A brief interlude with Sayantani DasGupta, whose eloquent lyricism draws me in.
In her short piece, “The Doctor’s Wife,” published in the Hastings Center Report in 2007, she describes the weight of patient narrative, the ways in which such stories weave their way into her life with her oncologist husband and the physical imprint they leave on his body.
“My husband brings his work home,” this piece begins.
“Had he been a butcher, it might have been a prime cut of steak; a mason, a block of limestone. The newspaper reporter brings home fingers covered in ink, and the fishmonger, the smell of the sea But my husband is an oncologist, so he brings home the dead and dying.” (Sayantani DasGupta, “The Doctor’s Wife,” Hastings Center Report, Vol. 37, No. 2 (2007): 7)
The stories of these patients haunt family life, crowding the marital bed. But they overflow even these spaces, their bulk, weight, mass, and volume shaping even the physician’s body:
“My husband is not yet forty, but he is bowed over like an old man from all the bodies on his back. He carries his patients’ stories with him like comrades who have fallen in the field, unable to put them to rest. He mulls and worries about even the ones who make it, cherishing their cards and gifts the way I cherish our children’s finger paintings, their construction paper artwork.” (7-8)
Lots more of her work to read and to savour. I’ll keep you posted.