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Author Topic: I am Remarkable  (Read 1251 times)
« on: October 11, 2016, 02:18:55 PM »

I look at the clock on the wall, as I button my shirt. Damn the time – I am getting late, and damn my bad luck that I’d been sleeping till now.
Usually I should be hanging out with friends at this time of the day, but here I am changing my clothes. I must not miss this appointment. I must not this appointment. Reciting this several times I roll up my sleeves. I roll my eyes and gaze at the empty packs of cigarettes and cans of Red Bull round my bed. 
I’ve been in my room for the past two weeks, most of the times on my bed. I didn’t go to college, and missed my elementary exams. All because two weeks ago, I had come to an existential crisis, to a moment when I asked the meaning of life and the purpose of existence. I concluded that it had no meaning.
It was just a moment, like a flash of light. But since then I don’t enjoy things such as eating, or drinking, or listening to music, or sex, or having social interactions. Therefore, today I am going to attend an appointment I’ve with a psychiatrist.
I took her address from the internet. She has her office somewhere around Connaught Place. As an exceptional psychiatrist, she sometimes appears on TV to discuss certain issues. So you see her list of waiting patients, as she calls it, is long. But my friend Bahaw has somehow got an appointment for me today.
Bahaw is in the kitchen, making two strong drinks, as he likes to say.
“This lady is one of the finest psychiatrists in Delhi,” he tells me as he comes out of the kitchen with two glasses in his hands. He’s dressed as fashionably as ever. Bahaw is my dandy friend and I am his bindaas friend and by that he means that I am someone who is not interested in or concerned about life and the world.
“People wait for month’s to see her,” he adds on. “So if you miss this appointment, we’ll not get such a chance in a month.”
“I will not waste this chance,” I say, as he hands me one of the glasses. I drink it in one gulp.
Then putting down my glass I head to the door. I can’t believe I’ve let Bahaw talk me into this, into going to see a psychiatrist. It feels so unnatural, so weird. But then Bahaw is exceptional. He knows me more than myself. I believe he does.
There is a heavy traffic as I set off from Malviya Nagar towards Connaught Place. It’s early and I don’t have to be in Connaught place until six thirty. Fortunately, I’ve left home an hour prior to my appointment. Google map said it was half an hour drive, but I’m not sure I’d get there in time had I trusted Google Maps.
My destination is Ruby Hall. It’s a tall building, posh and dynamic, made of modern material such as glass and steel, a perfect sign of modern human civilization.
It’s a quarter past six when I arrive, relieved that I’m not late, as I enter into a marbled lobby, cool and buzzing with people all in white uniforms, with no noise or smell of Indian streets.
Behind the counter is sitting a lady, not as young as me, but with much smarter manner and sharper looks. “I’m here for my appointment with Dr. Sharma. I am iDas.”
“One moment please,” she gestures with her hand. I’m beginning to regret I didn’t wear one of my Levi’s jeans. I’m not much into my looks and have just made little effort to wear a clean shirt, my flip flops, and a short! This is what I dress most of the time; but this occasion is not most of the time. I take out my phone to busy myself, pretending I’m cool with my appearance.
“Please fill this form and pay the fee.” She kindly hands me a paper and a pen.
I fill the form and hand it back to her with her pen, some cash, and a bundle of thanks.
 “Take the elevator on the right and press for the tenth floor.” She smiles kindly at me, amused no doubt that I’m visiting a psychiatrist.
She hands me a receipt, as if I’m a customer in a market. I can’t help my smirk. Surely it’s obvious that to them I’m a customer, not a patient.
Thanking her once again, I walk over to the bank of elevators when it’s door slides open and two people come out, carrying a young boy in a stretcher who is in a far more serious situation in life than I am.
In the elevator, I’m with a bundle of other people. As we go up higher floors, few people are left. At the seventh floor, only two; me and a girl who’s as young. I want to ask her if she’s going to the psychiatrist as well, but before that the elevator stops on the ninth floor. I’m the only person going to the tenth floor.
The doors to the tenth floor slide opens, and I’m in a corridor, broad, and lit by white light. There’s another counter and another lady in blue jacket.
“Dr. Sharma will see you in five minutes,” she says gesturing me the waiting room.
The waiting room is spacious, with equally comfortable chairs set round the walls. But there is no color here, no paintings on the walls, no noise of life, and no windows. Even more, there’s no one waiting here. For a moment I’m stunned by the atmosphere in this room. My heart starts pumping as suspicious pours into my mind. I take a deep breath to stop it all.
I sit down, open my phone to read something about psychology, inwardly cursing for forgetting to ask Bahaw what to talk about. I don’t know much about psychology. So the psychiatrist might ask questions I don’t know the answer to. My heart begins to beat faster, making my breaths short. I rise and slowly pace up and down the room. I’ve never been a social person, preferring to be in the background in all social contexts. I always sit at the back of the class, and rarely exchange any words with my classmates. To be honest, I don’t want to leave my apartment. In my apartment I feel calm and free to listen to music, while walking up and down my room, with a can of Red Bull in one hand and a lighting cigarette in the other. Not walking up and down here this windowless room.
I begin playing with the patterns on the marble floor, to distract myself from the crave of a cigarette. Calm down, iDas. Judging from my experience with other doctors, I guess the lady psychiatrist will take ten to fifteen minutes of my time. to smoke my next cigarette it might take half an hour. It’s not a long time.
Another lady in blue enters the waiting room. I slow down my pace as she approaches. Taking a deep breath, I halt.
“Mr…?” she says with a pause, as she opens the file in her hand. “iDas?” she looks up for confirmation.
“Yes,” I reply. “I’m iDas.”
“I must take your blood pressure for the record,” she says.
“Oh, Please.” I struggle to roll up my sleeves. What the hell is wrong here? Am I the only patient around?
“Have you checked your weight?”
“Um-no.” f**k! I might be around for a while?
She walks to the corridor, where she cries to the lady in blue, saying in Hindi, “Geeta, enka weight check karana?”
She comes back to me and putting on her stethoscope checks my blood pressure.
“She’ll check your blood pressure?” she says, taking off her stethoscope.
“Ok,” I murmur. “I’ll go. Thank you.”
I walk to the corridor where the lady in blue, the one without stethoscope, asks me stand on a weight machine she’s brought. I step on the machine and the screen shows 61.73 k g.
 “Thank you,” she says.
I step down and come back to the waiting room.
Perhaps Mrs. Sharma will give me prescription for a week. I’m wondering idly if she’ll give any medical tests before that, when the office door opens and a young fashionably dressed, smart man exits. He sees me, and smiles gently, perhaps at my appearance.
 The nurse comes running with my file in her hand. She passes by me and darts into Dr. Sharma’s office. She’s more nervous than me!
“Dr. Sharma is asking for you,” she says as she comes out, with her breaths short. I stand rather shakily, with my hand in a fist to suppress my fear. Gathering up my nerves, I make my way to the door, but hesitate a bit.
“She’s waiting – go in please.”
I push open her door and go through, entering a psychiatrist’s office for the first time in my life.
What the hell – and what the hell with this life! For a moment I’m absent. A gentle voice welcomes me. I am nervous. I’m feeling cold and I’m shaking with fear.
“Mr. iDas.” the psychiatrist smiles, once I raise my eyes. “I’m Anita Sharma. Please be comfortable, and give me a moment.”
She’s very friendly and very warm. She’s wearing, a white coat which means she’s at work, so she’s very formal. It takes a moment for me to realize she has asked me to be comfortable.
Her office is posh like a palace room for a sick king. Everything is white, ceiling, floors, and walls, save for the one behind me which is a floor-to-ceiling window, overlooking the Delhi skyline, The India Gate appears like a tiny sand tower at a far distance.
“Please have a seat,” she says. I turn back and see there is only one chair. I sit there.
She closes a file on her table, and opening another one writes something at the top. I guess, it might be the date or my name. I take a deep breath, clenching all my muscles not to shiver. Now I have a file on the desk of a psychiatrist.
“What’s your age Mr. iDas?”
“21,” I say, with no emotion in my tone, perhaps because I have hardly spoken to anyone for the past one week. She seems mildly surprised by my tone.
“Ok,” she says simply. I think she’s formed an idea what might be wrong with me, but I’m not sure.
On the wall behind the lady psychiatrist, there are two photo frames. On his left is a painting of world’s prominent religions, which makes me wonder what such a thing is doing in the office of a psychiatrist who believes in science?
But then as I look to the picture on her right side, I see her degree. I can’t read it, but I can make out Harvard University.
“Now,” she asks, raising her head. “Tell me how can I help you?”
“I don’t enjoy life.”
“So you’re depressed.”
“No!” I cry, to show her that I know what depression is and that I am not depressed at all. I inhale and sitting back say, “I go out with friends I eat, I drink. We play games, we watch movies, we go to dance clubs, we pick up girls. But I don’t enjoy any.”
I pause. She’s still writing. I frown. Without interrupting her writing she asks, “How long has it been?”
“Six months ago,” I say. My eyes widen at the realization, and I suddenly feel awaken to the fact that it’s been indeed a long time that I don’t experience pleasure in my life. I sit up and control my breaths. How have I survived in all these times?
“And so you don’t feel like chilling out or having fun?” With her head dropped, she’s taking notes of my replies.
“No! I like to go out with friends. I like to pursue pleasure in my life. Think of me as someone who wants to enjoy life, to sense life, just like Epicure, but has lost the ability to experience joy.” I pause to gather more words. “I believe the universe is a very beautiful place, and that life is the greatest gift of all, and that it’s my turn to be on the surface of existence is a valuable present.”
“Then how can you say you don’t enjoy it if you say life is a gift?”
This is the first question on my list – but she’s asking it. I’m momentarily statue. 
“I want to know if the universe has a meaning. The harder I look for an answer, the less I find.” 
“You sound like a philosopher,” she says, with a smile.
 “Oh, I am a philosopher, Miss Sharma,” I say without a pint of humor in my tone. She looks at me with appreciation. My heart fills, and I see that my tone has changed a bit. Why does this little complement have such an effect on me? She’s waiting for me to speak more, with the pen in her hand still.
“I’ve been in pursuit of knowledge since my childhood. I had a library, a small cabinet in my room. Now, as I see back, I feel I’ve spent all my time in that room, which is something that equally frightens and liberates me.” The words perfectly describe my past, though I’m surprised am I suddenly such wise.
“Do you feel that you have special knowledge?” she asks, her voice soft.
“Knowledge is special in itself. Knowledge gives me a certain sense of importance – speciality, if you will. If I were to decide I was no longer interested in knowing this universe or whatever you call it we’ve come to, that day I think I’d be no more.”
My eyebrows are arched. I am staggered. I’ve never expressed these words to anyone before.
“Do you have friends?” She asks, politely.
“I do! I think it’s Aristotle who says, ‘friends are the happy side of life.” I raise an eyebrow at being so philosophical.  Of course, I would have come earlier to a psychiatrist had I know I could be so much philosophical. But what a second, she’s indifferent to my words.
“And do you have any interests outside of your studies?”
“I have many.” I pause to think of my interests. And for some reason, I want to tell her, “I sleep during the day and spent the nights awake.”
 Her eyes are alight with some mystery or confusion. “If you stay awake all night, what do you do?”
“I listen to music.” I smile, not knowing if it’s relevant. I stop breathing. She’s right. What do I do staying awake all night.
“Well, I listen to music and smoke cigarettes, and while walking up and down think with myself.” I sit properly. “I ask myself if life has a meaning. If the existence has a purpose.”
I glance quickly at myself, wanting to get off this subject.
“Why you ask yourself about the purpose of existence. Why specifically this question?”
“I am puzzled by this question. I want to know if I am a useful part of this universe? As a physicist I know that my life is like a flicker of a candle in this desert of existence. And I have a desire to matter.”
“That sounds to be way off from the reality, don’t you agree?”
My eyes suddenly widen and I stare in surprise.
“Possibly.” I guess that’s what my friends would say.
She notes it. Then looking up she says, “Would your friends say you’re odd?” What the hell!  Her question is odd.
“No my friends never say that. I think it was Aristotle who said, ‘a true friend is the one whose mere sight makes you happy.’ They come to me all the time and every time they come to me their mere sight makes me happy.”
I know how much happy Bahaw has made me. It’s because of him I’m sitting here craving like a monster for a cigarette, when I should be smoking outside.
“So you actually experience pleasure?”
“No. The effect doesn’t last very long. I feel joyous when we see each other in a club or café; but only for a moment. Beyond that moment whatever I drink or eat, there is no pleasure in it.”
“You said you think about the meaning of life. Do you think you’re somehow concerned about the humanity?”
“I do. I feel I am part of a great race that has come a long way, a hard way. That feeling has become even stronger after I read the history of civilization a few months ago.”
“That sounds very philanthropic,” she says dryly. “But what I meant was do you feel you’re responsible to save the humanity or bring them a new torch, or a new way of life?”
I purse my lips.
“I am not sure,” I murmur, though I think it doesn’t make sense – I can’t see the connection between it and psychology. I am confused by this question, confused by her attitude. “Though I sometimes feel I should have a better role among my race, to do something good for them.”
“So you have such ambitions?”
“I don’t have such ambitions. It’s just what I think sometimes, and within the realm of thought, as Rumi says, there is only freedom.”
“So you want to know if life has a meaning so to tell them?”
Not only life; the whole existence. “I want to know if I matter, in the game of existence. Yes. I want to know the meaning of life.”
“You sound like a Massiah.”
“Thank you.” I smile, but she’s busy taking notes. Again, this is at odds with what I had come here for, so I can’t help thinking that we’re talking about, but I’m mystified by our conversations as it is. I breathe through my nose. The room is becoming a very boring place, or maybe it’s just me. I just want this interview to be over. Surely she has enough material now. I just want to go and smoke a cigarette.
“Tell me about your childhood,” Oh, this is personal. I stare at her, hoping she gets to the main topic.
“In my childhood I was a very good part of the universe.”
She makes a face as if she’s surprised. “Could you please elaborate how?”
“I had immense thirst for knowledge. I wouldn’t let a day turn into night until I learned something new about myself or the universe I’m in now.” My mood is better now. Great! – If I’d known I was doing this interview, I would have come earlier.
“You have no such a thirst now?”
“No.” My voice is tense.
“Why do you think you don’t have such a thirst now Mr. iDas?” she asks. Her eyes are ablaze.
“Because I have faced a question to which there is no answer in the book of Science.”
I inhale sharply, and I look up, more alive. Great!
How can I relate this to psychology, these answers I’m giving? How can she tell me why I can’t experience joy in life by these answers I reply? Damn Bahaw and his insist!
“What is that question?” She raises her head, curiosity gleaming in his eyes. She’s ready not only to take note, but to conclude.
“Mmmm. It’s, um … does the universe has a meaning?” It’s not the first time I’ve said that. Her manner is frantic, and in her tone there is a pint of excitement. She sits  back in her chair.
“Don’t you think that’s a very big question?”
O! She’s becoming interested in that question.
“It is indeed a big question, but is not the existence as well, Is not life a big gift, is not the now a big present, and is not the universe a big place, and is not the human a big race.”
Oh no. I have been lecturing like a mystic. And she has been listening with indifference.
“Do you think you are a very important person in history?”
O! She’s now using my lexicon. Important. History.
No. I don’t feel so.”
“If you think there is no answer to your question then why you’re still looking for?” she asks, her voice serious.
Hang on, she’s asking questions about the answers I’ve provided her. Ok. It’s time to give some answers so that no questions remain.
“I don’t accept it if it doesn’t have a meaning.” My voice is raised and stern.
She ducks under her desk as if she’s looking for something. She returns with a thick blue book in her hand,  pherhaps an encyclopedia. When she opens before me on the table, I look at it with my eyes narrowed. Oh, It’s just like somebody has poured a bucket of many colors on the page.
“Mmm. ” I don’t see, anything. It’s just random colors poured. But then, as I observe closer, I see it. A painting of an animal hidden in the background by the colors.
“A tiger.” It’s such a childish test to be psychological!
She turns the page. “And on this page?” Her eyes are alight with excitement.
“A penguin. No! A dragon.”
Where are we going with this? She turns page after page and asks me question.
“And on this page?”
“A butterfly.”
I shrug, amused by this simple test. What the hell this might be for. I can’t really find the connection between psychology, and the questions she has been asking, and then this test!
The book, which appeared very thick to me consists of only fourteen very thick pages, les or more. How long could a children’s book be? I wait with patience, while controlling my crave for a cigarette.
“What is this test for?” I ask to distract myself.
 “It’s called Rorschach test,” she replies absent mindedly. “It was invented in 1964.” I raise my eyebrows in surprise. That’s not the answer to my question!
“I’ll give you prescription but you have to promise me that you’ll be back to me next week,” she says.
I feel my eyes widening, and my heart begins to pump. Is so much wrong with me?
“Why?” I ask, my voice raise without my intention.
“Because people like you usually don’t come back to the psychiatrist and don’t take the medicines properly.” Her gaze is intense, all smiles gone, and suddenly I feel she’s very serious. I turn my eyes down and stare blindly at the marble floor. What’s going on? Suddenly I feel my body becoming warm and my heart leaping.
“OK – I promise.”
I feel relaxed as I finally promise her that I’ll be back next week. She begins writing the prescription. I glance at the time on my phone. It’s almost seven o’clock.
“Is it depression?” I ask. My breaths are short. It might be. I hate depression as much as boredom.
“No,” she replies, writing the prescription. “It’s schizophrenia.”
And it sounds like a liberation or celebration, I’m not sure which. I frown. Have I ever heard this word? I shake my head in surprise that this word is as unknown to me as the word energy to a Neanderthal.
“How do you spell it?” I must read about it on Wikipedia.
“It’s S.C.H …”
“Could you write it on a paper?” I jump in.
“Of course.” She gives me a little smile. Obviously, she’s happy that she’s found what is going wrong with me.
“Will I be better in three months?” I ask, and her smile widens.
“Maybe,” she says.
 I’m glad I’ve come to visit you. She hands me the prescription, and I rise to leave the room. I’m surprised when she softly calls my name as I open the door. I turn round.
“Take care,” she says.
“I will.”
I leap into the door happy that I’m at last going to smoke a cigarette, and even happier with this experience. I pass by the lady in blue sitting at the counter, and walk to the elevator bank. I press the button and stand waiting – with the prescription tight in my hand as if it contains a highly important matter. Like the Pythagoras theorem, or the pie.
The door opens, and I hurry in, desperate to leave. I really need to get the f**k out of here. When I turn to face the door, I realize that from this moment on there would be a great change in my life. I’m really, very, very excited. I am thrilled.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2016, 05:52:39 AM by avesthom » Logged
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