Help wanted

foggy

Ma, lock the door of your room from inside every day when you sleep. Please, ma, don’t argue. Do it. I don’t want to hurt you, ma.

A summer morning, when ma woke up, she found a crowd in her small house. Looking at her, shuffling feet – who’ll break the news to her? The fan in her room was noisy but the silence defeating and deafening.

He was gone.

The love of her life, a vagabond, the rebel, the confused one. Gone. And before he took his life, he made sure that his friends were around to take care of his ma. Those buddies of his, unsuspecting of the events -a regular day of drinks and TV. An alcoholic, is how family described him, irresponsible in how he treated his ma. Sometimes feeding her with his own hands lovingly and sometimes, screaming choicest cuss words that neighbors could hear. Ma never complained. Must be the alcohol and his cursed friends, she always said .

I went to the room next to her, with his neatly ironed office shirts and trousers arranged in the open shelf, and wondered where I went wrong. And I wasn’t alone. The chair placed on his bed told us that we had failed him. If only we knew, if only we had read him right. That the incidents of violence were as painful for him as they were for ma and his sisters. How he must have cringed at the thoughts. Clasped his head in those young hands of his time and again. Perhaps sat on the edge of that bed multiple times, telling himself to throw those negative thoughts about his mom and sisters out. Sisters who had brought him up, covering up for their deceased father and diabetic, overweight ma- laughed, played and taught him. They left one by one, dutiful wives to loving husbands now. Happy to be away from his screaming. He was left alone, with his thoughts, dilemmas and thousand contradictions. This inexplicable chaos in his head had needed help. Help that no one could provide for. For no one, including him, understood and no one thought for him.

That night was special. He smiled. He ordered food and made his friends comfortable. He knew they had a long day ahead. He was ready to kill the beast inside the 28 year old body and he planned well. Everything was in place. Just as they were on his neat shelf. 

Did I fail my science, my knowledge on mental illness, clinical depression and what-nots? What good was knowing these buzz-words and definitions if I couldn’t recognize its wrath on a loved one? Have I been so busy with my work that I forgot to interact enough with my family?

Talk. Reach out. 

Like any other lesson, whether its by reading of someone else’s experience or learning from our own, we need to introspect.

contributed by the Blogging team

(We are talking of mental health issues, experiences and perspectives this week at the Geetanjali Hostel and all the articles with the hashtag are a part of that initiative)

Advertisements

Mental Health Issues – Perspectives and Understanding

New Project

Ugh!! These exams are giving me anxiety issues..
My life/job is so depressing..

These are some of the sentences one often hear in a casual conversation to express one’s frustration and anger towards some ongoing inconveniences in life. However as the lifestyle goes in the modern world, terms like depression, anxiety, etc cannot be considered just as an insouciant expression of a mere complication faced in day to day life. These are the terms which comes with a whole baggage of serious implications for a person suffering from mental illness more now than ever.

Speaking from the viewpoint of a person whose close friend suffered from the anxiety and depression issues for quite a few years, one can be assured that these can be cured with proper care and treatment. One of the first steps and need of the hour is that people should always be able to have a go to person with whom they can share their life’s happening and feelings without the fear of being judged and with a high degree of comfort level. The sudden surge in the demand for counsellors around the globe points towards the decline of personal bonding and sharing in the fast technologically advancing age. People are more engrossed in social media to maintain their connections with far away friends that they forget to interact with their immediate neighbours and acquaintances. Evident from the recent depression suicides committed live over social media, even the efforts to remain in influential touch with online friends also goes in vain.

Baya Voce, the host of ‘The Art of Connection’; web series, in a TEDx talk reveals how each one has their go to people of group in times of happiness and also the gloomy phases of life… These ‘Anchors of Connection’ are the support system and basis of a happy life. And also how the consistency of maintaining these conversations and relations are the things which make one’s life more valuable, happier and worth living.

Besides sharing, one needs to do away with the taboo of mental illness as the sign of person being mad which is incurable and needs to be sent away to a mental asylum. People need to be made aware that this is like any other physical illness which can be treated with proper assistance and consultation.

The most important factor in treatment is the support of family. It is a major, though not sole factor, which gives person the confidence that he/she will be able to survive past the illness. This is not to say that treatment is impossible without family support but it would be definitely faster and with more chances of being successful if family and friends have the backs of the patients.Awareness at the ground level will also help in identifying symptoms at an early stage and combating the problem before it takes form of a serious illness.

To avoid the mental issues from setting in the minds of children and teenagers (which is increasing at sky rocketing rates), parents need to encourage and motivate their child instead of comparing him/her with others and demeaning them. Inspiration and moral support is the key to ensure that a person emerges from a failure with a determination to work harder instead of going into a downward spiral and losing the will to live. The fact that failure is a part of life’s ups and down need to be embedded in the consciousness of children from an early age.

Along with the precautionary alertness, awareness needs to be brought into the society regarding the grave consequences of the mental ill-health. The society needs to do away with the stigma around mental health concerns, so that the victims are able to ask for help without hesitation. With the existing ignorance and superstitions surrounding the mental health, a large number of people are deprived from their right to lead a health and respectable life in society.

Therefore, the understanding that mental health is as important as physical health and it can be cured in the same way, contrary to the belief that a mental health patient can never lead a normal life, is at the core of making society a better place of living for all.

The sensitivity and gravity of the subject urgently calls for immediate action and
transformation in the mentality of people all over the world and no one is better
equipped to make a difference than the young generation.

It’s so common, it could be anyone. The trouble is, nobody wants to talk about it. And that makes everything worse.  ~ Ruby Wax

                                                                                           contributed by Arushi Kapoor

The red velvet

Image result for red velvet curtains theatre

Aroma of cumin seeds turning golden spread in the lanes from windows of a grand mansion which stood on the rusty lanes of an Indian town. The chatter in the house proclaimed its prosperity and the royalty was evident from its giant entrance. On a fine Sunday afternoon, the dining table was set, the kith and kin embellished the chairs , the only thing being awaited was food!

From the kitchen area you could hear a hasty voice calling, “Deep-ae, Deep-ae!”. The sense of domination in those calls entitled the person being called as the house help who had to serve the family and be every ready at the beck oftheir calls. The tinkling anklets  resonating with those authoritative calls darted the acceptance that the young daughter in law had accomplished . It also created an image of Deep-ae in the mind of the spectators; a young man in his twenties who went running even to the mock calls of kids being their source of recreation, his shoulders burdened by the coarse red cloth which symbolised favours he had been getting from this family and the debts that he had to repay.

The entry of Deep-ae in the kitchen leaves spectators perplexed as he is nothing as you would imagine! A man with grey hair, in his seventies stood obediently before the young daughter in law, scared by her calls. His ears were trained robotically to listen and interpret every command he received. To the mercy of spectators stood a feeble old man with the string of his loose – fitting pyjamas hanging out bluntly , his meek frame hardly supporting the weight of chinaware he held. The kids in the family found a constant source of entertainment in Deep-ae and one of those naughty throng came running towards him and pulled the string.

The family could hear the broken chinaware, the spectators could hear the broken dignity and somewhere deep down inside Deep-ae could hear that insult.

Meet Mr.Deep Chand Jain one of the two heirs of Shri. Pratap Chand Jain and the owner of half of the grand mansion property worth crores of rupees. A rare mental disorder had caused degeneration of neurons and gifted him the life he was leading. He could understand, but couldn’t interpret. He could feel but couldn’t think. He certainly couldn’t express. He was there with all working senses but no sense of perception and nil interpretation. He was the owner of the house in which he led a life worse than servants. Impairment of brain deprives an individual of his individuality. The story of Deep Chand Ji , the wealthy owner of crores who rejoiced the one rupee coins he got while he begged was at the mercy of the entire town except his own family who saw him as a mere body and not a soul.

Many like him have impersonated Mental Retardation before I have on a stage and perhaps strained their nerves in the overwhelming situation as I have while watching them since childhood during those oft-attended plays. It has accommodated my hypothalamus, dominated my emotions and enveloped my heart ever since. Exploration in this field with substantial inputs of scientific achievements ought to be the current research boom. Stem Cell Therapy holds a faithful potential, has found success and can be a revolution from the people, for the people and has to be made by the people.

When the curtain falls, most of us will be silent spectators, unaware and distant; while elsewhere disintegrating individuality and loss of life though alive asks for a cure of the dignity of mental patients often crushed beneath the red velvet.

contributed by Aakriti Jain

Strange lights outside my balcony

September becomes such a beautiful month when the autumn winds begin to flow. There’s a sweet smell that floats around, making us wish for things we want to do, and want to have. We turn into dreamers of the day, always fantasizing and hoping to encounter things that make us more joyous. So it was a wonder when I encountered a similar thing. Albeit distant but something that excited the science fanatic in me. Ever since the winds started, a strange light would come up in the sky outside my balcony. What could it be? Well the fantasy seeker in me thought it was a UFO (cheeky right?), and so did its visible features indicate- small, mobile, bright (even brighter than a star!), more importantly, it became visible only at a specific time! How stellar a discovery (seriously I intend the pun) would it be if I had a telescope to confirm my doubt. Only if I had a telescope!
However the rationale of science urged me to investigate before jumping to conclusions. So began my list of favorably ruling out every possibility. After all, a discovery was at stake!
Was it a plane? No. it was too slow for a plane, also a plane flew by it.
Was it a star? No. stars are more distant. It was so close to the atmosphere.
Was it a planet? No. planet don’t emit such bright lights. They reflect.
Was it a satellite? No. it does not appear at night so close to the earth.
Was it a hot air balloon? Definitely not. A balloon would simply extinguish before reaching that sort of height.
And so, I was perplexed by the nature of the object I could not identify. And who comes to the rescue of a perplexed kid? A guide. So our very own Tapasya Ma’am took to clearing my doubt about the strange light outside my balcony.
She began a hunt on the internet about astronomical objects visible from India, because well, who believes in UFOs apart from an enthusiastic person seeking adventure? What she found didn’t shock her but it broke my heart. It was our dear old boy, next orbit neighbor- mars, that was playing games with my mind, leading me to the dreams of a wonderful discovery for which I hoped someday I would get the prestigious Amateur Achievement Award of the Astronomical Society. But alas! My dreams of a discovery were shattered and I walked the boulevard of broken dreams that day.

UFO

You can’t tell me this doesn’t look like a UFO!

PS: at some other geographical space, my mother saw the same thing move in the sky at the same time. It was probably a coincidence.
Or maybe we really had visitors?

 

Contributed by Shruti Khanna

The Queen of Crime

It was Agatha Christie’s birthday yesterday, on the 15th of September. Born in Devon, England – Agatha initially had a series of rejections from the publishers. Six, to be precise. Until finally her detective story ‘The mysterious affair at Styles’ was published in 1920 introducing the world to the parfait world of Hercule Poirot. The sharp, dynamic Belgian detective with his waxed moustache captured the imagination of readers worldwide. She went on to create many detectives with distinct characteristics – the apparently wooly but sharp as a stinger, Ms Marple ; the duo Tommy and Tuppence. She wrote 66 detective novels and some short stories. She started writing young and at the age of 10 she wrote her first poem –

‘The Cowslip’

There was once a little cowslip and a pretty flower too.

But yet she cried and fretted all for a robe of blue.

Now a merry little fairy, who loved a trick to play, just changed into a nightshade, that flower without delay.

The silly little nightshade thought here life a dream of bliss, yet she wondered why the butterfly came not to give his kiss.

 

Starting out with short stories, her popular detective novels came later. Despite upheavals in her personal life, Agatha continued to do justice to her love of writing and did so until she passed away at the age of 85.

Image result for agatha christie

Her writing is inspiring. The characters well woven into the gripping story, giving nothing away until the detectives laid out one card after another on the table for the readers. Thrilling. Short enough to read at one go in those lazy summer vacations from school. A companion of late nights with a torch under the drawn sheets. Invariably, one would read the book again to check for the clues she had craftily given out in bits and pieces on the murderer that you would have overlooked. In fact, Poirot is the only fictional character to be given an obituary in The New York Times after her book ‘Curtains’ was published!

What a writer! And what exceptional writing.

Here are some of my favorite paperbacks. What are yours?

(all images courtesy Wikipedia)

 

Step Up!

step-up

Teaching has to be more than a profession. It comes from within, this urge to impart knowledge, to debate and discuss, to connect…in a classroom or beyond.

Pallavi, a resident of Geetanjali till July 2018 shared this picture of hers from Bangalore sitting amidst her students, as she often does while volunteering for teaching programs. During her two years in the hostel too, she frequently taught children from the nearby slums and those of the hostel staff. Some day she hopes to open a primary school in a village and use innovative ways of teaching.

To many of us, Pallavi teaches the important lesson to step up and reach out beyond our comfort zone.

Way to go, Pallavi! You make us proud.