Updated: Jun 5, 2021
To all spirits who walk alone
I hear you
To all spirits who feel alone
I feel you
To all spirits who think they are alone
I exist with you
To all spirits who need acknowledgement
I see you
To all spirits passing through,
Thank you for stopping by
On your way out…
I choose to refer to my journey as the great epic of Mahabharata. There are many translations and interpretations to the same epic, some of which also interpreting the gender differences and views contained within. I choose to interpret the Mahabharata from my personal journey of living with schizophrenia and also other various conditions I have had including sleep disorders and scar epilepsy. I cannot tell you my story simply based on my main identity of someone having paranoid schizophrenia.
These unedited entries (of my sequel) marks my own inquiry of not anybody else’s mind or the mind in general but my own. For having survived through 3 brain conditions of which medical science has always looked at from a hopeless lens, I believe that my journey through each one of them carries important questions and answers that need to shared, inquire upon, translated and conveyed in a way that it would bring about some amount of hope to someone else’s life in order for them to seek out their own meaning. What use of sickness and suffering that leaves us scarred for life if we can’t understand what they were meant for? That there is a higher purpose to what has happened to us and that it is not just an illness or disease that we get treated for and continue on with our lives as if that is all to it.
I might come across contradictory at many areas in my story but do not form judgments’ towards my knowledge gained based on momentary lapses. Life exists in parts before it becomes whole said a philosopher. I do not claim to know it all but I think it is fair for me to say I know of some things that have helped me and I wish to share those with those of you who do not mind being challenged, shaken of your seats of knowledge, expertise and civilized minds or even thrown into spaces that can stir the darkest of things and raise your own fears. My book is not meant for those who wish to criticize the validity of my various conditions, the knowledge it comes with, or for those looking to certify, quantify and formulate proves on various conditions of the human mind. To me the human mind is unquantifiable as is the universe. I equate the mind to be the same as the universe where 95% of it consist of dark matter which man still doesn’t know about. Our thought is even faster than the speed of light and to box our thoughts as if they are certain is an arrogant tendency within all of us build on the fear of loss, as we continue to identify to the illusions of ourselves.
And so the tendencies of my mind exist in 100s much like the Kauravas. These tendencies are born from two egos – but they are both blind to the tendencies. Much as what we do to ourselves. We try to ignore and blind ourselves to our own inner qualities that might be immoral, bad, sinful to our eyes.
My senses are the Pandavas. They too can fall to desires, be trapped by the tendencies of the mind and then get lost. Be sent to exile. My exile of 13 years are the years spent with my schizophrenia as a prisoner, a social outcaste, a taboo, limited to human interaction and people. Having first obeyed my voices at age 15 in search for freedom, independence and identity, I ran away from home and that laid the first foundations to what began as being a social outcaste, name called, shunned, judged, sent to be corrected, taken to a different land and culture which further ridiculed me. The back and forth which then led to further alienation of my self with society, as there was no scope to form any relationship long enough before having forced to move.
Reaching the finality of my trials to a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia at age 22 adding the last straw of being an outcaste in the name of religion and science, both fields being considered as the power players. To finally fighting each and every player and choosing to fight back at age 28, thus my 13 years of exile proved to be just another beginning to the larger battle I would have to face, the battle of my senses with my body. One battle followed the epic Mahabharata, the battle of the senses (Pandavas) against the tendencies (Kauravas).
The other battle we’ve never been told about is the one where the Pandavas and Kauravas learn to work with each other – a much utopian dream, a possibility or question many of us would have asked as kids ‘Why did they have to fight and not find a way to live in harmony and share?’ We stopped asking that question because we believed the Mahabharata to be the story of people not related to us. A bedtime story about our mythology. If we were told to see the characters as they are within us, a lot of what we lost as kids would have remained – that is the sacredness of honesty, harmony and love for all. These that can only exist when we have that honesty, harmony and love for ourselves and everything that we are.
My body is Draupadi. The hope that came in. That desire to love. The medications took that away from me. That body image I grew up with. The person I could look into the mirror and be grateful for the strength, flexibility, speed and beauty I saw. I could love her. My inner Draupadi arose at one point calling out to the God of love, Krishna who resides within me but at a higher plane asking him to rescue her from the tendencies of the mind (Kauravas) that were stripping her.
Each character is within me. I might use the pronouns of he, she, him or her but I consider them merely an interpretation and sharir (body) to identify to along with the nature, qualities and choices each character makes in order to survive this battle towards harmony. I do not see my inner Draupadi or Krishna or Arjun, or Kunti as man or woman. I see them as parts of me having had to exist in certain forms in order to convey a story. I am but human. As a human I require physical associations in order to build a visual in my mind I can relate to. Once I can relate to this appearance I can find connection and see myself in it or it in me. The divine is within me and outside of me and we are one when these physical associations do not hold much value and does not become necessary in order to love. Aham Brahmasmi.
Draft illustration of Mahabharata - a commissioned piece for a collector
2000 - 2001. Pune.
I was pursuing my bachelors in arts at Fergusson college, Pune. I majored in philosophy with English, psychology and economics as subsidiary papers. Philosophy was called the loser’s option. I wanted to major in psychology but I didn’t get the required grade for it in my first year, nor did I attend most of the lectures as there were too many students chasing the same thing. I declared defeat before even considering my second choice. I didn’t have a second choice. When enrolment for second year in college begun, I wasn’t in the country. I had gone for a vacation to Malaysia and was hell bent on staying back since I had already began working. My college friends from 1999 were in touch with me regularly and we would hang out pretty often. But father insisted that we return to Pune together as he fears leaving me alone. No amount of my ideas and life plans could convince him otherwise.
Something had happened back in Pune to mom but he refused to tell me. All he said was ‘Your mother needs us right away Resh. Don’t ask me why’. I felt it was really unfair that this kept happening to me. I never had any answers. Wouldn’t it be just simpler if they told me what was so important that we had to rush back! At least I wouldn’t have to hate their stupid decisions without a reason which further puts me in guilt for having it. What was so secretive and unspeakable that I couldn’t question?
Mom though had called to convey ‘The professor who teaches philosophy suggested I enroll you in philosophy. He’s a very nice man’. I rolled my eyes at the thought of my new future. I knew I was in big trouble then cause Prof. Joseph Lobo was the very professor my mom was speaking off and he remembers every single student especially those of us that he’s likely had a disrespecting encounter with and I was one of those student’s. My eye rolling also signified a self-initiation into a life of unintelligent mockery that I will have to endure by students and adults of our all-encompassing money chasing society. This was just the beginning...of hell.
Prof. Joseph Lobo or Lobo sir as everyone called him had a huge line up of secret admirers and crushes. That was something I could never understand so I never commented. I remember being advised in my first year ‘Don’t ever be late or bunk any philosophy classes.’ I remember having attended only 2 of Lobo sir’s class in first year. For the mid-term exams, I had stormed into the examination room just in time but I stormed out 30 minutes later. When I walked out, I paused for a while to gather my senses and adjust my bag and brains. I had held my head between my palms as if to check its alignment. I had no recollection of what day it was but I caught a glimpse of the entire class glaring at me while some, I could tell were staring at Lobo sir as if he was on fire.
When a friend caught me later she asked ‘What in the world did you write in your paper? Lobo sir was so furious he tore your paper and threw it!
‘I have no clue. I couldn’t understand any of the questions and so I sketched’. I couldn’t tell her that I was disorientated since I didn’t know it myself.
Thus, the very thought of Prof. Joseph Lobo telling my mom that he’ll give me a seat in philosophy sounded like a revenge plan he had devised for the likes of students like me. I didn’t hate him or think him to be ill meaning. There was something about him that I could feel but at that point in my life, I was only counting my days towards death. I didn’t see beyond this first year. I had this churning inside me every minute of everyday where I just couldn’t see my tomorrow. I saw no tomorrow. I saw death. I saw death stare at me every single day in college. I was haunted by this. I wanted to stay home locked up in my room but I hated my parents then. I needed a good reason to get out but I didn’t want to be out of my room as everywhere I went I saw death staring at me. I saw death in my parent’s face. I saw death in the faces of people who came home. They were all fake. They were only pretending to be human. To be people. But they were all fake. There were no people. Every single person who looked at me was looking at me through their eyes of judgment. I could see their skulls. I could see darkness peeking in from their cavities where there were supposed to be eyes. They were all greeting me with ‘Hi Resh’ ‘How are you’ and all other useless societal conversations, but all I could see in their words were what their faces were telling me. Death. Stench. Lies. Fear. Control. Greed. And they were all out to get me. I had to escape at any cost.
Sometimes all they do is watch. Sometimes all I do is watch. Their eyes have become mine. And we watch. Together.
I have always felt watched. And soon I became the one who watched. Or the observer.
The eyes I saw were not of this world. It felt like I was in a movie where an apocalypse is happening but no one is seeing it. Each day felt like people were sleeping yet walking. They were glaring but not looking. They were talking to each other but not listening. And every time each one of them looked at me I saw their ghost. I saw this evil in them that will come after me for knowing their secrets. So I shut myself out with alcohol and drugs. I already had been drinking but not to an extent of being an alcoholic. I had fairly good tolerance and control. However, as each day grew and evil grew within and outwards through each person I begin fearing for my life. I would sketch often but this could only happen once I had enough alcohol in me to be tuned out from this evil I saw. I always passed out right after and would wake up the next morning. Thankfully, the first few times this happened I was at home. My hell began breaking out when my passing out episodes were occurring while I wasn’t at home.
There were times I was taken to a wonderful place to escape this evil. I sketched those too. I once showed these drawings at the ‘Art club’ which further became Oorja, the start of an art festival I truly enjoyed in college. The senior who facilitated the club and festival (Uma) had once reached out to me during our preparations. I showed up early in college before time to avoid staying in bed when my fear preps in. In other words, anxiety was already a part of my mornings but by night I was visited by depression and death. This senior saw me panting under the tree and came up ‘Resh, is everything okay? Your eyes are red. Did you sleep well?’
I lied ‘Just some breathing troubles all night Uma and some chest congestion’. She insisted I visit a doctor then but didn’t force it. ‘Okay. Try reducing on your smokes you know…’ she winked. I felt such a relief and comfort that she accepted me despite knowing the stuff I was into. For the first time in all those months at college, someone accepted me and showed concern. I was not something dirty when she placed her hand on my jeans to ask me if I was okay. I had formed 2 friends who would hang out with but both of them were caught in their own set of issues and had their own groups of friends. I hardly understood their Hindi or interactions so I’d often get bored. Then I stopped hanging out entirely and kept to myself after a while.
Twice a week I would meet my friend at the local restaurant Savera that was right across the main gate of Fergusson college. I’d be found smoking and reading with another philosophy student. I could tell she had reached as all of the male species around me would be whispering about her. We were both called the ‘Nut and Screw’ by many guys for obvious reasons. She already knew others but didn’t hang out with them until later. When we walked in college together, I would walk with my head low to avoid eye contact and conversations with anyone while she would be the exact opposite. I could always tell when others asked her ‘Why do you hang out with her?’ Some did comment ‘Doesn’t she speak?’
I had my own way of being in college. I would only scream, be cheerful, lively and engaging when I was with Shwetz. The rest of the time I never felt the need for it. It’s like others didn’t exist for me and I didn’t want to waste my conversations or eye contact on them. Thus I would always keep to myself, unless I bumped into some of my classmates from philosophy to share notes or to update the other. There was nothing personal ever shared with anyone.
End 2001. Psychology department, Fergusson College, Pune.
I sat with my notebook and ball point pens, sketching away, lost to the world around me. There was a part that was conscious as I knew I was surrounded by students who tried to peek into my notebook. I could tell they lacked actual pleasures in life for theirs mostly came from Freudian perspectives and intellectual gibberish about the human mind. They behaved as if they’re going to turn into the next big psychoanalyst by simply reading books weighing heavier than their brains and discussing theories about other people’s behavior and thought patterns through observations and analytical assumptions of what they gather. I was obviously not doing anything any different. I was observing them observing everyone else and me. In fact, I often grabbed quick subtle perspectives of these gaggles. I considered pursuing a career as a serial killer and I could begin with these noise makers. Oh how I hated the noise levels in India! They had their tongues out as if they were Pavlov’s dogs conditioned to think, speak and analyze the world in only one way. The way it is written to them. They weren’t as loud as when they are on the streets, but I could hear their insides. The words that were flying out of their mouths to one another were not the same as the ones in their heads. I could see these thought bubbles around them in thick smoke filled with envious intentions. It made me cringe forcing me to dash out the door and find space to breathe. I had anxiety attacks which I couldn’t comprehend. I didn’t even know they were called anxiety attacks. I always thought death was approaching me.
As a second year philosophy major student, my mates and I didn’t have a space to read on campus as our department was limited to a room that was mostly locked. It was called the poverty stricken department which quite rightly reflected my state of clothes and existence. Thus, we would often be seen sitting amongst the elite group of minds in their elite space of the psychology department. We were grateful to simply being left alone at our own corners and allowed to read at length without having to buy coffee in order to do so. But my friend would leave soon to join her other mates as we didn’t have as many classes to attend unlike our psychology buddies, in fact sometimes we just didn’t have class! I was left to figure out what I was to do with the rest of the day that was only beginning. I certainly didn’t want to go home as it meant having to listen to ma’s constant nagging about how I dress, how selfish I was and how much worry I bring to the family. She would be fine by evening when dad was around and the wine went down their throats. I simply needed to manage this time I had on my hands while having good reasons to give ma. She made a big deal of me not showing up for lunch or being out till 3pm even if she slept from 2.30 – 4.30. It didn’t matter if I did have class, or had to wait for other college work, or that I sat in the library. Ma certainly had no sense of how the world operated. Anything that she couldn’t understand would become grounds of accusations of my dirty lifestyle.
I would sit in the library at times, gathering books I needed to read for philosophy while getting distracted with more. I craved to read them all and absorb all the knowledge in that space instantly because I didn’t have the kind of time and relaxation I saw other students carrying with them. My phone would buzz the minute my class would end and if I don’t answer it ma would begin yelling at me. She demanded I tell her the exact time I would be home and if I didn’t know how long I would take even if it meant sitting in the library to wait for a reference book borrowed by another student, it meant I was lying and up to no good. I knew I couldn’t borrow many of them as I wouldn’t be able to return them on time as ma kept track of my classes to. Going to college was obviously a good escape for me but there were times it was the only excuse I had to keep away from the non-supportive roles my parents were engaging in. I simply couldn’t understand their behavior but told myself that maybe they’re just having their own set of issues as do most married couples which I’d never understand. And as always they take that frustration out on their kids. I obviously didn’t reach that understanding on my own contemplation but it was a sentence repeatedly given to me by ma since I wasn’t being an understanding child to see that my parents were having their own issues.
There were days where walking from the library towards class was difficult as I could sense all eyes stare at me. I had one pair of jeans which was mostly torn in all the right places which perhaps was an added reason for those glaring eyes. With those jeans I shuffled in t-shirts that were carefully ripped, a jacket, a pair of sneakers and a lot of silver jewelry to start my own shop. Name calling wasn’t something uncommon, mostly in languages I never understood. Girls would call out to me as if they were curious and when I approached their group their guy friends would pass comments asking me if the country I came from needed textile to be sent from India. I wouldn’t and couldn’t tell that they were ridiculing me. I’d tell them that I didn’t understand and asked if they could explain what they meant. It would follow with a burst of laughter and me smiling yet not knowing what was funny. They’d laugh even further and the same girl who called out would say ‘It’s ok. You can go. We just wanted to know where you are from.’
My journey from one group to another was a regular ritual, at least on those days when I walked alone. When Shwetz walked with me, she would hold my hand back and sternly say ‘No Resh ignore them, you don’t need to walk up to them.’ I honestly could never understand what was happening. I felt those who were calling me were curious and wanted to talk. But this friend had other opinions and didn’t like them. So I listened to my friend instead, when she was around. I had these strange uncomfortable feelings surfacing but I couldn’t understand them, as much of my mind space was busy formulating reasons I had to give my mother about why I was an hour late, who I was with and hoping she doesn’t smell the stench of cigarette on my t-shirt which she always did as she picked up my clothes and smelled them before throwing them for a wash. How odd I thought.
In the same space and time, I was digesting and thinking about stuff I read in the books I picked up and engaged in arguments with myself and the writer about his theories and facts. There were so many of them in my head; Sartre, Kant, Heidegger, Tom & Jerry, James Joyce, an artist, the devil, Hitler, Jung, Dante, Tolstoy, Darwin, Einstein, Krishnamurti, Gandhi. The list of men in my head were endless. As I got closer to my classroom another group of students would call out to me. I went up being curious about what question this group of gaggles had this time. A boy said ‘See my friend here is a psychologist and she is trying to predict if her observations are correct. She wants to know if you are depressed.’ I asked ‘What does that mean?’
My question seemed to have promoted a round of laughter and I stood there confused about my sense of humour, concluding that Indians perhaps had a very different one. I turned my glance at the girl with a question raised, in my brows to which she explained what depression meant. I stood listening to couple of lines which she clearly seemed to have memorized from their fat textbooks. She shared that she often sat there watching people and attempted to read their body language but couldn’t tell all so she decided to ask me directly. There was a silence as if they were waiting for my reply now that she was done explaining herself. I retraced my steps saying ‘Sorry, I cannot be late for class’. ‘Lobo sir’s class right? one of them inquired. The girl in the long black curly hair as I clearly remember with extremely fair skin, black kajal and medium length lashes, thick lip and a thick hip with a red patterned shirt and denim jeans interrupted my movement back in need for a desperate answer and asked me again ‘So aren’t you going to answer the question?’
‘Hmm, I forgot. What was your question? I asked.
That, are you depressed or on drugs because you’re always looking down when you walk or you’re always looking up?
‘I look down because I don’t want to step on shit and dirt on the ground and I look up because I don’t want to make eye contact and unnecessary conversations with anyone’ I replied and walked away.
As I entered class, I had forgotten about that group as my mind travelled into another reality where pink elephants and purple rats were possibilities of thought impressions. I looked forward to Lobo sir’s class. But as I stepped out from class and headed home in the rickshaw I dreaded my return to a table conversation that undermined my abilities and intelligence. A very close friend of mine who studied microbiology lived at home with us and would go back to her place twice a week as the distance was a lot for her to travel daily. She would bond with dad as he was a microbiologist too. As I entered the premises of their scientific discussions, I thought I could contribute my share of learnings about life, the essence of things that make up the world and why beings behave in certain patterns. To me this is no different a process than a microbiologist trying to observe and study the patterns of behavior of a virus, bacteria or parasite presented to them under a microscope. It is merely the tools of observation used being different and as a philosophy student I simply didn’t need a microscope, bicarbonate glass, test-tubes and colourful matter.
Little did I know that the privilege of having one’s knowledge being correct or true knowledge is not meant for someone who studies philosophy. I was told by the so called being of scientific authority that a philosopher’s knowledge and theories is like a magician pulling random stuff out from a black hat and trying to make his audience believe in it. I was made to see that since I didn’t understand the relationship of how alkaline and acid contributed at different levels I couldn’t possibly understand the rest of the discussion and seriousness of scientific experiments being discussed. The more I tried to logically explain what I could tell about a certain pattern, the more I was made to feel that I was stupid because I wasn’t a science student. Dad would ask basic chemistry questions to which I couldn’t answer in numbers or scientific words and I would get a comment ‘Not everything can be explained with philosophy. It isn’t going to get you a job.’
My friend would often interrupt in my favour but dad would easily disprove her arguments. I knew she was trying to stand up for me but my dad wasn’t aware of it. I would walk away feeling miserable and stupid, continuing to bury myself in my own reading and thoughts. Mom would urge me to join them and when I told her I get insulted since I am not a science student like dad she’d say ‘He’s your father. He doesn’t mean to insult you Resh.’ And so I would sigh heavily and join them at the table to maintain politeness. There have been instances where mom was present when dad ridiculed me of the food choices I made and she would let him know about it, but that really didn’t make any difference. It seemed that once alcohol travelled into his system or his self-absorbed excitement surfaced he forgot how mean he could be. I couldn’t bear being belittled that often as it would hurt and there wasn’t anyone I could talk to. In my head, I couldn’t understand how blind he was to his own disruption of my studies.
1998 – 2000. Pune – Malaysia – Pune.
I had fared really well in my 10th grade in Malaysia. When the teachers knew I was being moved to Pune without my knowledge, they told my father that my studies were improving and he shouldn’t move me based on a past everyone has moved away from including me. This was 9 months after I had run away from home. When I did well in my 10th grade in Pune after having repeated 2 years of embarrassment for being older in my class while simultaneously having to learn everything in English, he decided to move us back to Malaysia. Mom refused to believe that I even passed my 10th grade least of all to hear it from my school mate ‘Aunty, Resh not just passed. Ma’am is really proud of her as she’s done really well in other subjects too.’
I remember that afternoon in mid 1998, standing outside my school gate. My friend had her parents with her hugging her and my mom simply said it’s not possible that I passed. I looked down to control myself from breaking as that would embarrass mom in front of others. I’ve always been told I’ve been an embarrassment to them so I tried to never do things or speak of stuff that would contribute to more embarrassing situations. My friend’s mom took the mark sheet from my hand, looked at it and told my mom ‘She’s done really well Rekha for an outside student. You can’t compare her marks to my daughter’s. Just congratulate her and hug her. Their 10th is over now and it’s a huge turning point’. I got a short cold hug with a congratulation from ma. My friend’s dad hugged me real tight and whispered ‘Proud of you’ to which I got teary eyed but thankfully no one saw it. I thought I was not being loyal to my mom if I cried in happiness on another parent’s shoulder.
When we got home, I got calls from my other friends. They had received their results earlier and I couldn’t collect mine on the same day as I had injured my right foot while practicing flips and somersaults. Ma yelled ‘Get off the phone and come spend time with your family’. I thought sharing my achievement with my friends was important but she didn’t think so. I ended the call and joined her in cleaning and the general things we tend to do where the joint family members loiter about our home making useless comments and conversations. Ma looked upset and I didn’t know what I did this time. Her best friend and his daughter would be coming over in the evening. They congratulated me but mom didn’t seem all that happy. I could tell something was bothering her so I didn’t want to add to unnecessary excitement and make her feel odd. Her friend’s daughter jumped in her excitement and said ‘Oh aunty we should take Resh out shopping and get her a present.’ I immediately responded ‘NO’. In my head I foresaw a disastrous future. But she had convinced mom who just looked at me.
Couple of days later, we were out shopping for my first pair of boots. It was meant to be a gift for me having done well in my 10th grade. According to ma’s friend’s daughter everyone gets a 10th grade gift. To my mother it seemed like someone just put her behind bars leaving her with no choice but to get me a present. It remained a wonderful present for a while before ma had a series of meltdowns after that and I was told that she had no choice because someone else was telling her to buy me a gift and it was suggesting that she was not a good mother.
I calmed her down telling her it wasn’t meant that way but that only made things worse. I got told that I’ve cost the family a lot of money and I have separated everyone. I couldn’t make sense of anything that came out from her mouth but I couldn’t tolerate it either, so I yelled at her to shut up and pointed out that they had dragged me to Pune while lying to me and I never made any of these choices on my own. That was a huge mistake on my part to have done so. As it was communicated to my older siblings that Resh was being too difficult to handle in Pune as she goes out with friends all the time. This began becoming a truth that everyone believed when we returned to Malaysia in 1998 and got into college on my own merit. Dad refused to let me choose a course that required me to leave home. I had to find something cheaper and that which kept me in the country so that my mom could keep her eyes on me. I thought it was the most preposterous thing and when I confronted dad in private, he said your mother has her demands Resh and doesn’t want any of you to be away from her. Try and be understanding, we’ve already gone through so much.
I could never understand what this ‘going through so much’ deal with my parents were about. I felt that I was punished and they still had not forgiven me for running away in 1995. I grew to hate myself by the day wondering why did I ever return. But I stuck it out and agreed to every single decision they made because I carried a lot of blame and guilt for having run away from home. Those camps I was sent to drilled it in me every single minute. I stopped fighting my parents a long time back. I simply had lost that person inside me. And so when I began college in Malaysia and performing well in my studies, it also meant having to stay back for class and to use the library. It began getting difficult and ma would keep calling me repeatedly on my phone telling me to come back home.
This meant an hour drive hopefully without traffic. There were days she would call my department office and have the secretary make an announcement through the common speaker. It was embarrassing when the whole college knew my name and that my mother wanted me back home. I was grateful that no one called me names and I could see they felt sorry as I walked by them and they wished ‘good luck’. Perhaps, crazy upbringing and parents are a Malaysian thing after all or maybe I just attracted the same kind of individuals who were comfort to each other. Things were going downhill for me again. I smoked couple of cigarettes in college but I wasn’t drinking or doing drugs. I was angry but I couldn’t react to it because I blamed myself continuously. I knew I was experiencing moments of intense silent and grief as I would often park my car in a dark lane and weep as I had my music playing to drown myself from hearing my own pain. I wished it would just go.
Closing in to a year to my Diploma and exams, my father makes another decision to come back to Pune in mid 1999. According to my mother, I was being difficult to handle. According to my father who told everyone else, I was being difficult to handle because my drink was apparently spiked on my prom night and that was my fault, when that was not the truth. Their never ending blame on me just went overboard and I could never get them to tell me the truth or even see how wrong they were. I could never understand what I did so badly because all I was doing was growing up much like everyone else. But, my capacity and right to exist as a person was long back taken away from me. And so we returned to Pune in 1999. I was to lose another academic year (again) and my only option was to study under NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling).
NIOS meant attending classes in a space where even my maid’s kids won’t study. I was told to suck it up as we didn’t have any other choice. In fact, I did have a good amount of opportunities lining up for me but my dad had an ego to big to allow it. I was offered a chance by my aunt to study at the LaSalle School of Arts in Singapore, while she paid for half of my tuition and I paid her back by assisting her as an artist and helping her while I studied. I had the option to pursue art and psychology. Dad said no. He never took anything from his family and he won’t let his kids do it either. By then, I stopped trying to fight my way for anything. I was long gone lost.
Upon beginning NIOS, my alcohol consumption blossomed over night. I worked out quite a lot so it never showed. I played basketball daily for 2 hours, I cycled it to most places in Pune and got called names by everyone as it was highly uncommon to see a girl on a racing bicycle. Today in 2018, it’s become a healthy fashion statement. I swam every alternate evening and I had Tae Kwon Do every weekends while I danced for hours continuously when I partied on Saturday nights. My only sanity was my little pup Geronimo. If it was not for him, I would have killed myself.
I was not happy and faked everything about happiness, well the little I knew of it at 19. Drinking took me a little ahead in the nightclubs with the men and even older women. As long as they knew I wasn’t a local they poured their hearts out, their homes and sometimes their beds.
I stayed, I heard, I shared but never went back with any. Perhaps if I loved myself even a little then, I would have fallen in love with anyone who offered the slightest chance of love and affection but I had reached that point where I stopped paying attention to myself or my body. I allowed it to be used as I simply lost myself and had nothing to look forward to. I drank during the day when I didn’t have an excuse to be out at night. When I found ways to lie I did. I walked it to class to save money for a drink and sometimes I would flirt myself into getting one free. And soon the bottle and me became best friends. I wished to die every single day. Waking up was difficult and I only looked forward to my drink when I could afford it. I wasn’t an alcoholic nor did I ever lose control. But I had lost myself.
End 2001 – Early 2002. Pune.
A calling never discloses itself. It sways, it staggers, most importantly it drives a hunger. For if it did strike one in the face, undressing is no easy case. There are people yet insensitive. There are people yet intrusive. There are also those people who walk as fast as you do. Who run and try their utmost at keeping pace. It might be a box yet I refuse to keep them in one. Yes, I'm then that person who is partial. Cause they...these people who walk and run just to be with you are the actual reminders of what I need to disclose. Truly if it were not for them I might not have these hands to hold onto myself anymore. Yes, there is so much of me in the context...but there is much more in the context of who am I or them.
I would find them loitering around my home all the time. Since I live in India it was easy to confuse the general population to the same group as our streets are just way crowded. The general breed of the human race had begun pissing me off. It wasn’t anything they did or said but I found this particular kind to be quite a bore. Their conversations most often were about someone else followed by a series of what the person did or said and how they could do that and a sudden burst of laughter after the same person was mocked. I never kept track of the content of such long hours of conversations as I mostly walked away in about ten minutes wondering if life was about feeling good at the expense of putting other people down. It’s a very strange thing that I saw my human companions whom comprised of family and friends do this, so it was always discomforting to know that I shared the same universe with them. I needed to check if I had the same qualities, the same traits for this term ‘karma connection’ had lodged itself in my brain as an abusive lover. I wondered how could I share the same blood and life with the very people whose behavior I simply couldn’t understand. Driven by this question, I decided to check.
My brain worked at very literal meanings as much as it contradicts itself with metaphors. Ever often when I escaped into my shell I’d call upon Raz to offer me this blood check. Raz was an interesting fellow. He never hurt me too much but just enough to make me feel something. At that point I felt I was turning into a psychopath. Raz also gave me the control although it might seem that I was suffering from Stockholm’s syndrome. I wouldn’t be able to truly tell you the actuality of my suffering for we could keep naming it. This was the reason Raz existed in my life ever since age 4. He came in different shapes and sizes and definitely wasn’t imaginary.
The first time Raz showed up was in Pune in 1984, when my father had to travel with my older siblings and my mom wasn’t in the country. I was kept under the care of my aunt, an uncle who kept biting my cheek, and a young maid to watch over me all the time as the other adults had their own commitments. My care shuffled between these musketeers. The one time I found myself attracted to Raz was when the maid left me on the bed after my bath as she had to clean the bathroom for my grandmother. I had taken the photo frame that stood itself on the window sill and hit it on my head repeatedly. No one saw me and gratefully there wasn’t a psychiatrist around, because I’d likely get locked inside an asylum at age 4 or be given some ridiculous treatment.
Gratefulness is an interesting thing though as I certainly was graced by the presence of a family physician the second time Raz decided to show up. This time my dad, uncle and their set of intoxicated male companions were in the living room while my siblings were either serving them or watching some horror movie. The women of the house were involved in serving to their needs of course, of the men and the kids. I believe we call this patriarchy in today’s world. Though in my head I just found them all mad, apart from my siblings. Raz had left his presence on my chin that got stitched up that night. One of the not so intoxicated male companion had come home that night directly from his clinic and so was naturally found equipped with his little toolbox. It had turned out that I had some sort of an encounter with the photo frame again which grazed my chin and cut it. I was carried to the living room by some adult. Alcohol was used to clean my cut as there weren’t any alcohol swabs and some other female adult whom I related to I guess was boiling water to sterilize the scissors and needle. A stitch here a stitch there happened and I fell asleep eventually. As I type this, my left thumb moves over the little scar under my chin in memory of that night which wasn’t mine but a story told to me.
I do remember my older sister being yelled at very harshly for not paying attention to me while she was studying. I find adults to be a strange species. Especially the kind who turn themselves into parents. It appears that their concept of love, care and logic flies out the window the minute parenthood enters. The birth of a human young seems to have disastrous effects to the emotional intelligence and general well-being of it’s creators. This suggest the likelihood that most young born to such a species might often be unwanted pups specifically designed for social needs while also increasing the survival validations of love making. It wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that my existence in this human form makes me the same parasite. Like all parasites, we’ve stole some of the traits and characteristics of the host bodies we were attached to before falling off. The incubation period is very disturbing as many full moons need to shine for us to come into full form only to be greeted by a lot of nonconsensual harassments of hugs, kisses, funny disrupting faces, remarkably high levels of noise pollution which they refer to as happiness and or sadness, and a lot of nude moments with a bunch of adult humans amusing themselves in comparison to their grandiosity of being. One would be given a well mapped plan of one’s future within minutes inclusive of one’s adult mate when the physical form has reached its peak. Time is a funny concept on this planet. The humans tend to control their futures in a bipolarity practice where they spend huge amounts of patience waiting but force upon the speed of growth within seconds. This mismanaged sense of desire is likely what has caused their suffering. But anyway…I’m only a young parasite born to the same caught in the vicious cycle to understand their ways. My ancestors before me left their own versions of their understanding which I do not agree to and therefore I was sent to experience this planet myself and provide the Elders before me with a better understanding and interpretation of the situations existing on Earth.
Empathy certainly stops existing and is replaced by social responsibilities, social pleasures, social duties, and social commitments. Such an odd thing really that everyone else outside of the family circle becomes more important when a family comes into 'being'. Or maybe this is just specific to my story which falls under the stereotypical ‘dysfunctional Indian family’ which I can tell probably reflects majority of families out there only none with the guts to speak of it as it would ruin their family name. I’ve already been accused of ruining mine several times, so what the heck.
....continuation of Chapter 1 in next post as a subscription