Friday, December 23, 2005


The Christmas tree sparkling with shimmering adornments and twinkling lights stand near my gate surrounded by the lush green lawn..

It is past midnight.. my sweethearts are sleeping..the silence is breathtaking....I am sitting in my fav place in my house.. the sitout on the first floor..The crisp chilly air that makes this season so special blows on my cold cheeks and fill my breath with exuberance. I gaze at the silent stars so far off..smiling at me in the mystical moist night air. They tell me that me and my world is just a miniscule bit in the wonder of the vast universe cosmos…

I sigh deeply.. To morrow we leave for Christmas holidays…

Memories fill my heart and make my eyes moist.. Memories of love, laughter and warmth.. .. Those hazy Christmas days.. Long back.. Homemade Stars with a platform for flickering candles.. Branches cut from the huge fir tree in front of the house and decorated with paper ribbons.. Cards.. Balloons..

The unconditional love that was my birthright.. Those beautiful.. Adorable people who are no longer with me.. Valliyappa.. Aminja.. Appachen.. Ammachi.. Chettappan.. Mariamma aunty.. Uncle..( He was just ‘uncle’.. my mom’s only brother.)

The list of loved ones on the other side is increasing as each Christmas pass by..

Thank you all.. For making those Christmas days so special…

New dresses.. Cakes.. Cards.. Stars.. They no longer fill me with joy.. I am too jaded for all that I suppose..

But I still love the Cristmas eve with night lights .. the carols… the laughter and good cheer..

I still love istening to “Silent night..” and “Jingle bells..”

I still love the crisp ..chilly.. misty.. dawn.. The Christmas mass.... Meeting my fav cousins..

I have also started to ponder at the deeper meanings of Christmas..

It is time to quieten our minds.. hearts and souls.. From the rush and routine of our lives..

Time to slow down and ponder where our thoughts, words and actions are taking us..

Time to experience the warmth that fills our hearts as we soak in the love, peace and joy that ‘He’ showers on us.. And gift it to those around us..

Wishing all my sweet friends a ‘HAPPY CHRISTMAS..’

Wishing you all boundless Peace.. Joy.. Hope .. And .. Love…

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Jaya came to me for a certificate of fitness for duty.. She had been absent for nine months and the reason for her absence was ‘back pain’.

A 32 yr old teacher…A slight woman with sorrowful eyes....
“Back pain…? Nine months..? That’s a pretty long period..” I spoke conversationally…as I studied her reports.. “Are you ok now..?”

She hesitated.. “No doc it was not back pain.” she murmured…

“It was due to personal problems.. My hubby doesn’t want me to work…”
“Oh..?” What does he do…?
“He is a business man.. Gravel and sand business.. Has not gone to high school..”
“But u r a graduate..!.” I was surprised..

“It was an arranged marriage.. His family is well off. We had some problem.. My father had a second wife. Money was always a problem…

“So he doesn’t like you working..?”

“Hmmmm… yes.. But he never admits that.. Just finds fault with whatever I do ….. The food is not tasty enough for him.... The house neat enough.. Tells me that I should be a good housewife too .. Not just a good teacher..…”

“Doc, I have to take two buses each in the morninng and evening to the school and back.. I feel so tired in the evenings.. But I never have a peaceful evening.. He picks up a fight for silly reason.. Becomes violent.... Often I have to run to a bedroom and lock the door.. But I have to suffer for that when I come out of the room in the morning.."
"My kids go to bed hungry most nights..Doc, I make it a point to serve them food as soon as they come home from school itself these days..”

Her eyes were moist.

My kids are disturbed..My elder son says he will throw a stone at his fathers head one day.... She started to weep…

Why don’t you consider a separation..? I asked gently..

“He says he will come to the school and insult me there.. In front of my students…’
I would have done something if I had at least one person to support me.”.

“What about your parents..?”

“My father is dead.. My brother is studying in college. My mother says that I should adjust… That I am a woman.. I should forgive and forget… Think about my kid’s future..”

“I sometimes wish that I could die.. She started to cry.. Then I think of my kids…”

“Don’t wait for any outside support..” I told her.. “You can’t live in fear and misery like this. You have to find the resources within yourself… “

“Get the message across strongly that you can’t go on like this.. That you will consider a separation. Unless he starts to treat you with the respect you deserve..”
“Tell your mother that you have taken a decision.. A stand… Tell her you will go ahead even if she doesn’t support you..’

I talked to her for nearly twenty minutes … Maybe I was not being practical.. But I wanted to instill some confidence in her..

I felt disturbed after she had gone…I knew that the spark I had put in her mind wouldn’t be enough for her to break free from her bondage… I wished women got more support.. At least from their parents..

Social status... Social stigma.. Shame.. At the cost of Personal dignity.. Personal freedom…

But then it’s easy for me to preach.. But difficult for her to practice.. Isn’t it..?

Monday, November 28, 2005


She looked at me scornfuly.. Her smile was confident

Anger bubbled up my gut..My head throbbed.. I felt frustrated.

But then it was her choice.. I kept silent..
She had come to me with a history of missed periods.

A smart young woman.. Sharp features.. Hair in a tight ponytail.. Mother of a two yr old girl.. She was a clerk in a bank.

But somehow I failed to connect with her..

Human bonding is important for me..Especialy when I deal with people professionaly. That’s what keeps me going …

Her pregnancy test was positive.

“Hmmm good news..! You are pregnant..!”
I smiled at her.
“Yes. I had expected it”. She was cool.
“ I want an abortion”
“Abortion..?” I was surprised.. “why?”
“I am planning to appear for The Bank Officer’s test.. Have to prepare for it.. Besides that I want only one child.”
“Then why didn’t you go for a permenant sterlisation..? At least you could have taken some temporary precaution..”
‘We use condoms usually.. But once or twice....” she shrugged..

I felt irritated.. I have seen many women like her.. Who are so casual about these things..

“At least go for a sterlisation along with your abortion.” I pressed.
“No.. See.. I don’t know.. I have a girl now.. I may want a boy later..”

She was so cool.. dammnnit..!!

“Maybe this one is a boy..” I hated myself for saying that… Using that to cajole her..

No. I don’t want a child now..” she laughed casualy..

“But repeated abortions can harm your health..” I told her..

She looked at me scornfuly.. her smile was confident.

I knew there was not much I could say.. she would find a gyenecologist who would cook up some indication for an abortion for her..

I felt indignant after she left..she had had least intrest in what I had to tell her.I felt irritated with myself.. for trying to advice her..

I would never undergo an abortion I thought.. The guilt would be terrible..

I Remembered what Rene had told me ..

About four years back.

She had come to me with pain lower abdomen...Mother of two kids.. Lap sterlisation done.. She missed her periods.

The bonding had been instantaneous..

I advised a pregnacy test and A scan to rule out ectopic pregnancy..Failure of lap sterlisation was not unheard of.And her lower abdominal pain was worrying me ..

The cell rang to wake me from my nap tha afternoon ..
It was Rene on the other side..
“Doc.. shall we come to your house now..?” Her voice was tearful..
She knew that I rarely saw patients in my home..
“Ok. Come along..” I soothed..

Her face was flushed as she walked in..I read the reports silently..
Yes she was pregnant.. But thankfuly the pregnancy was Intrauterine not Ectopic..
“Well… You can consider an abortion ..”

I had to offer her that since it was a case of sterlisation failure..Rene started to cry.. Like a child..Then she rubbed her tears away…

“ I will have to have this baby.. I cant consider abortion.. I know it will be difficult to manage..”“But I could never consider an abortion..” she gazed at me tearfuly..

“ I know it will be difficult.. But it will be worth it..” I soothed..
I smiled at her warmly..

The boy is two and a half years old now.. He has started to attend play school..

Two women..Facing almost the same situation .. But the paths they chose were so different..

Who am I to judge..?

I only hope that I will never be in a mental state to consider abortion as an option..

Decisions appear to be difficult sometimes..But certain values that you refuse to give up.. Certain bottom lines you refuse to cross .. can simplify everything..

Later it makes you realise that it was the only path that you could choose..

Monday, November 14, 2005



As you set out for Ithaka,
Hope your journey is long,
Full of adventure, full of awakening.
Do not fear the monsters of the old
You will not meet them in your travels
If your thoughts are exalted and remain high’
If authentic passions stirs your mind, body and spirit.
You will not encounter fearful monsters ,
If you don’t carry them within your soul,
If your soul doesn’t set them up in front of you..

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you're seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind-
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
-Constantine Peter Cavafy

The first version of “Ithaka” was probably written in 1894. Cavafy revised the poem in 1910, and it was first published in 1911. The first English translation was published in 1924, and there have been a number of different translations since then.

Ithaka was the island home of the legendary Greek hero, Odysseus. After his involvement in the Trojan War, Odysseus spent ten years wandering. During these ten years he had adventures, underwent numerous tests of his courage and arrived home a different person.
The narrator, probably a man who traveled a lot addresses either Odysseus, the hero of homers epic poem the odyssey or the reader..

The word ‘Ithaka’ itself serves as a symbol for success, and is used as not only a place but as a sign of achievement and accomplishment.

This poem used to be read to travelers setting out on a long journey ...or as an elegy during funerals..

I wanted to share this poem cos I have found it consoling and reviving as I faced challenges both professional and personal in my life. Especially when I chose to take a road less traveled…

On retrospective analysis I have understood that the fears I had initially, never actually took place..And that my authentic thoughts and passions affected the outcome positively..

I find myself going back to this alluring poem again and again .. And it never fails to fill me with peace..

There is something deeply inspiring about this poem.. It tells us about the importance of having a sense of purpose…but that the pleasures on the way are more important.. That we must be attuned to beauty of each moment.. The pleasures of senses (perfumes) as well as that of the mind..(knowledge)

So now when facing challenges instead of focusing on my fears I have begun to ask the primary question

“What is my Ithaka..”?

Saturday, October 29, 2005


I decided to leave.
There was no clear-cut reason. I could continue my residency.

But psychiatry no longer mesmerized me.Dr Gidwani no longer inspired me.

The clinician in me preferred to practice evidence based medicine. Scientific, precise, methodical medicine. There were too much obscure factors in psychiatry..

I gave up my dream..

But I kept in touch with Lekha..Off and On..

The new block was inaugurated by the President Of India. Dr Gidwani was awarded Padmasree for his excellent service in psychiatry.

Rajeev continued his delinquent ways.. But he behaved properly with Lekha..He died in an RTA a few years later.

Ullas was never cured completely ..He had spells of sanity.. Lekha always delighted him .. Making him happy gave her deep pleasure.

But the depression recurred. He committed suicide during a bad spell. Dr Gidwani stated that it was common in Major depressive psychosis.

Lekha continued to face life with a determination to be happy at any cost.
A few years later ,She got married again ... To a psychiatrist in the institute..

Dr Gidwani died due to cancer esophagus in ‘Ullas memorial hospital.’. Lekha was the chairperson of the trust which managed the hospital.

We visited Manali this spring.. On the way back I told my husband that I wished to visit the Institute… see Lekha.
Lekha was transformed.. Poised.. Confident.. Mother of a six year old girl..

We walked through the enchanting campus. It was blooming.
“I am happy now”.. She smiled .

We met Dr Akash, Lekha's husband. A happy go lucky man with huge dimples, twinkling eyes and long unruly hair falling over his forehead.. We talked late into the night.. He kept us in splits with his anecdotes in the institute

He took his job in the right perspective.. I reflected.. Detached.. Balanced.. With a dash of humor..

I was pensive on the way back.
“”Mama..! Mama..!” I was startled out of my thoughts by Taj’s voice.. He was rubbing my elbows to attract my attention..
“Yes baby..” I was still thinking about the institute.
“Mama ..I want to become a psychiatrist when I grow up.” His huge eyes were ernest..
“Oh..!!” I was startled..
Multitude of emotion racked my body..

“Don’t take him seriously.” my husband laughed..
“Tomorrow he will want to be a fire fighter.”. He smiled at me..

“Hmmm.. true…” I muttered..

I smiled back at him..

P.S Dr Gidwani is still alive… I wrote about his cancer and death out of sheer spite.. and to satisfy Lash..

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I talked… Lekha listened..

We were walking along the winding path in the campus.

I remembered the scene I had witnessed as I had gone in search of Lekha and Ullas.

Both had been sitting by their favorite window..Lekha was looking out at the lovely garden..Ullas was trying to tie her hair together with a piece of ragged cloth he had torn from his bed sheet..

I finished speaking.. I waited for her response.. Nothing.. She continued to walk. Fast..
I had to strain myself to keep up with her pace.

We must have walked for hours. I noticed that it was getting dark.. It had started to drizzle. But Lekha didn’t seem to notice anything..

I started to panic.

“What if her condition worsened..?” I shouldn’t have asked her choice. As to what she wanted out of the situation.

I could leave the institute.. Take up residency somewhere else.. This was not the end of my world.. I had other choices.. I was more concerned about those two..

My eyes filled.. I gave thanks to my parents.. They had brought me up with proper values.. I wouldn’t cross certain bottom lines..
It was simple.
I would never choose career over guilt..
My choice was clear to me.. To do the best possible for them..

I wanted to know what Lekha’s choice was..

Finally Lekha sat down into a bench.. She sat there.. Her body was bent.. Her face was buried in both her hands..
She was sweating.. Breathing fast..

“ I don’t think I have a choice.” She whispered....
“Now that I am declared fit I can’t stay here..”

“ True.. it was not possible” I thought..

“A huge inheritance awaits me outside.”

“Yes.” I whispered back.

“The trust for the new block shall be operated by me..
I will have an office here..”

“Hmmm.. possible..Dr Gidwani would permit anything for the new block.” I knew.

“I can do my best for Ullas.. The best treatment.. The best care..
I can adopt him.. As my son… “
Her voice broke..

She was silent for some time..

“But Rajeev..? “I prompted..

“I am not bothered..” She replied shortly.

“I have to get a good lawyer.. Pay Rajeev a monthly allowance. As long as he behaves properly......We shall live as husband and wife.. Rajeev’s father will never support him.. He has more confidence in me..”

She was silent again..

“ I know it won’t be easy..” She whispered.. “But I have to..”

I was silent.. I let her words sink in..
Yes Lekha was right.. This was the best option.

Difficult.. But the best..

Lekha was cured.. Only a stable strong mind could take a decision like that..
In fact she was stronger.. More stable than me..

We sat there silently for some more time.. The drizzle had stopped.. The moon shining.. The mist was rising up the valley. A soft breeze played with our hair and silently went away..
We got up to walk back to the institute..

Lekha had made her decision..
Now it was my turn..
(To be continued)

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Dr Gidwani was the last to know. I was summoned to his room. I turned up dot on time.
He was pacing up and down. His hands were clasped behind his back.

“What is going on between your patients doc?” he was curt.

Nothing sir...” I was trying to dodge..

He stopped pacing and stared at me.. I averted my eyes.

“Listen to me”. His face was expressionless. “Rajeev is under police custody for some criminal case. His father has nominated Lekha as the heiress.” He paused..” Provided she is certified to be fit by a medical board of three psychiatrist. He has also offered to sponsor a new block for the institute if Lekha improves..”

“Medicines won’t be of much use in her case. It’s not a disease only an adjustment problem.. She needs lot of emotional support.. Carry on with your experiment..” He smiled at me.

My heart lifted..! I stared at him.. “ Young lady.. Do your best”.. His tone was warmer..

He looked at his watch.. Signaling that I could take leave..

I thanked him and floated out of the room.. I felt jubilant..!! Excited..!

Days passed Lekha showed definite improvement.. She unfurled gently into a quiet lovely person..

Ullas didn’t show much improvement.. He continued to sit and stare into nowhere while he was alone.. But he was transformed in Lekhas presence.. More smiling.. More interest in his surroundings.. He would answer my queries..

Dr Gidwani nodded at me when I greeted him in the wards.. I was flattered..!

It was raining when I was summoned to Dr Gidwani’s room one afternoon.. I walked in with a spring in my step .. Lekha was ready to face the medical board.. She was perfectly OK.

"Congrats doc..” My Professor beamed at me.

I smiled back at him shyly..

“Rajeev is coming tomorrow to collect Lekha.. She was assessed by the board today.. She is perfect.”.

“Rajeev.?!" I was stunned…".But sir.." I stammered..

“Yes doc..?” His voice was curt..

“Sir, Ullas and Lekha..?”

“Ullas will always be a lunatic.. The prognosis of Major Depressive Psychosis is not good..” he paused.. 'Have you not started to read your text books..?' He was scornful..

“But sir she is so happy with him..”

“Lekha is a married woman.. Her husband is coming to collect his wife.. His father has agreed to give him one more chance.

Now you have one more job.. Convince Lekha to go with her husband.. I don’t want any scenes tomorrow in front of Rajeev’s father.. Remember that he has to be convinced.”

I was devastated..!!

I started to stammer something.. But words wouldn’t come out.. My eyes filled.. There was a lump in my throat.. My breathing quickened..

“Young lady are you a doc or a drama queen..?” His face flushed..

“Now get this straight.... Either follow my instructions... Or be sure that you will never pass out of this institute with a degree in psychiatry.. You are not fit to be one.. You get too much emotionally involved with your patients..”

He signaled that I could leave..

I walked out. I was shaken..

I knew what my options were.. Obey Dr Gidwani , be his godchild.. And face guilt for the rest of my life.. Or reject my dream and try to convince Rajeev’s father about their love..

It then occurred to me that getting involved with Ullas and Lekha had been a great mistake..
(To be continued)

Sunday, October 09, 2005


In depressed patients there is a deficiency of certain chemicals in the brain.. These 'feel good factors' or endorphins are released in the body after brisk walking, exercise, dancing etc.
But severely depressed patients don’t feel like moving their bodies.

Maybe it was the overenthusiasm of a novice… The idealism of a fresher.. Maybe I wanted to achieve quick results and impress Dr Gidwani.. Maybe the madness around me had rubbed off on me too..
I decided to take Ullas and Lekha the two patients with depression for brisk walking daily..

I introduced them to one another but they didn’t even bother to look at each other.

So off we would go. Along the winding paths in the campus.. On the mountainside.. I would chat to them.. About the birds we saw.. My mom.. My medical school.. My fiancé...
I don’t know if they were listening to me .. They never responded.

After the walk we would sit in my fav spots enjoying the silence..

A month passed.. I hadn’t made any progress..

Then one day something happened.

I was walking a little ahead of them talking non stop. Suddenly I head them giggling..Usualy there was only a complete silence between them..

I was amazed..!

I turned back. They both stared back at me wide eyed and innocent.. The giggling had stopped. Wondering what was going on I turned back and continued to walk
Again the giggling..! I was about to turn back when I felt a tuft of my hair being pulled..!
OMG !!
I was being teased by my mad patients..! What sort of a psychiatrist would I make..?!

I felt furious..!!!.

I turned back and saw Ullas standing just behind me.. He was holding a butterfly in his hand.. Lekha was jumping with joy as he placed the butterfly on her out stretched hand.
Both their faces were glowing. There were stars in their eyes.

I had the breakthrough I wanted!!!

The butterfly flew away but the animation stayed. For the first time I saw a smile on their faces.. For the first time all the three of us were happy together..

I was excited.!!

I started taking them for walks regularly.. I tried to push them together whenever time permitted.

I am guilty.

I was slow to notice the love that bloomed between them..

I never imagined a love of that fervor would develop between them.. I didn’t know that love of that ardor existed.. In novels and movies yes.. But not in real life.. And never among two people didn’t who even know their own names..

Besides that I was too busy.. Clinical meetings.. Ward work.. Presentations..

One morning I was returning to my room after attending to one patient.. It was about 6. Am.I entered the common room to collect some notes I had kept there.

I stood shocked at the sight…

Ullas was sitting with his back on the wall and sleeping.. Lekha was curled up on the ground with her head on his lap. Their hands were clasped loosely even in their drugged sleep..

I should have put an end to it then and there..

I am guilty again..

Maybe I was a romantic fool.. Maybe I thought love would transform them. Maybe I wasn’t tough enough..

I was bewitched by the fervor of their love.. Their anguish on separation.. Their absolute tranquility on being together..

But what was a miracle for me was a joke for the rest of the world.. It was adultery.. It was a mad desire..
Soon I was the laughing stock of the hospital..
(To be continued)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


The first month was disapointing. Being the junior most resident I just did the paperwork. Writing casesheets, referral letters, dishargecards..Senior docs would call me from the comforts of their homes and give me instructions.. I stayed in the campus day in and day out..

I felt like a clerk in a white coat..

Dr. Giwani hardly acknowledged me. But then that was only what was expected.. I was only the tail end of the white coated peple who followed him during his daily rounds..

The only thing I enjoyed was takng the subdued patients outdoors..They were taken out daily from to 6. pm..They were a quiet lot.. I would just observe them and soak up the enchanting nature around me..

I first noted Ullas cos he always seemed to occupy the spots I preferred to sit.. A wooden bench near the pool.. A swing overlooking the valley.. A moss cvered stone beneath a huge tree..Also he would sit near the music system in the common room..He would just sit there staring into nowhere...

A tall slender man with gentle eys and beautiful hands..I knew his history.. An intelligent boy with good accademic records.. he had begun "to lose it" during his graduation years..

Major Depressive Psychosis.. Loss of intrest in surroundings.. withdrawal.. sadness,.. guilt.. worthlessness.. hoplessness.. his deterioration had been slow and steady..
Nothing seeme to exist in his world.. He never responded to the ward boys or the nurses.. I tried to talk to him but there was no reponse.. In everyway he was a dead man walking..

Then Lekha arrived.. she was not a psychiatry patient in the strict sense..

It was just adjustment disorder with depressed mood..Married to the black sheep of a rich business family, she had been tortuerd, abused and beaten up by her husband Rajeev..One night after a big fight he wanted to have sex with her.. She kept pushng him away.. until in a sudden fit of anger she slapped him.. Rajeev had lost his cool and banged her head on the wall... Lekha fell down unconsious and had an abortion..When she came to know about it she cut off from the world and went into a deep internal void..(To be continued)

Thursday, September 29, 2005


I still remember my first glimpse of the institute. The morning mist sweeping down the valley gave a mystical air to the old palace… It was spring.. The mountain side was blooming.

The campus was magnificent.. Lots and lots of huge trees.. Shady spots to sit besides still pools.. Proud peacocks strutted along perfectly manicured lawns.. Vibrant flower beds.. Dahlias.. Roses.. I fell in love at first sight..

The institute .. A renovated palace was not only a hospital.. But an excellent research center in Psychiatry..
I inhaled the cold crisp mountain air deeply.. I felt exhilarated..! Senior residency in psychiatry !! A subject that mesmerized me!!
And that too under the guidance of Dr Gidwani !!! . One of the topmost psychiatrists in India..!! An icon among the medical fraternity..

I was looking forward to my training with deep pleasure.

But oddly it was not psychiatry that I learned there.. Infact I gave up my dream to be a psychiatrist.. But I was taught a different lesson at the institute.. As to what love could be..

For me love had been a practical arrangement. You loved the person you married or married the person you loved.. I was taught. Yes Sex was a basic need. There would be kids. Your partner cared for your family. A life long commitment.

My marriage had already been fixed. Age, height, education , family, and community..... Especially community, had been given due consideration. I had met him a few times.. A nice sort of person.

But at the Institute I witnessed an extraordinary love. It didn’t fall into any classification that my concept based mind was used to. They didn’t even know that it was love. It just existed and it was precious as life itself.

I know that they will never get married. But then marriage was never contemplated. But what makes me sad is the fact that they will never share that love.

I could have made a difference in their lives… but I was too timid.. And they had to pay the prize..
(To be continued)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Golden Days..

“Backward, turn backward O time in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight”

The blue waves broke merrily into surging white foam as they wished me a “Happy Onam”.

The vast ocean shimmered in the golden sunlight.The white fluffy clouds smiled at me lazily.. Seagulls cried.

I sat at the Kovalam beach sipping iced lemon tea..

My mind lingered on those good old sunny days.. The joy and delight of Onam as a child.. Aminja's laughter leading the rest.. the whole brood would gather around her..

Red dragon flies.. banana chips.. heaping our baskets with wild flowers for Athappo.. Molten Chakkara to be licked off on freshly prepared Sarkkarapuratti.. rushing from one swing to the next and swinging away to our hearts content..
The elaborate 'Onasadhya..'

I signed..

Onam was so different now. We had brought the boys for a swim at the beach.. The cell could ring any time.. I was on call duty..

We could fool around the beach till mid morning.. have a late breakfast.. drive along the Kovalam and Vizinjam beaches till noon... Back to the city in time for ‘Onasadya’ at the Residency Towers’
The cell rang as we drove into our car porch..
Dr Manoj.. The duty doctor.
“A patient has been brought dead in the casualty.. Cause of death not known”
“Don’t issue a Death Certificate… Be soft with the family. Convince them for a Postmortem examination if they insist for a Death Certificate. Ring me if I am needed there.” I spoke briskly.
The boys switched on the TV as soon as we walked into our house.. Peeps went straight to get ready.. He had some work in his office..
I decided to take a nap.. Nice after the Sun, Sand and Sea.
“After I deal with the beach cloths.” I chided myself.
"And maybe make a payasam in the evening.. after all it is Onam.. and I am a Mom..!!"

Monday, September 12, 2005

Me about myself...

Geo and jithu have tagged me .
So here I go…!!

7 things I plan to do before I die!!

1. Learn the language of flowers, birds, wind, clouds and rain.
2. Bring up my boys to become honorable men.
3. Live each day happily .. Spread hope and love wherever I go( In fact that’s my personal mission statement.)
4. Spend six months sabbatical in a lonely cottage somewhere in the nilgiris.
(English countryside used to be my dream but I think wishing for the nilgiris would be more realistic. )
5. Write a bestseller.(expressing my inner self)
6. Grow old gracefully.
7. Live in a manner that I am remembered only with love and affection after my death.

7 things I can do !!

1. Love foolishly.
2. Spoil my boys rotten.
3. Ooze confidence even when I tremble inside.
4. Be very bitchy.
5. Gobble up ten diary milks at one stretch.
6. Get Giggling fits in very solemn and tense situations. (esp. if im with people I know have the same hysterical reaction.. !!my mom says it’s hereditary.. my grandma had it ..!and so do many of my cousins and sisters..!!)
7. Find ecstasy in silence and solitude.

7 things I can’t do !!

1. Hurt a person knowingly.
2. Refuse a request for help.
3. Stop nagging my boys.
4. Pass a pink dress in the store and not try it on.
5. Keep my nails unpainted.
6. Be without a book to read.
7. Not kiss his dimples when he smiles that special smile.

7 things that I find attractive in the opposite sex !!

1. Power and leadership.
2. Sense of humor.
3. Style.
4. Creativity.
5. Sexy voice.
6. Dimples
7. Golden brown eyes.

(While all these may attract me its integrity, dependability and stability that keeps me)

7 things I say most !!

1. Ok.
2. Hhhmmmm…
3. Eda/edi
4. Aiyoo..!
5. Kidilam!!!
6. Ithu pole nalla oru m-o-t-h-e-r/bharyene vere evide kittum..?!!(To my boys..Ya I use the spelling with them/peeps)
7. Vazakkondakkathe..(Iv to keep saying this cos my boys keep bickering and fighting the whole time..)
8. Enthamma..?(That’s how I always address my women patients first.. and they love it..!)

7 celebrity crushes !!

1.Richard Gere
2.Rajeev Gandhi
3. Kapil Dev
4. Mel Gibson
5. Sharukhan
7. Emran hashmi(The current one.)
8. Jeyan:)) (True my dear babies..!! we used to love the good old bell bottom Jeyan..!!

7 people I want to take this quiz.

The think.

I recommend this quiz strongly.. Its therapeutic for your soul..!!
Special Thanks to my dear Geo and Jithu !

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


“Thou knowest not where of thou speakest” the angel said.”

“There is no tragedy only the avoidable.Everything has its reason for being. Thou needest only distinguish what is temporary from what is lasting”

What is temporary?” asked Elijah

“The unavoidable.”

“And what is lasting?”

“The lessons of the unavoidable.”

-Paulo Coelho.( The Fifth Mountain)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Reaching out-3

Yes I needed to see my boys.. They always make me happy. And it was high time I talked to them ..About sex.. Condoms and AIDS
After dinner I went up to their room. I sat on the bed and told them about Arjun..
“Very smart boy” I told them sadly. “Exactly the type of boy I want you to grow up to be.”
“So you want us to be AIDS patients when we grow up.?” Gautam grinned at me..
“ I knew you would ask that” I laughed.
I started speaking. About sex.. Condoms.. And AIDS.

Gautam lay sprawled on the bed. He pretended not to hear. His face wore an exaggerated bored expression. Taj’s expressive eyes betrayed him. He started to giggle.

“So be careful when you grow up.. Don’t play around with your girlfriends and get AIDS.” I grinned at them
“ We can play around mama” Taj grinned back. Only.. We should use condoms!”
Oh. Oh?! I was surprised..!! So my babies knew..!!
Yes mama.. Taj quipped back.” No Condoms..No Sex..!!”
My heart lightened..
I hugged him tight.. and kissed his chubby cheeks..

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Reaching out - 2

“You know..?” I was stunned..!
“Hhhmmm.. Yes.. Got it done myself.. Had a doubt..” he wouldn’t look at me.
I remembered the sister who had cared for the boy that night.. The attendant who had cleaned his wounds..
In spite of repeated instructions the staff forgot to take precautions when they were busy.. “What if one of them was infected..?”
Anger was rising in molten waves..
“Why didnt u tell..?” My tone was sharp..
He flinched.. Just sat there.. with his body bent.. Wouldn’t look at me..
I knew why he had kept quiet.. He had been scared if he would be chucked out of the hospital
Many HIV positive patients kept quiet out of fear .
I was responsible if something happened I told myself.. It meant that I had not trained my staff properly..
I looked at him.. He seemed to be frozen.. Shrinking each moment..
“Dint u knows about protection..?” I asked him..
“Why were you so irresponsible..?” I dint ask him that but that was what my tone suggested..
“I didn’t know doc.”. he whispered.. “Was too young…. In fact I was forced..”

My head started to spin.. Remorse and guilt washed over me..
“ The poor, poor boy..!”
I felt overwhelmed..
OMG!! I had not been prepared for this.. The situation was getting out of hand…
I collected myself. I had to reach out…
“Arjun I can understand why you kept quiet.”
No he wouldn’t look at me
This time I touched his forearm.. He flinched again and tried to pull away. But I strengthened my clasp
“Arjun.. You can’t handle this yourself.. You need professional counseling.. I have a friend in the AIDS center.. You must go and meet him” I spoke earnestly..
He just sat there his head bent..
“Are you aware that that Anti Retroviral drugs can prolong your life..?” I asked softly..
He looked at me..
“Yes Arjun..” I smiled at him
I had got his attention.
I wrote the reference letter..
“I shall phone him up in advance.” I soothed..
“You will need one or two more dressings.. Don’t worry i shall do it.” I told him.
He fidgeted.. He wanted to leave..
“Feel free to contact me any time you need help..” I pressed..
He nodded.
I felt bad after he had gone.. I had not handled it properly..I doubted if he would come back to me..
Docs are expected to be always sweet, understanding and soft to the patient. Anger .. even irritation never forgiven
But he would go for counseling sooner or later.
I signed.. I had done my little bit.
I glanced at my watch. It was not noon yet. I wanted to see my boys.. Badly…
( to be continued)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Reaching out-1

I was disturbed…Enormously...Kept tossing and turning the whole night.
“How could I tell him..? How would he react..?”
“Did he have a girl friend..?” I wondered... I wanted to meet his mom…
Getting emotionally involved with your patient is dangerous... I know I should be detached...
“Maybe I should ask someone else to talk to him.”.. But no… The situation demanded secrecy...
Absolute confidentiality... that’s what NACO advised.
I should be soft, gentle and nonjudgmental... I decided as I drove to the hospital... Detached... formal... compassionate...
He had been brought to the hospital one Sunday night following a Road Traffic Accident. A 27yr old engineer... lean handsome looks... light brown eyes and an adorable smile... Exactly the type of boy I wished my sons would grow up to be..
Nothing serious... few superficial bruises... and a lacerated wound scalp... I had sutured it.
But some of the clinical findings had made me order the test.

In the hospital I examined the wounds... they were healing perfectly...
The moment I had dreaded had come...
“Arjun, do you stay with your parents “I asked chattily...
“No doc, They are in US now... gone there for my sis’s delivery...” he smiled.
OMG..!! The boy would have to face it alone...!
I could feel sweat gathering on my brows... My gut burned.
“Arjun I have got something serious to tell u...” its really bad news...”
I wanted to get over with it fast...
He stiffened... He stared at me...
“You are HIV positive”
“Oops!! I had said it..”. I felt relieved...
The sexy brown eyes gazed into mine... he paled. He was silent for a moment... I wanted to hold his hands... But I couldn’t.. I felt uncomfortable..Something held me away..
Maybe its cos he seemed to withdraw... Maybe I was not competent enough..
He bent his eyes and stared at the floor... Then took a deep breath looked up at me . He spoke softly... The beautiful eyes were moist...
“I know...” he whispered.
( to be continued..)

Saturday, August 20, 2005


The purpose of my previous post was to share a thought that has often crossed my mind.
I really doubt if I was able to get the message across from the comments I received…
I have often observed that Nature... The seasons... The plants.. The animals.. All seem to be in perfect order, harmony and bliss.
A banyan tree.. a sparrow.. a lion.. all seem to be so calm.. relaxed and stable
No confusions, tensions worries or distractions.
But what about human beings?
We are always worried or angry about something.. We strive for achievement or advancement but rarely have the courage energy or time to do what we really want. Or enjoy.
We compete.. We envy.. We stab from the back for petty gains.
Our selfishness and greed make us wage wars and pollute the environment.

I believe in life before and after our existence in this planet as human beings. The railway station was described to indicate our halt in this planet. And the ‘gods own country’ was supposed to indicate the life before and after human life.

Only human beings have the power to discern right and wrong. Only we have special talents. Only we can dream..
But the humanity struggles ahead while the rest of the universe enjoys order, peace and harmony.
Why is the purpose of all this agony..?
Why is mankind left alone to suffer, ponder , worry and struggle..?
Why everything is kept a secret..?
I don’t like to end anything on a negative note

I truly believe in the bond of love.. That goodness always triumphs at the end.

That we leave our acts of kindness and inspiration behind us even after our death.
Maybe these are the answers. For humanity as a whole.

Do away with selfishness.
Have faith that everything is ultimately for the good.
Harness the power of love.
Yes love is the obvious answer.

Do I sound too self-righteous??!! Too goody goody..??!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


The sleeping countryside rolled past through the window of the train. I was returning home after a conference.
I love conferences. Excellent presentations and discussions... meeting old professors, seniors and friends... good food... wine... laughter... shopping... and finally goodbyes till we meet few months later.
The lush greenery of ‘gods own country’ was soothing after the heat, dust and bustle of Chennai.
The monsoon had carpeted the earth luxuriantly with green. The clear still waters reflected rows and rows of coconut palms. Lilac water lilies bloomed in clusters…
Fat contended cows grazed on wide open fields. Eagles swooped across clear blue sky... fluffy whilte clouds floated lazily. Bright yellow butterflies flitted from one flower to the next.
Trees swayed in gay abandon. The exuberant grass and rushes waved merrily. The banyan leaves danced wildly...
I longed to drift out of the window and blend with all the harmony and rapture.
The train was slowing down. More tracks appeared. Huge poles... cables... lights... plastic bottles, bags and cups were littered all around. Garbage accumulated here and there.
We were approaching kollam station.
I watched the people on the platform.
Men and women rushed. Bodies bent with heavy shoulder bags... clenched frowning faces… some waddled along balancing huge suitcases in both hands. Women carrying sleeping babies tried hard to keep up with rest of the family.
A family slouched on a bench looking tired and bored... probably waiting for some connecting train.. Luggage was littered all around them. Their two kids rolled on the ground trying to amuse themselves
A railway official was talking grimly into his wakie talkie. His body drooped with fatigue. The white uniform was crumpled and dusty...
Today is supposed to be a holiday..! ... We are celebrating our 57years of independence!!!
The train started to move... I felt relieved...
We were leaving the clenched frowning faces celebrating their independence...
We were again entering the enchanting world of swaying palms... lazy clouds... contended cows... dancing leaves and flirting butterflies…

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


She sat before me. Dressed in white… Saggy face wrinkled with time. Thinning silvery hair...The dulling eyes stared into mine... The nose stud twinkled.
My role was to break the bad news. That she had carcinoma stomach.. Progressed beyond surgical cure... we could give Chemo a try. But it could ransack her frail body. She had other complication too... diabetes... hypertension...
To treat or not..?
Her two sons and one daughter were unable to reach a decision.
They wanted me to find out what she felt...
I looked into the eyes………dull solemn eyes... with hundreds of tales to tel...
The warmth of her father’s chest... the tenderness of her mom’s touch...
Moonlight... The intoxicating smell of the damp earth ..and a soft buttery voice.. whispering her name...
The molten pain of goodbye...
An alien house... Her body being plundered by a man she hardly knew…
Warm brawling babies nestling on her breasts love almost like pain shooted through her...
His proud smile as she lit the first fire in their own home...
Quiet evenings spent listening to him talking... about his dreams for their babies.
.Holding the cold body of her 12yr old... and pleading with the silent heavens …to take her life too
More monsoons...
Marriages... grandchildren...
Sitting besides him... holding his hands... and feeling him slip away...
Slowly... softly—silently...
I had finished speaking...
To treat or not..?
The solemn eyes gazed into mine. “Just sooth away the pain baby... she whispered I need only peace...”
I waited for more words... but no...
She had taken the burden of the decision for her children’s sake...
I rang the bell and asked the attendant to let the children in...
She got up to leave. Then turned back...
“Had a wonderful life... should have realized it at the time...” she smiled...
My eyes filled... A lump formed in my throat..I smiled back...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A Perfect Red Rose

The road was damp and chilly from the last night's rain. Oil spilled over the dirty puddles.
She lay there... her soft tender body bruised and crushed under hundreds of callous feet… Her radiance sweeping out.. Her fragrance long gone..
Her dreams were shattered...
Once upon a time there had been millions of dreams. As she had peeped out shyly from beneath her lashes. A pure innocent rosebud.
Dreams as sweet as the fragrance she treasured deep within her..
Lavished by the soft moonlight.. Drenched by the morning dew.. Caressed by the soft breeze..
The warm Sun had made promises .. As he cajoled her to unfurl into the most perfect Red Rose.
Her loveliness and fragrance would spread all around. Inspiring lovers.. Poets.. Ordinary folks..
She would be adored.. admired.. Cherished..
Her lover would come to her enticed by her loveliness Her softness and fragrance would be his agony as he drowned in her nectar.. Dissolved in her love..
He would murmur her name softly in her ears as he surrendered wholly..
Again and again..
But she had been cheated out of her dreams.. Betrayed.. Sold out for a few petty pennies..
She lay there.. Beyond caring.. Beyond the loneliness that seeped though her. Beyond the pain.. Her insides ripped out..
The huge tyre were more than she could bear… I watched numbly as she dissapeared without leaving even a trace of the loveliness and fragrance behind.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Sabeera beevi’s husband told her that the smell in his breath was that of the 'tincture' he had taken for stomach upset... that was on the third day of her marriage...
A shy 18yr old from an orthodox Muslim family her husband was her God. Her parents were proud of the match...
It took her a few more days to realize that her God was a drunkard...
She was beaten up by him within twelve weeks of married life... she was pregnant at that time...
He was a loving husband during his dry spells... He promised that he would stop his drinking... she would trust him...
She delivered a male baby and then the next one in two years.
By then she was used his violence.
She had been punched in her gut... kicked in her lower abdomen... marked with his belt ..several times..... Her head had been hammered on the wall … she had been hit on the head with a stool…arm twisted till she pleaded for mercy...
She would just sit in a corner and cry her heart out...
She had quiet moments of happiness too .. playing with her babies.. embroidering cute figures for her boy’s cloths…
Quiet evenings during his dry spells lovingly for her family while she waited for her Man to come home... Listening to the sound of her boys reading loud from the bedroom... and soft music playing on the transistor on the kitchen shelf...When she would be quietly happy and believe that he would give up drinking forever and everything would be fine.
But the dry spells became shorter and shorter...
She started running out to other quarters when he started to beat her... crying for help... her sons helped her... always kept the doors open...
Then they started to jump in between the parents... their father kicked them away... but they flew back howling and crying...
Years passed and the boys got more stubborn... they were open to him...' they wouldn’t permit it... he could drink if he wanted but he couldn’t hurt her anymore...'
He started non cooperation .. refused to support his "ungrateful" family... sulking... disappearing for days together...
"She was a bitch..!. She had ganged up his own sons against him...”
She started tailoring for the families in nearby quarters ... She went from door to door selling cloths...she had to support her sons...
When I met her she was a fat woman in her forties with chubby cheeks, light brown eyes and an infectious smile. She would sell cloths on installment payment basis among the hospital staff...
Stitch for them too...
I wondered how this woman who had suffered so much could smile so easily... she would come to me for painkillers for the neck pain she got from long hours spent stitching cloths...
She came to see me today...
She was upset... needed money to pay fees for her son... he had got admission for BSC nursing...Her husband had no money... he was sulking... blaming her ..
I consoled her and arranged a bank loan for her son’s studies... she thanked me tearfully and left...
I felt sad. For her... for her sons... for her husband...what made him behave so badly...?’I wondered... Some personality disorder probably.....’
Maybe one day he would realize his wife’s worth. His sons feeling... his responsibilities... ..Unlikely...
Maybe one day she would find happiness... when her sons were well settled... when she held her grandchildren in her arms... when her husband realized her worth...
She would find the happiness she dreamed of in her kitchen...
On quiet evenings spent cooking for her family...waiting for her Man to come home...
Listening to her sons reading loudly from the bedroom and music playing softly on the transistor on the kitchen shelf...

Monday, July 25, 2005


The happiest people often seem to be the ones with the least reason for being so...

Friday, July 22, 2005


Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the most important thing is knowing when to forgo an advantage.

Monday, July 04, 2005


The platform was crowded. I waited for the train to roll in along with hundreds of passengers. There was anticipation and thrill in the air around me. Anticipation of the weekend ahead... People waited eagerly to meet their wives... girlfriends.. kids..moms... friends... after a week of rush and routine..
My mind was troubled... too much pain and heartburn during the past few weeks...i felt batterd bruised..sort of distant from my world...
I needed a break... badly... I was off to my parents place for the weekend. To destress and recharge...
We found our seats quickly... my boys settled on both sides... I sent an SMS to my husband that everything was fine...
Gautam complained about lack of adequate leg space. He fidgeted for some time... then pulled one end of my dupatta over his eyes... and promptly went to sleep...A,irconditioning always make my elder baby drowsy..
Taj sat quietly reading his set of comics. His huge dark eyes glowed greedily when he saw the cutlets and vadas being sold around... his favourites.
I took out an old Jackie Collins novel from my overnighter and started to read… hhhmm… the antics of the fiery smart and bold heroine with her cloud of black curls failed to hold my attention... I smiled to myself... difficult to belive that I had wanted to be like her during my teens...
George of 'Famous Five' had been my role model during my childhood... And Jackie Collin heroines during my late teens.....
i thought about the woman I had grownup to become... soft... emotional... I laughed softly...

I turned the pages trying to find out what was it about the heroine that had made me to adore her...
A folded tiny paper fell down from between the pages... I opened it and read...

“Open your eyes and give your life a glance. Are your basic needs met..? Do you have a home? Food on the table. Cloths to wear..? Is there a regular paycheck coming..?Do you have dreams? Do you have your health…? Can you walk talk see the beauty that surrounds you... listen to muscic that stirs your soul or make your feet want to boogie..? Do you have family and friends whom you love and who loves you..?”

My eyes filled... I thought about the young girl who had copied it from somewhere and placed it between the pages of a favorite novel. She had forgotten about it... but it had come to her when she needed it the most...
I looked out of the window... the stillness of the ashtamudi lake was breathtaking in the setting sunlight...birds were flying back to their nests, a kid was taking a group of goats home...
I thought of my lovely home with its beautiful garden. I thought about the love and security I got parents and sisters who waited for me at the end of the work which gave me so much certainity and satisfaction...
I signed contently... I couldn’t count my blessings... like stars in the sky I loved to watch at night from my terrace garden they were infinite...
My life ahead beckoned me lovingly. So much love to be shared... books to read... muscic to listen... food and wine... flowers... sunets... rain... and good company to share them...
The beauty and power of simple pleasure that made life beautiful...
I closed my eyes and gave my thanks...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Pure Pain

The pleasure of pure pain…
Betrayal of the closest friend..
The last day of an extraordinary friendship..

Saturday, June 25, 2005

One more chance..

Yesterday I met a cardiologist. A woman of about 33yrs. Smart, pucca professional.. Authoritative.. I felt envious of her..
I am also a doc. But I couldn’t make it professionally as good as her. Due to many reasons.
I am not the typical studious type of doctor. I love my hobbies and entertainments too much.. I am married to a person who loves fun and entertainment and prefers to have me besides him always. I had to bring up two active boys depending solely on maids..
I am happy.. I enjoy my work especialy the human part of it..I am paid well. I enjoy my family, my friends, my reading ,my gardening.. I get time to find pleasure in nature in her different moods..
But I couldn’t reach excellence in my profession. I could have achieved it had I given it the time and effort..
I have no regrets but when I saw this girl I couldn’t help feeling a bit envious.
I asked her about her family and she told that she was unmarried.. Must have been tied up with her studies.. Her profession..
I wonder about the paths we have both chosen. She her profession and reaching excellence and me my family and not achieving that excellence in my profession
If given one more chance would I do the same with my life.?. I ask myself..

Thursday, June 16, 2005


“Professionally helpful people must sometimes learn what life is at the receiving end of welfare”. The words crossed my mind as I sat waiting in the reception launch at SCT with my son and husband..
‘Lionel blue..’ The name of the book I couldn't remember.

SCT is a place where all patients are treated based on clear-cut norms.Usually docs are allowed to by pass the formalities in hospitals.. but not at SCT
So I sat there along with other patients. Waiting for my son’s EEG report.
My gut burned. My heart felt heavy. My head felt numb. There was a lump in my throat. I prayed silently..
Anxiety, despair. and terror hung around most of the people around me.

A mother sat besides me. Her 18yr old daughter was admitted in the ICU with encephalitis. she had been unconscious and had recurrent fits since one week. She was allowed to see her daughter only for 10mts daily. But she sat there in the lobby anyway.

I saw a father bent double over the balcony praying. he stared unseeingly at the garden down below a lush garden with the soothing sound of flowing water,. .. His daughter was undergoing brain tumour removal surgery in the theatre.
I saw a family of father, mother and son pushing a trolley on which lay a 15yr old boy unconscious.
I saw a skinny woman carrying a sleeping teenager with shaved head and blue pen markings on the scalp for radiotherapy her arms ..trudging up the stairs slowly.
A nine-month-old baby with a weird shaped head slept on its mother’s lap besides me..But inspite of the odd shape the resemblance between the mother and child was striking...
Suddenly.I noticed a woman waving at me. She sat at a distance. I tried to recognise her. But I couldn't.
She then gestured commanding..confident. Calling me to her side.
“ Must be some old forgotten patient “ .I thought... I went to her side..
An elderly woman...grey face.. haunted eyes. Drab sari. Hair carelessly knotted.... No I dint recognise her.
“These are my son’s records. He has brain tumour ..need to start radiotherapy tomorrow. You have to help“ she literally ordered me...
I was confused. I started to read the records...
My husband tapped me on my shoulder. Gautam name was being called.
“Whats wrong with you”. he admonished me.
“Frauds immediately recognise they can cheat you easily.”. He looked irritated...
I handed the papers back to her and went to my son’s consultant’s room.

“EEG is normal“. I was told.
"No need for medicines. Just give him more care and support."

My heart lifted. I thanked the consultant profusely and walked out.
I looked around for the woman. Fraud or not..I wanted to give her some money.
The chair she had sat was empty.
SCT is a place where entry is very restricted. Frauds wouldn't be permitted to beg around.
I knew in my heart that she had been genuine. It was desperation that had made her call a stranger and order to help her
But why had she chosen me..?

I searched for her all around the OP section. But she had disappeared...

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Wedding and a Funeral..

Last week was busy.. I had to make two trips to my husband’s family home.. One for a wedding.. And one a funeral..

The wedding was an arranged marriage.. A grand affair.. Abt two thousand people.. Typical Syrian Christian lunch..
The scorching summer made the crowded church and the hall hot and stifling...
The pretty bride flashed her million-dollar smile at everyone.... Obviously for the cameras... The handsome groom looked smug and self-satisfied..
. But there was no spark between the two...
“So sad“. I thought..
Fat middle-aged women in heavy silks and brocades. . Fleshy backs glimmering with sweat. Chunky jewellery flashing on sagging necks...
Unmarried girls were out in their full glory. Hoping for the highest bidder for a marriage..
NRI girls in ethnic gargaras.and churidars...loose hair... Heavy makeup.. Painted lips
Ethnic dresses looked stupid with western body language...
Snobbish old ladies stood in-groups gossiping.. And watched the parade…
Huge men in raw silk shirts and crisp dhothis..Some drunk and grinning stupidly ..others nursing a terrible hangover from the previous night ..stood and ogled around Everybody was chattering and joking loudly..
“Hollow and artificial.”. The thought crossed my mind..
My boys sat besides me and sulked.. They looked bored and irritable .. They gobbled up the lunch.. Appam.... Fried chicken, mutton stew.. Beef fry.. Fish curry.. Rice vegetables.. Ice-cream
I could have only the vegetables, curd and ice-cream.. The rest were too hot and spicy for the unbearable heat..
“I hate weddings “. Gautam growled as we drove back home. He stared moodily out of the window.
“Mama I want my wedding to be held at night.”. The younger baby Taj declared.
“Ok baby“. I soothed.
“But how will the people reach home.?” My husband commented
“See now we can reach home before it’s too late” he explained..“It’s not possible to arrange accommodation for such a huge crowd.”
“Why do they want such a huge crowd? To show off.” ?
Gautam wouldn’t let it go..
The funeral was two days later.
My husband’s aunt ... a grand old dame had died..
She had lived her life well.. She lay in the coffin as if she was sleeping peacefully among the pristine white gladioli and jasmine. There was a wreath of red roses around her head. She held a crucifix and a rosary in her gloved hands.
The whole brood had come to bid her farewell, pray for her soul and be with her family for a day.
There were prayers, soulful songs and tender touching last minute goodbyes as the coffin was lowered into the grave.
As I walked back to the church after burying her, I felt serene and peaceful..
I looked ahead... Same church. Same crowd.. But what a difference..!
People stood outside the church chatting in small groups against the background of the setting sun.. coffee and biscuits were being served around. ..Everyone appeared more sober, simple and genuine.
Death had humbled all of us...!
The boys were quiet and thoughtful on the way back.Their first experience with death of a loved one..They were probably remembering their loving ‘Peramma.’ Who used to smother them with snacks, hugs and kisses. ..
“I prefer attending funerals to wedding” i commented to my husband..
He laughed..

Saturday, May 21, 2005


This is a poem my son Gautam wrote..
And i'm proud of it..!!

Adieu! little lily

Oh! Dear flower, I'm sorry to say
You won't be there for another day
You are the sign of love,
And as sweet as breeze from mango grove.

Till the sun sets,
You refresh your guests
Swaying in the breeze
But you are about to freeze.

It'll soon be night,
And you'll be out of my sight
Just like darkness takes over light.

Oh! Sweet little lily,
People think I'm silly
To cry for you

Tomorrow when the day breaks
When the sun will be shining
You'll just stay
In my mind

As bright and vivid
As a child's mind.
-Peter Gautam

Saturday, April 30, 2005


I heard the sound before I noticed the smell..a feeble whimpering.. like an animal in pain..
I glanced up from the patient I was examining and looked around the ward….oh there she was.. in a corner bed.. emaciated body just skin wrapped around bones...bent double in pain.. . ..A bandage covered one half of her skull like face . I knew that.under the bandage the cheek was eroded..tongue and teeth were visible from outside..and the smell was that of putrified flesh..Infact there had been maggots in her cheeks when she had been brought here..

I had seen her the previous day.. she had been sitting on the bed .. head thrown back and pouring tea down her throat.. her cheeks eroded.. and the stench aroud her..

The cancer in her cheek was spreading.. fast.. and almost encroching into her eyes.
I remembered her as she had come to collect the report from me.. tiny dark woman.. a widow.. she had been eager .. .. to take treatment.. to live.. she had a daughter to marry off.. but the cancer had been too aggressive..
I went to her…” sara".. I called softly and took her bony hands in mine..
She opened her eyes.. her gaze was dull probably morphine.. then something in her expression changed.. recognition? I squeezed her hands.. she sqeezed back.. then the clasp loosened.. she was drowsy again..
I stood besides her.. a woman in pain..waiting for the mercy of death.. her only hope now was a fast and peaceful death.
I felt disturbed.. what did she know about euthanasia...?...mercy killing.... about dying with dignity.. not like this.. whimpering away like an animal.. Why couldn’t we docs help hersara died few days later but she influenced my views about mercy killing a lot…

comments needed..

Friday, April 22, 2005


I am proud of my son Gautam. His Adonis like looks..Excellence in sports..Leadership...The way he gets good scores without any fuss...
His thickening eyebrows and hoarsening voice makes my heart melt.. Even the crops of pimples on his face. And his brooding anger at times ..I find adorable.
Naturally I wish the best for my son. And what's that...? hhmmm I want him to be happy. Of course...
A mom wants the best for her son. I wish he gets admission in IIT or a good medical college. Doctor or engineer. The basic middle class dream...
I know that to be happy he should do the work he enjoys. That I should wait patiently till his tastes develop
But I cant help dropping manipulative comments.... Here and there...
Recently he told me that he would prefer IT, journalism or geology. It may change too. He is so innocent. What does he know about life?

I should be happy. I'm sure he will excel in any field he chooses.

But in the heart of heart I want him to become a doc or an engineer. Why..?. To boast about my smart son....? To make my friends and relatives envious..?.Or cos they are established stable fields and I am so protective of my son....? I don't know....
Should I leave him to his choices or try to guide him..? Is it right to interfere with a persons dreams...? . I wonder...

comments needed..

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Kumkum.... and Thali....

I sat staring at the report in front of me ...I could feel anger bubbling up in my gut and surging up my face head throbbed. My breathing quickened...

My PMS didn’t help...i sat there trying to control myself...To get into my calm pleasant bedside manners. My doc act..

I looked up and smiled faintly at the man in front of me...“Your vasectomy was a failure”. I informed him.

I waited for some change in his expression...remorse...shame...guilt. No…nothing...he stared back at me blankly. Almost belligerently. My gaze shifted to the woman besides him...

She sat smiling...her...face was flushed...her eyes brimmed with tears...A lush woman...typical housewife...long oily hair braided. Thali...among the folds of her parrot green polyester sari.... kumkum on her hair parting.

I wanted to smile back gleefully, sharing her triumph. But no.... my doc act was supposed to be balanced, dignified, refined and detached. Especially detached.

I remembered her sitting and sobbing silently in front of me two days back. She had missed her periods. Her pregnancy test was positive. Her husband had already had Vasectomy surgery after the birth of their two daughters. He suspected her chastity... He was torturing her.

She was the wife of koman, a staff of mine. I didn’t like him. He was a trade union leader . Lean oiled body...sharply pressed clothes...oily hair... chandan kury on the forehead...arrogant mannerisms.
i had been surprised to know that he was couldnt read or write..had not gone to school..

I had heard of an incidence that had happened before I had joined the hospital. He had tried to molest a patient’s wife. The enquiry had failed to prove anything. The other staff was too scared of him to testify. A staff nurse, a born again Christian lady had volunteered to testify but didn’t turn up at the last minute.

It was rumoured that he had threatened to rape her.

“Don’t suspect you wife, the child is yours" I told him.

He stared at me. I stared back.

His eyes shifted. “OK” he told and got up to go. I wanted to tell him to be soft to his wife. But he would only become defensive. I smiled at her and told her to go home peacefully.

I wondered how she should have responded. Self-righteous anger?........... Self pity?

No she would go home relieved that her marriage was saved. She would spend her life caring for his aged, washing, cleaning the toilets...Fasting & praying for him.

She would immerse herself in loving & nurturing her kids... TV serials... food.... She would become obese & middle aged.

I closed my eyes & wished her all the best. That was three years ago.

But, my wish wasn’t granted.

Few months back, she was brought with 70% burns to the casualty. She had done it herself in front of her husband and elder daughter.

The poor woman had shown her pride & protests the only way she knew. But how could she? I wondered. Why hadn’t she thought of her kids? I felt I could never forgive her.

Last week he came to see me. His new wife was with him. “Who will look after the kids?” He spoke to no’ one in particular.

Another smiling face.... lush body.... polyester sari...kunkum...Thali....
I smiled at doc act.......“Wish you all the best”. I spoke softly.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Mr moorthys family

Mr moorthy is 83 yrs old..a small thin man with a soft voice and pleasant manners. He comes to see me every month..
He has to travel about 83 km catching two trains..He has to start his journey at 6.30am and reaces home by 7pm..
He travels all this distance because he gets free medicines from our hospital..
He waits for me patiently if i am engaged in my LAB work or administrative responsibilities because I give him medicines for 30 days contrary to the usual practice in our hospital to supply free medicines for only 15 days..
Other doctors objected to my favoritism but they were quiet when I told them about Mr moortythy’s family.
.He comes with four note books in which I record my notes and the treatment given..
Mr moorthy has high BP, coronary artery disease, heartblock and cardiac failure.. in short he may die any day..
His wife is an active lady.. has the usual geriatric complaints… backpain, jontpains tiredness.. nothing serious..
His two sons aged 53 and 51 are mentally ... they also suffer from recurrent epileptic attacks..
they have no other children..
All of them needs to be on continuous medications..
Since he cant travel alone he brings his wife with him leaving the two retarded men at home.. alone..
They r not completely incapacitated.. they will take the food she has prepared for them.. and sit quietly for the age couple to come home..and it seems that the elder fellow looks after the young one..!!
The couple never fails to amaze me they have a little land on which they cultivate vegetables.. he gets some pension.. they have two cows.. the old man looks after them and his sons help him in the job..!
They never complain about their fate..they are always smiling.. he relishes the coffee she makes.. they tell me about the poojas and festivals they celebrated that week..she tells me about the food she had lovingly prepared for her sons that day.. ( she has to get up at 3.30am for that..)
I feel so much admiration for them. To put it bluntly the old man may pop off any day.. the family will be scattered after that.. both of them agree that their relatives will not be of much help..the sons will probably in some care home and she will have to go and stay with her brothers Family…
But they have made the best of the life they have.
.they have a comfortable home.. she prepares delicious food from their own vegetables and milk.. they often go on pilgrimages with their sons.. they share a beautiful relationship..
How many of us can boast of such an abundant life..?!
They came to see me yesterday and presented me with two saris.. I felt embarrassed.. I couldn’t possibly accept them.. I told pay ..but they wouldn’t agree..
I was so kind to them and they wanted to express their affection for me....
I pointed out that it wasn’t as if I paid for their medicines.. I was only doing my job..
But they wouldn’t agree.. mr moorthy had himself chosen the saris for me.. dint ma’m like them..? they asked anxiously..finaly I thanked them and accepted the saris
But I felt disturbed the whole day.. as if I had accepted a bribe from the old couple..
The coarse cotton saris looked a bit odd among my refined silks, chiffons and cottons.
Last night i showed them to my husband.. he looked at them skeptically probably wondering why I had chosen such gaudy colours..
Then I told him aboutmoorthy and his special family..and about my guilt..
He smiled at me.. and told me to wear the saris often…. My heart lightened.. I smiled back at him..

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Courage..And beauty..

hope and love
yesterday was hectic..I was on emergency call duty.. For 24hrs..8am to 8am..we have one such duty every week..Have to b in the hospital... But it was not the calls that made yesterday special.. It was a lady staff of mine..
she is leela.. a lady sweeper.. She is 45 yrs.. a widow with three children.. one son and two girls.. the boy used to b ok but now has been diagnosed to have schizophrenia.. a major psychosis.. stopped his studies.. doesnt go for work.. just sits and broods at home..
the elder girl . was married off to a mechanic working in gulf. she is working in some private firm... has not been able to go to her husbands place yet...the younger girl was studying..
leela had been sent by our surgeon two days back to me.. with a lump in her breast.. i was to do FNAC.. that means to take some tissues out with a needle ..stain them.. and look for cancer cells..
reporting FNACS of breast lumps is a bit difficult.. if u miss the diagnosis the cancer will spread and finaly it will be too late to treat.. but if u make a wrong diagnosis..the breasts will be removed unnecessarily.. I can very well imagine what it is to be a woman and lose one breast..!!!
well ...leelalas slides were easy.. no doubts.. it is a case of CARCINOMA BREAST.. GRADE..3 TO 4.. Highly malignant ....
I called the surgeon and informed her.. We decided to call shyamala and tell the news to her gently.. there is nobody else to call from her family..
shyamala came..innocently smiling.. my friend the surgeon told her everything.. gently..the prognosis.. that her breast has to be removed.. either fully or a part could be conserved..that then there would be chemotherapy.. the treatments costs.. the diffrent options ... treatment shedules she could follow..
i waited for the woman to break down...for the lamentations to start....she listened calmly.. then she said softly.. ok.. if thats what god wants.. i will bear it.. please decide the best options for me.. and tell me ..i dont know how to choose the treatment options.. then her eyes filled up and she said.. i have some loans to pay off after marrying my dauter off.. hope il heal well enough to pay the money back.. then she brightened up and told.. ok.. il pull along i know.. i have to..
both of us were so impressed by the poor womans faith.. also we were selfishly relieved that we had been saved from tears and wails..
i went on with my duty as usual.. i was about to fall sleep whe i noticed that my hands anf feet looked dry.. i always keep them soft and pretty.. i called the ward sister and told her to send some glycerine..
somebody knocked at my door.. i opened it to see leela standing there smiling ...with a bottle of glycerine for me..!! i felt so upset.. shyamala....?? i asked.... why are u here..? dint you go home..? no mam she told.. i decided to work tonight also.. my surgery is day after tomorrow., if i work tonight and tomorrow day i can save two days salary..
the woman had not even gone home after learning that she had cancer breasts..!! and she had brought me glycerine to pamper my feet.. i felt that i had become sooo small...
i couldnt sleep.. i was thinking how pampered i am..
that poor woman.. she had shown the sort of courage i could never imagine.. a poor widow.. her only son a schizophrenic..... and she had faced the news so calmly so courageously..
leela.. u dont soften your hands and feet with glycerine..or nourish your hair with luxuorious conditioners.. u dont waste time searching for the correct shade of lipstic for your dont go for ayurvedic massages to rejenuate your body..
you will lose one breast.. your hair will fall and you will be bald following chemotherapy.. you will become skinny and haggard..
but you will remain the most beautiful woman i know..
because i admire the sparkle of hope in your eyes.. your soft calm voice.. the grace and innocence in your words.. the beauty of your srtength....