The Search

Ting Tong!!

She woke up alarmed as the door bell rang. She picked her mobile phone and looked for the time. It was ten minutes to two at night. She woke up Abhishek and they both reached the front door.

It was Shuklaji. The guard on charge at night. Swati got worried.

“What happened Shuklaji?”, asked Abhishek and Swati simultaneously.
“At this hour of night? All well?”, Swati added.

Shuklaji asked them to accompany him to the main gate of the society.

As Swati and Abhishek walked with him they inquired what the issue was. But he didn’t respond.

As they reached closer to the gate, they saw her. Sitting cuddled on one side of the road. Speaking continuously in broken sentences.

“Maa, what happened? Why are you here at this unearthly hour?”, asked Swati.
“He was here. He came home. And when I asked him where he was going he did not respond. I followed him. He was here. But they didn’t let me stop him. Tarun went away. Swati, Tarun needs me. Let me go. Ask them to let me go.”

“Maa, what are you doing? You know he is not there. Don’t you? Let’s go home.”, Swati told her mother Geeta as she helped her get up. Abhishek followed as Swati and Geeta walked back home hand in hand.

***********

Swati and Abhishek became friends while she was in college. It was around that time that Swati’s elder brother Tarun who was born with a serious immune deficiency disorder known as Pulmonary Fibrosis, died at twenty-one years of age. After about nine months of this tragedy, Swati’s father committed suicide leaving them with huge debts incurred during Tarun’s treatment.

Relatives took charge of the family only to take ownership of the house. The only asset the father had left for his wife and daughter. Geeta had shown immense courage during this period as she knew she had no choice but to be strong to survive in a world with a young unmarried daughter. Geeta avoided most family members as she feared everyone. It was difficult to make out who the friend is and who the foe. This episode left them all alone.

Geeta brushed up on her stitching and tailoring skills. She also ran a crèche with about forty children at a time. She struggled hard to help Swati graduate. Things got a little better when Swati joined an IT firm.

Abhishek was from a different caste and had difficulty in convincing his parents. After about two years, Abhishek finally succeeded and got married to Swati in a simple affair with just close friends and family.

After the initial troublesome stay at in-laws, Swati and Abhishek moved in with Geeta. A year later they had a beautiful daughter, Naina. Things were going on smoothly for the next year and a half. And then Geeta started accusing Swati and Abhishek of having moved in with the intention of acquiring the property. They adjusted for a while, but the moved out as it started affecting their relationship with each other. They stayed in the same society so as to help Geeta whenever she needed them. Geeta too slowly realized her mistake. She started taking care of Naina. She proved to be a great support to the young working parents and a boon to little Naina. She showered all her love on this tiny soul that she could die for.

Geeta slowly started becoming stranger in her behaviour with people. She lost temper at petty issues. She spoke about strange incidents that had never occurred. And sometimes she spoke of someone who was following her. But Swati had ignored this completely due to her strenuous motherhood along with a demanding job and a full-fledged house to take care. Geeta shuttled between her own house and Swati’s place as per her mood swings.

*************

Swati gave Geeta a tablet prescribed by her doctor for sleeplessness. Geeta sat next to little Naina and kept holding onto Swati’s hand till she finally fell asleep.

Swati took Geeta to a psychiatrist on the advise of the neighbours and a few close friends. Dr. Dhingra prescribed some medicines (mostly sedatives) and asked Swati to meet him the next day without fail.

Swati met Dr.Dhingra the very next day. He told her that Geeta was suffering from Schizophrenia. He informed her that medicines would have helped to a large extent if it was an early stage. He said that Geeta had to be admitted to be kept under medical observation for at least two or three months. He mentioned that she experiences hallucinations and is unable to differentiate between real people and imaginary ones. Patients with such conditions were a risk for the people closely associated with them. He said she might end up hurting someone to the extent of killing or might even consider suicide.

Swati thought of taking a second opinion. Workload took over and days passed.

Abhishek picked up Swati from her office and had planned to go out for dinner on their eighth anniversary. They reached home to pick Geeta and Naina. A crowd around the building is what they witnessed. People whispering to each other made them both anxious. They ran up to the house. Naina was tied on to the sofa with dupattas. They scanned the house but could not find Geeta. That’s when Shuklaji took them downstairs. Geeta’s blood-stained body lay on the backside of the building.

Back home Naina was crying, Grandma went to bring Tarun back. She didn’t take me with her.”

**************

Health must be of utmost importance to each and every person. Mental health is all the more important. Depression or anxiety is prevalent in every person. The only difference is the power to overcome such negative depressive thoughts. People with mental disorders need help. If necessary help is provided on time many lives can be saved. Families shy away from talking about the patients for fear of being ostracized by society. We as a society need to understand and accept that we can play a very vital role in someone’s life. The patient can be anyone. You. Me. A loved one. A neighbour. A coworker. A fellow passenger. Or anyone else.

So the next time you find someone behaving strangely, try to be kind enough to help them in the smallest way possible. First and foremost, stop treating them as someone with a communicable disease.

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5 Replies to “The Search”

  1. I enjoyed this post. Mental health is still not given much importance in India and it’s such a shame. If you think about the number of kids committing suicide, you would think mental health would have been given importance long ago. Sadly, there’s still a long way to go. Thanks for the post. It’s the sad plight of many…

  2. It is heartbreaking to read about suicides which could have been avoided had someone paid attention to the ones suffering. Lending a helping hand is the first step, kindness doesn’t cost anything.

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