Sunday 30 September 2018

Short Story 25 : Normal.


Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances.

I wrote this story attempting to place myself in the mind of a depressed girl, with suicidal tendencies. The writing style I have adopted is slightly different from my usual one, in that it uses a crisp and repetitive form of language.



The room is full. Too full. So many people.  Too many people. There must be at least 75 people here in this wedding hall. I’m surrounded by people, making too much noise. I’m alone. All alone.
Every one is chattering, smiling, laughing. Everyone seems to be having a good time. Everyone is dressed for the occasion. It is Rajini’s wedding. Rajini, my cousin. Seven years younger than I am. She is already 29, well past the right age for marriage. They finally found a guy who was willing to marry her. Unlike me.
Everyone is friendly to me. All of them talk to me. They enquire after my health, the job I lost months ago, and everything else that they are supposed to ask. As if they are bothered about my job or health. Why would they be? Who am I to any of them anyways? Just another loser.  
Dadaji is sitting next to me on the right. He is snoring softly, his head lolling to one side. Sharanya auntie, my dad’s younger sister, looks at Dadaji and catches my eye. She smiles knowingly, although I stare back at her, sans the return smile. Her smile becomes more knowing. God knows what she knows. Does she know that I have not slept for the last 48 hours? I guess not. No one knows. I mean, they know that I’m unhappy or depressed or something. But they don’t know. They have no clue .
They day before yesterday I heard mom on the phone with someone. I don’t know who it was and I don’t care. She was confirming the news to whoever it was. That, yes, her only daughter is still recovering from the shock. What shock? I don’t know, nor does she.
I heard her say, 'Ever since the last proposal failed, she has gone more into her shell'. I wanted to ask mom, what shell? Only snails have shells. Maybe that’s what she meant anyways. I'm a snail and I have withdrawn into my shell.
Yes, that’s what I am. A snail. A really slow one at that. I took three hours to wear this cotton kurta and pull my hair into a simple ponytail for the occasion. No, I wore no makeup and no jewellery either. Why would I? What purpose would all that fuss serve anyways?
“What will people say, Sanju?’ Mom was close to tears. ‘As it is, no one wants to marry you, now if you come like this to every wedding, even the older bachelor fellows will run away from you…’
Run Away. Yeah. I wanna run away too. Not just from the older bachelor fellows though. I wanna run away from home. I wanna runaway from this city. From this country. I wanna run and run and run until I can run no more. I wanna run away from this world.
What a soothing thought that is. To run away, to escape…to escape this world. To escape this existence, once and for all. To escape forever.
I almost smile.
Well everyone wants to run away from me. Because they can. Lucky for them, because they can run away from what they do not like. I’m not that lucky. I can’t run. Because there is nowhere for me to go. Until I die that is.
But then, mom took me to a Swamiji last month. He conducted a tantric phenomenon on me. He called me a coward because I tried to escape from life. Life is a gift of God, he said. He didn’t know either. He didn’t know that I didn’t run anywhere at all. I didn’t even leave home, not even my room. I just took those pills that promised escape.
It would have worked if dad hadn’t come into my room to ask for the morning paper. He keeps coming into my room asking for something or the other. He knows that I do not read the news. Why did he come? Yeah, he must have come to check on me. The newspaper was only a pretext. They have been doing that a lot of late, mom and dad. They keep checking on me at regular intervals. They take turns to find silly excuses to bug me. This started since the day they forced me to visit that psychiatrist. That was the day they decided that I am not normal. Yeah, I’m an official psycho now. A psycho who needs treatment for …what do I need treatment for? I have no idea.
They have fancy names for mentals now. They aren’t called mentals, crackpots, idiots or imbeciles anymore. Oh no. They are called patients. Patients with mental health disorders.
Isn’t that an oxymoron, by the way? Mental health? How can you be mental and healthy at the same time?
And so, last Sunday, dad found the half empty bottle of sleeping pills on the floor beside my cot. I was asleep. Blissful sleep. An all-pervading sleep.
And now, after the return from the hospital, I am not left alone by myself. Not even for a single day.
Mom lugged me along to this wedding. She thinks it is the solution to my problems. She says meeting people would keep my mind off other issues.
How would that be a solution when people are a main part of the problem?
Besides, mental or otherwise, I know the real reason. The real reason she wants to drag me along to every wedding in the family. She hopes that someone would like her ugly daughter. She hopes to hook me up with that someone and send me off. Ah, the eternal hopes of a mother for the mental spinster daughter.
Why did they put me in the hospital? They could have been rid of me forever. They would have, if only they hadn’t treated me for the pills overdose.
They do realize that it has only made it worse. Everyone knows that their daughter isn’t right in the head. Everyone, even my parents, believe that it is because of failed marriage proposals that I am this way.
By this way, I mean in the mental way. Not in the family way, as I should have been at my age. By the way, they have a nice fancy name for that now. That doc told them it is called 'Depression'. Or a disorder. A mental disorder of course. But they do not say such bad words in our house. Yeah, mental is a bad word, worse than the word 'Sex' or even 'Fuck'. I mean, you could say Fuck in my house. You may manage to get away with only a slap and a severe reprimand for using it. But you could killed for calling me a mental case. They have to get me married, you see. So they pretend that I am normal.
Are they normal? I seriously wonder.
I mean, they think I am depressed because a series of losers rejected me. I mean, would I have married any of those bald dumbasses anyways? No. But they no one asked me if I would.
How would they know? They wouldn’t know why I try to kill myself. I do that every time I get the chance or inclination. They wouldn’t know.
What would people say? All these people? All these smiling chattering people? What would they say if they knew? If they knew that the high flying career woman Sanjana tried to run away from life? Because she had no one to run away from except for life itself?
Unlike her lover. Her lover had someone to run away from. He had me to run away from. Yes, he ran away from me, because he found another. Another, who is richer and more attractive than plain old me. They have a nice fancy term for that too. It’s called 'Ghosting', I believe.
I would have been married too, three years ago. If the love of my life hadn’t become a ghost all of a sudden, that is.
Now the ghost is expecting his first child with his new wife. His new wife, who was richer and more attractive than plain old Sanjana. But mom and dad didn’t know about the ghost and his ghosting. They thought I became depressed because of losing some losers I don’t even know.
And they think of themselves as normal.  All these people. They look at me strangely and whisper among themselves. I reward them with blank stares. I give them uncomprehending silence when they try to talk to me. They try to put a word, to what they do not understand. They never would understand. They try to box me and my personality. They want to squeeze my whole existence into a box, called ‘mental disorder’. They then think that they have understood perfectly. They console my parents. They believe that they have done all they could do. Consolation in exchange for madness. And they think of themselves as normal.
Is that her? I see these people ask one another as they spy me now. Strangers point at me and nudge one another. They are oblivious to the pained expressions on my parents’ faces. And still mom drags me along to these weddings. She still hopes that some loser would miraculously fall in love with her loser daughter. She believes that someone would propose marriage to her. And they think of themselves as normal.
It is called hope, this thing. This madness of wishing fervently for something. Something that is never going to happen, ever, is called hope. And they hope. My parents love to hope. And they think of themselves as normal.
Well, I am not going to deprive them of their madness. Their madness called hope. I shall let them have it and enjoy it. I shall allow them to relish it and relive it. Let them squeeze the hope dry until they can hope no more. Until the day, when they in their madness finally realize the truth. The truth that I have succeeded in the inevitable.
And they would cry. They would grieve my loss. They would curse me. They would curse me for leaving them the way I did. Then they would grieve some more. They would miss me long after I have gone. And then, someday, they would grieve no more. Someday, they would heave secret sighs of relief. Relief, because their daughter is in a better place. A place, where there are no mental illnesses to deal with.
Because one day, all the normal people of the world would finally shut up. Because, all the normal people would have nothing left to say.


🎨: Juan Miguel.

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