The doctor said that I am high-functioning.

 

The doctor said that I am high-functioning.

I say I only function when I am high.

He does not laugh.

I read a poem to him because he asks me to and I realize that isolation is a privilege.

The opportunity of wanting to know the difference from them and me, from black and white, from twelve yellow-coloured pills and twenty-five empty rooms in a row across a hallway with two telephones at its end seems very avant-garde.

And in all aestheticity of my mother looking down upon me while my eyes rolled backwards, my fingers still fighting vigorously, desperate to win the argument that lovers often indulge themselves in, may not be a faux after-all. Tripping three days at a stretch, the gates of a psyche ward screamed to me that isolation is a privilege.

They took away my shoelaces, my belt, and my headphones so I fashioned myself to feel sorry for the bunch of the not-so-self-proclaimed maniacs spread out across me like a room full of wet pussies –

dripping clean like forgotten taps in forgotten rooms.

Jokes and their relation to the Unconscious followed me while I learned lessons at a psyche ward.

Amongst incessant rain.

And moth-eaten fabric.

I learned to associate the scent of hand-sanitizer with the loss of sanity.

Hard pillows reminding me, I couldn’t be comfortable here even if I wanted to be.

While my forte at the apparent sanatorium,

I tried to remember all that my eyes had forgotten amidst those twelve yellow coloured pills.

The lady who shared the bed next to me,

Had not seen the sun for 12 days

Or her daughter.

12 days.

Twelve days.

I can write TWELVE in twelve different ways.

But her daughter isn’t coming back.

I am not sorry.

I had lost a whole nail to the flush when I was

T

W

E

L

V

I learnt that we take technology for granted.

No cameras, because confidentiality of “them” pissing away in glory like nothing else mattered.

No computers, because communication with the outside world is limited to two landlines at the end of the hall with the nurses listening to everything you say.

 

I learned not to fall in love with nurses.

Actually, not to fall in love with anyone in the psyche ward – I learned what addiction looks like, unfolding before my eyes.

The girl in the darkest corner of the room  awake at 3 a.m. sweating and shivering.

The woman on the bed next to her quaking at 12 p.m. because the foetus inside her was making a lot of noise or so she said.

The silver-haired bag of bones never slept at all.

My other roommate saw patterns in black running around her in circles.

(the patterns were also very dirty, so she scratched the bedsheet with her nails — it sounded like a series of farts in very quick succession)

I learned that showers are great hiding places even for smoking, fucking, or just trying to kill myself — again.

The shower guranteed me fifteen minutes from nurses, smothering me.

I learned to cherish being alone.

But, running away leads to no good.

And running away leads to no privileges.

I learnt that my own belongings are privileges.

I learnt that books are a privilege.

Leaving my room is a privilege.

Being able to take a shower alone is a privilege.

I learnt that isolation and solitary confinement are actually the lonelier versions of never being left alone.

 

How could “they” think it was making me any better?

I read a poem to the doctor on the 4th day after the 4th syringe because he asked me to.

And he said, “the boys must be lining up for you. “

The term coming out of the closet is a mixed metaphor.

Combining “coming out” meaning revealing a secret with “skeletons in one’s closet” meaning my identity has always been something to hide.

I learned that being discharged was something like “coming out of the closet” with dozens of people I couldn’t care less about, congratulating me for being alive.

 

And there I was, standing, singing the notes of the raindrops I had planted inside my head like a clockwork.

And there I was, sitting, feeling like a spectacle for the doctor repeating the lines I had rehearsed —

 

I am fine.

I am fine.

I am fine.

 

One of the last things they asked me was what I had learned during my admission.

I wanted to read them this poem but instead I said that I had learned that I deserve to live to tell the people with the keys to unlock the privileges and how —

 

“Your memory gets in the way of my memory. I am being rowed through Paradise in a river of Hell.

Exquisite Ghost – it is night.

The paddle is a heart: it breaks the porcelain waves.

It is still night.”

You needed to perfect me.

The Pleasure of Odds and Ends, Sylvia Plath (year unknown)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Written by Pritha Roy Choudhury

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