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)

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Freedom

15th August 2014

Tied in the shackles of religion and society, she hoped for independence too. As the sun rays soothed her delicate skin, it reminded her of his tender touch. How every morning, he would take her in arms and caress her face.

It had been 3 years since she had seen him. 3 years since she had been out of that house. And 3 years since Mira’s husband died, leaving her in pain and agony that wouldn’t end for years.

No matter how hard she tried, she was always bound by his memories. But more was she bound by the rituals of society.

A widow never wears colorful clothes. -they used to tell her.

Deprived of the red dot between her eyebrows,She could neither wear those red bangles, nor hear the chime of her anklets.She could no more do things that used to elate her. It had been for long that Mira alienated her soul from herself!

“A curse she would bring to my daughter”,said the callous mother-in-law conspiring to keep Mira away from the wedding while Mira kept envisaging of dressing her beautiful sister in law. Oh she wouldn’t be even allowed to touch her!

What curse could she, Mira, would ever bring!

She knew she would never forget him, but a girl inside her demanded the start of a new life where she would breathe and dream. Where she was no more bound by the bars of society.

When the whole nation was gripped in patriotic fervor, a ray of hope still burned in her, igniting her to fight for her freedom. Yelling at her to break these shackles and live life as she always wanted.

And outside the window as she watched a man unfurling the Tiranga, yet again, yet another year, her flickering hope grew.

Contributed by Simran Mattu