Bhagawhandi P. was an Indian girl
whose brain a malignant tumour’d swirl.
Admitted to hospice in seventy-eight
the time-bomb ticking ‘it’s getting late’.
At nineteen she’d lived her life to the full
cheerful resisting (a bright girl) the pull
of seizures becoming more frequent and stranger
a dreamy state, to her not a danger.
Going from vague to concrete visions,
a passage to India and an admission
free from them both, medication and rain,
back to her loved ones and fields so plain.
She does not believe in time as decaying,
dances down sweet hills, forever surveying,
as nurses their hands on her forehead place,
how nature her moves in mysterious ways.
It’s no dream-madness but phantasms, all
clear memories turning of spring and of fall.
Not charged with passion or driving her mad
but paintings, tone poems, happy and sad.
As if in a trance, eyes open, unseeing,
her faint, mysterious smile not fleeing.
Just once Sacks asked his Bhagawhandi
‘What is happening please can you not tell me?’
‘I am dying, dear Doctor’ the answer came
‘Or call it returning, it is all the same’.
Another week and she did not respond
to external stimuli or to the fond
remarks from staff, and then she died
or as they called it, ‘at last arrived’.
They wonder now and one asked a friend
‘Does dying mean being born again?’
I provide no answer, just a feeling detect
that I neither wish to indulge nor reject.
Instead I tell you now I am done with this ballad
and will go down to compose me a salad.