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Medical mask vectors by Vecteezy.
A Hiding Heart
There’s a compassion wall—a barrier created by the extra precautions COVID-19 requires. Harvard Graduate School of Education student Niharika Sanyal reflects on the pain of the provider, the patient, and the loved ones across the world struck by the pandemic.

Context for this poem

I wrote this poem after reading this heart-breaking piece in the New York Times written by a doctor, about how visitors are not allowed in ICU and this leaves patients in isolation and doctors unable to convey the emotional support they wish they could. I heard about how hard it is for medical workers to cry because they can’t wipe their tears behind PPE. I felt the medical worker’s pain, the patient’s pain, the loved one’s pain. And in all of this, my deep gratitude. To all the medical workers everywhere, thank you. To all those on the front lines, thank you. To all the patients and their friends and family who are suffering at this time, you are in my prayers and my heart every day. This poem came through me in a rush and is offered to you all humbly from far away here in India. 

A Hiding Heart

By Niharika Sanyal

This is all too sudden, this is all too much.
Half-spoken goodbyes, not expected to arrive
and long hours behind masks—plastic, cloth face,
all too used to the smell, the checks, the stale breath.

My tongue can’t speak behind this mask their true words
but my hands can try what they know of craftsmanship—
my hands they move with urgency, love—
I wish I could show you a hiding heart behind my mask
that wants nothing more than to embrace you—

Maybe every time an embrace is lost,
a star explodes somewhere in the universe.
But my hands, though they cannot smile or talk,
and my eyes behind foggy breath
seem cold and rushed, I want you to know:

I think of you,
I pray for you,
I offer my gift to you.

About Niharika Sanyal

Niharika Sanyal enjoys waking up to a dream diary and a cup of hot chai, and most of her day goes in some form of listening, writing or story-sharing. Her work in the world is to empower people to discover their authentic purpose and live that out into the world. Based in India, she is an M.Ed student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a certified Purpose Guide™ and a student of human development and psychology.

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