“Carefulllllll” was the only whisper I could hear.”
“And what do you hear before and after the whisper?” asked Dr. Mehta.
“Absolutely Nothing” I told him sternly.
“And what do you see or feel before and after that whisper” once again Dr. Mehta tried to extract something out of me, to which I fed him a little more.
“I see a passage and a hall way.”
“Ok, which passage and which hall way?”
“I don’t know. But it feels this hall way and this passage is very familiar doctor” I tell him now getting a little comfortable on the therapy chair.
“Okay Ginisha. Can you tell me where have you seen that hallway and the passage?”
“I have never seen this before”
“Then how can you say it is familiar to you”
“I don’t know somehow I feel I am very near to this hallway and the passage. It seems like this is just round the corner” I told him in a final attempt to make it sound like this is the last question.
“Ok Ginisha. Slowly open your eyes”
And after an hour long session of questions finally Dr. Mehta relieved me off that therapy chair.
“How do you feel now?”
“I was already ok doctor.” I just grinned at him and at my mom who was continuously sobbing sitting at the corner of the room.
I was then instructed to sit outside in the waiting area while doctor would speak to my mom. This is the worst part of this therapy. The doctor tells something to mom about me while I am not in the room. I mean how you could not simply tell it to me instead of my mom. Then there would be a scary silence throughout the road back home. Mom keeps sobbing and I keep asking her thousand times what did doctor say. But this time I decided that I won’t ask it to Mom.
However to my surprise, this turned out to be opposite this time. On our way back home, mom said to me “Ginisha, doctor told me that you are absolutely fine. This is a transition phase as you are now coming back to this city after long time and after a long time we have come back to our home. He has just prescribed some meditation and you would be ok in few days as you get used to this city and to the home”
On listening to this, I was happy. For the first time in a while our doctor visit turned out to be so smooth.
If this was Mumbai and the Mumbai doctor, it would have been another scary afternoon post the doctor’s visit. But half of the credit for this smooth doctor visit also goes to me. I only told the doctor half of what I saw in my dreams.
We almost reached home, Mom asked the auto-rickshaw driver to stop by Uncle Sam’s shop to pick up some grocery and the house keys. Uncle Sam’s shop is one lane behind our home. I informed mom that I will go visit Jugal for some time. Uncle Sam just called me in that instant “Ginisha beta. Have some chocolates”
For some reason I hate chocolates. But how can I refuse Uncle Sam.
I accepted the chocolates but to not sound greedy, I said “Kaka you are spoiling me. I am grown up now”
“You will be child for me always” said Uncle Sam
“Be back soon beta. It will be lunch time shortly” shouted mom from behind while still filling up the grocery in her shopping bag.
As soon as I enter his home, Jugal is sitting in the porch with a book in his hand as always.
Such a big house and so many rooms but he always sits outside in the porch and so many ways to entertain but he is always engrossed in the books. It is this habit of Jugal about books that made us good friends and no wonder he is such a geek. He has read almost all the books that one usually hears or knows about.
“What are you reading champ”
“Some book related to human psychological behavior. You tell me. How are you? How was your doctor visit?” he asked one after the other. This is typical of Jugal. He always has so many questions to ask.
“Visit was ok. I did not tell him about the entire dream”
“Jugal I am getting this dream since the time I shifted here and I feel somehow this is not linked to my previous depression episodes.”
“How can you be sure Ginisha?”
“The dreams then would show me that I am in a closed room with sudden dullness of the lights and then I would feel suffocated for a while. None of this happened since the time I am getting this dream”
“But Ginisha you are not an expert. What if those dreams are some different pattern of your depression?”
I was a little annoyed with the way he referred it to “Your Depression” and he also realized his mistake.
“I mean to say at least you should have completed one consultation with the doctor telling him the facts.”
I still showed him annoyance on my face
“Ok sorry. Tell me what is the difference between this dream and the ones you were getting originally three years ago”
“Jugal you know that it was linked to my father’s death. His sudden demise made me numb. But I coped up with it somehow. I am not sure if medicines had a role then. But I was strong and I am not saying this out of my ego. I surely feel this. The dreams and convulsions I used to get then always had a pattern. A pattern of dark closed room with suffocation. However this one shows me of a familiar place. I am not sure where I have seen this place. But I can feel that it is very close by”
“And what did you not tell your doctor during the visit today?”
“Well a couple of things. One is this dream is slowly building up each passing day. Secondly it is a continuous stream. It feels like someone is trying to tell me or share something with me by showing it to me.”
“Please tell me in details. May be we can try to connect some dots”
“Ok then listen. This started when we came back in town. The night was very scary for me. The dream started with a thud sound. And it seemed to me like somebody pushed me into the room. No carpet on the floor and single passage way that led me to a smaller room or may be a hall so to say. I moved a little in. The room looked a little scary. Looked like a dark block and suddenly a light flickered. It kept on flickering”
Suddenly my phone beeped and it was mom calling me for the lunch. I could see some sadness in his eyes. I was looking for this as an opportunity to tell him about my dream but ever since my father left us, I have developed a habit of immediately obliging to my mom. Even if it is a simple phone call asking me to be home immediately. Somewhere there was a guilt today that I didn’t tell the entire thing in front of the doctor. Technically I lied to her. But if I wouldn’t have, she would be more concerned about me and there is absolutely no reason for it now.
I left Jugal’s place with a promise that we will continue on this discussion sometime later. I am proud that few things have not changed here in this town. Jugal still listens to me with the same curiosity with which he used to when we were kids. His home, that porch where he used to read story books to me while we used to sit and relax for hours in our vacation is still exactly the same. The colony is the same, the fresh air in the environment is the same. This freshness was not there in Mumbai. I once again cross the grocery shop on my way back home and Uncle Sam waves me from distance. I can also see chotu – the boy in Uncle Sam’s shop also waving. Inadvertently it brings a smile to my face.
The colony, the town has given me a warm hug on my return. But somewhere something is terribly wrong in the town and I feel somebody is trying to tell this to me through the dreams.
The discussion with Jugal in the afternoon triggered a stream of thoughts. Thoughts of past days, past years and past moments.
Around 5 years ago, my mom got transferred to Mumbai branch of her bank. Both mom and dad were paranoid about this. Either of them did not like this decision. There were silent days and nights gripped with some panic. Dad could not leave his job and come with us to Mumbai. Mom was about to make a decision to resign. But decided not to as she was the only one having a government job in Bank. Father’s job was in a private company without a steady assurance of income.
Finally it was decided that Mom and I will shift over to Mumbai and Dad will continue to stay here. He often used to come visit us. Mom had also applied for a re-transfer but it was in queue with the waiting number in some hundreds.
We were all desperate to get the application approved but a year passed by and nothing moved.
I remember it was straight 6 months that we didn’t see dad very often. Then one weekend he came to Mumbai and he was not in a very good mood. I jumped on his lap as soon as he eased on the couch. He would usually give a warm smile and ask me “how is my princess”. But this time he hugged me tightly as if I am about to leave him. May be because he was meeting us after many days.
I have many vivid memories of that weekend. The Friday night movie, Saturday’s lazy stroll in the nearby garden just mom, me and dad. I in the middle and both of them holding each of my hand. A classic picture of a perfect happy family. This was followed by Saturday special dinner prepared by father and then a lazy Sunday morning with tea and breakfast in bed. We got out of the bed relaxed. But as all good things come to an end somewhere, the weekend too was about to end in few hours. Dad was just getting ready to leave in the evening. For a moment I thought to ask him to stay back for few more days. I am sure he would have stayed back if at all I would have asked for. But before I could say, I recalled a few of my friends had made a movie plan next day. I did not want Dad to stay back when I would be out for most of the day. I did not insist at all.
By evening, it was raining heavily. The dense clouds had turned a bright day in a scary night as early as 5 PM. Dad left at around 5 PM. He always used to call us whenever he would reach home. But that evening, there was no call. Mom tried to reach Uncle Sam several times but there was no news from there as well. We thought maybe it was the heavy rains and storms that is causing network issues. We ignored for a while. But there was no news even the next day. I left for college and then for the movie with my friends. By evening when I came home, the news of his death came. A local police informed us on phone that at the outside valley of the town near the ghat section, his car met with an accident. It tumbled down the ghat and a fire broke out. Nothing was handed over to us as the last remains as it was impossible to recover anything from that valley. He was gone forever. The time when I was enjoying the movie with friends, the police was recovering the burned remains of my father. The guilt hit me hard. What if I would have asked him to stay back? He would be alive today... But then people say that it is destined and nobody can change it. In a jiffy he was gone
That was the episode when my depression started kicking in. I was well aware of what was happening with me. But I was not sure how to respond to it. That’s when those rounds to the doctor’s clinic started with multiple medicine and multiple therapy sessions. I often feel none of those medicines and therapy ever helped me. But my father had made me mentally strong to face this.
I came back to senses when my mom’s alarm clock beeped in the next room. The thoughts kept me awake and it’s already 5 AM.
I am now a bit afraid whether the dream will continue to build now that I have wasted a day like this.
Next morning I freshened up and left for Jugal’s home. I slept at 5 and woke up at 9. Mom had already left for the bank. There was no dream this time. I was disappointed by this. On my way, I crossed Uncle Sam’s shop. Uncle Sam was not there but chotu – the guy who helps Uncle Sam at his shop was there. He waved to me and offered me a chocolate. That was sweet I thought. After all in Uncle Sam’s absence he felt obliged to do so. I immediately took it from him.
“Where is Uncle Sam?”
“Ohh he went to the city to buy the grocery and supplies for the shop”
“Okies.” I said. But then there was an awkward silence. It was never just the two of us in the shop alone. Uncle Sam always used to be there.
“When would he come back” I said to reduce the awkwardness.
“By evening. Usually he goes once in two weeks and is only back by evening”
I often wonder how the life would be without family. This is true for Chotu and for Uncle Sam.
Chotu doesn’t belong to this town. He came from a distant village in search of work. I don’t know the exact reason for him being here but often times it makes me wonder how blessed I am that I got to stay with my mom and dad for so many years and now so to say I still get to stay with my mom even though Dad is no more.
I remember dad told me once that Chotu’s mother has some heart ailment and is father was not able to earn enough to support the family. A few years later, his father also had a paralysis attack and that’s when Chotu came here in search of work. For him, earning for medicines is out of question. He is here only to earn enough so that he can feed himself and his parents for the remaining days they are alive.
I waved a bye to Chotu as I had to meet Jugal now as early as possible.
At Jugal’s place he was still lying on the porch reading the same book from yesterday.
“Which book you keep on reading Jugal. Tell me is there anything interesting”
“It is if you are interested in understanding changing human behavior and psychology science”
“Not already. But why do you read such books” And I handed him over the chocolate that chotu gave me.
“I don’t know just fun”
“But it’s not funny”
“Anyway leave the book. You tell me about your dream”
“Yes. So like I said. I was pushed by somebody into the room or hall. No carpet on the floor and single passage way that led me to a smaller room or may be hall. I am saying hall because it was slightly bigger than usual and someone from behind me whispered in my ears – carefullll in a hushy voice.” I took break for a while for Jugal to grasp.
“Did you see anything else? I think this must be the first dream. What was the second?”
“To complete all that I told you, it took me 15 days. Firstly I was not sure what to do in the dream. I later realized that I need to navigate and look around. This might sound weird but it looked like I am in a video game playing as a first person”
“No. I understand. Then what happened in the dream later”
“Later on everything from the first dreams was included but furthermore I heard a man grunting loudly. A very loud burst. I got scared and then I tried to look back. But I was not able to. Suddenly I realized there is no light in the room. Or rather I would say a flickering one. The room is stinking really badly. The smell is like something has rotten for days and is spread all over the room. Or maybe something that is not cleaned for days. The smell is worsening so much that I can still feel it even now. I got out of my sleep and puked. That was when mom came running from her room and she saw my hand shaking and sweat on my forehead. Mom hugged me tightly and she thought this is the panic attack and I am going back in the phase of depression. She insisted that we go and see Dr. Mehta next day. Somehow I convinced her to not to. But what happened the next night was beyond explanation”
“I progressed a bit with the dream. I moved a little ahead and I could sense the floor beneath was all wet. To get a better view I bend down and what I saw was a pool of blood. My breathing got heavier. I started feeling suffocated. Before I could progress, my mom was shaking me and I got out of the dream again.”
She told me that my entire body was shaking and I was shivering very badly. Somehow she got me under control. The next day we went to see Dr. Mehta and that’s it. I could not sleep properly in time so that’s where I am.”
“Listen to me carefully Ginisha. You need to calm down. I think you need to see the doctor”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean whatever you are telling me isn’t sounding normal. I think you consider telling this to your mom and also consult the doctor” said Jugal
“You are scaring me. I told you that this is about me. Somebody out there needs my help. I need your help. Please think about this. If I tell this to mom, this dream stream will