L;GHTS OFF PLEASE

Lights off please began with an opening monologue by Rochan Mathur, who played the part of a person grieving the loss of a friend by suicide.
Ravi P Sharma’s monologue was about a caregiver and his frustrations-‘the caregiver burnout’ was expressed beautifully. Those of us, who have seen it up, close and personal, could identify with the dialogues and the tone of this enactment, the most.
Preeti Agarwal Mehta’s monologue, was about the psychiatrist who has lost a patient to suicide. The director, Shruti Bijnoria, sew the three monologues, effectively but unfortunately no one played the part of the person, whose died by suicide.

The panelist- Dr Alok Bajpai is a consultant at IIT, Kanpur. I’m rarely intrigued by mental health professionals. But Dr Bajpai, had something that not many professionals have- a sensitivity, which can’t be taught or feigned. Of course, the way he used mythology and literature to elucidate his point of view, was very interesting. The ‘cry for help’, ‘the window’, that a person will give you to save them, when he/she is slipping, will always be there, when they grow too emotional or withdraw too much, that’s what you need to keep an eye on, was what he mentioned. If he was in Delhi, that’s the professional whose clinic I would be camped out in front of.
Dr Sujata Minhas, spoke about how she spearheaded a movement to make changes to the law, that punished a person who attempted to commit suicide. Thanks to her and other change makers, attempting suicide is no longer a punishable offence but abetment to suicide is.
Mr Rajinder Pal, spoke about the questions that arise in an analyst’s mind about their own mortality and their own existential angst, while listening to a patient. Honestly, it made me a bit uncomfortable, hearing an analyst give voice to the same questions that pop up in my head like ‘do you actually know what to do about this or are you as confused as I am?’ But having mulled over it, one realised only a brave man, says, on a public platform- this thing I’m supposed to be an expert on, I don’t know enough about.
Shubha Menon, who is currently writing her autobiography about living with Bipolar was part of the panel. Now, the sensitivity quotient in the room, which was filled with psychology students was a little low in any case, for my liking, with audience members giggling and talking ( you know how difficult it is to get young adults to pipe it down). But this took the entire bakery, for me. A round was opened up for questions to the esteemed panel. If you know me, you know I shy away from public speaking like it’s the plague. But one was moved by the play and the panel. So, inarticulate something- gibberish, spilt out of one’s mouth. After the event, a man approached me. We were in the middle of a sensitive conversation when Ms Menon, approached us and just kept standing there, waiting for us to end this serious conversation. Anyhow, long story…longer…this is the Vishesh tipani she gave me, ‘ You know my mother was bipolar, more than anyone in the world can be bipolar!’ I didn’t know where to look. ‘ Look at me, I am just fine! You are not your mother, okay!’ I shit you not, it took, everything inside me to restrain myself but in the end I just felt terribly sad for her child, who must be dealing with this regularly.
The event was organised by Saahita. Blessin Varkey and Chitra Kalyani, are the key members of the group, that advocates for mental health.