Prisoners Of The Mind

15 Nov

‚ÄčDifficulty in falling asleep. A plummeting drop in self esteem. Anxiety and panic attacks. Bouts of weeping. Reduction in socialisation. And the devil in a saviour’s disguise in the form of anti-anxiety medicines, and dependence on cigarettes and alcohol. 

The clinical psychologist trainee sat across the visibly distraught client, who mumbled the above mentioned symptoms with downcast eyes, and the psychologist immediately knew that she had to help the person out. Empathy, they say, is an important quality to possess in this profession. Never had she felt the pain of any other case as her own, as she did for this one. Pored over books for hours and designed a therapy plan, only to have it prove completely ineffective. The client returns with the thought  diary as empty as her insides. Maybe the client needs another therapist? On began the search for an experienced and qualified therapist, but as luck would have it, financial and geographical constraints were already conspiring against the client. The client visited her everyday, her blank eyes asking for help, since social stigma had sealed her lips shut.

 Sometimes she would seem like she was improving, and even managed to look up and smile, but only to return a day or two later, her heart bleeding through her eyes. The psychologist would just sit there, feeling more helpless than the client. The client was gradually wilting away, like a beautiful flower that someone had once planted in his garden, only to soon forget to tend to it, while it faced the cruelties of nature, all alone everyday. 

The analogy brought tears to the psychologist’s eyes. She stood up, took one last look at the weeping client, and turned away from the mirror.


Image Source: favim.com

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A Struggle With The Subconscious

27 Dec

The glaring presence of the subconscious had never been apparent to me this strongly till now. I do not deny its impact on our thoughts, actions or dreams. The one time I had a dream about the handbag I was dying to buy? Or the times I call someone else’s name out by mistake because I have been thinking of that person? Or the times my fingers automatically type out a name on the search bar on Facebook? Sure, that’s my subconscious trying to sneak into the awareness, reminding me of its cursed, evil powers. These appearances however, are usually furtive, and more importantly, harmless.

But what do you do when the visits become more frequent, more pressing, more threatening? The subconscious here gets qualified at the highest level of disguising: shrewdly sheathed, yet utterly naked once placed under the sharp eye of introspection. A clever pantomime is staged, with elaborate acts and scenes, all revolving around a central theme, a central emotion, a central character. Once you catch hold of one clue, the whole plot unravels smoothly, and you can see your subconscious standing at a distance and mocking you, reminding you who the master really is.

How else would you explain the visits by X in my dreams every single night, despite my close vigil on my thoughts during the day? How else would you explain the ambiguous remnants of thoughts relating to X in my head, everytime I snap out of a zoned out phase? And how else would you explain the recurrent referral of X in almost every piece written by me, despite my attempts to filter and cross out sentences related to X? Thanks to my subconscious, everything I write has a shadow of a bitter, helpless female lamenting over a loss.

The rest of the things don’t bother me as much Mr. Subconscious, but please don’t jeopardize my writing. It really is one of the most precious things I have.

You know I can very well put you to a projective test and derive enough material to write a thesis on your hooliganism, don’t you? But you probably also know that I won’t. I’m too scared to.

Subconscious: 1. Me: 0

Thoughts Of A Menstruating Woman

25 Dec

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Many a times have I heard men dismiss a woman as ‘PMSing’ every time she gets cranky and irrational. I agree that we go through erratic mood swings which may get difficult to comprehend for you uterus lacking people, but here is a peek into what goes on in a woman’s mind when the menstruation demon decides to pay her the monthly visit. I hope you would sympathize and fetch your girlfriend, sister or best friend some chocolates the next time she turns into a volcano of confused emotions. Or maybe not?

“Oh my god! These cramps feel like contractions! I’m never having a baby!”
“I need to eat some ice cream. It will help soothe my tummy. Oh god no! I’m going to throw up!”
“Maybe I should date this guy, he is so nice to me. Should I message him a casual ‘hi’? Or will that be too desperate? I’ll just send him a funny joke. What if he doesn’t reply? Wait I’ll just see if he is online. Oh great he is. I’m sending a ‘hi’. Oh lord what did I do! Now he will definitely know that I’m stalking him. I’m doomed.”
“I think I should order those cute shoes. Yellow ones or blue ones? Yellow ones are cuter. But blue ones are more useful. I’ll ask my friend. *2 minutes later*. Why the hell is she taking so long to reply back? I’ll just buy the yellow ones. But I already have a similar pair in yellow. Arrgggh I will just wait for the end of season sale and buy whichever is left.”
“What am I doing with my life? I should be doing something more fulfilling. I think I’m going to take a year off and work with an NGO.”
“I wonder what my loser ex boyfriend is upto nowadays. I’m totally over him, a peek into his facebook page won’t hurt. Mr. Selfcenteredasshole uploaded a photo with Miss Iusemyboobstodrawattentionawayfrommyuglyface. How did he get over me so soon?! Great, my eyes won’t stop leaking now. I’m definitely going to throw up.”
“I feel like doing something nice for the people I love. Maybe I will send them all handmade candles as a New Year gift. Or maybe hand made cards. But it will be a lot of work. Okay I will call everyone up and talk for sometime. Who am I kidding? A ‘Happy New Year’ IM should suffice.”
“Look at all these girls. Wearing designer clothes, holidaying in Europe, hanging by the arms of cute guys. And look at me. Sprawled on the bed in my sweatpants, clutching my stomach. Ughh.”
“It is freezing in here. I wish I could hibernate during the winters. Hot flash! Hot flash! I’m burning up! Damn you, periods!”
“I’m going to take a nap. My sides are aching but I cant sleep on my tummy or back. I’ll stab myself if I stain the bedsheet and have to wash it. This pain is blinding, I should have a painkiller. Maybe I should buy those yellow shoes…”

Aalabu

25 Dec

The old man sits down for dinner at the dinner table somewhat lost in his own world. Decades of having financial constraints had taken its toll on him. He notices the table cloth and complains grumpily to his wife to remove it as the texture annoys him. He says, “I have been meaning to ask you to remove it for days now, but I keep forgetting everytime.” Moments like this made the wife feel more strongly about the name she had playfully christened him with, ‘khoosat’. She says, “I’m going to lock the front door, why don’t you write down all the things you want to tell me so that you don’t forget?”, and leaves, wondering what khoosat is going to complain about now. She returns to find only one thing scribbled on the paper, ‘Aalabu’. She smiles and falls in love with him one more time. Aalabu was their family code for ‘I love you’. Their youngest daughter could not pronounce the three magic words when she was a child, so instead, she turned it into an even more magical amalgamated one word, and since then, the family had started using it to convey the kind of love ‘I love you’ failed to express.

The old couple has been married for more than thirty years now. They met each other just a week before their wedding, and the only conversation they had before the wedding was when they silently willed each other in their minds to reject the marriage proposal, as they sat amongst their families. However, neither could convince their parents, and they ended up tying the knot, unenthusiastic and disgruntled.

Over the years of being married, the couple fell in and out of love with each other a lot of times. They argued, fought, stopped talking for days, wept, cursed, loathed. But they also smiled, giggled, danced, cuddled, talked, kissed. The key, of course, was falling back in love with the same person despite having memories of being hurt or mistreated burnt in their minds.

Couples like these teach us to hold on to each other in the toughest times and not give up when you feel that you have had enough. They teach us to forgive, and try to start over, throwing the ugly memories in the trash can every night, and emptying the can every fortnight. They also teach us to have faith in the institution of arranged marriages. Most importantly, they remind us that it is never too late to fall in love.

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Nostalgia

20 Dec

Lately I realised that there have been a lot of ocassions when I have found myself sharing some of my childhood memories, both embarrassing and heart warming, with a few friends, only to have them agree with a surprised and vehement head nod telling me that they used to do exactly the same. Both my siblings went off to boarding school before I was born and the only childhood memories I have of them are of those during their holidays. The rest of the times I was left to come up with games to entertain myself. Here is a list of ten things I remember from my childhood, with my siblings, my friends and my imagination, that always manage to make me sigh with a nostalgic yearning.

1. Screaming ‘ice spice’ having spotted a friend hiding under a desk while playing hide and seek. I clearly had no idea about what ‘ice spice’ meant, or that it was actually supposed to be ‘I spy’. Only the elated feeling of triumph at having discovered the hidden person was what mattered.

2. Pretending to be in a train compartment while sitting on the carriage trolley for logs at my father’s timber saw mill with bhaiya and didi. The only trick was to bend down as low as possible as the trolley approached the very sharp saw, to save our heads.

3. Waiting patiently for my turn to shoot down the ducks on the Nintendo video game. The only other goals in life were to ensure that Mario reaches his wife or the Ninja Turtles achieve their mission. There was an immense craving to learn new skills too, like learning the secret of how my brother manages to do the super cool turbo leg kick on Contra, (a secret he manages to guard till date).

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4. Quarelling over the authenticity of spontaneously made up safe zones while playing ‘kumir danga’ (a Bengali phrase literally translating to crocodile and land), a cultural adaptation of the more well known game, ‘fire and ice’.

5. Playing cricket with my older sister and being allowed to bat on the condition that after hitting the ball, I run after it to fetch it and hand it back to her for bowling again. Yes I was both the batsman and the fielder. Score.

6. Sitting crossed legged in a hidden corner of the room with chart papers, sketch pens, glitters and other art supplies strewn around me the night before mom and dad’s anniversary or birthdays. I would then quietly place the card on their bedside table the next morning and shyly flutter around them waiting for them to discover the big surprise, till they scooped me into a big hug and told me how much they loved it.

7. Opening a few umbrellas and arranging them adjoining each other like a tent and then crawling in with an Enid Blyton story book and a snack. Yes, that was my idea of camping.

8. Spreading talcum powder all over the floor and pretending to ski with my socks on, complete with my hands locked behind my back and a flair only a professional skier could possess. That’s the closest I have ever got, and will get, to skiing.

9. Waking up on Sunday mornings to Rangoli and Chitrahaar on TV and religiously watching Chandrakanta and Disney Hour, getting irritated when there was a power cut on the time of these shows or when my Naani insisted on watching the very boring Shanti.

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10. In pin safety pin
       In pin out
       Khelna hai toh khelo
       Warna get out.

BHU: A Review

17 Dec

Welcome to BHU.

This is the same university that pops up on the second rank when you search for the ‘top ten universities for psychology postgraduation in India’ on google. Second best in India? Second best in what?

This university is so region centric that it denies to cater to the convenience of the few lost and unfortunate souls who landed here from other parts of the country. The university is liable to change the dates of the final semester exams ONE day before the announced date. So you booked your tickets for home in advance and considering the condition of the Indian railways booking system, you won’t get a confirmed ticket for weeks now? Sorry sister, that’s just how they roll.

The university also believes in complicating things in order to make them simple. Simple for? The professors silly! Don’t be surprised if you have six professors teaching you different parts of ONE subject all at the same time. Also, don’t be surprised if at the end of the semester you don’t know which part belongs to which subject. Six times six, thirty six units are being taught to you simultaneously. Cut yourself some slack.

So you are from this elite college where every piece of information regarding classes, syllabus, exam dates, was emailed to you by a very efficient class representative? Well over here, you need to personally go and check at the office everyday for updates. Don’t bother checking the notice board. The information has probably been revised thrice and none of the babus are bothered about putting up a new notice. Remember: It is not about your convenience. It never was.

Be prepared to arrive early for a class after having forgone your breakfast and shower in order to be on time, only to realise that the professor didn’t bother to get out of his warm blanket at nine in the morning or inform you about it. It’s eight degrees bro, the poor man needs his warm snooze.

If you are a girl, brace yourself for the whistles, cat calls and lewd comments when you enter the auditorium to watch a play. No, they are not flattering in any way. They would make you feel naked and so uncomfortable that you would run out with maybe a few tears of frustration, vowing to never come back again.

One final advice, there is no such thing as a deadline in BHU. Whether you missed your assignments, presentations or exams, anything can be fixed by a visit to the professor’s cabin. Just be sure to tell them how awed you are by the way they teach. Or if you happen to belong to the same caste (yes, of the same primitive caste system), he might just offer you a cup of tea and some biscuits.

So I guess it is ranked second in the country for its region centric attitude, flexibility, appreciation of the female beauty and adherence to the comfort of the administration.

Kudos.

It’s Funny

16 Dec

It’s funny when something that would earlier spread a warm buttery feeling all over your chest, begins to send shots of bile into your throat.

It’s funny when something which had the potential to make you go weak in the knees, starts making your limbs feel paralysed.

It’s funny when the tightening in the chest goes from feeling like an embrace, to coils of ropes wrapped around your lungs.

It’s funny when at the mention of a person, instead of a hundred tiny bulbs lighting all around you, your insides slowly get charred everytime the name is uttered.

It’s funny when instead of your heart skipping a beat, you panic about it not beating at all.

It’s funny when familiarity turns to indifference.

When care turns to apathy.

When love turns to hate.