Looming Shadows

There comes a time to count and take account of
What we earned in life and what passed us by
A time to ponder over the sweet glory of gains
And the sore sadness of misses lingered by

Time to recall the things we made to change
And many of those which we tried, but in vain
Of occasions that brought us happiness and glee
And of the failures which soaked us in a gloom
It is that time when our physical limitations

Tend to blend and merge with mental acceptance
When maturity lets us face facts with ease and repose
As we receive reality with reluctance, yet with resolve

When we pause to reminisce and glance over the past

Which vanished faster than a gleaming flash of light
And as the future looms before us, imminent and near
Posing and staring as a huge unknown, impending haze

Savor the delights of wisdom and that of dignity

That we gracefully gained through the sheer event of living
As we unravel the fragile filaments of our memory
And gauge it to evaluate life, as to what it means after all

Be ourselves, remain strong, genial and confident

Be concerned, yet with candor that carried us all along
Stay stoic, tranquil and unruffled as times move along
Accepting the changes as they approach and demand

Be proud of the deeds we did and the feats fulfilled

Be hopeful that our progeny will praise us with pride
Be content with the tiny triumphs of our little life
That most humans may not venture, even to dream

Be at peace, rejoice, share with the world around you

Be the kind, caring and concerned human that you can be
Be grateful to the mercy of God for his blessings and boon
For all the good in life that He has kindly bestowed on you

As our shadows stretch in the golden twilight

Singing stories of past, that of rapture and ruins
Let the cargo we compile, loaded with love and grief
Be not a burden to choke, but to offer solace we need

Get set and ready to relish the days that are yet to come

And as they arise, pray for peace, poise and a little ease
When the world moves along, striding by our side with noise
Let us laud in silence, our destiny, to have had this life to live.

(July 2002)

Again and Again…

Again and Again

Again and again, I hear the soft footsteps, that of
Someone arriving through the portal of my dream
Again I hear the gentle drone of a golden flute
That of someone playing in the garden moonlight.

Perhaps it is the rustle of dewdrops dripping off
The tender limbs of shrubs in the morning glow
Or the lazily wandering breeze may be stroking
The strings of my heart with its soft, dainty fingers.

Could it be the rapture, trapped in my dreamy eyes?
Letting the wings of its doves to flutter so gently
May be the mirage of my life has turned so vivid
As it lets the adit opens wide, yielding a clear vision.

The glowing dusk may be donning a dash of vermilion

On the beaming forehead of the rising young moon
Or the singing crickets flying around the garden
Might have murmured a naughty tune in my ears.

As the thunder shatters the cushion of dark clouds

And the lightning splatters the gently showers
The call I hear may be of fear, of the rage of Nature
Or of delight, rejoicing the glorious ritual, celestial.

Was it a cold breeze that braced the rivulet near by

Or a warm embrace from the shower of soft petals
Which aroused me from my sweet, deep slumber
That I felt no remorse, just love and a desire for all.

The lilting tune that revived melodies of childhood

Tender love that nurtured my body and my soul
Waiting for nothing in return, not even memories
Love akin to that a mother and no one else can give

The bewitching mind, may have flickered in delight

Like radiant flames, glowing from a shimmering lamp
Or someone may have whispered a secret so sweet
That the enchanting one is arriving to the envy of all.

Again and again, I hear the soft footsteps…

(Courtesy to Malayalam poem)

About Being

From the silence of darkness to the bang of blinding light
Freezing, frigid cold clashing with the burning, blazing heat
Enormous, absolute zero pushing infinity beyond meaning
Expanse of galaxies reaching into intricate webs of DNA

The hot sun, cool moon, trembling stars, and cosmic quiescence
Spatial constellations, orbiting terrestrials, everlasting emptiness
Milky ways, meteors, comets, and collage of vague unknowns
Morning stillness, soothing breezes, gales, and twisting tornadoes

Red sunsets, dark eclipse, blue skies, white snowy hilltops
The seasons, rainbows, blooming buds, and the butterflies
Glaziers, avalanches, stalactites, and endless sweep of deserts
Prairies, jungles, serene lakes, volcanoes, and dazzling waterfalls

The celestial parade punctuating dark expanse of lonely skies
Mountain crowns descending to the depths of oceans
Valorous lightning romancing the vaporous, nebulous clouds
Glowing, lurid lava erupting from the golden, molten peaks

Hues of autumn, radiant dewdrops, and redolence of flowers
Divergent myriad of shapes and natures of Nature’s creations
No two leaves nor plumes alike, each emanating exuberant variance
Prevailing in harmony of balance, stable in contrast of existence

Sharp thorns, soft petals, the fragrance, all meshed in one
Salty waters of the seas and the sweet honey in flowers
Tiny seeds concealing essence erupting into mammoth trees
Throbbing life packaged for ceaseless, rhythmic functions

Make an effort to marvel at the miracle of this cosmic concoction
The concept, origin, purpose, theme, direction, or its fancy notion
Whatever the reason, ritual or significance to make some sense
For logical speculation and a rational role of our immanence

Meaning of existence, with an astute goal or devised definition
Perhaps a chance occurrence versus a focused manipulation
Power that keeps the balance and guides the constant motion
Installing the incessant race, with purpose and flawless precision

Humans may belong to the equation or ensued by freak accident
We may have a role, an occult, inherent undecipherable intent
Are we the glorious feat of Creator or images of Her imprudence?
Brought in to life, to sing Her glory or to destroy, bring it all to ruin

Perceive Creation with purpose and its candid beauty surrounding
Savor the sights, sounds, scents, tastes, and innate feel abounding
Soak up the radiance and brave to figure out the fascinating mystery
Worship the magical endeavor as it may fool the intellect or fade

Pause, ponder, meditate, and offer gratitude for this gift of life,
Model of ultimate perfection enhanced through infinite times
A random gesture, a gleam from the soul, a nod to recognize
The splendor bequeathed, the precious treat kindly conferred

A soul obscure, sheltered within a flimsy and transient frame
Longing to grasp, roaming its free, imaginative reflection
And ruminating over mystic myriads of its fancy hallucination
Imposing a verdict, dictating wisdom of selfish justification

Failing to fathom the beauty in contrast and harmony of variety
Is wasting a lifetime, a gift bestowed with a precious opportunity
Faith is to realize the enormity of evolution and its majestic magnitude
To accept and tolerate with respect all within the realm and far beyond reach

Awaken to comprehend your deep, slumbered senses to reason
Motivate kindness to confer courtesy and compassion all around
Share the favor and freedom to allow all to choose as they please
For each creation has the worth from divinity dwelling within them

Make your sojourn meaningful, ethereal, and ethical as you deem it to
Not out of concern of surveillance nor from fear of being penalized
Just to satiate own conscience, the unforgiving, scrupulous monitor
Whom if you disregard, you have squandered your existence in vain.
(May 1, 2003)

Who Should I Become?

Who should I become, the little one asked, when I grow up?
Whoever it be as long as you be good, was the answer
Be the cool breeze that can softly stroke
The flower wilting under the heat of the noon sun

Be the drip on the thirsty tongue, craving for a mere drop of water
Be the friend, an ally, and strength, for the lonely one in peril
Be the soaking rain on the cracking patch, of the dry and parched-up land
Be the sheltering shade of tree, for the weary, wilting hiker under the heat

Be an umbrella to the child struggling with books from soaking from rain
Be a guiding lamp to the boatman lost, and fraught in the dark on the vast seas
Be a mother to the crying kid lost in a crowd, searching for anyone dear and
familiar, Be a boon to salvage a sinking soul, offering an uplift and a chance back to life

Be a handful of food to a famished one, saving him of his agony of hunger
Be a brother to the lonely girl, panicking to get home in the dark of the night.
Be a warm blanket of wool, soothing the shivering old from the cold
Be the folded palms offering respect, to the teacher who taught you knowledge

Be the kind, supportive shadow, helping the falling, sibling in need
Never grow up, remain forever, the loving, adorable son to your father and mother.
Who should I become, the little one asked, when I grow up?
Whoever it be as long as you remain good, was the answer.
(Courtesy, Malayalam poem)

Golden Memoirs

My classmates at Medical College, 1956 batch, Trivandrum

Fifty years is a lengthy stretch by human standards
Six hundred months or eighteen thousand vital days
Need I go for hours, minutes and splitting seconds
Or let our creative imagination choose as it fancies

As we meet, greet, chat and exchange pleasantries
As we go back in time unraveling our knotted notes
The days gone by and the young times once we shared
Getting back to muse and mull on what we endeared

Memories are vivid and green of the luxuriant campus
Majestic buildings perched on an expanse of rolling hills
Life in the hostels as generous models of extended families
The food of the mess we often relished, yet loved to loathe

Years we shared together, same goal and similar ambitions
Some remaining strangers with hard, unbreakable shells
The burden of barricades imposing moral ‘curfew’ of the ‘sexes’
Expecting us to behave, as we never had brothers or sisters

Glancing back, those were truly gleeful, carefree days
No hassles except from the habitual tormenting tests
We had fun even within the tangles of Cerebellar webs
Or as mazes of Microbiology messed with our tiny brains

Struggling to stay awake during Surgery lectures at night
Learning Preventive Medicine slumbering on back benches
Earning ninety-five without knowing a word of Japanese
Gathering wisdom in Biochemistry from the pageantry of ties

Missing the van, rushing over the back roads getting to class
Making it late with sweaty, soaking shirts and dusty shoes
Visiting the canteen to splurge our savings on masala-dosas
Evening walks, open-air movies, and romantic rendezvous

We learned pages and volumes of text on intricate subjects
Of nerves meandering through masses of muscles and organs
Of vessels traversing tissues nurturing their numerous functions
And of cells specialized to carry out a myriad of distinct options

We were lectured on the details of how food gets swallowed
How it powers energy that runs the machine and builds the mass
On how the air cleans the blood, nourishing cells that sustain life
The ways how waste is cleansed and means how we procreate

What a wealth of clinical matter that was all ours to learn
Queues in outpatient and heaped on floors of chronic ward
Babies with scabies, dehydrated and gasping for a breath of air
Cries of pain from blocked arteries or stones slicing the ureters

When we coddled with the cadavers, frigid and dark
Soaked in pungent formalin and dye stuffed arteries
Not often we realized there was a live human in its past
Full of vibrant desires once filling the now still frames

Flocking around patients as our fleeting attention wandered
Grasping only portions of what is taught in clinical rounds
Choosing assignments of tests and picking different diagnoses
Channelling our options leading to their conferred destiny

Agenda was to teach us the physical body and its functions
What makes it fall sick and how to bring it back to tick
Medical education is to learn what to put in or take what out
Healing the sick, having lost track as the prominent sentiment

Curriculum likes to condone teaching what life is all about
As to how and why a man was made different from a mule
Or where we came from with empyrean intent endowed on us
Doctors need not be nosey reaching beyond illness and wellness

We didn’t hear a reason why tears flow down when one is sad
Or how the facial muscles decide to bring out a smile or a scowl
Not much was said of why we get glee or how we feel the gloom
Nor what triggers anger, sense of kindness or falling in love

Perhaps it was left for our obvious assumption to figure it out
But we hardly heard much of discussion of the agonizing impact
Or the ravaging damage an illness can impose on the inflicted
Of the ominous burden it may pose endangering his dependents

Just a random thought, but if medical students were to be introduced
Into the profession of dealing with illness with a dose of instructions
To see the ailing with a theme of kindness, candor, and compassion
Holding their hands, stroking their hair and conveying that you care

If the cold stethoscope, hammer, and sharp needles were to wait
Until after we allay their fear and ease their air of apprehension
Before all the tapping and probing, it will be nice and pertinent
To empathize with a show of concern and an eagerness to help

As we have settled deep into our individual style of applying skill
We may have realized the role of science and subtlety of art involved
Fascinating reality of limitations, beyond our means to comprehend
Boundaries that challenge our ego and hopefully instill some humility

When we tally the balance sheet of life, worn out from having lived
After we pursued varied paths and compiled sacks full of encounters
What stands out are not the posts we held or the fortune we amassed
But what earnest impact we made in those who looked up to us for aid

Five decades ago we were gathered together like pearls on a string
From mélange of backgrounds, shapes, means, attitudes and abilities
But all with the same purpose of making Medicine our means of life
Class of fifty-six has come a long ways, longing to laud our destiny

Of over a hundred in the class, we have lost almost a tenth of them
Many still young, a few of causes which may have been preventable
As we try to recall their faces and natures as we remembered them
There is sadness tugging our hearts, or a trace of guilt gnawing at us

As we are ripe with age and many of us with maladies beyond repair
Gathering to toast our friendship and mourning our departed friends
Let us join hands applauding life, perhaps one lovely last time
Let’s save memories of this meet, savoring and enriching our sunset days.