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October 2016, vol 12 no 3

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Shobhana Kumar


Even death seems to pause before it enters the destitute ward. A miasma hovers around the patients, their clothes, beds and even on their faces. You can’t put a finger to it: it is not the smell of the streets. Neither is it the odour from their wounds. It feels like a heavy cloud, dragging every happy emotion as it passes from one patient to another.

milestone birthday
the lone cry
of a pigeon

Despite the pall of gloom, there is laughter on bed No. 10. She has been here for eight months now and nothing has made her cry. Not even the pain of 20 broken bones or the gaping flesh. She waits just for one moment: when she sees you everyday.

There is no hope, the doctors tell us.

remembrance day –
waiting all night
for a shooting star