Funny, isn’t it?
Contrary to everything my role-models in the field of medicine and technology propose, I speak here, not of healing, but of non-healing.
I am perfectly aware that a vast supply of information is made available on the subject of grief, suffering and ‘healing’ – as though what they term ‘healing’ was a very handsome and reassuring man who possessed a wide arm-span into which you eventually fall and forget everything harsh that afflicted you once.
My association with disease has been as early as a toddler who suddenly becomes an adult, when she learns making sense of her circumstances, and with that, also learns a plethora of startling coping mechanisms in order to subdue discomfort and chase security – which in itself, is as mythical as it can get.
My life, has been about running against time, and so I know through long experience, the qualms of human mechanism, and the afterword a child begins to form so as to deal better with his surroundings.
I do not accept the stages of grief very much, as cited in many of the common psychotherapy teachings that one may come across – because what I have experienced has never been one night of intense trauma, but deep morbidity from one day to next, for as long as I have been alive.
It does not make me more knowledgeable, but it very well makes me an accountable offender, the one prone to much trial-and-error, the pang of mistake-making, and dissolutely unsolvable living.
Life chose not to spare me even for a day, and therefore, I had learnt what it is to make peace with threat; what it is to make a peaceful home right in the place they call, the ‘eye’ of the storm.
When I was very young, I’d realized that ‘perfection’ was the only way I could chase ‘security’.
The realization, of course, like all realization, turned out to be self-defeating – it was truth in momentum, which would be subject to such force of life someday – that it would break its construct and speed, only to create a new momentary realization, with a very similar fate.
When finally the ordeal suffered its consequential ending, four years ago, I very well remember where I was.
I was standing just inside the critical care, by the bedside of someone, whose limbs had turned blue because he had passed away.
It was 4 A.M. and outside the glass window a wide and empty street stood hollow, split open by a road-divider, which was moist with the heat of hanging humidity.
I asked a question.
“What am I going to do now?”
I don’t know who I’d asked it to.
And when you ask questions in the middle of nowhere, you get no answers.
You just make way.
So I made way, and I went where it took me – those long and winding years of turmoil which had finally broken open, just as a long-standing immuno-compromised individual suffers a sudden bout of infection and cancer, when his incubation is over, and succumbs to one or the other.
One afternoon, months later, I found myself on the ground, holding tightly at my belly – unable even to make sound, unable to even cry.
The next day, I ended up crying in the middle of a very important round.
I began to be filled with deep disgust and anger – the kind of anger that wanted to consume, to my utter shock, my entire existence, my entire concept, my hard-labour, and years and years of quest and discovery.
Where was this anger all my life, I wondered.
Wasn’t I the woman who stood with a lamp where it was most dark?
Wasn’t I the woman who had decided that she would have to burn herself, in order to make an enlightened vista, where others like herself could walk with less fear?
Instead in her place, what was this murky, utterly dark, lipid character that had opened itself, and had made itself known?
And why did it suddenly show itself now?
Up until then, I had never known what it was to say ‘no’.
Not to disease, not to guilt, not to shame and name-calling, not to the man who first disrupted me, or the boys who touched me, thereafter, or the people who’d wronged a woman who was very important to me.
I only said ‘yes’. Sometimes aloud, sometimes in silence.
Yes to everything, yes to managing, yes to staying quiet and understanding, yes to abuse, yes to coping, yes to discomfort and yes to life.
A person had to just call my name, and I would be at their beck and call; and it made no sense, whatsoever.
It occurred to that ‘me’, that if I did not answer that call, there would be some very very nasty consequence, and consequences were exactly the kind of things, that I had to protect myself and my environment from.
But suddenly my mouth had opened, and the circle formed a ‘no’.
The ‘no’ had in itself such caustic rebellion, and such hatred, that it made me unrecognizable, even to myself.
She was a strange girl that I saw in the mirror – and ‘she’ was not the old me.
She was very feral, very primal and she looked like a wounded animal, an animal that had endured for very long; and was now baring her fangs, with the need for answer, with the need for vengeance, with no guilt or remorse, and with much brutality.
The child was no more to be seen – the child who kept bricks one over the other in extreme precision, structured and engineered so as to be ‘perfect’ – because her idea of ‘perfect’ granted those around her peace, even if it consumed every bit of her.
She did not go unnoticed – the wounded animal.
Contrary to how I saw her, with much kindness, others saw her with impatience, others saw her not with any understanding, but in a manner that would border on ‘ostracism’ – because this animal, was not to the convenience of anyone around herself, infact, not even to the convenience of herself.
The disgust people held for this feral creature, showed very much on their cold and empty faces, in the furrows of their cheeks, and in the frown of their eyebrows. It showed also with the gossip that would knock my broken windowpane, every now and then, when a do-gooder would decide to tell me, how insanely dangerous I had become.
Dangerous to whom, she would ask, and give a vile pucker.
There were two women – one who was calm, seemingly wise, and untouchable, who made a mental note of everything around her; and the other one – an extremely reactive, wounded animal, who was on the verge of calling out each trauma, who wished on termination, and who wished also, on escape.
The wise woman had granted her reins to the wounded one, and it took them both, to places one would not have thought, for the ‘old’ me.
Eventually, the wounded woman would get tired of her antics and playtime, and she would then just lay there, feigning death; this is when the wise one would come forward, and sit calmly, by the wounded one’s side.
One day, when I stood lazing under a cedar, in the cold auspices of the Himalayan terrain, it occurred to me, that these two women inside of me, co-existed and resembled the very forces of nature we emerge from, the primal Mother – sometimes as the cultured, sweet and soft-handed Parvati, and other times, the mutilating, forceful, unsparing, Kali.
It seemed so liberal, that Parvati and Kali, as a part of our mind-boggling mythology, are but, the first crops of life, and our inter-changing behaviour, so deeply rooted, in the seeds that we are propounded by, is not very different from the Great Mother.
As much as we would wish on fantasy, the human mind cannot rid itself of memories – it’s just like coming across the scent of something, decades later, recognizing it immediately, and being swept by the heaviness of nostalgia.
The pain comes in waves, and grips you, by no liking and no rule.
Talking and sharing, makes others aware, it makes it easier for them to understand you; but it does nothing for you.
Letting your perpetrators know about their actions, telling the world about the actions of the perpetrators, hurling hateful behaviour at them, makes no difference.
Swallowing pills, makes no difference.
Creating life around a fitness regimen, looking better, makes no difference.
Travelling around the globe, makes no difference.
The family of victims who have had traumatic endings, find that as long as they are busy with putting the perpetrators of their loved one behind bars; they are busy and the process of vengeance, fills them with the euphoria of purpose; but with that done, when the trials are completed, and they must sit back with the memories – both the wonderful, and the harrowing ones, the pain has not left them; it is still there, staring emptily, right into their faces.
Because, when one sits back, and this could be years down the line, when everything is seemingly eased-out, that is when the wave strikes you, and leaves you feeling cold, in a fit of anxious estimation, gasping for breath.
Sometimes, years of calm and peace, are disrupted, when a new kind of abuse or trauma occurs, and the old memories come flooding back in, as thoughts, as nightmares, as tears, as self-inflicted isolation.
When a wound occurs on a skin, a very interesting procedure begins, and within days, the disrupted skin closes on itself, and depending on the size of the wound, and a variety of other factors, there may or may not be, a scar.
A lot of literature and poetry, is wound around this very concept of scar formation.
But to think of it, makes no particular sense, when psychological trauma is involved – it may seem poetically enchanting, but practically, it means nothing absolute.
Peace co-exists with pain, and it is as though, they are intricately embroidered with the hues of each other – but there is no rightfully judged process of ‘healing’; it is very haphazardly placed, differently arranged, for each respectful individual.
I have asked many questions.
What is pain, what is its origin, what is its nature, and what is its ultimate death?
I don’t know who I ask it to.
And when you ask questions in the middle of nowhere, you get no answers.
You just make way.
I think we just make way.