The bespeckled therapist gave me a puzzled look. She asked—anger at what child?
Anger at what? At who? Why anger? Why not tolerance?
“If I knew that I wouldn’t be here”.
I am an expert at being rude and unpleasant when the situation demands it.
There was a ghost in my life. The clinical term for it is ‘dysthymia or chronic depression.’ It had haunted me since the deciding age of 11.
My ghost paid me visits at random intervals. She knocked at my door and let herself in. She can pass the barriers of wood and steel and will power. She can walk through walls and possess the soul.
She shows me alternate realities. Possibilities that make my mind go bonkers. No it’s not always black or blue. It is various colors all at once. She is moody, like me.
“Tell me what you feel when she visits,” the relentless doctor probed.
“Umm…have you ever had your skin peeled when on meth or ecstasy? It feels good and no before you ask—I have not done either. A friend of mine is a pro when it comes to this and he keeps me educated.”
“I want your version.” I could see she disapproved of my attempt at humour. Perhaps a lover or a brother had been a victim.
“Okay. Have you ever been in love with the darkness? Doesn’t the night wrap you in a warm blanket and sing a lullaby? Doesn’t looking at the moon just soothe your soul? Have you ever fallen in love with something that is bad for you Doctor? I have. All the forbidden things that ever were. I like the darkness. I like peeling my skin off me. I like the peace and quiet. I like the loneliness. My ghost gives me all those—the calm and the high all at once.”
“How about the anger?” She adjusted her frame and smoothed her already smooth skirt.
Why was she so hell bent on the anger part? Didn’t she get it? It is in the anger that the pleasure lies.
I hear about how people enjoy getting tattooed for the pain instead of the symbols themselves. Another friend of mine had tattoos all over his body. He said he did it for the pain. It was in the pain that gave him a high; made him feel alive.
“The anger is the easy part. It is just frustration that has been bottled up I guess. When a volcano erupts, it doesn’t do so with a warning. It just does. It is a relief for the earth. Same goes with the anger. The anger is easy and promises a cure.”
“Anger on what?”
Again that question. Why couldn’t she just let it go? Why couldn’t she focus on the important part? I could see her eager for the information like a kid opening the gifts on his birthday. A greedy kid.
“It doesn’t matter. Anger at everything. Why doesn’t the circle have sides? Why isn’t King Kong our president? Why am I not born in a different era, under different circumstances?”
“But don’t you get it? All your reasons are extremely stupid?” She was losing patience now.
“Lady don’t you get it? The anger is directionless and random. I don’t have any sob story to narrate. The anger is not important. How do I exorcise my ghost?”
She fumbled and gave me a few exercises to do. “Paint or read or write or listen to music when you feel low. Here are some pills you can take but take them in moderation. The most important thing to remember is—never give up hope and try to think bright thoughts whenever you feel low. And I am right here if you ever need me.”
Nice. She gave me the text book cure and increased her brand value all in the same breathe. They should have a prize for this kind of ability.
She handed me a prescription and I walked out of her office. When I reached my empty flat, I was greeted by her. She came over me like a mist on a winter evening.
“Why do you haunt me so?” I asked her.
“I like you and you know you like me too, a tiny bit. Say you do and here now, don’t lie to me. I know you in and out.”
I smirked. I did like her a tiny bit. Help can only be given to those who seek it. Who was I fooling when I said I needed help? I didn’t. I like her and she understands me. She lets me be quite and be on my own.
She is like the drug which keeps you yet takes from you a little by little.
Well, I don’t really care. She keeps me and that is enough. Now I think I will go back to my darkness. You be happy basking in your sun. We are the children of the moon and we live at night. You be happy at your side of the fence and we will do the same on our side.
The day was grey. The rain god seemed to be punishing the earth for the fools it produced. It hadn’t stopped raining for 24 hours. I was sitting in the small balcony of my nine hundred square feet flat and basking in the mist.
She was there, surrounding me like a blanket and singing me a soothing lullaby that was haunting at the same time.
“X got a job and a girlfriend…she has big ones, you know and I hear that they are about to announce their engagement soon,” she whispered into my ears.
When she got no response, she went on to play the higher card.
“They are in Europe…the three of them must be eating croissants under the Eiffel Tower right about now. She doesn’t remember her promise clearly. She still hasn’t called. There they are a family in the true sense of the term and here you are, a sorry little thing stuck with me.”
Still no visible response from my side; just a lump in my throat. It’s not like I hadn’t heard this before and neither was I completely indifferent, just yet. But she didn’t give up. She came closer still, till she was right inside my head. I could feel her strutting about looking for vulnerabilities- going through the archives and dissecting each document she found.
A few rain drops later, she hit hard.
“Tring tring, tring tring…you remember it don’t you?”
In that instance, I saw my father receive the call and his face contort immediately after. It just took two words to do that to him.
Now my eyes got moist and the lump rose up and hit my nose. The flood gates opened and a rusty tasting liquid flew out of my nose and eyes.
I could feel her trying to hide her smirk. But she was like me, pathetic at hiding things and keeping secrets.
“Have fun darling. I shall be back soon.” She gave me a cold hug and left. I remained in the square of the semi open space, with the patter of the rain in my ears and a raging ocean in my eyes.
The red pen stand in her room amused me. A latest addition, I assumed. It was a pig with a hole in its back with pens sticking out of it. Some of those instruments of torture and relief, lacked a head and some were stripped to their basic minimum clothing.
“Is that new?” I asked the doctor.
“Yes it is. It was a gift from a patient. You like it, do you?”
“I think I do. It is amusing how we disfigure objects to fit our need. The color is nice though. It’s the color of life,” I was talking to another soul after long. It felt different now; needed more of my concentration and effort.
“Hmm. I will gift you one if you succeed in overcoming your condition,” she said with a 32 all out smile.
I was back in first grade again. My teacher had promised me a caramel toffee if I finished writing ‘I am Radhika’ in cursive hand at least fifty times by the end of the hour. Well of course I could manage just thirty, but the feeling remained the same.
“Let’s get back now. Tell me about your father. Are you angry with him still?”
Suddenly her dirty yellow walls looked more interesting than her banter. A bee buzzed into the room and went straight ahead and collided with the yellow. It kept colliding with the same spot for five times before it fell on the ground and gave a sigh of relief (or at least I would like to imagine).
“Ya right…umm…angry at him? No not really. Did you notice what the bee did? It seemed like it was on a suicide mission.”
“Suicide. Well, do you have any suicidal thoughts?” she asked as she raised her glasses up to look at me. Her interest in me had doubled now. I was a complex code she was trying to decode and she had found her first big lead.
“Ah…no. It takes too much of effort and I am kind of attached to my flat. So no.”
“Haha…right.” Again the forced laugh. I bet if we counted the number of times an individual forces emotions on themselves and remove those instances from their lives, they would be left as zombies with poker faces.
“If not anger, what emotion do you feel when you think of him?” By now she was sitting absolutely upright with her back as straight as a crane’s neck.
“I can’t say for sure, really. I think I am sad but how does one know what emotion they are feeling? We give a certain type of feeling a name and get done with it. What about the other types?”
“What other types of emotions do you feel?” She was squinting now.
“How about something bordering indifference and sadness? Or something where you are so happy that you are sad.”
“Right. So your ghost…how is it these days?”
“It is a she and I would much rather you address her by her gender,” I was offended. Nobody referred to her as ‘it’.
“Why a female though?”
“She has the subtle beauty of a woman and she makes me suffer like a dog.”
Now she was confused. Who wouldn’t be? I wanted to get rid of her, but I respected her. She was slowly becoming a part of me. I would miss her if she went away. I would feel empty once more.
As soon as I realized this, I grabbed my bag, made a lame excuse about having to pick up the mail for a friend and headed towards the door.
I hadn’t much cash on me, so I headed for the subway. While I was waiting for my train, a butterfly flew next to me. It had the eye on its wings and it stood there, fluttering its wings waiting for the train, like everyone else.
It got on the train with the other passengers when the coach arrived and got off two stations before mine. I would only assume that it, like me, had urgent business to tend to.
Once I entered the apartment, I called to her. She came out running with her white teeth bared and hugged me tight.
“Welcome home darling. What would you want to see today?”
I gathered my courage, looked her straight in the eye and said, “don’t go. Don’t ever leave me. I need you for survival. I’ll make you a deal. You torture me as much as you want but don’t ever fade away in smoke. Please.”
“Never.” She looked scared.
He had dark hair and pink lips. I could see his brows burrow through the crack of the book rack. He exhaled and put the book back in its place. Ten seconds later, he picked it up again and sighed. No one can stay away from that one.
Everybody has a Rebecca in their life and so did he. Those eyes found mine and smiled.
“Don’t do that to yourself. It’s a trap. He will leave, like everyone else,” she insisted.
Suddenly I was transferred to a room from my childhood. It was decorated with souvenirs from my past and a closed suitcase, ready to board a flight. My dad came out of the adjoining room and without a second glance caught hold of the other girl with the pink ribbon, took the suitcase and left.
I was left with my souvenirs and a muffled voice that didn’t speak when it ought to have.
My fingers reached to wipe away the ocean of gloom, but instead found the desert. I checked for lumps and a fluffed nose, but found none.
“Hi. You couldn’t resist Rebecca, could you?” I asked those eyes.
“Can anybody really?” They twinkled. “You like your coffee black, I assume?”
“Is that what you want again?” she screamed at my folly.
“Exactly. I am sorry,” I replied.
I could feel her leaving from the back door and on her way out, she smiled.