Sara Pahari

The author is currently pursuing Bachelor' degree in Journalism.

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Published On: May 5, 2023 10:52 PM NPT By: Sara Pahari

Cutting Words: A Surgeon's Poetic Journey

Cutting Words: A Surgeon's Poetic Journey

A poet by passion and a surgeon by profession, Dr Roka has penned eight volumes of collection of poems that challenge readers to confront the duality of life

Dr Yam Bahadur Roka, a prominent neurosurgeon and an accomplished medical professional, has published a collection of poems titled '108 Poems'. Dr Roka has an extensive list of achievements, including serving as the President Elect of the Nepalese Society of Neurosurgeons, Chairman of the Neurovascular Chapter of the same society, and past Senior Vice President of Koshi Nepal Medical Association. He is also a member of several renowned medical associations such as the American Neurosurgeon Association, Congress of Neurosurgeons, Indian Neuro Society, World Stroke Organization, Epilepsy Society, and Trauma Associations. Dr Roka's poetry reflects a range of emotions and showcases his artistic side, demonstrating that he is not just an accomplished surgeon but also a talented writer.

He has published eight volumes of books, each containing 108 poems. He published volumes 1 and 2 a few years back and now he has published volumes 3 to 8 all at once. And with publishing these volumes, he has announced that he will publish two more volumes of '108 POEMS' in the coming days.

Why Number 108?

There are many significant reasons why the poet has chosen this particular number. 108 is a holy number in science and religion both. The distance between the Earth and Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Sun whereas the distance between Earth and moon is 108 times the diameter of the moon, and the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth.

In Hinduism, there are 108 beads in the Mala( the string of Rosary), 108 types of meditation, 108 religious texts or the Upanishads. 

The poet has given other significances of the number 108. 108 in Islam refers to God and means “the first born” in Christianity.

With this in mind, poet Roka has published 8 collections of 108 poems. Here, some of my favorites namely ‘I was both’, ‘Vapors’, ‘Politics’, ‘Overcoming guilt’ and ‘Relieve me’ are reviewed. 

I Was Both

Dark was the time, deep I had drowned,

In the mysterious mythical realms, I owned,

Lost in the ages, this traveler all alone in a hole, 

I was both the king and the poor man’s soul.


Within the depths of darkness, I try to gleam,

A candle or a flicker that fights the emotional storm,

Within each page are the painful stains robbing happiness, 

I was both the poet and reader trying to hide tears.


Against the mighty Himalayas my shadow was invisible, 

A soul or lover it mattered not to the conifer forests,

Inside each stream and cliff an echo murmured sadness,

I was both the mountain and the pebble searching for hope.


"I Was Both" is a poem that captures the essence of duality and the struggle that comes with it. The poem begins with a powerful opening that immediately sets the tone for the rest of the writing. The poet is in a dark place and feels lost, yet he also possesses a sense of ownership over the current circumstances, which is conveyed through the line "In the mysterious mythical realms, I owned". This line hints at the idea that the poet may have some control over their circumstances, despite feeling overwhelmed.

The second stanza continues to build upon the themes of duality and struggle, as the poet describes his attempt of finding hope amidst the darkness. The line "I was both the poet and reader trying to hide tears" is particularly poignant, as it suggests that the poet is both the creator and the audience of his own sufferings.

The third stanza is also striking, as the poet describes himself as both the mighty Himalayas and the insignificant pebble. This contrast is a powerful reminder of the significance of the universe and the relative insignificance of human existence. The image of the conifer forests and the echo murmuring sadness adds to the overall sense of isolation.

Overall, "I Was Both" is a well-crafted poem that effectively explores the themes of duality where a person might find himself tangled between multiple roles in life. The author's use of vivid imagery and metaphor helps to bring the emotions and experiences of the poet to life. The poem is a great read for those who find reflective poetry fascinating.


Misty and pale, 

White and ark,

Floating or blowing,

Bending or even twisting,

They pour from the warmth,

Seeking the cold happiness,

The vapors try forming, 

An image yet unseen.


The heat burns,

The coolness breathes,

As the liquid gasps,

Holding memories that fly,

Passion or depression,

Lust or disgust,

A winner or a loser,

Like vapors are temporary.


The poem "Vapors" captures the ephemeral nature of vapor which is an instant, temporary and disappears within a fraction of time. The imagery of misty and pale, white and dark vapors floating, bending, and twisting creates a sense of movement.

The lines "They pour from the warmth, seeking the cold happiness" evoke a sense of seeking and searching, as if the vapors are seeking something beyond them and trying to reach out somewhere they do not adapt or belong to. The line "An image yet unseen" suggests that the vapors look like they are forming something like an image, an object but it is not yet clear what that might be.

The contrast between heat and coolness, and the idea of liquid gasping, adds a visceral quality to the poem. The references to passion, depression, lust, and disgust suggest that the vapors carry within them a range of emotions and experiences.

The final lines, "A winner or a loser, like vapors are temporary," emphasize the fleeting nature of life itself. Life is all about winning sometimes and losing sometimes, we aren’t completely entitled to something because everything gradually changes. There is day after night and sunshine after rain, nothing lasts forever and this is the reality of life. Overall, "Vapors" is a well-crafted poem that uses vivid imagery and evocative language to explore themes of transformation, impermanence, and the search for meaning.


A friend becomes a foe, 

The unknown is benefactor,

The trusted a reaper of votes,

The devoted divided by money,

The illiterate bought over drinks,

The rich played with estate power,

Family fights for ideology supremacy, 

The street fill to support propaganda,

Empty homes and heart cry for agendas,

Nothing seems wise or evil in politics.


The soul and land divided by borders,

A planet aggregated by colors and income,

The skies race for the further planets or sun, 

The water dived for resources and even gold,

The oil sold like water and as the thirst boils,

Rulers dream of pompous cars and breaking news,

History and facts concealed to make or erase God,

Sell bullets and peace keepers to continue wars,

To trade or buy humans was taken to the grave,

Everything is remembered and forgotten in politics. 

The poem "Politics" presents a critical view of the political world, where friendships are broken, trust is betrayed, families are divided, and ideals are compromised for personal gain. The poem also highlights the destructive effects of the pursuit of wealth, power and status.

While the poem is good at conveying its message, there are also areas where it could be improved. First of all, the poet uses a straightforward language in the poem which seems to lack poetic imagery, making it read more like a list of complaints rather than a poem. Adding some metaphors could make the poem more engaging.

Secondly, the poem's structure is somewhat disjointed as it jumps from one idea to another without much transition, making it feel fragmented. Reorganizing the poem's structure and developing a clear central theme could help to give the poem more coherence and impact.

Lastly, the tone of the poem is overwhelmingly negative and pessimistic, without any hints of optimism or hope. While it's important to acknowledge the flaws and shortcomings of the political world, presenting a completely hopeless and desolate picture can be discouraging and demotivating. The tone of a poem greatly influences a reader’s outlook.

In conclusion, the poem "Politics" raises some valid points about the dark side of politics, but it could benefit from more poetic language, and a more balanced tone. By revising and refining the poem, it could become a powerful commentary on the state of modern politics.

Overcoming guilt

Wrong was the word and the eyes when they spoke,

The face which read messages that never meant to be,

In actions which deferred fate the touch was intentional,

This feeling seems universal to last even when international.


Why did it happen and whose plan did one follow today?

As emotions ruin the mind of the thoughts that forbid,

The body gets closer knowing magnetism isn’t the reason,

This soul creeps silently to fill dreams teaching treason.


Pages torn and memories deleted to ensure safe future,

A frame broken and mirror avoided to pass tears unsure,

Why, when, what, which whom, is known yet heart refuses,

Overcoming guilt, love is soaked, buried, with denial douses. 


The poem has a contemplative and introspective tone that captures the feeling of guilt effectively. The use of imagery is good, particularly the lines "Pages torn and memories deleted to ensure safe future" and "A frame broken and mirror avoided to pass tears unsure." They evoke a sense of emotional pain and self-doubt that can come with guilt.

However, some parts of the poem are a bit unclear and could be improved. For example, the line "This feeling seems universal to last even when international" is a bit vague and doesn't add much to the overall meaning of the poem. Also, the use of words like "treason" and "magnetism" may not fit smoothly with the poem's overall theme.

My suggestion would be to revise the poem, focusing on refining the imagery and making the meaning clearer using more concrete words and phrases that directly relate to the experience of guilt. Additionally, the poem could be made more coherent by organizing the stanzas more effectively.


Relieve me

It is me to suffer pain with nothing to gain,

Everything said and done is evil,

All I do is unworthy, foolish and seen selfish,

Me and myself is all the world about,

What and whom to live or die for is a doubt.


My feelings and tears are washed like a rain, 

Talk and thoughts are all like shame, 

Night passes without dawn in this endless walk,

No horizon to make a wish or dream true, 

No living to live for, take me and relieve me again.


"Relieve Me" is a very emotional and introspective piece that captures the pain and despair of someone who feels trapped in a world of suffering and self-doubt.

The poem expresses a deep sense of despair and hopelessness. The use of repetition in the opening lines effectively emphasizes the feeling of being stuck in a never-ending cycle of pain and negativity. The imagery of tears being washed away like rain is poignant, as is the metaphor of the night passing without dawn, which adds to the sense of a lack of hope or direction.

While the poem effectively conveys a sense of hopelessness, it could benefit from a more varied use of language and imagery to help engage the reader's senses and emotions. Also, the lines within the poem feel disconnected from each other and lacking a cohesive flow.

That being said, there are some powerful lines in the poem, such as "My feelings and tears are washed like rain" and "No horizon to make a wish or dream true". These lines effectively convey the speaker's sense of despair and hopelessness.

Lastly, the poet could explore some possibilities for finding relief or light at the end of the tunnel, whether it be through seeking support from others, finding a new passion or purpose, or simply taking small steps towards self-care and self-compassion.

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