Temptation

Then

December 7, 2004

It’s three in the afternoon,
full stomach,
shaded, cool bedroom,

the soft teddy bears call,
the bed looks inviting— 
It’s siesta time, after all

Cool pillow to lay my head,
the gentle whirr of the fan— 
Oh, to snuggle up in bed!

Across the room, a stark reminder— 
my cluttered table— 
of exams round the corner

The fingers bleed from paper cuts,
from sifting through notes
stuck in that student’s rut …

of inky hands, notes awry,
and books piled
precariously high

As sleep with sweet dreams tries to lure,
my wake-up call
is my Lehninger crashing to the floor

Wearily, I try to study,
to stay awake
and make my dreams a reality!

Now

December 17, 2014

In the lab close to midnight,
the lack of sleep
is blurring my sight

One more wash to go
to develop my blot— 
ten minutes more

I’ve stayed so late
to know this result
Nervously, I wait

The film emerges— 
a failed experiment!
My heart submerges

Around every corner, failure lurks,
but our tenacity tells us,
“Next time, it will work!”

Indeed there is still hope and joy,
for the other has repeated (thrice!)
and serves as my heart’s buoy

We’ve uncovered another piece
of Nature’s puzzle,
so tonight I sleep in peace

Research may seem
a nightmare,
but I’m living my dream.

Najla Arshad graduated from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India. She is a postdoc at Yale University School of Medicine. Photos courtesy of Arshad.