Games People Play

Had a rather disturbing session with the analyst, today. Starting from the beginning- when that itself isn’t fabulous, the recollection of it can throw a person off balance. I understand the theatrics of the process are what makes the mind aware. After months of running from pillar to post one has started to feel, that this going to take much longer than one suspected. Healing is a rather tedious and painful process.

Of course, they want me to start the medication. Had a heart to heart with the father today, who insisted (surprisingly) that one should at least take one pill. ‘Look up the medication on the net’. The side effects ( which one saw with the mother ultimately) include high blood pressure, insomnia, lightheadedness and a drop in libido and decreased chances of having orgasms. Considering my non existent love life one should be okay with it but after Covid, I’m going on a dating spree to make up for the uneventful past decade. So, thanks but no thanks.

There’s a new thing they’ve come up with. Some alternative method to alter the brain waves. A person who won’t trust a lab technician with her print, what are the chances of that person trusting a machine? Slim. One thankfully got Covid and has antibodies. This is going to sound ignorant but wild horses will have to drag me to get my shot once they wear off because one is absolutely unconvinced about the efficacy. Am I taking too many chances? Yes, not feeling dead before you actually die, is risky!

I have to wonder, if this whole shenanigan is going to help. Do you think we really change or we just keep accumulating layer after layer of borrowed knowledge, bitterness and fear? Every time I look around or at myself, I see that constant pattern playing out, repeatedly. The only thing that definitely makes a person change, more than any deliberate efforts, I find – is money. For better or worse is debatable.

But mostly we become some version of our parents, inspite of the education, exposure and opportunities. The choices we make, the partners we find has so much do with nurture and parental approval. Unfortunately our children too carry our burdens and pay for our sins! But one is a flaky by nature- so these thoughts pop up and I make excuses, each time someone tries to make me recall things one has locked up and put away. This time I got to stay still for a while. I don’t know how to but I got to learn.

Diggin Cafe, Connaught Place

Diggin, Connaught Place.
Selfies
Delhi at Night

I’m told I should get my act together and start doing things, that make me ‘feel like myself’. So, one has yet again, started going through the motions-solo dates, driving needlessly while blasting music to literally, deafen myself and of course smoking bidis, occasionally! For five minutes, they teleport me to a sand dune in Pushkar. Works but that can’t be a solution.

The newly opened Diggin cafe, in Connaught Place, is a pleasant beanery to spend an evening alone. Next to the Museum of illusions in A block, this is the third outlet of the Diggin chain. The ambience is just as pleasant and the food is as palatable. Though, there’s no outdoor seating available but the bar will make up for that I guess, as none of the other outlets serve alcohol.

For an evening out by yourself, it’s safe and friendly. Anyone who likes to hang out by themselves, in this city will tell you how people always raise their eyebrows, seeing a person enjoy their own company- that’s a given. When you’re alone, you’re given the worst seating and ‘is anyone joining you?’ is asked, in a rather condescending tone, sometimes. Not at Diggin. The staff was very friendly and the service, fabulous. So, drop in- alone, with a lover, with your family, whatever pleases you.

In Solidarity With Afghanistan

Activist Shabnam Hashmi (ANHAD)
Afghan Refugee

Kavita Krishnan (AIPWA)
Afghan student
A very passionate Afghan student broke down while talking about the state of affairs in Afghanistan.

Stand with Afghan People in their Struggle for Freedom and Democracy- A number of activists from NFIW, AIPWA and ANHAD came together today, at Mandi House with Afghan students and refugees to demand that the people of Afghanistan must get an opportunity to elect a new government. Early elections should be held under UN supervision, so that the Taliban doesn’t force itself as the new regime. They also appealed to the Indian government to not only bring back Indian citizens from the tumultuous land but to also make an effort to bring Afghan students, who have enrolled into Indian universities back to Indian soil.

The Afghan women at the protest were terribly shook up, due to the chaos and the fear that has been caused by the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban. As it is in all conflict areas, the women pay the highest price, with not just their lives but also by the nullification of their liberties. Their bodies and souls are traded and forced into a subservience, that is closer to death, than any of us can imagine. All we can give them right now is refuge, cooperation and support.

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Running In Circles

Amma,

It’s almost a year and half since you passed and it seems like the joy has been sucked out of this house. It’s been too long since anyone’s sung ‘oyeee meri gudiyaa, oyee oyee oyee!’ while simultaneously dancing in the cutest manner. You’re (were, na!) hilarious!

All my life, I was afraid I would become exactly like you and bingo! it’s here. My mother…myself, in more ways than one. Anyhow, no biggie! It’s helped me to make a decision, one’s been leaning towards, since the craziness. No kids through artificial means, no can do! Ever since you’ve passed, people have been trying to convince me to have one. This just drove the nail in the coffin. Of course these days your husband is obsessed with the idea of me, marrying the Wall ( so that he can move into the house). Eye roll! I feel like a commodity, that’s to be bartered. Forget living here, that poor soul, is always shocked out of his wits when he talks, to the love of your life.

‘Now that the boy is getting married as well, why don’t you?’ he enquires. ‘ I have you to fight with, what do I need a man for? Life’s dramatic enough without one, so no issues. He glares at me when I say that. Don’t haunt me, okay, but I think he should get married. He needs it more, men are frailer, they need people to constantly talk at. Plus, I will not have to listen to conversations about his past escapades, there will be someone else he can have these inappropriate conversations with. They trigger me, the humour is completely lost on me in any case and I’m told I should abstain from getting agitated, right now. Otherwise, we’re doing fine, we’re like two peas in a pod.

Marriage is a solution for a number of problems… that’s what people keep advocating …so it will work better for him, since he was at it for years. I told him to get on Tinder, otherwise, Second Shaadi is a good option…anyone he’s been seeing would also do. I can’t even wrap my head around a few dates, at the moment and especially due to the frame of mind, one’s been in, for the past year and half, one needs no other entanglements. Plus, I’ve been around married people the past few days and that’s made me realize I will have to make the sacrifices the men make in a marriage, not the women. I will have to inform someone about my whereabouts, about my conversations, about my aspirations. You know I answer such questions with why, silence or I’ll lie through my teeth or better still give a blank expression as if I don’t understand the question itself, if I find the line of questioning to be invasive. I’ve pulled all of this on you, my entire life. I’ll have to give up my freedom of speech, will have to shove my past under a carpet and pretend to be someone’s idea of ‘normal’. What the hell am I going to do with people? Till date they’re raking up all my skeletons because they can’t find anything new! Imagine exposing a partner to all this! I could but what’s the need?

So I think there should be a wedding in the house. Just not mine! What fun Amma! It will open up all my options. I could pack up my bags, wander around like a gypsy, six months, in one city then another. Go like that for years. Just my camera, my car, lots of books, all sorts of music. I could disappear from social media, just post on this blog, no one would know who I am, who I know, no one would be able to meddle in any way. Then I could ultimately settle, I’m suspecting somewhere down South ( unfortunately Kashmir is too volatile) where I could just find my tribe. If I don’t I could finally build the small little cabin, I always dreamt of having as a kid, somewhere in a remote place, with puppies and then eventually ( by fifty I’m thinking ) babies! If I miraculously find someone with a touch of madness and an erect spine, maybe in time I’ll stop pushing, with all my might. I’ll try.

Ten Steps And Two Worlds Apart

It’s been a strange few days. Only on days like these, one wishes there was someone around to hold my hand, as I walked into spaces that are full of judging eyes. Marriage my dear, is the only thing that abjugates women from their supposed sins. Marrying a rich man will absolve me from real ones.

Am I going to? Fuck, no! That’s just the price that women have always paid for living life on their own terms. Look at the brighter side. In another lifetime, they would have hung me for being a witch. In this one, well, it’s so much easier. You get shunned and spoken about…you fall down, pick yourself up…build a new life. The version of your past that’s convenient and skewed is talked about and is shoved at you again…you fall.. you pick yourself up and you start again. You keep doing it, till you’re alive and when you’re dead you can become a story.

But at some point, you got to do the ungraceful thing. Sometimes between respecting other people and yourself, you got to prioritise yourself. No one can do that for you. You got to say ‘that’s enough!’ at some point. The dragging through the gutter, doesn’t work for my ‘bad girl’ image, that suits nice people better but unfortunately it’s a dog eat dog world and when you’re bottom dog, you got to crawl your way up. The thing that you wanted to avoid for years because you knew by doing it you will loose the chance of giving respect to the two people who mattered then and will continue to matter till eventually my memory fails me. Those feelings didn’t make sense a decade ago to anyone, how would they make sense now? But we continue loving our dead relatives…we also continue loving, our lovers from dead relationships. That’s just how we’re built. Hating requires too much effort and one can only be indifferent when one when will be dead!

The Buck Stops Here

I got my psychometric test results and thought I should send a msg to the boys, I left- ‘ Thank me, darlings. You just got saved.’ And to the one’s who left me, ‘👍👍👍. Good choice!’ Ya, ya, I know it’s self deprecating. But come on man, if I can’t get a few laughs from my idiosyncrasies, what’s the point of having them? The humour would have been lost on them, so I didn’t.

They should have tested the ‘drama quotient’ too. So freaking dramatic, one is! Read the results and started singing-‘Pyaar mujhse jo kiya tumne to kyaa paaoge? Meri halaat ki aandhi mein bikhar jaoge!’ Rofl. Bhaskarji was all confused. ‘Kyaa hogaya didi?’ ‘Kuch nahin dimaag kharaab he thoda sa, ya to theek ho jayega, ya purra kharaab!’

Do I think mental health is a joke? No, but I don’t think taking pills will cure this patient’s disorders- Depressive, Antisocial, Avoidant, Manic, Masochistic, Borderline and Major Depression Symptoms, which the MCM1-111, Hamilton Anxiety Rating, Hamilton Rating Scale for depression, Draw a person test and the Rorschach tests, SSS-8 have indicated. These are on a disorder level…the traits are another story! I really don’t know, whether I should laugh, cry or tell someone.

Patient is ‘highly suspicious’ of people due to ‘negative interactions’ , henceforth, patient is very weary of giving this information out to the extended family, which has been trying to replace her with a man, ever since her mother’s death. Plus, their emotional quotient, is highly questionable. This will just add fuel to the fire. One more thing to get the rumour mills, churning. ‘The psychological functioning of the person is more complex than most people’, should that not automatically mean most people would not understand how this patient functions? Of course, one could tell the father but his response will be, ‘you need to go to Kashmir!’ ‘buy a dog’ ‘forget what’s happened and think only about work! but here’s a man who drinks all the time, to deal with his problems. His solutions are usually in cognisance with escapism. Or one could tell the boys who are my support system but they’ll just worry, from far away.

So for now the patient will try to deal with the ‘distress’, try to avoid, ‘focus on the features of herself that are negative’, continue to ‘process very well and in a rather complex’ manner and will become less uncomfortable in interpersonal situations. Above all, the patient, will work on ‘being less influenced by emotions’ bring it down to a regular person level ( God knows how!) will not try to avoid ‘emotional confrontations at all costs’ , will be less ‘self evaluative’ (eye roll) and will not try to ‘distance herself from others’ ( probably won’t succeed).

This report reminds me of my astrological chart that my brother got made, it’s almost as confusing and as correct. Too sensitive, feels too much, thinks too much, avoids people and is prone to severe depression are all on it. Who knew I would turn out to be a text book case? I must admit, the psychoanalyst was quite good. She barely asked me any questions about my childhood or my current worries…just how do I feel after my mum’s death? To which I replied, ‘I’m doing just fine!’ Sleep? ‘I’ve never slept well!’ So, to diagnose all this from a blot test, drawings, observation and from a multiple choice questionnaire is quite commendable. Having all this, so damn predictable.

But irrespective of how this pans out and how the people around me, react to all this, healing should be my top priority. Like I said to the shrink, ‘unlike my mother, who came from a large family and had a husband and kids…I don’t have the privilege to loose my mind. I’m all I got, no one’s going to save me, I got to save myself!’ So, time to hero up, doll….look at the shadow…you’re batman! We are the people we’ve been waiting for! We got to be for the kids that we’ll adopt someday, who will come from my heart and not my belly…I ain’t passing my trauma on to them. The buck stops, here!

What’s the point?

What’s the point of being unpredictable… if one is going to turn into a foregone conclusion?

What’s the point of being rebellious …if one doesn’t rebel against one’s genetic makeup?

What’s the point of the polarity …if one won’t enjoy the roller coaster it keeps one on?

What’s the point in living …if the senses needed to be dulled?

What’s the point of fighting the whole world, when one can’t confront one’s shadow?

What’s the point of being flirtatious, if one’s demons aren’t caught by the horns and made to tango? Look them in the eye, blow them a kiss and slip like you always do!

ACE Trauma Test

For a while one has been struggling, without even realising. As long as I kept pretending to be Jhansi ki Rani, fighting the world ( eye roll) and being discriminated against for one’s gender, I was kind of alright. My buffer, I’m told, is great at absorbing the shock of loss and grief, one goes into fight mode. Hence, everything trickles down slowly, later, when one least expects it.

Anyhow, after many telephonic conversations with mental health professionals, one went to visit a psychiatrist, to figure out whether I had what people had been claiming- Bipolar Disorder. I don’t know, how many times, you’ve got yourself evaluated but trust me, it ain’t fun, trying to recall things your mind has tried to blank out. Plus, ‘what about your mother? Dead! What about your sibling? Dead!’ though answered with a deadpan expression, inspite of how cocky one may look doing it, isn’t what you enjoy saying. One’s been told, that other than the mood disorder ( which is still being assessed- tests after tests my dear) one also has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a.k.a, PTSD. I don’t think anything has made me angrier, than that diagnosis.

One came out of the shrink’s clinic, livid. ‘ What the fuck does she mean I suffer from trauma?’ I was yelling into the phone. ‘Has she met a rape victim, acid attack victim, someone who lost their parent when they were little? Has she met the mothers in Kashmir who loose their children? I…I…I look traumatised to her!!! So what, if my mum burnt herself when I was little and now she and my brother are both dead! Everyone has to die, someday. Do you think poor people have the privilege of suffering PTSD, BPD or any form of depression?’ My friend, who is the only person who can handle my rants, kept trying to calm me down. ‘They meet lots of people, they have the experience, listen to them!’ ‘They’ve been trying to get me on those meds ever since, I was sixteen. I will fucking fix myself, you wait and watch! It’s my mind, my body, I’ve been living in it for 42 years, I will sort myself out, even if I have to slap myself out of this nonsense!’

For a person, who has been told by many professionals ( I was dragged to a family counsellor when I was younger, then a shrink…I’ve done the advanced Landmark forum course and have surrounded myself with the spiritual ones since a young age) that one is quite self aware ( according to me that makes me stupider than the average person who is unaware because they actually don’t know what they’re upto and I knowingly continue doing harmful things) one was behaving like an ignorant nincompoop! But I guess, BPD, is something that I can take like people take High BP. That it’s a genetic disposition, that one needs to work around. This made me feel weaker, less in control ( which scared the living day light out of the control freak) and bloody angry! So, of course I threw a fit and went into complete denial, bought loads of books, started sporadically walking again, avoiding people who I felt were triggers and trying with all my might to ‘slap some sense into myself!’ Of course the medicines which were prescribed were never taken.

One of the books, I’d ordered arrived today, ‘How to do the Work’ by Dr Nicole Lepera and like people pick tarot cards one opened a page. ‘Let’s see what I need to figure out on this day!’ I thought, as I casually drank my morning tea. Voila! On Page number 41, was the heading- Trauma: A misunderstood concept. The author wrote about the Adverse Childhood Experience Test and how though she had scored a 1 on it, which most people do, she later realized that she had suffered ‘spiritual trauma’. Dr Lepera, went on to describe how like me, she doesn’t have childhood memories, how she forgets faces and people make fun of her memory, all the time because she doesn’t remember shared experiences. Like me, she has ‘feeling memories’ how she felt but not concrete memories of events and all of this has been a coping mechanism, a survival tactic.

Dr Besel Kolk, has described this phenomena as- disassociation. ‘Simultaneously knowing and not knowing,’ How traumatised people try to not be present, how their fight, freeze and flight responses work differently and just because they have trained their mind to not be present to the occurrences it doesn’t mean, their bodies don’t remember.

The memory thing, made sense to me. Akash had told me the same thing, after I asked her why my IQ is normal but I don’t recollect so many things. ‘You trained your mind as a child to not remember, what was happening around you!’ Akash was one person one listened to. How one wishes one would have spent more time with her when she was alive! This resonated with me, so I took yet another test, this time on the net, thinking one will get a low score.

The Adverse Childhood Experience Test Goes Like This ( taken from the NPR.org site)

1) Before your 18th birthday did a parent or an adult in the household, often or very often swear at you, put you down or humiliate you or act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?

2) Before your 18th birthday, did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often-push, slap or throw something at you or ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?

3) Before your 18th birthday, did an adult or person at least five years older than you ever touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way or attempt or actually have oral, anal or vaginal intercourse with you?

4) Before your 18th b’day did you often or very often feel that no one on your family loved you or thought you were important or special or your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other or support each other?

5) Before your 18th b’day did you often or very often feel that you didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes and had no one to protect you or your parents were too drunk or too high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?

6) Before your 18th b’day, was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment or other reasons?

7) Before your 18th birthday, was your mother or stepmother often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped or had something thrown at her or sometimes kicked, bitten, hit with something or hit repeatedly, threatened with a gun or knife?

8) Before your 18th birthday, did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs?

9) Before your 18th birthday, was a household member depressed or mentally ill or did a household member attempt suicide?

10) Before your 18th birthday, did a household member go to prison?

I think everybody should take this test, especially people such as myself, who won’t believe the professionals, insisting that healing in such cases should be taken seriously. I don’t want to disclose my score but let’s just say, I should stop living in denial. Plus, it gave me an answer to a question that has always haunted me: when my brother and I had the same parents, why did I turn out like this and he could pass off as normal? Now I know.

Central Problem

The central problem is not that you think too highly of yourself. Nor is it that you think too lowly of yourself. Instead, it is that you think constantly of yourself.’ -Wu-Hsin

One tried to run away from it, cheat it akin to how people try to cheat death. ‘When you get married, you will have to be very careful. When you make babies it will create problems!’ Here one is, neither married nor with babies and yet it stares me right in the face! Mocking me, almost! How do you run away from your inherent nature? You can’t but you surely try with all your might!

Friendship

One believes, the foundation of love is laid by respect and friendship. I guess that’s why after my brother, who was my buddy and confidant, my lovers have been my closest friends and my closest friends have seemed like lovers, to most people, as they’ve usually been from the opposite sex.

The collision of two random souls that choose to, for some inexplicable reason- trust each other, remain vulnerable in front of one another, protect each other from life’s bitterness is a strange, yet wonderful phenomenon. Friendships can be a boon or bane, though, depending on how well your life is going.

To hold on to people who you knew when you were so little, you could barely spell your own name and to continue cherishing that, with a sentimentality is a bit strange, no? But that’s what most long lasting friendships are based on, sentimentality, the need for a witness, a person who remembers things about us, even we have forgotten about ourselves!

One has no such emotional attachments, though. It’s a terrible thing to say, especially today but it is true. I know writing this would make me sound like a bitter monster but I’m not here to sell my goodness to you! One has been in touch with various people, from the past four decades- from school friends, to colony friends, to my brother’s friends to ex lovers, to various professional acquaintances…if I pop it you can piece my existence together from Facebook, most of them are there, barring the one’s who’ve chosen otherwise. With some the relationship has grown stronger and other’s have become mere acquaintances but nevertheless most of them thankfully haven’t grown too bitter.

Yet, I don’t take any of it too seriously, anymore. I saw my mother being completely heartbroken in the last few years of her life, when over forty years of friendship, were albeit forgotten as she became inconvenient for most people to know. I still have those messages on my phone, that I sent to all the people she knew, ‘she misses you please come and see her’ and yet most people didn’t. Sabh time ka kamaal he! Unlike my father and I, she was a loving and forgiving person. Yet, she died a very lonely death and I’m okay dying lonely but not shocked. So, no I feel absolutely no deep rooted attachments to old friends, new friends or any relationships for that matter. It helps being like this, not expecting anything, makes you not feel betrayed or too alone, when the darkness surrounds you and there’s no one there. You got yourself, your faith and that will make you survive. I’ve really started to believe that, when the time is right, your enemies will turn into friends and when your time is bad, your closest friends can cause you the greatest harm.

Having said that, one cherishes the moments I’ve spent with a lot of my buddies. I invariably end up smiling when I hear ‘Yaaro dosti badi hi haseen he!’and one still ends up calling some friend or the other each time one hears it on the radio. My female friends, though adorable, have always been a bit too proper for me to end up spending too much time with. Once in a couple of months, is the amount of time, I’ve met them, through the decades. One’s always been like one of the boys thanks to the rebellious streak, the love for street food, bike rides, nocturnal drives and spitting competitions from on top of flyover’s to appreciating women’s beauty to long discussions on all kinds of random crap. One tends to sit like them, has a sailor’s mouth and one definitely has a male ego. Plus, over the years, they’ve all known the best time to get me to talk is in the middle of the night. So one’s spent more time chatting with them or driving around Delhi, discussing their love lives or mine. My female friends are usually scandalised by me, my male friends amused, so most of my cherished memories with buddies, have been with the latter. Like one of them whose known me since my teenage years, said to me recently, ‘aise mat bol ke tu sudharne walli he, Moti!’ Not in this lifetime, I reassured him. Otherwise, how will I sing, ‘ bigade hue insaan the, shaithan ke santan the….woh din bhi kyaa din the!’