Art: Puberty by Edvard Munch, 1894



that was treatment
those hands crawling on your body
the poison injected
as you are stripped
dragged along the corridor,
the faint smell of formaldehyde
and phenyl


that was treatment
the laughing of nurses
the condescension of doctors
the asking of the same questions
until you utter the words they want to hear


that was treatment
that was treatment
that was treatment


in a hospital with walled windows
in a hospital with more guards
than doctors
that was treatment


the waking up
to odours of stale food
the laughter of guards
the ringing of their cellphones
in your cell
that was treatment


befriending of rajan, tour guide from ajmer
who spoke of love, loss and longing,
drooling, his feet in shackles,
his eyes telling me a hundred stories
that was treatment


taking a mother from her sons,
that was treatment


and when they strip every last bit of human dignity
along with your clothes, the skin on your bones,
the laughter in your eyes, and the sun upon your tongue
they walk with their heads held high
they are doctors, you see
treatment is the name of the game
and that was treatment


–© Jhilmil Breckenridge, October 10, 2016

Jhilmil is a poet, writer and activist who was incarcerated twice in India, in 2007 and 2012.


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