Twenty-Twenty

One step backwards,
Nullifies millions of steps forward;
When that dark void in the brain,
Comes out and makes a destructive chain!

When humanity becomes a privilege,
Then humans who patronise that,
Are committing a sacrilege,
And need to be called out for it,
For, they are undeserving to be called humans:

How otherwise do prejudices still become,
So strong that it leads to hate crime?
How did a black man die not naturally in peace,
But on being choked or shot by the police?
How can anyone ever consider themselves superior,
If their ideology is inferior?!

How else did a hungry pregnant elephant die when she thought,
That the food that humans gave her was the help she sought?

How otherwise was an unnatural inanimate virus,
Able to put the whole world in a chaos?
And affect the vulnerable more,
Had there been no shortcomings from the very core!

Time merely threw a light,
On something that was already happening,
But needed limelight,
As if fate said- you had it coming!

A Personal Battle

This poem is about a personal battle that like many people, I have experienced. Maybe there is nothing new about it or maybe it gives some different perspective, whatever it is, I have chosen to completely vent what I have felt and still feel.

——-—————————————————————

I wear a crown,
The one that I always want to disown,
I wear it- not on my head,
Around my waistline instead;

It’s not made of gold,
And yet many people make it look just as bold,
It grows with me,
With my insecurities at stake,
And my confidence at sea,
Was it all for core-strength sake?
Or to make me emotionally ache?

It was made with care and love,
And grew with fondness of food,
But it rusted this head above,
Imaginary conversations I brewed,
That helped me vent,
And improved my mood;

They said, ‘You have a pretty face,
But your crown is quite ugly,’
‘Oh really?’
‘Does it take up too much space?’
I asked sadly,
‘It is so visible that it makes you invisible,’
They replied laughingly;

Shaken and shattered,
So much so that till now,
Even my words couldn’t confess,
That I was a mess,
I couldn’t understand how,
I got so affected!

I got rid of it for a while,
That made my confidence come alive,
But the riddance wasn’t long-lived,
Genes and tendencies drew it back in,
Which made me reflect, is it a sin,
To not always look slim?

Fashion doesn’t get to choose if I am a friend,
Or a foe,
If it’s my life- I am the one to set my trend,
I get to choose,
How I dress myself from head to toe;

Once past that,
When I would be skilled,
With warfare,
To fight my personal battles,
With strength,
I’ll have another conversation,
Playing in my head,
Where I’ll have worn,
My crown with confidence:

“Do you have anything against me?”
Asked a long lost classmate,
“The whole world was against me,
You were just a small part, don’t fret!’
I answered mockingly.

A lockdown blogpost

Between bouts of normalcy, induced by assignments and my pending final year project, lie my thoughts as scattered and random as stars in the night sky. My thoughts have a way of smoothly segueing from one to another. Sometimes, it feels like when I was little, I enjoyed connect the dots so much that now I have a habit of doing that with my thoughts. 

And currently, somehow, all these thoughts are influenced by my feed and messages on Social media. My phone is flooded with not just information about the pandemic but relatable and humorous memes about it. It feels as if my college friends and I have a tacit policy of sending at least ten ‘Laugh out Loud’ emojis to each other per day. Instagram is full of delicious recipes and stay at home concerts from my favourite artists. And Facebook is filled with photo challenges and posts from celebrities and relatives, as if the algorithm is insisting me, ‘come, read what these people have to say about the current situation.’ Now, I feel saturated. Each time I hear, read, say or even think the word, ‘Corona,’ it agitates me!

When I was really young, I had read on the print out of some scripture in a temple that chanting the Navkar Mantra a couple of lakh times in your lifetime, can help you attain Moksha or Nirvana. I had found it quite unbelievable, so I had asked my grandmother about it. To my disappointment, she told me that the doors to Moksha are currently closed for us, humans, as this is the Kalyug. I was quite unhappy on hearing that. In these few days, the whole world has been either thinking or subconsciously chanting the word, ‘Coronavirus,’ this got me into thinking- is the salvation door of the viral world still open? Can our thoughts ring a doorbell on the door of the salvation path and help it take away from us? Can we spiritually help our quite literally, ‘Salvation Army’ of medical professionals and other workers at the frontline of battling these RNA- filled lipid monsters?

All love is an expansion and all selfishness is a contraction

Love is a multi-dimensional road that is tread by every human at some point in their life. It could be an object, a place, a person, a community, a feeling, an activity or even life itself! It is an extremely hardwired network of emotions that is quite often known to be as ambiguous and unfathomable as our universe, or wait, is it a multiverse? Another thing that love and the universe seem to have in common is the fact that they are both, ever expanding.

Very often, humans get attached to their possessions both emotionally and materialistically. They love them so much, that they don’t realise that it is going to accompany them only as long as life does or sometimes till fate makes a surprise visit. An heirloom fits right in the scheme of such things. If a lady possesses a valuable piece of jewellery that she loves so much that she keeps it in her safe but chooses to hand it down to her children, it will make her children feel so happy and affectionate that they will choose to pass it to their children with the same affection and the love will expand over generations. However, if the lady doesn’t give it to anyone and keeps it to herself, after her death, that piece of jewellery will contract to the value of nothing but an object that can be exchanged for money.

Imagine if the parents of an impoverished boy in a disturbed part of the world strives to face the challenges of life and give him education- a chance to lead a good life, that is unconditional love. And if he grows up to become a great man someday, the story of his life will spread like wildfire. This love for the child will fill an entire village with love and the spirit to emulate. Hence, love will expand from a family to an entire community.

On the other hand, if the parents decide to give away their child to an infamous mob of terrorists due to economic distress, it is an act of selfishness. And such an act would make their boy’s life contract to the fate of one, single bombshell. One of the gravest problems that the world faces today and has been facing for more than two decades is that of terrorism. And deep down, into the root causes of terrorism lies a self-centred and narrow-minded decision – A couple that was in very poor living conditions gave away their child to make their ends meet.

Commenting on such an important issue with such little light on the situations and reality might seem judgemental but in a book called It’s what I do- A photographer’s life of love and war by Lynsey Addario, a war photographer describes the local people that helped her in some of the most disturbed parts of the world. And it is evident from her extraordinary accounts that no matter what situation one is in, the affection for humanity can extend from a helping hand to a life-saving one.

Love is borne of affection and it is saddening to see a young child not being able to experience it. The only emotion that is programmed into them is that of aggression and to fight for their religion and their needs and that stirs up nothing but turmoil. Selfishness is smothered by turmoil and chaos. Selfishness is like sentencing yourself to solitary confinement with no light and ventilation, it is a step towards contraction of life itself. The situation of a young boy in a terrorist mob is very much like that of proton, extremely reactive without any company all alone in its atom of life. It is prone to being bombarded anywhere and it suffers a great deal but the company of an electron could make it bigger and a bit more stable. Why are noble gases stable? Maybe because they would rather have two electrons than one, ten electrons than nine. Maybe they know that the key to life is affectionate sharing and that to love is to grow.

Even electrons live by the rule of pair. A free radical is more reactive than a lone pair of electrons. There is immense amount of energy and chaos that encircles it. If they have their clouds to themselves, they are likely to be in a state of turmoil but if they have another one to share their clouds, it will be more stable. Who knew that even the smallest things knew the principles of coexistence, stability and expansion was born out of affection?

This is an essay that I had written for an essay competition and am posting here today, to signify that love is not just meant to be an emotion for a person that you like or choose to spend your life with.

An inquisition into a life conquered

In simple words, ”A questionnaire for people who have made it in life.”

I know these questions seem like they’ve been written by a kid but kid or not, if there was a religion called skepticism, I would be a staunch believer of it.

What is it like to live in a maze,

Where all days are gone by in haze?

What is it like to be ambitious and bold,

Whilst having humility in a layered fold?

How do you create what you create,

Without fearing it to be a duplicate?

Or just another idea from the generic crate?

Are all ideas as redundant,

As the repetition of sequences in our genome abundant?

Do you believe in the staple food of happiness?

Or see life as a buffet of emotions to harness?

Do you love to live?

Or do you live to love?

I have heard ‘Money is life,’

But ‘Is life Money?’

If relationships are fixated with money,

Are they even real?

Have you ever felt if what you have,

Is an illusion?

That maybe what you have achieved,

Is just a momentary delusion?

How did you spring back,

When you felt like you were on ‘Down in the dumps’ track?

Do you love math enough,

To deal with life’s crest, plateau, curve and trough?

Did you ever break your promise,

To never compromise?

In your experience,

Have you always relied on your conscience?

Or do ethics have only abstract existence?

Do you recognise well,

When words act like a document with seal?

While sometimes they’re not a big deal?

Do you enjoy being an egotist,

Or a wholesome conversationalist?

Can I believe what you said is what you did?

Or are you the trendsetter of fake candids?

The Blues

Chasing dreams,

Chasing heights,

Chasing away the frights;

I ran out of energy,

Ran out of ideas,

And ran for my comfort;

Always skeptical halfway through,

Should I toss it away,

Into the bin of cliché?

Or is it a rhyming breakthrough?!

Read, listen, watch,

Unlearn and unwind to unleash,

A regained perspective,

And a rekindled spirit and creativity;

‘I think I’ve lost it,’

Said insecurity,

‘That isn’t it,’

Countered an inner positivity;

Is creativity a juice that gets exhausted?

Or a wine that takes a while to get fermented?

Safe and Effective medicines for all

———-Forgive me for colloquial language and mistakes in grammar as this was a speech———

‘Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.’

About half a century ago, India enacted the Pharmacy Act which aimed at eradicating quacks, regulating the practice of Pharmacy and sowing the seeds of rational, safe and effective medicines into the Healthcare system of India.

Over the years, it developed massively, now becoming a major exporter of generic drugs, crossing an enormous figure of 60,000 brand names.

Despite the fact that it is ever growing, there is still a loophole in the system that prevents every citizen in India, access to effective medicines.

The WHO updates a list of Essential medicines keeping in mind the prevalence of diseases in the global context as well as country wise and yet as per a study of Newcastle University in 2018, essential drugs for six of the most prevalent diseases in India were not easily available at more than half of the private drug stores across Maharashtra.

A Pharmacist plays a crucial role in delivering the patients safe and effective medications for their illnesses.

The guidelines laid down by ICH and bodies alike have to be followed and hence, unless they are non-compliant the drugs from a registered  Pharmaceutical Company is both- Safe and effective. And that is where a clinical pharmacist comes into the picture. A clinical pharmacist is critical to dispensing a safe and effective medication to a patient and makes sure he/she has access to it.

And so, an example in contrast to the private sector issue in Maharashtra would be a personal one. When I was doing my internship at Apollo Hospitals, everyday at least 6-7 immaculately labelled and packed parcels were sent out to the patients from the Outpatient Pharmacy. They made sure that the remoteness of their patrons was not the reason for the lack of access to effective medicines.

Additionally, Pharmacists have a duty to monitor patients under drugs that have narrow therapeutic indexes for safety and be particular and vigilant about their stock maintenance and storage conditions to ensure that they are dispensing only effective medicines.

Imagine all that we- As Pharmaceutical Community work on and intend our research for never reaches the population that needs it. In mercurial figures of trading and prices and long tunnels of patenting and Intellectual Property rights, the Healthcare Needs fall out of context- Pushed out of focus, making the ‘care’ in the ‘healthcare’ appear a blurry subject.

‘Saving lives’ is often correlated with heroism, but that same heroism is nowhere in sight when a patient from an impoverished family needs a Life-saving drug. Perhaps, the Government needs to fund that heroism. Which I believe they have initiated two months ago. 

Dr. Margaret Chan, the then Director-General of the WHO in 2010 emphasised on the role a government can play to improve the access to medicines.

Government procurement practices, regulation on cost of medications as well as procurement policies for life-saving drugs can be extremely helpful. Especially, in a developing country like ours, as affordability and accessibility mean the same for the majority of the population.

She also addressed the issue that the accessibility is influenced by market forces, patents and competition for prices amongst companies which might lead to lack of accessibility and malpractices. And Malpractices in this context would not only mean a gap in the ethical and moral values linked to the profession but also putting several lives at stake.

It was once said that, ‘Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability,’ but I choose to believe that for accessibility of medicines, the probability of uncertainty can shift to negligible if a suitable framework and procurement system is employed.

Before independence, access to effective allopathic medicines for Indians was improbable, we were victims of Colonialism but now, as future healthcare providers and government policy drafters, I’d say that one should not let the patients become victims of corruption and malpractices, especially in matters of health. As the patient is relying on the healthcare professionals with a blindfold and is in for only one kind of surprise- Cure.

Lastly, I would like to end on a lighter note. If my bad genes do not ask me before expressing themselves; if my attacked immunity doesn’t bother if I have monetary resources for its reinforcements then neither should the healthcare system.

Thank You!

 

Solitude

When I was younger, I was often asked this question, “do you have any siblings?”

“No.” And I’d be replied, “oh, you’re so lucky!” As I grew up the question remained the same but the response I got changed to: “oh you must be feeling lonely, right?” And I am surprised how the remark actually influenced me into thinking that I am a loner. Which made me reflect that, that is not how it should be and that this is my life and there’s nothing I can do about it, so I should be happy with what I have and not unhappy because of what people think.

This poem is my dilemma on how I got into a fix between the two responses to the same question!

———————-X——————X——————

I wandered off with a foe,

To a place that I would never choose to go,

And returned with the trust of an ally,

The one that no one notices, pass by;

Each time I shake its hand,

Sixty seconds further I land,

From the parading darkness of my fear,

Into the wee hours of joy, with its gear;

Its shorter arm embraces me,

With an endearing smile,

That I always failed to see,

Warm me for hours from emotions that I let pile;

For, time heals,

The wounded peels,

Unwound from infinitely looped reels,

Of the unforgettable feels;

Growing into an emotional self,

Maturing at rest,

Leaving the social realm,

Childlike at best;

Whilst being a host,

To the creeping weeds of my laziness,

Through which I make the most,

Of my creativity from a mess;

Friends from far and near,

That meet me more often in a chat,

Saying, “We’re always there for you, dear!”

It wasn’t a room but a chat room in which I sat,

Tumbling came sorrow and broke into more than one tear,

And my words cried, That’s enough, I’ll take it from here!”

I can’t figure out,

Has it been a boon or a ban?

Or a superpower throughout,

This whole time span?

———————-X—————X———————

So now, if you ask me if I have siblings, “No, I don’t.”

“Do you feel lonely?” – “Sometimes yes, but who doesn’t?”

“Are you sad that you don’t have one?” -“Definitely not, I love the attention!”

“Do you wish you had one?”

– “Not really, but I would say that if I did have one, my social skills would have been better!”

P.S.: Social skills, not social media skills because apparently our generation is born into it. So, social media skills isn’t something you acquire, it’s something you are born into! It’s like we’re all Connectivity Aristocrats! XD

Doses of Self-love

One thing that the new age social media motivational influencers are promoting is the need for Self-love.

‘Accept yourself for who you are,’ -Touché, but you do know that you need to sometimes change for good, right?

‘You are beautiful,’ – Well, obviously!

‘It’s not your fault, it was theirs, they’re not worth it,’ – Do you even know the context?

‘You are your best friend,’ – I am glad!

‘No one is flawless, embrace your flaws!’ – What flaws are you referring to? If they are related to physical appearance, then yes, I agree.

‘You don’t need anyone else,’

-Okay, Stop! Really?

‘You don’t need anyone else?’

‘You come alone, you go alone.’ -Well, agreed but what about all that comes in between, I thought it is called life, and that humans are social animals. To be honest I think it is unsolicited advice. With these loosely defined advices, won’t people drown in self-love and displace understanding, value of authenticity, humility, genuineness, compromise, endurance, patience, cooperation and consideration for others out of their social value pool?

I believe there is a dire need to define Self-love. A way to actually understand who needs it and in what proportion. I feel as if there should be some established limits defined to it as if though they are prescribed as per Pharmacopoeial standards. Well, for those who don’t know what a Pharmacopoeia is, it is the bible of the Pharmaceutical community. One has to abide by its guidelines and limits. A well written Monograph (profile of a drug with its standards to prepare and check for purity, efficacy and authenticity) of self-love would make the use of it quite convenient, wouldn’t it?

The limits would be stated something like: ‘Not less than quantity sufficient of self-esteem and not more than adequate amount of self-respect.’

It’s kind of amusing to think like that, but just imagine a dose indication for self-love:

Very low doses for individuals prone to overthinking about their appearances on a regular basis

Low doses for under confident, anxiety prone and low self-esteem individuals.

Mid-limit doses for situationally depressed and or self-deprecating individuals

High doses for individuals suffering from long term clinical depression and disillusioned individuals

A fairly high dose for individuals suffering from self-destructive, self-mutilating behaviour and anorexic individuals

Use: To restore self-respect and self-confidence.

Warning: Overdose may lead to Self-obsession, self-centred and self-absorbed behaviour

Toxicity may include brazen and abnormal* behaviours.

*Abnormal behaviours may include

-Talking about themselves all the time (gives them false impression of having a conversation but really it is just a long monologue!)

-Looking in the mirror for times more than usual or normal (includes looking at themselves in the selfie camera)

-Comparing themselves to others and always conclude with them being superior for each and every other thing

-Being inconsiderate of the various people around them

-Trying to gain self-importance at every opportunity they get

Contraindications: Not to be taken for fun, or in extremely emotionally vulnerable individuals through the Internet as it can lead to misinterpretation and undue toxicity.

Directions for use: To be taken as prescribed by a sane well wisher and in extreme cases only as per the instructions of a clinical psychologist and or registered psychiatrist.

I know what you might be thinking, we all are to some extent self-centred, aren’t we? Yes of course, we live our lives so automatically our life is going to be surrounded by well, thoughts and comparisons of ourselves. But most of us know moderation and a lot of us know that self-love is doing something you love to do, doing something that makes you happy and confident and occasionally reaffirming yourself about your capabilities and that’s about it!

There are thousands of quotes, snippets and microtales related to Self-love on the web. It is to a point that I have actually begun antagonising people who keep on promoting self-love without explaining what it is and how it actually works. However, the only one I find fitting is: ‘Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend in conflict.’ Now, that is good advice! I mean it tells you when to be used and in what amount. Of course you won’t go overboard with helping or even just the idea your friend, or you would come off as a stalker and a creepy person! I’m pretty sure being self-obsessed is the equivalent of being creepy: staring at yourself relentlessly, (imagine if it was someone else doing that), isn’t it creepy? And if you be ignorant, then well, you’re not a good friend! So I think it’s best to be a good friend and companion to yourself, always!

DIFFIDENCE

Last semester, I had to complete a course that involved behavioural studies and I was nothing but underwhelmed by the fact that we were going to use animals to study the effect of drugs. The whole semester went by with me throwing tantrums to not like it and I had never thought that it could teach me anything. But it did. And I’m very surprised how the study of anxiolytics (drugs used to treat anxiety) on animal model made me realise something about myself. There was an experiment which demonstrated that a mouse with anxiety and or depression just sat in a dark place thinking it was incapable of doing the simplest things. I feel like I am that mouse. For the first time, I think that the experiment was crafted with some insight. As inhumane as I think it still is to do these experiments, I respect it to have taught me something.

Recently, I was told that my brevity,

Had a certain gravity;

I have always been shy and timid,

But afraid to the extent to never have admitted it;

For every time I greeted with a smile,

I forgot there were words for that,

And let my shyness pile;

For every compliment that was left unsaid,

My diffident self was fed,

With that I felt constipated,

Always making someone feel,

That they over- anticipated;

I feel apologetic,

I am truly sorry;

For every simple practical task,

That I was resistant to do,

My parents thought that they were unsuccessful through,

And regretted because they knew it wasn’t too much to ask;

For every time I tried to approach,

And felt that I was there only to encroach,

I drown myself in more self-doubt than ever,

That I would deplore my words forever;

Who knew that the calm me,

Could have an internal turbulence,

Making me incapable to see,

That I had a big Ohm,

Only for someone to come to me with prudence,

And tell me that instead I needed an Om;

I didn’t realise the way to build a warmer self,

Was by going out in the cold world.