Archive | November, 2013

The Calling

14 Nov

I took up psychology in my under graduation solely on a whim. The subject was different, didn’t involve useless rote learning and very honestly, sounded cool. However, through the first two years of the course, I was disheartened, because it was nothing like what I had imagined it to be. I was constantly rushing to meet deadlines for practical reports I couldn’t make much sense out of, studying subjects like sociology and philosophy and even mathematics, a demon I had been running away from all through my high school. Since I was fortunate enough to study at the best college in the country, I knew I couldn’t blame it on the faculty or the course. It had to be the discipline, and suddenly the spontaneous selection of the subject didn’t seem so right after all. I was soon regretting not taking up journalism or economics.

In the third year, I was introduced to Abnormal Psychology, a paper that dabbled with all the interesting and sometimes bizarre disorders, and my faith in the discipline was restored to an extent. I found myself studying outside the course, something I had never done. It had whet my appetite for more and it was this hunger that drove me to contemplate a future in this stream. Only, there was one small doubt. Clinical psychologists don’t bring in the moolah and the prospect of fat wallets owned by pursuers of Organisational Psychology started luring me towards it. I was caught between the love for Clinical Psychology and the need to earn enough to live comfortably. After all, who wants to live with a salary as meagre as a student’s allowance all their lives?

It was to solve this dilemma that I interned at a neuropsychiatric hospital this summer, to get an idea of how all the disorders I had studied about actually manifest in people like you and me, how it changes them from fully functioning people to frightened, confused beings and to learn how help and support is extended to them. In less than even five hours a day for a month, I knew this was my calling.

I worked under a warm and amiable psychiatrist, who I soon learned was not only loved by the interns, but also by the staff, the patients and their families. I was amazed at the way the patient’s families worshipped him. Like a mother once told me with tears in her eyes, “He is God for us.” I could only imagine the immense satisfaction he must be feeling every night while falling off to sleep, having helped hundreds of individuals lead a fulfilling life once again. But this was not what decided it for me.

We were asked to interact with one in-patient during the internship, conducting minor tests on them, having general conversations with them, and overall building a rapport with them. Mine was a middle aged lady who had suffered from frontal lobe injury and had lost her control over basic movements, her bowels and bladder, and her sense of orientation. I was nervous on the first visit but soon I grew fond of the lady. I found myself thinking of her even after work, explained patiently as she asked intrigued how I put kajal in my eyes and almost wept when she wrote on a piece of paper ” I really want to go home to see my children” and gave it to me. Soon, we were waving at each other whenever our paths crossed in the hospital and she turned to me for comfort whenever she felt ambushed by strangers in the wing. She progressed gradually and a week after she was discharged, she came to the hospital for a follow up having driven the car on her own! She sought me out and proceeded to thank me for all the help. I was taken aback since it was the doctor who cured her, I was just an intern. She looked at me with gratitude washed on her face, an image I will never forget and told me, “You were there when I was lost and scared.” And it was in that one moment that I just knew that this is what I want to do all my life. The kind of happiness you feel when you realise that you were instrumental in restoring peace and sanity to an individual, that you could comfort a person who is scared by his own thoughts, is beyond compare.

Sure, it was not a joyride throughout. In the course of the one month, I had been sternly scolded by a highly irritable girl suffering from mania, been asked to leave without being allowed to ask a single question by a patient of schizophrenia and dealt with patients who would stubbornly stay silent while you run out of ideas to get a word out of them. Yes, it was exasperating and both emotionally and mentally drained you at times, but nothing in the world can compare to the joy you feel when you see the bed ridden patient go back into the world and live their lives, with a little help from you at a time when they didn’t even know how to live with themselves. Nothing can ever compare to the kind of attachment you build with a complete stranger, someone whose name you soon start to add in your prayers.

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Steps To Heal A Mutilated Heart

13 Nov

So your partner just broke up with you and life seems to have lost all its purpose. You are cranky, irritable and always ready to bite off heads. It feels like you are standing helplessly on a quicksand which is slowly sucking you in, you are losing parts of yourself, and at one point, you don’t even struggle to get out of it, what’s life worth now anyway?

We all have been stuck in that place at least once in our lives and things really do seem bleak at that point. However, most of us would also stand testimony to the fact that no matter how impossible it seems then, we do get over the person and move on. All we need is time, and a tiny little hope and urge to start over.

Here are a few good things about being single and a few simple things to keep in mind while tending to a broken heart and a bruised ego.

1. You save on a lot of money. All the money earlier spent on phone bills, travel, birthday gifts, anniversary gifts, first date gifts, first kiss gifts are now all yours to spend! Go splurge on those cute overpriced shoes or the hard drive you have been wanting for so long.

2. All the time you spent on talking about your last meal, or what is happening with her sister’s brother in law’s neighbour can now actually be put to good use. Explore yourself. Give wings to your creativity. Write, paint, dance, sing, travel. You might just have a Picasso or an Enid Blyton hidden inside you, waiting to be discovered.

3. Now you can finally do all the things you couldn’t while in a relationship because your partner didn’t approve of them. Always wanted to get a Rihanna bob but didn’t because your boyfriend loved your long tresses? Now is the time to give yourself that makeover!

4. Meet new people and make lots and lots of friends. Remember. You may have given up on love, but love definitely hasn’t given up on you. You might just end up marrying the next person you say ‘hi’ to! Don’t try to fight love, its futile. It’s not love you have your battles against, your battles are against your partner who wronged you.

5. Humans are prone to doing exactly what is prohibited. Hence, never set negative goals for yourself. Set small, achievable goals framed in a positive statement. Thus, instead of “I will not think about him/her”, tell yourself, “I will engage myself an hour everyday in reading/working out/dancing.”

6. Do not shut your friends out because you are too embarrassed to talk about the whole mess. You call them friends for a reason. They will wait till you are strong enough to talk about it yourself, months, even years later. Though once you are completely healed, drunk at a reunion years later, they might just tell you about the intolerable jerk you were the entire time you were lovestruck, and you will find yourself agreeing and laughing along with them!

7. Staying all day in your pajamas, with messy and oily hair or unshaven beard might seem like the way of life post breakup, and can be allowed for a day or two, maybe even a week. But a very important and easy way to lift your spirits is to do whatever makes you feel beautiful and confident. Dress yourself up everyday, do your hair, shave off the Hagrid like beard, resume the dance lessons or restart going to the gym. Looking pretty or getting back into shape will immediately make you feel better about yourself.

8. All the sad songs will make sense right now, even the cheesy ones. Every other song will seem like it has been written just for you and that the singer is empathising with you. DO NOT fall into that trap. Listening to depressing music will never make you feel better. Instead, listen to soothing, inspirational numbers. For we are not looking for another reason for self pity here. We are looking for motivation to get back up after the fall and walk away despite the bruises.

9. This may be a little out of your comfort zone, but try and volunteer a few hours at an NGO. This way, you will be extending your love and care to people who will value and treasure it. Also, you would realise that the gap toothed smile of the homeless little girl is more calming than your lover’s smile and the ecstatic licks of the tiny homeless puppy will soon make you forget your lover’s kisses.

So go ahead and try some of these. Stop drunk dialing your partner and weeping inconsolably every time they pick up your call. Remember, it really is not worth it if they have to be convinced to stay with you. You won’t be fixing your failed relationship, only delaying the end, eventually losing your identity in the process.

Save your sanity. Save your dignity. Save your soul.

The Bride Game

12 Nov

The girl bends down to touch the feet of the elders around her, peering shyly through slowly rising eyelids. She smiles apprehensively, adjusting the dupatta over her head with fumbling hands. She moves to the next person in the family of her in laws, smiling as she thanks the chaachi for the compliment on her saree, sheepishly tucking the loose lock of hair behind her ear as the daadi complains about not being able to see her face properly. Her eyes wander off, searching for the man soon to be her fiance, and the unbound love in his eyes sets her nervous fluttering heart to a rest. She takes a moment to soak in the adoration being bestowed upon her by the new family, the soft kiss of the dupatta on her head, the clinking of the bangles on her wrists, and the furtive glances by her man. The thrill, joy and nervousness soumersaulted in her heart, making her feel as giddy as a six year old.

The six year old freezes in the middle of the room as she senses her mother standing quietly at the door, observing her with stifled giggles. Clad in a bedsheet, with a pallu of the same draped over her head, mismatched cheap metal bangles bought at the local fair on her wrists, the little girl stands rooted to the spot, mid conversation with her make believe sister in law, one hand clutching the end of the bedsheet over her head. She slips to the corner of the room, murmuring to herself, hastily taking off the bindi she had taken from her mother’s dressing table, striving for a desperate attempt to make her ridiculous situation look a little normal.

Having grown up as a single child, the little girl spent most of her play time with her best friend, her imagination. Sometimes she acted out scenes from a song or movie, twirling with unsteady feet, one hand outstretched for the lover to run and grab. The other times she haggled with the vegetable vendors, stuffing imaginary tomatoes in her imaginary wicker basket. But one of her favourites was pretending to be a newly wed or a prospective bride. There was something about the idea of marriage that mystified her.

She knew nothing about romantic relationships or weddings, about husbands or mother in laws, about duties and responsibilities. Nor did she have any faces assigned to all the people she spoke to, walking around the room, blushing and smiling at walls and cupboards. However, she did understand the anxiety a girl experiences concerning the approval from one’s in laws, the reassurance she seeks in the doting eyes of a lover, and how she feels beautiful, with dupattas and bangles adorning her.

For when she imagined this make believe game at six, she wasn’t the skinny, dark girl with short hair and a bedsheet wrapped around her, walking with penguin steps. She was a pretty girl with dark, long, wavy hair and big, kohl lined eyes, exactly how she looked when the childhood game turned into reality, years later. The little girl was infatuated with marriage, a fable like entity. The thought of it never failed to paint her cheeks a shade of pink and turn her heart into jelly. She had already fallen in love, without ever having a brush with romance. As she grew older, this bride game was soon forgotten, pushed to the corners of her mind, an almost embarrassing memory.

However, the girl had never stopped loving marriage, something she soon realised as she sat there years later on the sofa at her boyfriend’s house, trying her best to appear charming. She might have overgrown the bedsheet and the bangles, but deep inside her was the same six year old, craving for appreciation, acceptance, and above all, love.

What is Love?

8 Nov

What is love? An age old question, many a theorists and artists have attempted to define and depict it, but none managed to provide one definite answer. We use the word at least once everyday, usually with a coy smile or a warm, buttery feeling inside. None of us can solve the mystery of it, yet we all have pined for it, chased it, tried to avoid it, and reveled in its glorious charm at some point in our lives. I don’t know what love is either, but I do know what it is NOT.

Love is not a story of happily ever after. Love is not about Prince Charmings. Love is not perfect harmony between two people. Love is not about knowing exactly what the other person wants. Love is not about remembering every birthday or anniversary. Love is not about never having fights. Love is not a promise of forever and ever.

But maybe.

Love is you holding her handbag proudly walking down the road just because she’s tired. Love is you buying him a t-shirt even when you have your heart set on that cute top. Love is you kissing her in a comedy movie because you find that high pitched cackle of hers so endearing. Love is you eating the sour litchis and saving him the sweet ones. Love is you walking over to hug her at a party just because. Love is saving up on lunch money to buy phone credit when you are continents apart.

However, this is not a guide for true love. Nor is it a checklist to determine your Perfect One. These are not the signs you need to look out for, for eternal love. You may have all of this, and yet have Love show you the red card. I know I did. Instead, this is for us to understand that love manifests itself in its greatest intensity in these fleeting moments. Embrace it. Feel loved. Let it fill you up with warm sunshine and replenish your soul. And when it goes away, do not run after it, do not pout and tell your partner that the love is missing. For the more you hanker after it, the farther it gets. It is for us to seek comfort in the idea that it will return soon, maybe in another form, maybe from another person. Love is not the person, it is the feeling. Love is not your partner, it is these moments they gave you. We do not yearn for the person, we yearn for the psychotic happiness we felt with them. And it is this very realization that sets us free, loosening us from the shackles of fear, loss, grief and loneliness.