen enough of it .

She had seventy percent burns,
She resembled a ghost.
They couldn't put an inch of cloth on her,
She was writhing in pain,
And when she saw the male doctor coming to examine her,
She suffered from something more,
Shame.
-Aparna


Mom

Everyone said,
Will stand by you If you win, 
She said, 
will stand by you even if you lose
Many of them smiled in my joy,
But her's was the most genuine,
Some of them liked me the way I am,
She loved,
And when I cried, 
She cried along,
My pain was her's too,
She loved me every minute,
loved in joy and in pain,
loved in glory and in shame
-Aparna
Note: Parts of this poem were intially written as a comment to the poem "Amma" by Shinod N. K in his blog "Ethiri". I would like to express my gratitude to him for the inspiration to write this.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I know this river....




“My home is located on the banks of a beautiful river named Periyar". This was invariably the opening line of every composition I wrote about 'My Home' at school as a kid. If it was a story that I was asked to write, it would mostly start like "Once upon a time on the banks of river Periyar...." If it was a class drawing competition there would be river flowing on the sidelines of the drawing. As a kid, river was an integral part of my psyche. 
I grew up playing on the banks of this beautiful river. I built sand mountains on her banks, picked up pebbles, watched the sunrise and sunset sitting on her banks, went fishing with friends, tried to learn swimming in her waters and miserably failed, had bets with Dad as to if I can hold breath under water until he counted thirty and when I won on very rare occasions, I proudly told him "The river is on my side".  And I believe she was, for she didn't drown me. We would sit on her banks and watch the vehicles passing on the huge bridge above her and when the water level goes down during summer, I and my friends would run across the river bed to the opposite bank.  During monsoon, she would flow in all her might and glory. The sound of her flow is the most beautiful music I have ever listened to.
I have seen her manifesting to human kind what it means to be kind, simply by means of her everyday existence.  She gave water to sustain life to everyone who came to her, without the distinction of class or caste. And those souls who found life a burden, they also found refuge in her deep waters. She faithfully carried their bodies to the banks. She sustained life and took it, both as a kind act. She gave the fishermen their daily lively hood. When the labourers came in the evening tired after a day's work, she cooled their bodies and mind with her cool clear water.  Her beauty inspired poets and playwrights to produce their most magnificent works. When they came for the sand that she collected from different parts and carried it with her for years, she didn't hesitate to give. 
She gave humans around her the myth and mystery they needed. Legends developed around her. They built churches and temples on her banks. She didn't complain. On the contrary she provided them with the right ambiance to experience the divine and accompanied them in their journey to the divine.  She carried with her the prayers of millions. At the annual Sivaratri Festival, she became the generous host to thousands. 
She didn't show any partiality to the non-believers too......When the followers of the powerful ideologies came with their different colour flags after their long marches , she quenched their thirst too.......
Yes, I know this river...... But if I have to write again "My home is located on the banks of a beautiful river named Periyar", I will think twice. If I call her beautiful again, it would be an insult to the truth of her present existence. 
She gave in abundance, but they wanted more from her. Human greed has disfigured her and made her existence a shame for herself. Thanks to the sand mining without any limits, the river is full of trenches, the beautiful pebbles and sand banks does not exist anymore .The river bank is full of dirt and mud and the river bed full of wild weeds. Her water is polluted, thanks to the discharges from factories. The river is a cesspool of toxins.  
No prayers are said for her and no manifestos written. No one does anything to soothe her pain, just keeps hurting her more every day. They stole her beauty and now they have decided to forget her. Now she is a shame for them.....
If the river was an integral part of my childhood psyche, now every memory of the river fills me with a pain of a loss so deep. So I try to make myself believe that I don’t know her. But I can feel her writhing in pain. I can see her helplessness and feel her shame. Because, I know this river.....
And all I can do is to just stare are her with pity. I have read about the resurrection of both man and God. Will my dear river have a resurrection too?  Would she have her lost glory back? It will most probably remain just a silly dream. Still, I will continue hoping blindly for the day she rises back to her old splendour and elegance. Because, I know this river.........

-Aparna