Hyderabad and I have a strange relationship, mediated by two very different and equally important parts of my life. It is the city where I won my first literary award, before I had published a single poem, and the city where I have returned full circle with an award for my first book. It has also been the city of 4 eye surgeries (and counting), the city where donated organs are easier to come by, the city with the only doctor I fully trust.
At the hospital for a check-up yesterday, before random loitering around the city and heading to the festival inauguration, I gifted a copy of my book to my surgeon, telling him that the poem about corneal transplants is, in some ways, for him (he did the third and fourth and will do the fifth and sixth). He was moved, and he asked me if I minded writing about my experiences of corneal surgery so he can share the same with patients who are afraid of its implications for their quality of life. I promised to do so, and I also made another resolve that I’d love for you all to hold me to: to start writing more about my experiences around chronic illness in general. I was struck yesterday by my own familiarity with hospital ophthalmology departments, with the parts of the process i know to roll my eyes through, with the parts i know to brace for, which machine to walk towards for a topography test, how not to wince at the burst of air in my eye for the pressure test, how not to be intimidated by the machine with tentacles — so many random little moments that have made up my life.
Let’s see if Hyderabad 2016 manages to bring together my literary life with my medical life: I’d be curious to see what emerges from that marriage.