Sunday, February 24, 2013

Caught in the rain..

Link to entry on Quilled Words -

The Weather forecast Department (WFD) had predicted heavy rainfall in entire North India over that weekend and I was wearied of the mundaneness of my atypical research life routine. So relying on the past track record of the WFD’s predictions, I decided to silence my brains and planned an escapade from the city.
It was a small hamlet in the hills of Uttarakhand - Jaiharikhal, some 260 kilometers from Delhi. I had heard of a trekking route from this place that trailed to Khyber Pass, so I packed up my sports shoes and sleeping bag and hit the road with Shankar Tucker’s “caught in the rain” on repeat mode on my Mp3 Player .  The place had a very few hotels and by few I mean just two. I ducked in for the cheaper one and after having ordered some hot coffee I went in to take a bath and freshen up for my nature trail. I stepped out of the bathroom, only to realize the aptness of the lyrics of the track playing on my Mp3 player. It was pouring cats and dogs outside....raining like it does in the mountains – sudden and continuous.  And then it rained throughout the day and the other . I gazed out of the window of my hotel room, hoping for the clouds to clear up, but the WFD seemed to have beaten their reputation as well as my trekking plans.
By the evening of the latter day, the pouring had slowed to a drizzle. The monotony of the predicament had enraged me so much that I borrowed an umbrella from the caretaker of the hotel and decided to venture out in the village locales at least. The green of the chirs and pines gleamed as the pearly raindrops pitter-pattered from their leaves. The taller ones wrapped in the grey of the clouds gave the impression that the sky had drifted nearer. I kept walking, rather sauntering through the mist on the serpentine roads. For a while, I was distracted by two little boys who were thrusting all their strength on a rusty green hand pump, to fill up their buckets. I asked them if they needed any help, but they were too shy or hesitant to answer, so I preferred to keep walking rather than scaring them. After walking for a little while, I thought to rest and trickle some glucose into my system at the local chai shop. I sat on a little mound outside the shop while the old man proportioned his milk and water for the tea. Suddenly, the two little kids from the hand pump site appeared there, yelling –“Dadu, Dadu, give us the guitar.” I was taken aback a bit, at first, by their loud tones, considering the decibels of our first meeting, and next, at the realization that these kiddos in this cornered hamlet were asking for a guitar as if it were some regular toy. By the time, I could delve anymore over this thought; Dadu was there with the steaming cup of chai.  I firmly embraced my cold palms around the hot cup while one of these little ones picked up a seemingly old guitar from their grandpa’s shop and began strumming it to “papa kehte hain”. Surprisingly, he nailed all the notes of this 90s’ Bollywood track. I was amazed by this little performer and started humming the song along with the other kid. Within no time, the ice was broken and we were chit chatting about the school they went to and the games they played.
Finally came the most awaited question – how, when, who and whereabouts of the guitar.Nandu, the one who was playing it, sat beside me and spoke in a hushed voice – “This Saahib (gentleman) from Dilli (Delhi) drops in once in a while and teaches us these songs. He even gifted this guitar to us. At times he stays with us for a few days, and helps us with our studies as well.”
Before Nandu could continue any further, Shiva, the younger one eagerly jumped in to give his inputs, “but Dadu does not like him, I guess. He never speaks to the Saahib, and remains annoyed the entire time he is here.”
Nandu interrupted Shiva and whispered in a tone, as if trying to figure out something – “Yet Dadu allows him into the house and cooks all his meals. I don’t think he hates the Saahib.”
But I guess Dadu was in close proximity and he heard the mention of the Saahib. He snapped at the kids indignantly- “Both of you scoundrels! Back to the house, right now! Finish your home work before I get back else you know the consequences.” Both of them immediately scooted off from there, petrified and almost in tears.
I kept silent, feeling guilty for having asked about the guitar. I stood up, paid for my tea and headed back quietly towards my hotel. My mind kept pondering over Saahibji, who he was and why Dadu resented him despite the fact that he was so affectionate towards his grandkids. It was again a battle between my mind and heart. My heart reasoned out that it was not right to indulge in their personal affair after already having spoiled their evening but my mind was curious, still looking for missing links. Within the next five seconds the mind evened its score with heart and there I was, walking back to Dadu’s shop again. As I approached the shop, I could not see Dadu anywhere. I started repenting my mind’s decision when suddenly I heard some muffled sobbing voices. I followed it and found Dadu sitting with the guitar and crying his heart out over it. I started walking towards him, unsure of every step and yet thinking hard, how would I frame my question about Saahibji.  And as I reached him, Dadu handed me the guitar and looked at me helplessly. I stood there silent, holding the guitar. My heart and mind both went quiet. Then Dadu abruptly mumbled – “what wrong had I done…my son….I….I can’t even address him as my son, “and he broke down into tears again. I ran and brought some water from the shop. By this time, he had gathered himself. He finished the glass of water and started – “My wife and son used to live with me here at one time. We were one happy family. My son was very fond of music and he wanted to go to the city to pursue his interest and we let him, thinking his dreams should not go unfulfilled. He went to Dilli (Delhi) and started learning music; ubharta sitatra (budding star) – that’s what his teacher called him. We were so proud of him.”
I could not help but notice the glow on his face; it seemed he was reliving the moments and he went on –“Once we even went for his show to Dilli, and that’s when I bought this guitar for him. He never bought a new instrument ever, but always took this same guitar for his every show. He started earning well too and we got him married to a nice homely girl.”
Dadu’s eyes were red and he, now sounded grim-“But then after a few years, we stopped hearing from him. He showed erratic behaviour, abused people and beat his wife and kids. Even our daughter-in-law left him and came with Nandu and Shiva to live with us. Nandu was 2 years old then and Shiva was just 3 months of age. People said he had gone into the drug business – some LSD, weed kind of thing. Since then we cut off all contacts with him. My wife and daughter-in-law died, mourning his separation. But I have to live for my grandkids. I need to stay strong for them.”
Dadu got up, and smiled at me as if saying – “Never give up in life.”
We started moving back towards the shop when I asked hesitantly – “Dadu, but who is this Saahibji?”
The old man looked at me, so calmly, that it almost scared me – “He is my son, Rajesh.After eight years, he appeared from nowhere with his guitar to see his kids. I can’t forgive him for what he has done but I can’t stand between a father and his kids. At least they get to imbibe something from their father, though they do not know who he is. As a father, even I get to relive his childhood memories when he plays the same games with the kids that I used to play with him.”
He took me to the shop, made us another cup of tea and picked out an old jute bag from a corner. He emptied it before me-“On one of his visits, he left his bag here. I just kept it with me as a memento. He never asked back for it nor did I mention it.”
I sifted through the contents - a black and white photo of Dadu and his wife, a colour picture of Rajesh with his wife, kids and the guitar in the backdrop, an ink pen, and a notepad with few notes of his compositions, and some bus tickets. Meanwhile,Dadu collected the empty cups and went away to wash them. I guess he wanted to escape his surging emotions for his son. I started to keep the things back into the bag, when I felt something in its inside pocket. I fished in for it and found some medicines- and a prescription for Mr. Rajesh-(Bed No.-28/A),Gayatri Healthcare Rehabilitation home.
“Now you should get back to your hotel, it is dark already.”- Dadu said, returning with the clean cups. I hastily slipped the meds and the prescription in my pocket and handed over the bag to him.
“Yes, Dadu I think I should,” I said and touched his feet before pacing back towards my hotel. I sprinted across the road and huffing and panting, rushed into my room. I called up one of my friends, a doctor and asked her about the medicines. I was almost in tears by now. I still wanted to confirm it. I dialled at the rehab from the contact number on the prescription; a lady received the call – “Hello, Gayatri Healthcare Rehabilitation home, how may I help you?”
“Hello, I am a relative of Rajesh, the patient from bed no. - 28/A. How is he doing?”- I asked in a trembling voice.
The lady said casually – “Bed no. 28/A… the one suffering from schizophrenia. He is doing quite well, actually. He spent eight years in the ward for disorganised schizophrenia subtype patients and responded well to the therapy regime. Since two years he is in the ward for residual schizophrenia subtype patients – a milder subtype of the disease. He even gets a leave, every few months when his improvement stats are satisfactory.”
I disconnected the phone. My mind and heart were praying in unison for Rajesh’s recovery.


Schizophrenia: Disorganized Subtype
As the name implies, this subtype’s predominant feature is disorganization of the thought processes. As a rule, hallucinations and delusions are less pronounced, although there may be some evidence of these symptoms. These people may have significant impairments in their ability to maintain the activities of daily living. Even the more routine tasks, such as dressing, bathing or brushing teeth, can be significantly impaired or lost.
Often, there is impairment in the emotional processes of the individual. For example, these people may appear emotionally unstable, or their emotions may not seem appropriate to the context of the situation. They may fail to show ordinary emotional responses in situations that evoke such responses in healthy people. Mental health professionals refer to this particular symptom as blunted or flat affect. Additionally, these people may have an inappropriately jocular or giddy appearance, as in the case of a patient who chuckles inappropriately through a funeral service or other solemn occasion.

Schizophrenia: Residual Subtype
This subtype is diagnosed when the patient no longer displays prominent symptoms. In such cases, the schizophrenic symptoms generally have lessened in severity. Hallucinations, delusions or idiosyncratic behaviours may still be present, but their manifestations are significantly diminished in comparison to the acute phase of the illness.
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1 comment:

Himanshu Nagpal said...

What a heart touching story! Drugs, that is one thing that is running into the veins of our world and is spoiling many families... I feel bad.