Bad pasta.

My creamy cold pasta laid untouched with the steel spoon’s end laced with a hint of cheese and the sweat passed over from my clammy fingers. The beige porcelain plate standing against the dark mahogany table.

‘You know what, you suck so bad.’ I cursed the unsalted bland prawns lying dead on my plate. 

Looking around, the others seemed happy with their tasteless bad pastas.

The room was white. So damn perfect, it was almost pretentious.

Childhood memory flashes of adults teaching me how to act and dress for these places played in my head.

Screw that. I’m my own person now why do I still follow societal norms?

Ten year old me would pack my own maggi in a steel box, in case the food wasn’t good. I wished I had done that now.

“The prawn’s cooked well, isn’t it?” He smiled at me.

Ew.

“I wish it was spicier.” I frowned.

“This is how prawn is supposed to be. Just buttered and salted.”

Fuck this.
Who decides how prawns get to be? They definitely didn’t choose this for themself. Butter and salt my ass.

“Yeah.”

I looked out through the rose tinted sleek glass door.

Through it’s transparency I saw her. An old lady with parched skin, torn clothes and matted hair, her cataractous eyes looking right through mine.

Outside this restaurant was pitch black.Contrasting to the pretentious white in here.

For reasons my dumb brain couldn’t comprehend she was so clearly visible.

I looked down uncomfortably, pushing my pasta to and fro, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear.

Refusing to lift my head, I stole a tiny meek glance back at her.

There she was, with the same stare. I wasn’t able to make out the emotion behind it, but the angry question was quite clear.

“What happened?” He questioned looking at me empathetically.

I nodded my head distractedly, looking back at her.

“Hey?” He called out to me again.

“It’s not fair right. That she lives like that and we sit here paying for this overpriced, bad food.”

He understood I was uncomfortable, looking out for himself at her.

“Come, sit over here.” He motioned at the place parallel to where he was sitting.

“She can’t see you from there. I hope you’ll be feeling better.” He smiled caringly back.

And do what? Live in denial?

“Can you please just do that? ” he spoke again, snapping my thoughts back to the reality.

Shrugging of my cold feet, I stood up to sit at the place he motioned me to, he shifted over to the place I sat at.

“How does it feel now”

I turned back to look if she was there. She was gone.

“Feeling better?” He looked at me, concern lacing his eyes.

I smiled, ironically.

If I can’t see, suffering isn’t happening?

Ignorance is virtue.

Isn’t it

Facades

Maybe I misunderstood,
The faces,
behind the facade;
.
Scuffling,
to lift off their veil.
Shedding tears,
to make someone else’s cocktail.
.
Their sad noises;
Symphonies,
to the ignorant’s ears,
.
June rains,
On Dunes and deserts,
And just as unlikely,
One startling second,
The facade shred,
to umpty specks of nowhere;
.
Those faces
once concealed,
Now, revealed .
Inhaling freedom,
With what was left of
Words withheld and
Wounds withstood

To books, with love

There was a time when most books were treasures for me.

It was restricted and the fact that I wouldn’t be able to afford books by myself just made it’s value more.

I’d sit on the book shop near my house, all evening, reading. Eventually it hit me, I can’t keep doing that to books I cant pay for, even though the shopkeeper was nice enough to let me, it just wasn’t right . Like anything art too had a price.

The answer was second hand books, there’s enough being spoke about books and authors, but I doubt if there’s any about these second hand books.

The dusty aroma, yellowish hue laced old pages, the markings that would have fascinated someone else at the other corner of the world, the foldings, the bookmarks and the very special, tiny letters to the front of whom it had been gifted to

It wasn’t for me, but of course it felt nice and like destiny that this book that he or she had once owned had to end with me. I felt like we were somehow related and I was somehow indebted to the original owner of the book.

I never quite understood how these treasures came at such a menial price. So when I had my own library filled in with my own new books I thought it’d give them all away with the same authenticity that came with my childhood treasures.

Instead this time, I wrote letters from me to the person who was buying the book like it was being gifted to them, but from me, a stranger, for children like me.

Enid Blyton to John Milton, this is how I scouted my way through. Happy world’s book day. For an intimacy between the minds of the author and the reader, and in my case, the person who had the book earlier.

Readers make leaders, dont they ;).

Also, it’s Shakespeare’s death anniversary.

Reflections

Waking up at a dreadful dawn,
Washing whimpers away,
Gazing into the depth of his peepers
Of the window, of his very soul

Hellish in there,
And a little aloof
Noises of muffled laughter and mirth
And crumbed screams of ‘what ifs’

His clouds rained of regrets
Of choices, of maybes
Unyielding to the right now
Lamenting about the foregone

A tiny drop falls over the bathroom puddle,
Shattering his reflection,
His pupils in shreds, found nowhere
He left back for his slumber, unfelt

Where

Where am I

A castaway comet,

In a cosmos so wide

Besieged by entities, floating towns

On a neverending quest to the relative unknown

Scouting through new universes,

Sliding through striking asteroids,

Through journeys and billion miles

Accepting the desertion and

Void a possible destination

All for an underdog to have a home

A world of one’s own.

To harmonize and conform

To belong

a sky full of stars,
Amidst a morning hue

Something

That quite doesn’t fit,
With ease

But quite doesn’t quit,
With peace

Hiding the starry glow,
Behind the sad blue clouds,

Forgetting
the burning sun,
Is no one,
But a star

Who stood as itself.

Twig

Swinging to the tunes of breeze,
Held with perseverance stood the tiny twig.
Just to grow be a tree, with the same perseverance, to be unshook

When would I,
Indeed become a tree and not just a twig that would not give away.

Underneath the gloves

I’m a final year medical student, and from where I stand right now, I know medicine saves life, because that is what I see.

But… one morning, one tiring lecture hour, my professor had to remind me of the Tuskegee Syphilis study during his class on the very topic. I used to be very bright in history, recent times, my topics of interests have shifted over to medicine, my course, since naturally it is supposed to make me a better doctor.

If you don’t know the about Tuskegee syphilis study, let me give you the idea, people actually made a study during the great depression, where they told black men affected with syphilis they would be offered free healthcare, and did the exact opposite of that, just to study the course of that very long disease.

It happened during the great depression right, why are you still agitated by it? Because my friend, it continued till the 70s and I’ve been taught that history is learnt, because it shouldn’t be repeated.

Sounds bad? There was an even worser, Guatemalan study where they injected people with syphilis, for godsake.

Later that day being in obs and gyn postings, while I was wearing my gloves ready to use the Sim’s speculum I wondered, how many people has this very speculum killed. The guy who operated on black slave women without anesthesia (and obviously their consent too) because he “believed” they didn’t feel pain, killed their newborns and blamed the mothers for being “slothy” for contracting tetanus which actually owed to the bad environmental conditions their slave workers put them in, came with this very speculum.

Unfortunately, the father of modern gynecology, that didn’t see humans but indeed color they were born with.

Was it only him? Sadly, no.

Berta was a female patient in the Psychiatric Hospital… in February 1948, Berta was injected in her left arm with syphilis. A month later, she developed scabies (an itchy skin infection cause by a mite). Several weeks later, Dr. Cutler noted that she also developed red bumps where he had injected her arm, lesions on her arms and legs, and her skin was beginning to waste away from her body. Berta was not treated for syphilis until three months after her injection. Soon after, on August 23, Dr. Cutler wrote that Berta appeared as if she was going to die, but he did not specify why. That same day he put gonorrheal pus from another male subject into both of Berta’s eyes, as well as in her urethra and rectum. He also re-infected her with syphilis. Several days later, Berta’s eyes were filled with pus from the gonorrhea, and she was bleeding from her urethra. Three days later, on August 27, Berta died.An excerpt from the notes of Guaremalean study. Sounds like V for Vendetta in the worst way I would think of.

How to forget our very own, forced sterilization camps, that claimed lives owing to botched surgeries and not sp similarly recent deaths in a sterilization camp keep reminding us, that we still live under a regime that pushed for the ban of oxytocin, a life saving drug in pregnancies, because it is apparently to abuse a certain animal. And not to even start with the abuse of refugees, prisoners and minorities all over the world.

As I remove my gloves, I still see remnants of blood that these inhumane forefathers of medicine and those who had ruled has left behind

My gloves, you see, could be discarded, so could be the blood of toil that they have left. Will we?

Ps : The relevance of this whole write up is when I see hatred, communal, racial,lingual, casteist or in any damn way (which unfortunately I see more recently, than I had ever ), I fear, and on remembering the history, that fear amplifies. And if you think history and politics are not related to healthcare, kindly compare healthcare indices of states or countries with different political backgrounds and decide for yourself, I hope you see a pattern there.

Caramel custard (a short story)

‘You would get a retirement than getting a judgement in our system.’ swinging his long, black coat, that was covering his quite plump physique and continuing his stiff walk, my lawyer A J Nabar went on motioning towards the crowded street food stalls continuing  ‘You eat and come while I go for the discussion’

And there I was standing outside the High Court, all alone. Crossing the heavy traffic, and the busy roads I looked up to see an old yellowish building, half of its paint ripped apart.
I found myself a seat. One right under it’s creaky, old and slow fan.

‘Order madam?’ The waiter popped out of nowhere.

‘Five minutes.’ Half pleadingly, half wondering if these fans are even made anymore i motioned him to go.

‘I used to bring my daughter here and she loved everything! You have no appreciation of good food at all! Kids these days!’ My grandfather yelled at me, his voice box searing high.

Mildly embarrased, heavily angered I turned my chair away from my grandpa to my dad . They were here for their case. Dad and grandpa against each other for some property, but I was concerned with things that were more important back then.

‘You promised that you would buy me food from that international food outlet. ‘ I pointed out his unkempt promise.

I was a small town kid, we didn’t have such outlets at our place, the city was the dream back then, that’s where you get everything. It was more important for me to brag that I’ve been there, than just eating good food.

A five feet me sitting at one end of the table while a slightly taller grandpa at the other end, while my tall, neutral father in seated in the middle, ironically stuck between us and a  table having all its space taken up by good food, was looking at us yearningly.

‘Arent you going to eat this or not?!’my grandpa ordered.

‘No way. I wont.’ I angrily yelled back.

‘Fine then don’t eat. This caramel custard here, is their signature, they’ve been making it since your father was a child. Atleast try a bite of that.’ He brought a spoon of that towards my mouth.

Putting it half heartedly inside my mouth, my ego acted out, thus I was gagging.

‘Ew.’ I kept gagging.

Now, my completely angry grandfather turned into a tomato, and asked my dad to take me away, my stomach was grumbling, but I ended up eating at that outlet much later that day, just like my stubborn self hoped I have and bought back half for my little brother. He hugged me happily.

‘Madam, order?’ The waiter popped back again, this time a little less patiently.

‘Caramel custard.’ A tiny smile lurked around my mouth.

‘That’s all?’

‘That would do.’ I smiled again.

I waited for a while, wondering how I have ended up here against my own brother for the same property dispute.

My caramel custard arrived, on a stainless steel plate and with a soup spoon over it. Wiping off my dusty, soup spoon with a tissue paper, I took a small piece, with some syrup and had a bite.

I felt  weird sensation over my cheeks, and my eyes tingling and that is how I started crying in the middle of a canteen, surrounded by lawyers and staffs throwing their concerned looks at me.

‘Is there anything wrong?’a lady voiced out their looks.

‘This tastes so good! ‘ I exclaimed, bursting out in tears hugging her. Looking puzzled they all turned back.

My phone buzzed.
‘You can go home. Drop by next month, for the next hearing.’ The text read.

‘Can I get one packed?’ I asked the cashier and this time he flashed a huge smile at me, nodding his head fast, giving me a tiny cardboard box to be carried in a polyethylene bag.

Searching him, eyes wandering and mind wavering, I finally found him, my little brother on the middle of the road, alone like I did, a while back.

I ran to him, this time forgetting to cross the busy roads, like I couldn’t see, for once again my vision was blurred by tears and then, I hugged him tightly.

‘Here, I got this for you.’
And that is when I spoke to him after five years of silence. We didn’t get our judgement yet, but that is when we got us ourselves back.