“Poetry is the clear expression of mixed feelings” – W. H. Auden.

March 21st is celebrated globally as World Poetry Day to recognise the power of words and the impact a poem can have on our emotions. To celebrate this art form, the IAPC presents to you a collection of poems penned by our very own friends from the palliative care community. This collection is dedicated to all those who are receiving palliative care and to also the healthcare professionals who work tirelessly to support them.

While going over these poems, we were pleasantly overwhelmed with the reflections of emotions, experiences, and the perspectives of our contributors. The poems largely hover around the themes of loss, hope, resilience, support, love, and the complexities of living with a life-limiting illness.

With this project, we at the IAPC, hope to provide comfort, inspiration and a means to connect with each other in meaningful ways.

– Team IAPC

Palliative care is a boon for me

Dr. A. Latha

Everyone was happy about my drawing
Everyone was happy about my dancing
I was the happiest girl in my childhood

Everyone blessed me that I will have a bright future
Everyone appreciated my growth in my profession
I was the happiest lady in my adulthood

Everyone said that the abnormal growth in my breast is the cancer
Everyone suggested I may go here and there for treatment
I was broken; why is this punishment for me!!!
Am I not going to see my daughter’s marriage?

Everyone suggested me to tonsure my long scalp hair
Everyone scared me that I would lose my hair like leaves falling off a tree
Is that because of drugs given for uncontrolled growth in my breast?
Everyone was telling me cancer pain is unmanageable
I was intolerable to the words and actions of others

Everyone moved away from me because of bad odour
Everyone showing faces because of the oozing from the ulcer
Everyone was busy with their business
I was the one bearing the excruciating pain from lymphedema

No one suggested going to palliative care
But God showed me to them
Oh my God!!

Everyone on the palliative care team were incredible
Everyone’s approach was remarkable
I slept that night after many years
Yes, because of the wonder drug morphine!

I am relieved from excruciating pain.
Yes, because of the white angel’s charcoal perfumed dressing
I am relieved from bad odour
Yes, because of impeccable dressing
I am relieved from the oozing wound
I am happy to move around confidently
I am sure I got new energy that would help me to see my daughter’s marriage
Yes, palliative care is a boon for me!!!

Dr A Latha is a Faculty at the College of Nursing, AIl India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jodhpur. She is trained in palliative care and is a nurse trainer in palliative care.

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Break This Conspiracy Of Silence!

(The perspective of a 15 year-old cancer patient)

Dr. Aneka Paul

Here I am, back again
These four walls closing in on me
Though they are brightly animated
Colours cannot erase the stench of disinfectant
Nor can superheroes save me from my fate.

I was here five years ago
Lived here for two
They poked me with needles endlessly
All the while looking at me with pity
And I lay watching the colourless liquid drip into me.

I was told to visit every year
I always had a good report
Till one day I was told to stay on
I couldn’t understand the hushed whispers
Or my parents retreating to a corner to weep silently.

More doctors and nurses came to my bed
“Experiment” was the only word I could make out
They conferred seriously among themselves
Then walked away shaking their heads
But no one cared to explain anything to a confused me.

I’m beginning to feel worse, and so tired
Gradually they stop visiting in their groups
Mother is the only one who keeps me company
Now I perceive that I shall never leave here
I just wish those around me would break their conspiracy of silence!

Dr Aneka Paul is a Trustee with Golden Butterflies Children’s Palliative Care Foundation and holds a PhD in Social Work. She has been associated with the palliative care sector in India since 2009-10.

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ICU Number 23

Dr. Aparna Santhanam

I lie in bed so comatose,
Tubes coming out of me,
Machines can only help me breathe,
As I barely hear or see.

Now I’m just a case here,
ICU number 23;
The human being that I was
Is out there, somewhere free?

You’ll find me in the sunshine,
You’ll find me in the trees;
You’ll find me in the chatter,
Of the waves of the seas;

You’ll find me in the laughter,
In the smile on your face,
You’ll find me in your morning walk,
Matching you pace for pace.

I know you find it really hard,
To accept that I am gone.
I’m no longer truly in this bed,
And that makes you forlorn.

You’ve always been a gentle soul,
Looked after me so well,
Been there through every single joy
And every sorrow that befell.

I will be there in every thought,
Through happiness and sorrow;
I will be the memory you hold close
Every day from tomorrow.

I seek your kindness this last time,
I ask your love to flow,
I seek your strength and generosity
To please, just let me go.

Dr Aparna Santhanam is a Dermatologist and a Transformational Life coach. Her interest in palliative care primarily stems from reading the book “Doctors” by Erich Segal in her youth, her rich conversations with Dr Rajam Krishnan on the complexities of this field, and from her own journey as a transformational life coach, while working with people on grief, loss and healing.

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The Masterplan

Dr. Arkanil Gain
New Delhi

Are you dying on the silver mirror?
Reflecting upon the scars of error.
Tell me what you have dug in,
Giving away all the clumsy terror.

Knotted around the breath you speak,
Choking upon the needs you dream,
Life is nothing less than the unfair game,
Where the heroes die without shame.

Where the empty crowd lies,
Where the tragedy cries.
Beyond the sparks of hopes and dreams,
We are all faded, we are all added.

Will you become a nasty star?
Are you part of the masterplan?
Who knows, who saw the shape of life,
After the soul escapes and the dead eyes dive.

So let’s pretend we are all alive
as long as the universe remains calm and naïve.

Dr Arkanil Gain is a Junior Resident (MD Palliative Medicine) at the Department of Onco-Anaesthesia and Palliative Medicine, Dr BRAIRCH, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.

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When it’s time

Dr. Divya S Mishra

When it’s time to go, and my hurting eyes close,
Though the clueless pain with emptiness unfold,
The mind’s smog with dizzying questions abound,
Listen and stay-don’t leave me alone to drown.

Remind me, of cherished memories and dreams we sought,
Of the precious friends and loved ones, who knew more than I thought.
Keep me strong, so I can mend, the bridges I once broke,
To make up for all the joy and love, I ever put on hold.

Fleeting are they- the pursuits of life in time, they wane,
The misgivings weren’t worth the troubles, after all.
Little victories and mindless joys- lay them beside me,
The sobering miseries and grudges too- in vain that we hold.

Hold my hand, till I let go-for the light that beckons aloft,
And as it ends- keep your smile and let me join the stars!
Oh, how I wish that the lives I touched, and those that touched mine,
Will be blessed with happiness untold, and remember our time!

Dr Divya S Mishra is a qualified Radiation Oncologist, a Family Physician, a Palliative Care Physician, and a Clinical researcher, with over 18 years of work experience in diverse settings of clinical practice and clinical research.

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Will you care to be my pal?

Dr. Eric Borges

Will you walk this lonely road with me
As I struggle to face my destiny?
Can I hope you will come to my locale
Will you care to be my pal?

My body ravaged, my lungs all battered
The Corona Virus left me shattered
Gasping for breath as I say to my gal
“Will you care to be my pal?”

I try to speak but make guttural sounds
Keeping quiet frustrates and confounds
I thrash about —a wild sick horse in a corral
Will you care to be my pal?

I forget who I am, where I need to go,
I often get lost trying to go next door
I don’t want to become a chaparral
Will you care to be my pal?

My face and feet are swollen and I pee so little
They say my bones are so very brittle
Dialysis twice a week keeps up my morale
Will you care to be my pal?

Sukoon Nilaya this oasis of tranquility
Has been carefully infused with every facility
Compassionate care our guiding rationale,
Yes, we would love to be your pal!

Dr Eric Borges is a Hon. Chairman at the King George V Memorial Trust, Mumbai. Dr Eric Borges is also a strong advocate for palliative care.

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A Mother’s Hope

Ms Mamta Parihar

A mother is crying, no matter how hard she is trying
She loves him more than anything, asking everyone
Why God has become the enemy, “searching for why”
However, no one is replying and the lord is denying.

Remembering his childhood, A tear came down
Please somebody come to her, to calm her down
The pain is killing making the death a willing
No answer to the questions, but only a surge of emotions.

The only thing is a prayer, and she hears palliative care
“What is this and what it can do for my son?”
How, when and what is this care? I am not aware,
Hope fills her heart, while the mind gropes for a reason.

We cannot stop death, but can try to make happy till the last breath
The end is undeniable, and palliative care can make comfortable
Much to understand, the special care to withstand
The team explained in brief, and she found some relief!

As the news came through, she couldn’t believe it’s true
The smile would come back, to finish this blue
Her eyes bright and wide, sees a ray of light
God shows compassion, their life now enriched
Palliative care is the answer, with the death’s dare diminished.

Ms Mamta Parihar is a Lecturer at Dr. S.N. Government Nursing College, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, and also an ELNEC Trainer.

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Killing Mercy

Dr. Murtaza Ghiya

Human lives
Likes waves of the sea
They ebb and flow
So just let them be!

Many an ailing soul
Stuck in critical care
A dozen tubes already a-fix
Yet we continue repair.

They marched in for rounds
In strict hierarchical lines
Focused on beeping monitors
But not the patients whines.

“Let’s ask the patient”
Spoke a junior medical grad,
The professor barked in fury
“Have you lost it, young lad?”

“The family wants to go
Both Above and beyond
So let’s just keep swishing
Our pricey medical wand”!

“No killing for mercy
Lest get dragged to court
Medicine is not a noble science
It’s just a clever sport”

The boy said a silent prayer,
“When I catch an incurable bug,
I want not any painful tubes,
Just give many a crushing hug.”

“We’ll change the law”
Said he, feeling wise and smug;
“We’ll let them do it,
We’ll let them pull my plug”!

Dr Murtuza Ghiya is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, and an Intensivist for the Trust ICU, K J Somaiya Medical College, Mumbai. He was sensitised to the principles of palliative care during his medical education training at St Johns Medical College Hospital, Bengaluru, and is now an advocate for palliative care.

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3 Thoughts to “A Symphony of Words: A Collection of Poems”

  1. Mudita Yadav

    All the poems are worth reading and inspiring. Thanyou for this collection

  2. Anil Patel

    Good Initiative for Doctors who are busy with their patients.

  3. Vidya Viswanath

    Each one of these poems could be wonderful teaching tools ! Kudos to IAPC for putting this together and to the poets here ,” Yeh Dil Maange More “….so keep writing and sharing !

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