Sunday, August 10, 2008

Stone River Hospital

Occasionally I write poetry. There, I finally said it. Most of it is terribly personal, vulnerable and badly written. Over the last two months however I have occasionally written something that I feel comfortable about. Both the poems below are based on my experiences here and meticulously portray life as it really is.

A short note on the label of this blog post. 'Stone River Hospital' is a literal translation of Kal Aath Aspatre as we are locally known. Below is a photo of the river which runs about 200 feet away from my room. If someone had to literally translate what I am known as in the area it will be' Stony River Little Doctor' :-)

M's Betrayal

When the skin on the bottom of your feet
Burns. Burns really red hot.
It becomes hard and black. Like
Old cracked leather.
It makes a 'tok tok tok'
Noise like a coconut shell. Dry.

Inside creamy pus waits patiently.
The doctor will soon quit tapping
the skin with his pen.
He will mumble instructions in Tamil.
Nurses will scurry. The woman will
Starve to avoid vomiting with the anaesthesia.

In the evening Dhanam Akka will
Crack open a beautiful glass ampoule.
With the deftness of experience she will
Pull ketamine into a plastic syringe.
M lies on the steel operating table
Softly moaning under her green blindfold.

Soon cold steel clasped in latex
clad fingers will pare through
dead skin. Patient pus will burst
forth and dribble into a plastic
kidney shaped tray. Raw red
flesh will make a shy debut.
Akka, will you promise not to tell
Anyone. Promise on your heart.
Promise on your head. Promise. Promise.
I didn't fall into a cooking fire
because I fainted being two months pregnant.
I took some tablets because I didn't
Want a second child right now.
Ten pills from the local doctor. They
They knocked me out and then
Then my husband came home drunk.
Promise you won't tell anyone. Promise.
On your heart. Promise on your head.
He was in a murderous rage. He.
He tied me up and then he.
He stuffed a cloth in my mouth.

You might be tempted to ask why this has been the best year of my life. Here's why ....

A Rural Practitioner's Happiness

Tiny hands. Big eyes.
The cutest damn expression in the world.
That's my reward. That's happiness.

Then I walk out of the labour ward.
I can see hills all around. Green.
That's my reward. That's happiness.

My cottage sits on the edge of the forest.
Full of books, art films and insects.
That's my reward. That's happiness.

The local women who work at our hospital
Call me 'Anna'.
That's my reward. That's happiness.

An old therakoote vadiyar
Is grateful I was with him during his second MI.
That's my reward. That's happiness.

When death comes. Despair.
Loneliness and gastritis.
I think of my rewards. I try happiness.


Anonymous said...


rakhal said...

hey lalit, that was a great poem. you should be writing more!!


Anonymous said...

So eloquently put down on paper. My heart goes out to the ‘still’ suffering. I put my arms around you and give a huge hug for all the kindness you are doing. Thank you for caring so much. Anne

Cass said...

wow lalit...

I dream said...

You are pretty amazing. Inspiring.