I am overwhelmed and touched by the response to the previous chapter. There were so many comments. I read them all and when I tried to reply to everyone today, I couldn’t do it. So a lot of people were left. Just know that I LOVE YOU people…A LOT!!!
Thank you sooooooo much… Your love is precious for me…
Stay blessed and happy!!!
“Papa, I just want to know that last time you had a fight with ma after you corrected her, why was she admitted to the hospital?”
Manoj looked at Manik and then Trisha and Gaurvi, before replying in a sober tone –
“She had tried to commit suicide.”
Manik had been leaning by the wall outside the Emergency Room, hands folded across his chest. His father’s confession brought him back to an alert position.
He straightened himself and walked near him, absolutely baffled, “What?!?! Mom had tried to commit suicide? When? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Manoj pursed his lips, having no reply to Manik’s questions. It was obvious that they had done this to protect their family reputation because in the part of Lucknow they lived, it was still considered a ‘huge’ thing if someone tried to commit suicide. But they didn’t even tell Manik about it and it wasn’t excusable. Manik was now looking at him with a disappointed, questioning look in his eyes.
Manoj replied in a low voice, “We didn’t want you to get worried or come running to see her. She was out of danger… so …we…”
“Dad…this is unbelievable! You decided that I shouldn’t know of THIS??” Manik was still unable to digest that his family had kept him away from this big catastrophe that they had suffered alone. It was one thing to try to stay away from people to avoid getting hurt and as a protective mechanism from emotions. But a totally different feeling when the same people kept you away from something so crucial.
Manoj was quiet and he lowered his eyes. Meanwhile, the doctor called them inside and told them that Latika was out of danger. She was not conscious but her vital parameters were normal and it was a big relief. There was no threat to her life anymore. The intensivist and the emergency resident had called the psychiatrist too for it was a clear cut case of self-medication and deliberate overdose of the same.
The psychiatrist asked Manoj, “Your daughter-in-law Dr. Nandini is my wife’s colleague. She told me that this has happened previously too. You need to understand that I can help you… but only… if you allow me to talk to your wife.”
Manoj looked at Manik, who nodded to affirm that he should say ‘yes’. Then, he looked at Nandini, who nodded too and said, “Papa, the counseling is best when it starts in the hospital itself. Ma will be most receptive at this time and she will understand why the doctor is talking to her. Doctor Sarkar will visit twice a day till she is admitted here and he will build a rapport by then. Next time onwards, she will seek him on her own. But… once we go back, it will be impossible to convince her and bring her here.”
Manoj agreed and replied to the doctor, “Do what you think is the best. We just want her to recover and feel better.”
“Okay… I’ll ask a few questions and then when she is conscious, I’ll be able to talk to her better.”
“Dr. Nandini told me that this happened twice before?”
“Yes. Once, when all of our three kids were young and in school. We had a very small fight and I didn’t know that she will end up consuming sleeping tablets.I stopped fighting with her after that and thought that it was an attention-seeking step. She was always the one who liked to be a major decision-maker and the center of everything significant at home. So, we accepted that and allowed her to be the key person in every matter that was important. She wanted everything revolving around her. It was all fine for many years. Then… last year, she was being mean to her younger sister Meera, telling her that Meera was interfering in our household matters more than required. More so, because all of our kids are closer to Meera, esp Manik… so Latika hated that and told her to stay away from us. Meera had cried and I told Latika not to be so harsh with her sister because she only meant good for us. She doesn’t have her own kids and so she is closer to our children. Latika felt guilty. She apologised to Meera and then at night, she had an entire bottle of moth repellants. Thankfully, we took her to hospital in time…” Manoj stopped speaking after that, guilty and full of remorse after narrating the entire incident to the doctor… leaving both Manik and Nandini in shock.
Manik felt like a heavy stone was dumped on his chest, so heavy that he couldn’t breathe anymore. On any of the two occasions, his mom could have died and he wouldn’t have known… ever! He wouldn’t have got the time to tell her how much he loved her. That, he stayed away from her because he was scared to get hurt by her accusations, neglect, and taunts. He didn’t know that his mom’s hurtful manner was how she was expressing her displeasure that Manik was drifting away from her. Instead of showing love, she taunted him and found solace in Gaurvi. Manik’s ways of defending himself had pushed him so distant to his family that he wouldn’t have known if any of them had died. The huge burden on his chest suffocated his throat as well. He took a deep breath but was unable to speak anymore.
The doctor spoke to Manoj, “Sir, do you know that suicidal tendency is ‘not’ a normal thing. While it is okay to feel low and depressed due to several issues in life, not everyone goes ahead and thinks about ending their lives. And people who do, are unable to handle what they are going through, and find death as the easiest escapist solution… they need help. You should have talked to a doctor, years ago, when it occurred for the first time. It wouldn’t have increased so much during these years.”
“I thought, it was an attention-seeking behaviour… often she would get hyper … agitated, angry and would lash out on everyone if they went against her… or depressed and low for no reason at all… she would be like an angel on other days… happy, positive, motivating and loving… so much that we thought that low and angry outbursts were the attention-seeking actions and we gave that to her. We would do what she wanted and never went against her…”
“And so she thought that she was entitled to everyone obeying her orders and behave as per her whims and fancies.” The doctor said, “All that you said is not normal… it is a sign of deep turmoil inside a person. She was always insecure. And when Manik left home and the girls became busy, she became more lonely!”
Nandini leaned by the wall of the room, heaving a deep sigh of relief that Latika was safe now and the family was listening patiently to the doctor. There were high chances that Latika would listen too. And if she didn’t, there were people who cared about her and they would ensure that she was treated well.
Gaurvi and Trisha had been in tears. Gaurvi said, “We could see all the symptoms right before us… and for years… but we never took them seriously. How come bhabhi noticed in just 2 days??”
Dr. Sarkar said, “We are taught to have a high index of suspicion in almost all cases. It’s better to be safe than sorry. We meet almost 150-200 new patients every day, talk to them, question them about their routine, their problems and sometimes their family too… chances are that you may never meet in your entire lifetime, so many new people that a doctor meets every day… so, we start noticing things more…learn more… it’s all about practice…It doesn’t take time to notice abnormal behaviour. That’s what Nandini did…”
“And we thought that mom was like that only…”
“Not just you… normally, most of the people ignore the symptoms or accept them and behave according to how a person wants… sometimes, we fight it out… further pushing a person towards the trigger that destabilizes his mental state…”
Manoj asked, “But then all of us have such episodes… bouts of sudden angry outbursts… upset mood… depressive states… low feeling… we can’t go on suspecting everyone. This will make every person a psychiatric patient.”
Dr. Sarkar smiled, “No, it is not like that. All of us have these varying episodes of changing moods and we have different personalities, some aggressive, some quieter, some patient and some impulsive… they are all normal as long as these episodes come and go without significantly affecting the ability to handle them… after some time, we all come back to the normal balanced equilibrium that we have maintained for ourselves. It is fine to have some mood swings caused by something distressing or something elating… as long as one is able to handle these episodes and they don’t change dramatically. Once we are unable to handle it, when the highs are higher than normal and lows are so deep that it is not just feeling low but feeling like end of life… it begins to affect our day-to-day interactions, sleep and food habits, social relationships, and behaviour, it increases a self-harming attitude and a tendency to trouble others… at that time one should seek help… talk to someone if it goes beyond the capacity to handle…”
“Will she be fine?” Manoj asked.
“We are there to help. There are medicines available for every issue but I will have to talk to her in detail, order some tests and come to a correct diagnosis of the disorder and its type before I begin treating her.”
Manik moved away and sat beside Latika, watching her helpless, unconscious body, drained, dehydrated and pale. Tears dropped down his eyes while he sat quietly before her with eyes lowered and his hand holding her hand.
Gaurvi and Trisha stood with Manoj as Dr. Sarkar told them that he will come again and talk to Latika now before he tells them how he plans to treat her.
Nandini’s phone rang. She attended it and said, “I’ll have to go the hospital. One of my patients is apprehensive and needs me.”
Manoj said, “Yeahh… You should go, beta. Manik will drop you…”
Manik immediately stood up when he heard that. He didn’t know how to face Nandini now after the way he had impulsively and angrily lashed out at her. He didn’t even listen to her and asked her to go. He couldn’t believe that he said that he hated her while she had been the one who didn’t take it on her ego. Instead, she had remained patient and explained how it was more important to save his mom at that moment. He couldn’t meet her eyes anymore. When he looked up to look at her, she turned her eyes away. He knew that she had been looking at him a moment before this. But now, she moved her eyes away. Someone who could talk to him even without speaking any word and would convey everything only in gestures and eye-talk… didn’t want to meet his eyes now. Her eyes were moist and reddened… and he was well aware that he was the reason for the pain in those eyes…
He didn’t hate her… he hated himself for giving so much pain to her. Once he had asked her not to cry and he had promised her that he wouldn’t let anything hurt her… now, he had become the reason of tears in those pretty eyes… for no fault of hers…
He didn’t know how to begin talking to her again. Thankfully, his dad had given him one opportunity to apologise to her.
But Nandini quashed that chance.
“No!” Nandini said, stopping him, but without looking at him directly, “You take Gaurvi di home. She must be really tired and drained out. Not good for her and the baby.”
Manik stopped and nodded robotically without saying another word. Nandini moved out of the room leaving behind her in-laws family and Manik with them. Tears rolled down her eyes one after the other as she gripped her phone in her hand tightly and took long steps through the tiled corridor of the hospital. She walked out and hired an auto to take her to the hospital…
… the only place where she felt she belonged, right now!