Kalyani, the protagonist, is struggling with a diagnosis of mental disorder . Her brother Harshit who is a psychiatrist, and her husband Vivek would like her to take medicines. She does not think medicines are a solution for what ails her. Her son Adi has helped her avoid being forcibly medicated, in a crisis, but now he is away for a while, and she has returned home in resignation.
How does Kalyani deal with this situation which is a culmination of what she is, as a person?
How does she find a way out of the maze that is her mind?
Should I re start the sessions with the psychiatrist because I need my family? Is there a medicine for loneliness? For failure?
I miss Munna Chacha. He would look at us, me and Harshit, compassionately, when we showed off our excellent annual school reports. In the event of success, his ridicule could be counted upon. Success does not teach you anything, he would say. He would have been proud of me today. My list of failures is more than respectable now.
But he is not around- and I am confused. Failure does make me look at things harder, dig deeper as it were. But all this digging is just bringing up piles of filth. And I seem to be going down into the hole that I am digging. Maybe I shall come up on the other side of the earth, in some miraculous way, and I will see the light that I seek. Or maybe I shall learn to be part of the darkness.
I miss Adi. He will not be back as planned. I am now counting on the expiration of his three month Visa to bring him home. Provided his office is not able to work out an extension. He worries about me- and there is reason. Everytime I call him in distress, he is shaken. I don't want to disturb him- it makes me feel awful. But when I need someone as much as I do right now, it is not possible to manage things on my own. I know that not calling him is like trying to deal with a can of worms that has opened up. And this can has a capacity to produce so many worms, they can consume me. I don't know how it helps to talk to Adi- but it does. From my experience of sharing Amma's life, I have never wanted to load Adi with my troubles. I want things between me and him to be different. Because I know how much I hated being part of my mother's difficulties in life. But then, maybe Amma also was as desperate as I have been in the last few years. Will Adi feel about me the way I do about her?
I miss Papa. He is there, and yet not there really. Not for me. Not in the way he used to be. Maybe he is too old to see- like Harshit says. But I cannot accept Harshit's way – he gives up on everything even before trying.
Papa has had many heart attacks, and he has not just survived, he lives well. I want him to see what Harshit is doing, and how it is damaging, and to stop him. Papa seems to accept the diagnosis given by someone who has cut me off for years.
When Papa had his heart attack, he took the decisions about his treatment with the doctors. So long as he could speak, we listened, and did for him what he decided. But when I was in Bangalore with Adi, Papa was talking about my treatment to everyone but me. Would he ever let me take charge of his life, the way he handed over responsibility for me to Adi?
It is humiliating to be thus over ridden and over ruled. I am still taking the decisions, but it is like swimming with my hands and feet bound.
I love my family.
But they think I am a problem.
They find it difficult to deal with me- so do I. That is a fact, which I try to keep to myself. It does not help to state the obvious.
Harshit uses this horrible phrase, almost as soon as I reach out to him.“I feel threatened”, he says.
Oh brother! I feel threatened too. That is not going to change. Siblings are like that, a threat to each other. For that matter, any close relationship is like that.
A close bind can become a grip- a killing one. Suddenly.
Vivek feels cramped, obstructed by my very presence. And he is quick to point out that if Adi were living with us, he would feel the same way. I don’t doubt that, and I don’t doubt that Adi and I would deal better with whatever we felt. Because we are willing to deal with it.
Harshit is keen that I have some professional help. Vivek likes the idea- someone, anyone to listen to his wife's complaints. But do I want to complain? I am sure I don't.
Dr Amber, the current professional psychiatrist in my life, knows how much I hated those journals he asked me to write- for confirming the diagnosis of mood disorder.
I thought it was a good idea- maybe if I put away my sorrows there- they would not clutter the rest of my life. I wrote - religiously. I think I had a secret hope that Vivek would read them too. But we never got to the step where we could discuss issues with Dr Amber. As luck would have it, I had found a busy doctor.
I felt crazy - writing stuff that made me mad when it happened, and then reading it again and again and feeling worse because no one was addressing anything really. It was just more work for the same results at best.
No, I definitely don't want to complain any more. I would rather not even think of what is wrong. But that is not in my control.
I try to distract myself with some activity. But doing things drives me crazy. I get too involved in them. I want them to turn out just right- perfect. And no one loves perfectionists. How did I manage earlier? I was always one- but being called one was not an insult, the way it seems now. I feel sad. Hurt. Unbearably so.
What was my strength? What made me go and get things done? Whatever it was, it is not working any more. I think there is something here that I am not able to put my finger on.
The strengths of a person work in his favor. And then one day they don't. It is like a cow that has been milked too long. It starts to bleed. It cannot deliver any more. But I am not just a physical being, who has reached middle age, and must now die. Now I don't mean physical death at all, but you know, the general advice about letting go, being satisfied, detached from life, I have already said, it makes me feel like I am waiting for death. And I have also acknowledged the inability to bear the consequences of the drive of action.
It would be nice to be able to talk about this to someone. But it is so difficult to find people who can deal with honest probings about life. I did expect Harshit to be able to. It is difficult to talk about one's life to someone who has never known you- not because I am not able to be honest and forthcoming. But it takes so much time.
Even Papa and Amma do not have that kind of time. Adi is at least quick on the uptake, has a keen mind, and offers excellent triggers. But he gets rattled.
Vivek is the only person I know, who has the strength of mind to be with a drift. And we could do that when we were friends . Bad idea- getting married to a friend. Basically I am beginning to have doubts about marriage – there is so much ritual attached to it. Takes away completely from the idea of togetherness.
My best bet at the loneliest times has been my lap top- a constant companion. Anytime of the day or night, I can count on it to be there, ready. Sounds terrible, but the broadband has been a miracle. I sometimes think that Vivek and I would be better off communicating on the net.
I can actually talk in cyberspace- about my self. At length, or briefly. There is less pressure. For one, I don't need to lie, and there is no necessity of an immediate response. Or a worry about the consequence for others. All that one needs if one has had enough in anyway is to sign off.
I need to be able to express myself about the others in my life- what would “I” be without the others? So it's a relief to talk about them - exactly as I feel at that moment. They have been the reasons for my being. I don't need to worry about presenting my family in one particular way. I can talk about them as they have been for me, not like they would like to be presented, or what they wish to be.
They mattered. They mattered a lot-in good ways and in bad.
As they joined me, I grew. With every departure I was reduced.
I like to see them as contributors to a constant reshaping and learning in my life. In cyberspace they are just virtual snapshots on my virtual coffeetable.
There are happy pictures and there are reminders of hurt and distress which come back with an intensity that does not reduce.
Were I to remove every potential reminder of pain, there would be nothing left. Not even myself. Have I not been the sharpest knife in my guts?
But what was it that made me twist that knife so? Maybe the pictures will tell me. What can make me stop? Or is there a pattern that I must accept as the blueprint of my life?
I am growing old- and the pile of snapshots on my coffeetable has grown big.When I look for one, the others just slide off. I get anxious- if there is a short cut that I could take, it would save me- time?
But that is the precondition for anyone willing to be with me on this journey of sharing- there is no deadline. No guarantee of a destination. No promises. I don't know what will happen to me or to the others.
This is me- adrift.
For the story before and after, please visit the blog, and do, do give your feedback. Every comment has helped the re writing- and I have done a lot of it.