Daniel Trevelyn Joseph

Rookie - 2 Points (21 December 1945 / Mumbai, India)

Iridotomy - Poem by Daniel Trevelyn Joseph

Can you squeeze out a poem from an event?

I did my check-ups for diabetes, since
Both fasting and postprandial were way above
Hovering between 250 and 280 after just two idlis
It was G L who gave me an entry into hospital of his name
Which I thought was a Specialty Hospital for diabetes:
When I went in, I realized it was general hospital with
Spacious places, courteous and helpful staff,
A rarity in any Mumbai hospital, public or private!

[While attempting to write this piece
I am so happy (unutterably happy was the word
That floated up from my subconscious self,
But I realized I am uttering it in a poem!
Or, can one hold that by merely scribbling verse
The uttering has been accomplished? Not sure.)
Moving on the Expressway from Pune to Mumbai
Surrounded by these innumerable hills
With their different shapes, sizes, colors, edges
All connected by the bending blue sky above,
My heart is full with beauty of hills, and freedom
To enjoy such sights, interspersed with green.]

As usual with doctors, one test led to another,
And the ophthalmic surgeon referred me
To glaucoma expert, who did some tests
Checked politely whether I could do more tests
In her private clinic at Chembur. I did so,
And paid her, and listened to her advice.
Back in the hospital for further consultation,
The ophthalmic was not happy, felt pressure
On my eyes is moving dangerously close
To bring about irreversible blindness in course;
Spoke of referring me to Shankar Netralaya Chennai
Or one Professor of his, or to his own wife,
Another glaucoma expert. I chose his wife,
Met her at Matunga, she tested and probed
With gonioscopy for narrow angles, called me
For laser surgery on both my eyes same day
Since pressure was on borderline on right eye,
And well above at 24 – 25 on the left eye.

I told my wife hesitantly, for even I thought
The surgery is done on one eye first…
As expected, wife was upset and irritated
But held it to herself for a few days,
Except saying that doctors prescribe tests
And operations even if not necessary.
I requested her whether she could come
And be with me on the day after vernal equinox:
She said ok, but let us check with Muthu her
Relative, and senior eye-surgeon in Chennai.
I said ‘yes, why not? ’ But knew it was not practical
Without going there. Don’t even know whether
He is on to glaucoma, remembering how one doctor
Ticked off the names I mentioned as not for glaucoma.

On the due day, she sweetly and quietly came
And sat next to me while drops constricted my pupils,
Was reading magazines, and posters on notice board;
When doctor came flashing a torch, I introduced her;
Though school-girlish, the doc is nearing forty.

Later the laser machine came in two portable bags,
Was set up, and I was called in,
In less than 10 minutes, surgery was over.
Minutes later, doctor called in both of us,
And explained, on my specific enquiry,
With pictures and models, what she has done,
It was iridotomy. She then gave Ocupol – D
Drops to be put 4 times for 15 days.

Took the fee in cash, and gave receipt,
Has called me back on 2nd April since
I said I am away after 3rd to Chennai.
My wife asked her a few vital questions
To which she replied confidently, clearly
That I wont get glaucoma, it is now prevented.
I did not believe that, the risk of glaucoma
Perhaps reduced, but not removed:
But didn’t say it for fear of usual accusation
Of being pessimistic, negative etc, etc.
As we left, the doctor called out,
“Your eyes will be sticky for a few hours
But you can do everything normal,
Absolutely no restrictions”, thus putting me
And my wife further at ease.

Like, or unlike, Tennyson on Sordello
By Robert Browning, you might genuinely wonder,
“I got the story of your medical event,
But where is the poetry? ” I’d reply that it flowed out
Through the holes the young doctor burnt
Into the black iris of my eyes!

Ask Iris,
The Rainbow and Messenger of the Gods,
To reveal the immortal paradox of raining
Tears with the sunshine of laughter, to show
Why only sometimes the bow appears on the sky
Or a poem gets written on some, not all, events.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 2, 2008

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