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Crying with a smile

Mrugshitr Bansal

‘No way! Why would anyone ever want to do that to themselves?’ I asked Dr. Vinn.

She smiled and said, ‘Let me lay out another case for you. And then you yourself answer me.’

‘Okay! So here goes… Zeke Payne was a normal eight year old kid. Like others, he lived in a bubble containing pleasant school days, fun with friends and a doting elder sister. The bubble would have continued to turn into routine when one day it burst rather violently. He had just come back from school when his teenage college going sister came home heavily sobbing. The whole household began consoling her and after an upsetting hour, she finally stopped and confided in her mother that she was pregnant.

Sharon, her mother, was a professor at a deemed university. She had studied hard and struggled harder to reach where she was. Her parents were stern, her brother conservative, and her teachers condescending. Parents kept her glued to books, brother confined her to four walls, and teachers disdained her exploratory streak. Striving hard to achieve freedom, she tolerated everything and eagerly waited for her graduation. She was happy to throw the cap in the air but her happiness was transient. Her wings were clipped once again and her life became a cul-de-sac street when her parents arranged and forced her marriage to Shawn.

Shawn was born into a rather affluent surrounding. He was a single child and was pampered a lot. His grand-parents had left their business empire divided into the hands of their three sons, of which he was the offspring of the middle one. The eldest brother, though, had a business acumen, could never father a child. The youngest one, unfortunately fortuitous, gave birth to two girls. Shawn’s life was laid out even before he could talk. He was all set to inherit the complete business empire at his twenty-first birthday. His parents spoon-fed him the degrees, the money, his whims and his ego. But the golden era ended abruptly with an economical downfall, which deprived their family of the lavish notions and deprived him a lifetime of luxury. With some tough decisions, he was arranged to be married to Sharon, at the age of twenty three, when the bride’s family offered a handsome dowry and was thus asked to father a boy.

‘One year into the marriage, they gave birth to Kayla.’

‘Kayla seems like a girl’s name.’ I intervened.

‘The unpredictable irony.’

‘Understandably, there was a troubling confusion between the two of them. Both Sharon and Shawn didn’t want a girl child as their first choice. What to do with her now? They didn’t give her up for adoption because they thought that would be unethical. So they unwillingly decided to suck up and care for the child anyway.

But the greed for regaining his lavish life made Shawn selfish enough to ostracize Kayla from his span of attention. And as a consequence, he started forcing himself upon Sharon. Sexually.

And Sharon became a victim of yet another form of abuse before she could properly tune herself into being a mother. Instead of looking after her child, her priority shifted to protecting herself.

Result, Kayla was subjected to emotional distancing.

A child is biologically inclined to look for nourishment from his or her biological parents. Even a simple act of not holding the child in your arms can negatively impact their subconscious. Here, Kayla began her journey as an unlovable child.

In the next few years, Shawn provided for the family but only financially. And since his sexually aggressive congress with Sharon refused to arrive to fruition, he became frustrated, agitated and dejected.

Sharon’s life had become a vicious cycle of emotional and sexual abuse which she didn’t have the courage to get out of.

And then Kayla! She was almost shut off and terrorized by both her parents. They scolded Kayla even at the slightest mistakes, screamed at her and obliviously victimized her. She had turned into a mere doll who at a tender age of nine started thinking of committing suicide.

If things weren’t already worse, Zesta knocked at their doorstep one night. She was holding a baby boy in her arms and had come to deliver him to Shawn. When inquired by Sharon, she said, that for two years, Shawn and her had been hooking up constantly. She told her that it was her and Shawn’s child for whom she didn’t want any responsibility. Before Sharon could even react, Zesta also said that if Shawn and Sharon decided to involve her, she would file charges against Shawn as she had proof that she only consented to protected sex. She also demanded a financial compensation for bearing the child against her will.

Ashamed that he ever had a relationship with Zesta, Shawn begrudgingly agreed to compensate Zesta and thus the entire savings of Payne household were ripped off.

As infuriated as Sharon was, she still had an ounce of moral decency which led her to name the child, keep him and raise him. Her sole logic relied on ‘it wasn’t the kid’s fault.’

Zeke’s presence undoubtedly brought some changes in the house. Shawn had started staying at home more often. For better or for worse, he got a son. Unfortunately, Sharon had begun her downward spiral by abusing her anxiety prescription drugs. And Kayla, she received a ray of hope in her sordid existence in the form of Zeke’s smile. She became instantly attached to him. She wanted him to be with her forever and most importantly she wanted to protect him at all costs from her mother and father.

In the next eight years, circumstances and environment had taken a drastic and unexpected turn but they didn’t come to light until the news of Kayla’s pregnancy hit them like a meteorite. A few weeks after that incident, I was recommended as the psychiatrist for their son Zeke.’

‘Hold on… for Zeke??’ I was perplexed.

‘I had the same reaction when I found out that I was called in as a juvie psychiatrist. Usually the juveniles I had dealt with, were fifteen or sixteen years of age. Imagine my shock when I was asked to check the mental health of an eight year old. I was intrigued and confused at the same time.’

‘Well now I want to hear the next part.’ I curiously begged her.

‘I will do that but there is a statutory warning for it. It gets pretty dark, pretty fast.’ Dr. Vinn sipped her water while I nodded in excitement.

‘In my initial sessions with Zeke, I asked him about himself and the happy things he liked to do. He replied like any other ordinary kid. But when I asked him about the bruises he had, he said that they were the result of a scuffle between him and his classmates. Strangest thing, he smiled during that conversation. I knew he was straight out lying because when his school principal handed him over to me, he said that Zeke displayed masochistic behavior. He purposely offensively slandered and provoked his classmates and his seniors as if he was asking them to beat him up. To understand his case better, I asked to profile his family members. In the ensuing two months, I gathered and sorted the data and trust me when I say this, the Payne family was the most bizarre case I had ever encountered in my life. Believe me, I have seen my fair share of weirdness when I was the army doctor but that case was even stranger.’

Dr. Vinn walked to her file cabinet and pulled a paper out of one of her files. She said, ‘I had to write my observations down concisely so that I myself could make sense of it.’ She put on her reading glasses and started reading.

‘Shawn Payne, the father of Kayla Payne and Zeke Payne, husband of Sharon Payne, is an abusive, spoiled, deluded, whore-mongering drunkard. Sharon Payne, his wife, biological mother of Kayla Payne and step-mother to Zeke Payne is a coward wife and an abusive mother. Kayla Payne is a mentally unstable sister. And Zeke Payne just dearly loves his sister.’

‘That’s a relief, I guess.’ I relaxed myself a little bit.

‘I have already told you their backgrounds. So I will skip that and jump to the gist of nine years until Zeke’s arrival.

Shawn shortened his time span at home. He frequently visited strip clubs and actively participated in baseless drinking. In the first few years, he limited himself to that and only came home late at night to have sex with his wife. His sexual assertiveness as Sharon quoted ‘He inserted his penis inside my vagina when I was sleeping and raped me until I woke up.’

After not being able to reproduce for six years especially after his repeated rapes, he started cheating on Sharon with Zesta. With Zesta, he found solace but could not stop blaming himself for everything that went wrong in his life. He was brought up with extreme reliability on his parents and he misjudged their pampering as love. They only wanted an heir whom they could control. After the economic downfall, his parents abruptly stopped feeding him which made him agitated and weak. They would no longer pamper him, appreciate him or even pay attention to him. They clarified that he was useless to them without the money and hence, the marriage. The public shame of working wife and money grubbing husband chewed him up. Then they tasked him with reproducing a boy in order to raise him as the heir while they recovered their losses. Anxiously awaiting for their approval, he set his goal to father a son.

Coming back to where we left off, his inner guilt had turned into lament for his worthlessness. Therefore he indulged himself in BDSM play where he played the victim. He went to various dominatrices in town and asked them to flog him, cane him, electrocute him, water-board him, burn him, peg him and beat him.

Sharon was the quietest in that period as she believed in karma. But she was used to vent out every now and then upon Kayla. Though she did not beat her up, she verbally abused her, punished her with starvation, screamed at her for even the events where Kayla was not at all responsible. Quoting Kayla ‘She was so crazy that one time she stumbled upon the carpet and blamed me for pushing her deliberately. She screamed at me for hours and locked me outside the house. It was two degree Celsius outside and I was seven.’

Kayla was silently suffering whenever her father yelled at her mother or whenever her mother yelled at her. They didn’t talk about her at all and when they did, they just blamed her existence for their troubles. Her mental equilibrium had been completely distorted. She even tried to cut her wrist one time like she saw on a TV series. But she was unable to hurt herself.’

‘What about her friends?’

‘She didn’t have any. All her classmates teased her because of her father’s reputation.

Now let’s see post Zeke’s arrival. Shawn had stopped cheating on and sexually assaulting Sharon. But he didn’t mend his relations with her or Kayla. He was relieved to have created Zeke. But his addiction for masochism didn’t stop. He walked down that lane even more aggressively. His deluded happiness resulted from severe torture and humiliation play. And he couldn’t stop.

Sharon’s downhill path had already begun with abusing her drugs. Failed to redeem her freedom, failed to function as a wife, she frequently overdosed to relieve herself of the pain. Her career sadly ended when she was fired from her university. Apparently she overdosed on Valium and before she collapsed in the class, she made out with a student of hers. Considering her career integrity until then, the university decided to fire her without causing public commotion.

Result, this made her even more hooked up on drugs.

Kayla’s case was the worst. Even though she doted on Zeke, her mental establishment was at an edge. She ignored her parents and focused on protecting Zeke. But her instability rose again when Zeke started attending school. She felt lonely and devoid of kinship. Then one day, she figured that sex was the answer to her problems. One of her classmates had already done it and he bragged about how good he felt. She was already pretty, so it came easy for her to engage in sexual intercourse with her classmates or seniors. But contrary to her assumption, it wasn’t good, it didn’t make her happy and she got hurt a number of times. She deduced that it was because she wasn’t close to anyone of them.

And so, she chose her brother.’

‘No… no…’

‘Yes. It is true. She started sexually abusing her five year old brother. At times she kissed him on the lips. She forced his hand on her breasts. She used to ask him to kiss her nipples. Quoting her ‘I cleared the final stage when I put his small hands inside my vagina and masturbated.’ She frolicked in the temporary happiness but was also confused over her sense of uneasiness.

In the oncoming years, she continued her pleasure engagement while simultaneously learning more about sex and more importantly with whom it should be done with. She began to realize the harsh realities associated with sex, especially when she sensed the depth of her mother’s abuse. After one point she was genuinely terrified of what she had done and that terror pushed her off the edge.

She isolated herself from her brother and came to a conclusion, ‘bad deeds deserve equivalent punishment.’ But no amount of self-loathing, self-starving relieved her pain. So she took an even worse step. She decided eye for an eye, abuse for abuse.

She began going to clubs and asked the most disturbing guys to sexually abuse her, beat her, rape her. It didn’t minimize her guilt but it ‘satisfied’ her as she could not ever reveal to her brother what she had done to him. Her words, not mine.

Now Zeke; his negative path had just started. One day he was happy in his sister’s arms. He loved to see her smile. And the next, he saw her distanced from himself, crying and sobbing. Unable to make her smile again, make her care for him again, make her pay attention to him again, he thought that if he got hurt, she would come for him, protect him and hold him in her arms again.’

‘And thus he provoked others to beat him.’ I finished.

‘But what was the conclusion? How did you help them? Are they properly functioning now? What happened to them?’ I spurted a series of questions.

‘I won’t answer until you answer the question you asked.’

‘But….’

‘Another time kid. It’s an interesting story in itself.’ Dr. Vinn walked out.


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