Sunday, October 21, 2007


“Choices, choices and more choices. I wonder weather this process of decision making will ever end. Every time I make one, believing this is where I am gone stick to, it turn out to a shit”. I screamed, my day started with a hope for a new life but ended with frustration and desperation. “Are you listening to me? Ah! As always, deaf”. Sarcasm came over to my face looking at Sarah.

Sarah is my childhood friend; our families lived in the same building for more than a decade before her parents’ left to live in the countryside after the death of their only son, Marino.

Sarah is partially deaf; she hated to wear the hearing aid and specially avoided wearing it when she would be with me. She was my listener for all these years.

I told her every thing; my desires, complaints, confessions and dreams. It seemed as if we had a secret pact between us, me tolerating her for her deafness and naivete, and she tolerating me for my never-ending mute talks.

The best thing that I liked about her was the way see looked at me whenever I was in desperation. She would study my lip movement very keenly then would wait for me to stop. The moment I ceased my lips, she would pass on a look, the look, which very much reminded me of my mother’s look that I saw for the first and last time in my life, when she thought I was going to die. I was thirteen then, after that I had never given my mother a chance to believe that I would die.

I was more or less like my father and a curse that my mother thought she had to bear all through her life.
Sarah was different; her look made me feel wanted. She was my best friend.

Today when I am feeling low and telling her about the mess in my life, she was there, listening to me with her deafness. While I was screaming she was looking at the large Levi’s hoarding, the model was wearing low-waist jeans, exposing his, what woman call “love arms”.

“Its looking good, isn’t it” Sarah asked with a desire in her voice. I turned my face to the other side and murmured “I am in mess and she will not lend her ears to me”. Then I turned my face towards her and said sarcastically moving my lips slowly; “If given a chance I can do better than that, just have to pull the jeans three more inches down”.

Sarah laughed and said teasingly “you dog, you called me bitch, isn’t it.” Then continued after a little pause taking out the headphone “you want me to put this on”, her eyes were focused on me with eminent tease.

I was embarrassed, irritated and smiling at the same time. This deaf girl always made me feel lighten, whatever I went through, weather it was for a woman, job or family, she was always there. I never thought that things between Sarah and me would ever change, but it did.

Sarah was excited going through the manual of new miniature hearing aid equipment that could be implanted in her ear. “You know it’s so small that nobody can spot it, just by looking at me.” She was excited. “Don’t worry, I will tell everyone that you have one in your ear.” I said teasing. She didn’t bother what I said and continued “I will go out, make new friends and date somebody charming, I cannot wait to have one, tomorrow I am going to Bombay.”

Sarah’s uncle lived in Bombay and he had sent her this manual. Then she turned her face towards me “What do you think?” I placed my hands on her face holding it gently and with tenderness in my eyes I said, “Sure, you should have this one implanted”.

Then I removed my hands and continued “Its not that you need this, but I think I need to get rid of a dumb girl” I laughed. “You spoiled dog, you don’t know how to make a lady feel good.” and she threw a cushion on my face.

We laughed, hugged and teased. At the end of the day I was sad, may be I didn’t want this change in my life. My mother always told me that I was selfish when it comes to holding on personal relations, may be she was right.

It was more than a week after she left, I busy mending out the things that went wrong previous week at the office, and I was not able to dial her. It was on Monday when she arrived; I went to airport to pick her up.

All along the way she kept talking about how she felt meeting new people, the doctors, and nurses and about her uncle’s family, she sounded really happy it seemed as if she had a pile of stock waiting to be revealed. I listened with occasional participation. After her arrival, the first impression that I had was the change in my role; I was not feeling close to her.

It was my daily routine of dropping and picking her up from the school for hearing impaired; where Sarah was working as teacher. It was half an hour journey to our apartments, plenty of time to talk and listen.

After she came from Bombay there was a little bit of hesitation on my part to talk, Sarah was compensating me; she was talking more then ever. Gap has started building up between us.

When ever we were together before her implantation, she used to follow me like a shadow, without asking where I was leading her to, weather it was to a movie, restaurant or a garden she will never ask, simply follow.

I do remember an incident, where she followed me to the toilet and got embarrassed, that day I didn’t see her following me, I asked her to stay inside the car but she didn’t seem to notice, what I said and simply followed me to the gents toilet in the motel.

On Saturday I had to rush, the schedule was tight so I dropped Sarah across the road, all along the way my mind was occupied with the presentation of my new project that I was going to give, my career very much depended upon this presentation. I didn’t care to talk to her and she too seemed to be busy with herself.

The day went very hectic but turned out to be a successful one, finance was okayed from the board members and the much awaited turning point in my career began. I brought some flowers for Sarah while driving back home, I was running late from my usual schedule but it never happened that Sarah took her way home by herself even if I was an hour late, she definitely waits for me to pick her up.

I made some big plans for today to celebrate this occasion of my success, first we will go to down-street to have pani-puri at one of Sarah’s favorite sites then we will go to see movie in drive-in theater, and then we will dine at some good restaurant. I was already late by an hour when I left my office it took another ten minutes to reach Sarah’s school, the gate was closed.

I looked for her all around but she was not there, I thought she must have left for home. And I made myself accept her independence, people need to grow and change with time, I thought and then left to buy myself some drinks.

The bar at the plaza was as cozy and welcoming as always, but today the music being played was one my favorite, and Sarah was not there to restrict me so I took few more shots than the usual. But By the time I paid the bill I became sure that I won’t be able to drive home safe so I decided to stay in the near by hotel.

I got up at nine in the morning, being Sunday I had plenty of time left for me to drive home, I was not in a hurry I ordered some tea then switched on my mobile and was reading the newspaper when my mom called up.

She shouted “where are you, do you know Sarah had an accident and she is in hospital now, even if you know why should you care, son like father” my heart started beating fast, I wondered how she was now, how she had an accident, whether she will be ok after this accident.

My mother didn’t wait to give me the details and hung up after telling me the name of the hospital. I cursed myself for being not there with Sarah for almost a day. I was not offended by what my mother said; she was always like this making me feel bad about myself.

I rushed to the city hospital, she was in the intensive care unit with a broken arm and with some scratches on her face, and the nurse told me that she was in a state of shock after the accident. Doctor didn’t allow me to get inside the intensive care unit to see her, as the terminology of being a friend was not sufficient for them to believe how important she was for me.

I saw her through the glass window on the door; she was lying there with her eyes closed and swollen face. Sarah’s younger sister Sara was sitting there out side the i.c.u. . I approached her; she looked at me with cold and disapproving eyes. Without any formal greetings I asked her “ how did this happen?”

“While crossing the road, she probably didn’t hear the vehicle approaching and was hit”. It was I who dropped her across the road but this was not supposed to happen.
I responded saying “I knew it was not going to work, why she had to implant that crap which almost took her life”.

Sara looked at me with hatred in her eyes and said “you selfish son of bitch, its you who almost took her life, she never had the implantation done, and you know why because she feared losing you ” she was almost in tears.
Being subject to the disclosure I don’t know what to say and responded “she didn’t told me that”. This proved me to be not only selfish but stupid naïve and ignorant. Sara screamed “you never asked her”.

Her body gesture was as if she wanted to hit me hard, she paused for few second and took a deep breadth and continued “when she told you that she is going to have the implantation, she saw the disagreement in your eyes, and when you didn’t call her when she was in Bombay, she canceled the implantation at the last moment and came back”.

And then with the sarcasm she said “and look at you Mr. Myself, you never had the ear to understand what she said or meant she kept talking to you after coming back but you didn’t respond, you literally stopped talking to her, she very much wanted to tell you that she didn’t have the implantation done but waited so that you wont feel bad about yourself.” then tears started flowing through her eyes

“don’t you understand she is woman, woman loves somebody to take care of herself even if it makes her cripple for the whole life, she loves you as a woman, how can you understand that” and then she left.

I stood there watching Sarah through the glass window and wondered why I had to hurt the people I love.

When Sara came back I left for my home without saying anything to her. As I reached home I saw my mom waiting for me; I hugged her, that was an unusual act on my part. Lately I discovered that the Women generally have this power to understand the wave of emotions that goes inside you without the utterance of a single word.

My mom made my drink and that day I talked to her like never before, we kept talking the whole night.

Something in me changed that night; I was feeling Very light and contented. Next day Sarah was shifted from intensive care unit to private room and doctors said that she could go home after two days.

On Wednesday she was discharged and I was driving her back to home, she was silent all along and I didn’t know where to start from or what to say.

I stopped the car near the City Lake and we sat there holding our hands and dipping our legs in the lake, overlooking a large hoarding which stated “Sarah I love you”.

Role playing

"You have the psychological maladjustment dealing with the reality of life and have lost the capacity to act in the simplest way to be a human, so you need a treatment, and the will to surrender, believing nothing worst than this will happen". This was the reason in brief, Rubén gave, walking me into the asylum, I was an alcoholic and had lost my charm in life, wondering the significance of birth, death and the life in between.
Some how I trusted her word, moreover I believed that the people inside would not be any different from the people outside, on which Rubén said "don't worry they are very much predictable and some of them are treated to became unpredictable, so that they can fit best in the unpredictable world". I smiled.
A tall black man guided me into a plain room allotted to me, overlooking the high wired outer walls protecting outside world from the locked insanity, he gave me a list of instructions that I was supposed to follow and asked me to wait in the room until I get a call from the doctor.
He gave me an impression of devil guardian protecting the walls of two different worlds, as soon as he left I started thinking weather this is where I expected myself to end up, then I turned my face in other direction escaping the thought that I just had.
A stout bald man in his early fifties wearing white coat, holding a clip board walked into my room. The man said "hi Steven I am doctor smith" after formal introduction he sat down and looked keenly at me and asked” do you have any question in your mind that you want to ask me".
I reluctantly said "no" but his eyes kept starring at me as if they knew the question. Then after a brief pause I asked pressing irritation “ok tell me how long you think I have to stay here".
The answer came as if, he was prepared to deliver it “as long as you will learn to make difference between you and Steven, that can take a whole life or it can happen just today or at this moment".
I hated philosophy, as it was something that screwed my life yet could not escape it, came in all form. Then he continued "is your question has something to do with what you want in your life or you just want to escape the confrontation with the reality".
I didn't wait long and interrupted him sarcastically “are you going to teach me".
"No you will learn by your self and I think you are ready for that. If you want to buy something you have to travel to the market and the time taken to actually possess the thing depends on how long is your home from the market and how much time you invest in the market. So think this way that you have traveled all along to the market, it's just the matter of time when you will actually possess the desired thing".
The worst thing about the philosopher is that they will make every thing seem so simple that you wonder weather you are an utter stupid person unfit to live in this world. After a few more minutes of conversation there was a knock at the door, tall black man walked in and the doctor stepped out of the room. “Doctor Smith is calling for you in his cabin".
Latter that day I discovered that the man who was in my room posing as dr. smith was Freddy and according to the records he was suffering from multiple split personality syndromes.
He was a costume designer in a drama company and had a passion for acting. As the record goes he was so much obsessed with acting that he will put on the costume designed and starts living the character as a real one.
Some day he will be a pirate some other day he will be a king and some other day he will be a pauper and so on. My initial reaction towards the discovery was of humiliation, yet I didn't bother much.
As the sun set I started struggling with the prevalent want of courage to stay where I was and the urge to run away betraying myself and Rubén. I started moving restlessly in the room, and then I made my mind and turned my face towards the window overlooking the high wired fence.
Freddy walked into the room without seeking permission, I was too much into myself that I didn't care, he came close to where I was standing and said pointing towards the fence” there is beautiful world out side the wall, I wish I could go there tonight, I know a way out but I am too small to climb that wall” then he continued looking at me “would you like to accompany me, with a preposition”.
I didn't have any reason to trust this freak who fooled me just few hours ago, so I remained silent, he took my silence for yes and said “ok then I will be here at 10”. It was seven o'clock in the evening when Freddy entered my room and made his offer.
The proposition that me made included wearing the costume and accompanying him all along back to the asylum. The dinner at the asylum was scheduled at 8 o'clock and for me that was the worst thing, in last six years I never had it before 1 a.m that too after a bottle of scotch.
I hardly ate anything and came back to my room. A fat nurse carrying a tray full of different colored pills walked into my room and handed me few tablets and asked to glop them, and I did.
After an hour there was knocking at the door. I was wide awake when the knock came, I opened the door and found Freddy standing there holding a small rug bag. “Come lets go”, I could have said no, but my urge to drink has weakened my decision making power. I followed him through a vacant gallery to a combined toilet then through the ventilation to the outer fence, this part of the fence didn't have any wire installed.
Freddy was true about his incapability to climb that fence, it was too high for him to climb by his own. I helped him to climb the wall and soon once again I was between the florescent lights, rushing streets, and crowd, wearing traffic man uniform.
I and Freddy walked into a bar, I ordered few shots, and Freddy ordered coke. I was into my usual ritual and didn't bother what's going around, Freddy after half an hour became restless, he was watching something that I least cared about, starring people.
Freddy got up and went straight to a group of people which I thought to be nuisance. He said “I have been here directing this cities vehicle for last thirty five years, ensuring that everybody gets home safely to there love ones, I had never taken single a leave weather it rained snowed or stormed. I was always there directing and helping the traffic to ensure your safety. So don't you people think that you owe me some respect, am I asking for something big”. Freddy continued describing all the crap that you can relate to a traffic man, till he made the entire bar applause for him.
The after effects of his speech were very much visible, I puked on my way out, and a man from the bar offered us a ride to the nearest place to the asylum, having an impression that we were real traffic people.
I was too much drunk to walk by my own due to the high dose and alcohol in body; I couldn't remember how Freddy managed to bring me back into my room. Next day he suggested me to hide the pills in my mouth till the nurse leaves and throw it away as soon as she leaves the room, I did as he said but the pills in my mouth gave me a very bad taste.
From that day it became my daily routine to escape from the asylum at night disguising myself in the costume that Freddy brought with him, I didn't participate in his role playing game that he performed every night, but I enjoyed watching him play the roles. And every night he had a different role as doctor, plumber, real estate agent, pimp, preacher and so on, he never messed one role with another, he was perfect but I never came to know which role described him as person.
He never drank while we were out, at least somebody has to in senses, and always the choice was him.
One day he said “today I want to play a drunkards role, I want to the know the pleasure and pain that they experience while having the alcohol and the way they see the world, so today its me who is going to drink and you are going to take me back to the asylum”. I was reluctant at first but had no choice, as Freddy allowed me to have few shots but not in the usual way.
Its was 11 o'clock when we settled in the bar, few shots got in at ease then he started talking “ you know something, the worst thing about life is role playing, you start wondering who you are, what do you want, what is worth holding in, whom do you owe your loyalty to, which direction to move and lots of other things, everything getting overlapped with one another making it really impossible for to make decisions, if there was anything that can erase stored subjective experience so that you can play a role at a time without bringing yourself in, wouldn't that be good”.
By the time he finished his drink, he was too much drunk and I was in complete senses wondering weather it was he who was speaking or the role that he played. I couldn't sleep that night. Next day we again went out but that day he played a monk, there was no reference to what happened yesterday, it was like he never played that role, and I didn't drink that day something changed in me for ever.
After a week I was cleared to move away from the asylum, Rubén came to pick me up. On the way back to home she asked “do you have some plan for tonight”. I said “yes I will pick you up tonight, so wait for me”.
It was 9 in the evening when I reached her apartment wearing a tuxedo which I really hated to wear; she was surprised to see in that outfit. I took her to dinner then to dance; she couldn't believe it was me.
I was holding her in my arms and she was in tears, saying nothing just holding me in. I could see Freddy from the window playing violin; the freak is good at everything. I waved at him, thanking for what he thought me, its really fun playing roles, just keep yourself out and the role in.