It was a late afternoon. Shankar woke up with heavy headache and nausea. He had had worse hangover but never before had he felt such fatigue and drowsiness. His throat was hurting and he could hardly move his body due to pain. He wanted to sleep again.
“Shankar, its new year eve,” a sweet voice whispered in his ears. “Get outside and see the world.”
He half-opened his eyes to see blurred image of a beautiful women standing by his bed. With great difficulty, he rested his back against the wall. He took deep breathes and rubbed his eyes to make his vision clear. The lady was watching him constantly.
“Oh, Uma. When will you ever learn to sleep?” Shankar said in a hoarse voice.
Uma said, “You always become forgetful when you are drunk. I don’t sleep, Shankar. I advise you to get some fresh air. It will make you feel better. Moreover, who sleeps on the last evening of a year? It’s fun time, go and enjoy. And, please don’t try to booze again.”
“What else a man has got to do when he is in his late sixties? Could you please give me a break now? I am hardly able to get up and you are ready to begin. Be a good woman, go for now and enlighten me with your advice later.” Shankar said wearily.
“Your wish is my command. Don’t forget to make yourself a lemonade and take care.”
The vision of beautiful lady became faint and she disappeared. After lot of efforts, Shankar managed to move himself out of bed. He went washroom to wash his beet red eyes and face. He was still feeling dizzy, so he took little advice of Uma, as he usually does after ignoring her on face, and prepared lemonade for himself. He felt less nauseated but he still had dizziness and headache. He took aspirin and drank a lot of cold water. A little exercise and hot bath afterwards removed all hangover. He got dressed to go out for fresh air. Uma was standing at the door with demanding look.
“Yeah, I know I will not be drinking today,” He promised and said, “Yesterday’s alcohol is still in my brain. I don’t even remember the things I said when I was high. I hope I didn’t blurt some secret.”
“Really? Now everyone must be knowing your dirty little secrets. Today is going to be your ragging day,” Uma laughed.
“I will take care of that. I will see you at dinner,” Shankar said and left.
Shankar rushed out of his home. A cool winter breeze of early evening passed through him and gave energy in his old age. He was going to Shanti Café. There was nothing special about this café but still it was his favorite. He had been visiting the same café every day for past five years. It was his second home and family members were his childhood friends, Gopal and Murli. They had been like peas and carrots throughout their life. Whenever one of them wanted to do a thing, rest two of them would agree to do it without giving a thought, even though it wouldn’t make any sense. After all life is all about doing a lot of things which doesn’t make any sense. It keeps the adventure spirit alive among us.
Shankar had reached the end of lane opposite to Shanti Café. It was the same old tattered café which hadn’t change in years. The manager was same and the people visiting there were also same. Very rarely one would see a foreigner there. That would be the case when a passing traveler would stop by for a coffee. Shankar crossed the road and entered the café. Café was decorated well for New Year’s celebration. He greeted the manager and went to their regular table. Gopal and Murli were already there as per his expectations.
“You are going to live another hundred years, Shankar. We were just talking about how drunk you were last night. You are really funnier when you are drunk,” teased Gopal mockingly.
“Get off, you bas**rd. I don’t wanna live another hundred years. I am literally living every day of my life. I would have done everything by the time I am ready to die. What will I do if my life gets extended for another hundred years? There won’t be any fun in doing same things again and again, right?” Shankar said.
“Speaking of which, why haven’t you married Shankar? Don’t you wanna do it in this life span of yours?” asked Murli.
“No, no, no. Not again. Why do you guys keep on bringing this topic year after year? It’s New Year eve, let’s prepare for the celebration.”
“Leave it, Murli. He won’t say a word. Can’t you see his ears become red? He is rubbing his chin as usual out of nervousness. Let’s go and get us some coffee,” Gopal said and took Murli along with him to order coffee.
Shankar was really nervous. He had avoided this question for years. He had been successful in hiding this part of himself from his friends. But they knew there was something of him that he didn’t want to discuss and they never pushed him much for that. Shankar never intended in revealing himself because he knew they wouldn’t understand. No matter how close friends they were, he feared they would too abandon him. Many a time he tried but his fears kept him bounded. Several thoughts were coming to him at once. One part of him was telling him to face the fear while other was just telling to change the topic as usual.
Shankar looked around the corner table of café. He wasn’t surprised to find Uma there. There was very strong bond between Shankar and Uma. A very rare and unbreakable bond. He was able to communicate her through eyes without saying a word. He gave a what-should-i-do-now look to her. He wanted to ask if he should tell them about it. She replied back with it’s-okay look and that they would understand him if they were his real friends. He gave a look of i-will-try this time.
Murli and Gopal returned with three coffees. They sat down and took their first sip.
“You know what the best thing about this café is? You can order just one coffee and sit whole day doing nothing here. Nobody is gonna disturb you,” Shankar said and asked, “Hey, you guys remember what was I talking about the previous night?”
“Nothing new, you were talking about love as usual,” Murli replied formally.
“Yeah, you were being funny. Whenever you talk about love, you become funny. You laugh funny, you talk funny, you walk funny, everything you do is funny,” Gopal said trying to lighten the moods of everyone.
“Shut up you, moron. You were yourself so drunk that you remember nothing about Shankar except that he was being funny,” Murli commented on Gopal and said to Shankar, “Seriously Shankar, this thing has always confused me. Whenever you are drunk, you become love guru. You never talk of love otherwise.”
“I don’t know some thoughts about love is deep inside. It comes out sometimes.”
“It’s still ironic. You are not married, we hardly know if you have ever been with other woman. But when we are drunk, we have long discussions on love and unexpectedly you are talking most of the times. After that, you forget everything, Gopal only remembers you being funny and I have few flashbacks of your speech. Why don’t you say those things when we are not drunk?” Murli said.
“Even I wanna see you become funny without getting drunk,” Gopal said.
“I don’t know where to begin. You guys must be knowing it better. Why don’t you folks tell me what you think of love? Maybe I will be able to say something later,” Shankar said.
“Let’s start with Gopal then,” Murli added.
“Hold your horses, fellas. It is a terrible idea that I start. I won’t have much to say and it will be an awful beginning of this conversation,” Gopal replied.
“Not an issue, Gopal. Discussion about love is always horrific and it never makes sense. That’s why we always discuss it when we are drunk. Believe me, even you will be funny today,” Shankar convinced.
“Okay but on certain conditions. Whatever I say will be my opinion of love. It will not be a debate. I will say in my own fashion and I don’t want any objections. Agreed?”
“Fine,” both agreed.
“See, I don’t believe in the philosophies of love as given by Wordsworth, Coleridge or Shelley. What people call love, I call it companionship. It’s how you feel in company of others. As long as you feel better in their company, you call it true love. When it begins to threaten your freedom, you abandon their company and move on. To some people freedom is always more important than love. They seek another company, as they cannot live alone, and call it love again. Let me tell you something. My uncle had brought home a puppy, when I was kid. It was such a cute dog, you would get to like it instantly. Uncle always kept it around because he got to think it loved him. But then a neighbor also started showing interest in it. Whenever my uncle took the dog out, neighbor used to come to pat the dog and feed it with good meat. Eventually the dog started behaving differently and one day for no particular reason bit my little cousin in the eye. Uncle got angry and shot the dog. This is what happens in companionship, you feel insecure, you feel pain and when your freedom is at stake, everything ends. Some people may prefer it to call love,” Gopal explained.
“Hell of a thought, buddy. It can make anyone think for at least once. And Murli, do you feel the same about love?” Shankar said.
“No, I feel differently. I have always found high complexity in love. It always begets pain. Like God created humans with love but they disobeyed him by eating the fruit from the tree, which God had forbidden. Humans hurt God in return of his love and brought the fall of man. The fall brought sin into the world, corrupting the entire natural world, including human nature, causing all humans to be born into Original Sin, a state from which they cannot attain eternal life without the grace of God. This is all written in Genesis. What I meant to say that, even the God has suffered in love. As far as concept of true love is concerned, I believe in it but partly. You ask hundred people about true love and you will find hundred new philosophies. So, it is all a thing of individuality. It depends on an individual to what extent a person wants to go for the sake of love. Some give their life for it while some choose freedom for themselves, as Gopal said.
Let me explain it with help of Romeo and Juliet love story. Romeo and Juliet fell in love. They decided to marry in secret. Romeo was exiled for killing Tybalt, the cousin of Juliet. Now, how would your normally react when you know your lover has killed your dearest cousin? You will hate your lover or you will hate yourself for having loved such an evil. Reactions may vary but it won’t be a positive one. However, Juliet’s reaction shows us the extent of true love. She wanted to curse Romeo at first but then she cried and told to her nurse, ‘I can’t criticize my husband. If he hadn’t killed Tybalt, then Tybalt would have killed Romeo. Forced to choose between the cousin I have loved all my life and my new husband, I choose Romeo.’ She mourned her cousin’s death and was in grief because she might never be able to see Romeo again.
So, the stories goes on. Romeo was in Mantua. He came to know through his servant that Juliet was dead. Romeo didn’t know that it was a fake death because he never got the message from the friar. Romeo entered the Capulet tomb and saw Juliet (apparently) dead. He drank the poison he had bought, and died. Think of it again, what would happen in natural world? If you know your lover is dead, you will feel deep agony. You will be in trauma and cry for days or perhaps years. There will be a permanent voidness in your life. However, who prefers to take their own life? It was the individual level of Romeo that made him do so.
Eventually when Juliet woke up, the friar persuaded her to leave with him but she refused. Seeing Romeo dead next to her, she stabbed herself with Romeo’s sword and died. Imagine, what would have happened if Juliet had left with the friar. The greatest love story would not have taken place. Not everyone dares to go that extent in love today. Like I said, it totally depends on an individual to what extent a person wants to go for the sake of love,” Murli finished.
“Whoa, Murli. Got nothing more to say. Totally spellbound,” Shankar said.
“On that note, I want to tell you guys a modern Rome and Julie story,” Gopal smiled and began,
“Romeo enters WhatsApp and texts Juliet.
Romeo: R u awake? Want 2 chat?
Juliet: O Rom. Where4 art thou?
Romeo: Outside ur window.
Romeo: Had 2 come. feeling xcitd.
Juliet: B careful. My family h8 u.
Romeo: Tell me about it. What about u?
Juliet: ‘m up for marriage f u are.. Is tht a bit fwd?
Romeo: No. Yes. No. Oh, dsnt mat-r, 2moro @ 9?
Juliet: Luv U XOXO
Romeo: CU then XOXO.”
Three of them smiled and high fived each other.
“Okay, guys. It’s only three hours to New Year. Let’s grab a beer,” Shankar said.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Murli asked. Both of them were frowning.
“Oh, yes! I am not supposed to be drinking today. Come on, let’s grab a can of coke,” Shankar said ready to stand up.
“You better put your bottom right back to chair or I swear on all the bottles I have drunk in my life, I am gonna hit you so hard that all your old creaking teeth will be in your stomach,” Gopal said showing his punch gesture at Shankar.
“Alright! I know I am not going to be spared today. Look, I don’t have any predefined set of thoughts for love. Love, for me, is like that of my mother’s. So unconditional and so pure. No matter what you are and how you behave, she will always love you. She will always care for you till her last breathe. You tell as many things about how much she loves you, it will be less. It is said God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers. This is how I feel true love should be.”
“You got to be kidding me. Don’t tell me you are done already,” Murli freaked.
“Okay, let me tell you guys a story. You will know everything you ever wanted to know. This is the story of a different boy named Shambhu. He was the only child of his parents. The problem of all single children is that they don’t get to communicate well with their parents. They face more psychological and psycho-social issues. This happened with Shambhu too. He started living in the world of fantasies. He loved reading fictional stories and thought its characters to be his friends.
Shambhu got admitted in school at the age of three. First day was the most difficult one. He was not willing to go school at any cost. He was scared of an unknown world away from his home. After convincing a lot, his aunt had been taking him to bus stop but he bit her hand badly on the way and ran back home. He didn’t leave his home until one of the neighbors, who was a doctor, scared him with a syringe needle. He cried for a couple of hours after getting into bus. However, he became accustomed to that new world and went to school every day with a heavy bag on his back. Getting back at home, he would do his homework and get lost in his own imaginary world.
He had very few friends, some at home and some at school but somehow he believed they don’t understand him. He shared his deep feelings only with Parvati, his dearest friend. He wanted to go to a different place with her when he would have grown up. Four years had passed and although he was doing well in his studies, he wasn’t doing well in making friends. He was turning into an introvert boy. Every day after school, he would move to the last row of bus and take window seat for home. The last row of bus started making changes in Shambhu’s life when a girl came and sat beside him.
‘You had come earlier, I suppose. Why did you take the last seat? Don’t you know it jumps here the most when the bus moves?’ the girl asked Shambhu after adjusting herself beside him.
‘I like the jumping part of bus,’ he replied.
‘So every day, you come and sit in the last row itself?’
‘Yes,’ Shambhu said and started looking outside window trying to ignore her.
‘Do you like chocolates?’ the girl took out a couple of candies from her bag and said, ‘I have an extra. You can take it if you want.’
‘No, I don’t take anything from strangers,’ Shambhu said and turned his face away from her.
‘Well, maybe we can become friends first and then you can have one.’
‘I am not in mood of making any friend today,’ Shambhu replied rudely.
‘I can wait till tomorrow,’ the girl replied and stood up to get down at her stop. She was from the same stop as Shambhu. Shambhu got down as well and walked towards home without looking back at her.
‘Thanks, God. It was a narrow escape. How much does she talk? I hope I don’t see her tomorrow again. I will hide my face with bag if I see her,’ Shambhu said to Parvati after returning home.
‘But, what was wrong talking to her? She may be a nice girl,’ Parvati said.
‘Are you crazy, Parvati? She was offering me a candy. I would have to bath again if I had taken candy from her.’
‘Whatever you feel, she seems nice to me. What is her name?’ Parvati asked.
‘How would I know? I saw her today for the first time,’ Shambhu replied.
‘I don’t know why but I have a feeling you will meet her again tomorrow. You better be prepared for that,’ Parvati said.
‘You won’t stop using your evil tongue, will you? Now go away, I have to think how I will get rid of her if I really see her again.’
Next day after school, Shambhu was in his regular seat of the bus. He was hoping he would not have to see that girl again. He had come quite early and while the bus was getting filled one by one, Shambhu was gazing outside window. Window gazing was his favorite pass time. He would gaze hours through his room’s window and watch nature do its job. He was always fascinated by the beauty of nature. He would wake up early morning and watch small dew drops on the grass, birds carrying twigs to build its nest, pigs sniffing out the truffles, the sun rising slowly above the horizon, trees shading its leaves in winter and growing it back during spring. While sleeping at night he would try counting the stars and make different patterns by interconnecting them. He was a different kid, not of a kind we see every day. Shambhu was still enjoying the nature when he sensed trouble.
He knew the girl had got into bus and was coming towards him. His heart started beating faster and brain stopped thinking. He took a notebook out of his bag and started flipping the pages.
‘I had a feeling I would find you in the same place’, the girl said after sitting beside her.
‘Don’t you know it’s a lot of feeling for a little girl?’ Shambhu thought and kept his eyes fixed on notebook without replying her anything. He was reading the words of a line in reverse order to keep his mind busy with useless things. The girl watched Shambhu for some time and when she saw he wasn’t replying back, she kept her eyes down.
Shambhu knew she was feeling bad. He asked, ‘It jumps here the most. Why did you sit here when many seats of the bus are still vacant?’
‘I thought it would be fun,’ the girl replied.
‘I haven’t seen you before. In which class do you study?’
‘My parents moved to this town recently. I got admission in fourth class yesterday only. You were the first one I talked to.’
‘Oh! I am in fourth class too, Section C. Which section are you in?’
‘Mine is A. I wish I was in your section. I don’t have anyone to talk in class. We are even from the same stop.’
‘You will make friends soon. You don’t have to worry,’ Shambhu convinced her.
‘I want you to be my first friend. Will you be my friend, please?’ the girl asked.
‘Yes. I will be now I guess. Let’s get in front, next stop is ours,’ Shambhu replied while getting up.
‘Thanks a lot. I will go and tell my mom I made my first friend today. And I still have one extra candy, you will have to take it now,’ the girl offered after getting down at their stop.
‘But I still don’t know your name,’ Shambhu said and took one candy.
‘It’s Nidhi. And what is yours?’
‘I am Shambhu. Okay Nidhi, thanks for the candy. I have to go now before my aunt comes searching for me,’ Shambhu bade goodbye and rushed for his home.
‘You know you are right sometimes. I wonder how you are able foretell things. Here is the candy and I am friends with Nidhi. She is really a nice girl. You will like her,’ Shambhu said to Parvati at home.
‘So, her name is Nidhi? I can see you like her. You didn’t even share that candy with me and ate it. How does she look like, anyway?’
‘Same as all other girls. She wears frock. She has round face and large eyes. She keeps pigtails and she talks a lot. You should meet her sometime.’
‘Yes, I will be glad to. But you bring tomorrow a candy for me too. Tell Nidhi I want it.’
Friendship of Shambhu and Nidhi went on with good pace. Every day Shambhu would tell Nidhi all things about Parvati and Parvati all the things he had talked with Nidhi. They would come home together in bus. They would go each other’s home on their birthdays. They would exchange their comic books. Shambhu would tell Nidhi about his love for Nature. He would tell about his dream to go out of that place with Parvati. Nidhi would tell she wanted to be a model and she had no particular interest in her studies. She had a dream of a glamorous life. She would imagine herself in fabulous outfit with total make-up. She wished for costly cars and extraordinary bungalows. Everywhere she wanted to feel the sign of riches. They shared all their dreams and their friendship went well for next five years. They were growing into teens together.
In these five years, although Nidhi and Parvati had heard enough of each other, they never got chance to meet face to face. One day Nidhi finally asked Shambhu of meeting Parvati.
‘Parvati is so close to you. Why haven’t you ever brought Parvati with you?’ Nidhi asked.
‘You may not like Parvati. She is so simple and introvert. She doesn’t like to go outside much,’ Shambhu replied.
‘She will come if you insist. I am really excited to meet her. All these years I have heard her virtues. I want to see how my best friend’s best friend look like. I can bet she must be beautiful.’
‘I will bring her if you want but don’t blame when you don’t like her classical features.’
‘Why makes you think I won’t like her?’
‘I don’t know but I feel her thoughts are too different from yours. What if you both don’t get along well?’
‘I have a feeling we will be good friends. You just bring her once. By the way, how long have you known her? You have never told what she does and what are her dreams?’
‘I have known Parvati all my life. She does nothing except being with me. She doesn’t have any dreams other than coming with me out of here. She is the only one I can talk to all the time. When I wake up, she is already awake and I sleep talking to her. I discuss with her everything. She is indeed very precious,’ Shambhu explained with heavy emotions.
‘I can’t resist meeting her after listening all this. If she doesn’t like to come farther, bring her to the park in your colony. I will come there,’ Nidhi said.
‘The park will be fine. See you tomorrow, then. I hope you get to like her,’ Shambhu said while leaving.
Shambhu described Parvati how curious Nidhi was to meet her. He said, ‘you don’t have to be nervous, Parvati. Everything will be absolutely normal. You will definitely like Nidhi. Moreover, I have already told you everything about her. You just need to see that face to face.’
‘I am not nervous, Shambhu. I just have a feeling something bad is going to happen tomorrow,’ Parvati said.
‘You are just overthinking. Everything is gonna be alright. I am not going to discuss this again. Just be ready tomorrow evening,’ Shambhu announced and went for sleep.
Next day Shambhu took Parvati to the nearby park. They had reached earlier, so they took a little walk and then sat on a bench waiting for Nidhi to come. Nidhi arrived a little later.
‘What is this Shambhu? I don’t understand you at all. How many times did I request you yesterday to bring Parvati? I can’t believe you didn’t bring her along with you,’ Nidhi screamed on seeing Shambhu alone.
‘What do you mean I didn’t bring her? She is right here with me,’ Shambhu replied astoundingly.
‘Why are you trying to fool me? I am not in a mood of a joke. I am giving you last chance to explain why haven’t you brought her today?’
‘I can’t understand what I should explain. Can’t you see she is standing right beside me?’
‘I am damn serious, Shambhu. I am not liking this trick of yours. You better start your explanation,’ Nidhi demanded.
‘Why on earth should I trick you? Parvati is here listening to our silly conversation and you still keep on asking why I haven’t brought her. This behavior of yours is totally not understandable.’
‘This is outrageous. I have had enough. I am not taking any more of this,’ Nidhi said and left the park.
Shambhu and Parvati stood there perplexed watching Nidhi leave the park. They had no idea what had just happened. They were baffled by such a strange behavior of Nidhi’s. On the other hand Nidhi couldn’t believe Shambhu tried to play such a mean trick on her. It was a sleepless night for Shambhu and Nidhi both. Last evening had left both of them bewildered.
Since Nidhi was one of his best friends, Shambhu didn’t want to lose her. He decided to go to her house next day to clarify things. Nidhi seemed quite irritated when Shambhu went to her. She finally agreed to a discussion after lot of insisting. They went to her rooftop and sat on chairs.
‘Okay, Nidhi. I want make things clear. Although I have no idea of what happened yesterday, I wanna know what are you feeling?’ Shambhu said breaking the ice.
‘You have no idea of what happened yesterday? Who else should have idea about it, then? You want to know what I feel. I feel you never wanted me to meet Parvati or whoever. So you played a game and tried to trick me. It’s totally unacceptable.’
‘Please try to understand me, Nidhi. I wasn’t playing any game. I swear on myself Parvati was right there with me.’
‘So you mean to say I am lying about not seeing her? Don’t try to deceive me again.’
‘Believe me for once and ever. I would never deceive you. You are among few who mean a lot to me. I wouldn’t be foolish enough to lose them,’ Shambhu said and held her hand. Tears were rolling down his eyes. He could only see the distorted image of Nidhi. Nidhi calmed down seeing his tears.
‘Then you only explain me. If Parvati was there, why couldn’t I see her? Does it make any sense to you?’ Nidhi asked.
‘No, it doesn’t. That’s why I couldn’t sleep whole night.’
‘But how is it possible that she was there and I couldn’t see. Can anyone else see her? Can your mummy see her? She stays in your home itself, right?’
‘Yeah, she stays in my home but I am not sure whether my mom knows about it. She hardly knows anything about me. Only thing she cares about is my food and my studies. No one knows how I feel except Parvati.’
‘Shambhu, you have literally scared me off. I don’t think Parvati is real. You are only imagining her. The sooner you tell your mother about it, better it will be for you,’ Parvati said getting frightened.
‘What do you mean I am imagining her? She is as real as you. She has been with me throughout my life.’ Shambhu was getting nervous. He felt as if he lacked thinking power. He was paying full attention to hear Nidhi.
‘Shambhu, you have a problem. You have to see a doctor as soon as possible. You have to go to your home now.’ Nidhi, as frightened as hell she was, wanted to be away from him quickly.
‘You mean to say I am sick, don’t you? I am totally fine. It’s you who are sick. I am just different which you will never understand. Parvati is very real, you have no right to say anything about her,’ Shambhu shouted.
‘You are not different, Shambhu. You are abnormal and mentally ill. I have seen same case as yours in a movie. Just think about yourself; you love Nature more than anything, who does that in present world. You see people that truly don’t exist. You hear unreal voices, you even talk to them. You please leave and go your home,’ Nidhi said and went downstairs leaving Shambhu alone.
The words of Nidhi kept vibrating on eardrums of Shambhu. He remained there motionless in bizarre postures. His thoughts began disorganizing and he wasn’t able to respond for few moments. Schizophrenia was in full effect.
He managed to get up and leave for his home. In the meanwhile, Nidhi called up Shambhu’s mother and explained all the situation. She didn’t believe her and started panicking. It was too late for her to realize that she hadn’t paid much attention to her only child. Shambhu reached home heart broken. He was not well enough to answer all his mother’s questions. He just spoke of Parvati and went to lock himself alone in his room.
Shambhu’s mother discussed everything with his father and decided to take him to a doctor. But he wasn’t ready to accept that there is anything wrong with him. He felt he was absolutely normal and the whole world was conspiring against him. After Nidhi left him for his mental illness, he started developing negative symptoms of schizophrenia. He would hardly eat or sleep. There was a breakdown in his thinking and he showed poor emotional response. He lacked desire to talk to anyone. He started being paranoid and experienced more hallucinations. He would still see Parvati but she never spoke a word.
Shambhu’s mother had no clue how to respond to her child’s condition. Most of the times earlier she had heard him talking alone but she took it lightly. She thought it was okay for him to behave differently and didn’t pay much attention. Now she was paying every bit of her irresponsibility. It pained her a lot to see her only child become like that. She finally thought of visiting doctor without Shambhu. She went to a doctor immediately and explained him all the situation.
‘It seems your child has been effected with schizophrenia for a very long period. Schizophrenia is mostly developed by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It has been mostly the environmental factors in the case of your child. Social isolation has made him imagine his own world and his own characters in it. Situation would have been much better with supportive parents,’ the doctor explained.
‘But now what? What should be done to make him completely fine? How long is he going to behave like this? I know it was a huge mistake to ignore my child. I should have tried to understand him every time. But there must be a treatment, doctor. I am ready to do anything that is needed,’ the mother said crying.
‘The biggest problem of people with schizophrenia is that they do not have insight; in other words, they do not accept their condition or treatment. Now Shambhu has developed negative symptoms of schizophrenia and people with negative symptoms show negative response to medication. I will write you some antipsychotic pills. In case he doesn’t take it or in a more serious case – when there is risk to him or others, involuntary hospitalization may be necessary,’ the doctor said and wrote necessary medicines.
‘It all depends on his mindset to take it. Therapies are also very useful in treatment. You don’t have to worry much. Everything will be fine,’ the doctor said while she was leaving.
Shambhu didn’t take the medicines. He was not ready to accept that the only person whom he had believed all his life was not real. He was also in grief for having lost Nidhi. His condition got worse and he was hospitalized few days later.
Shambhu didn’t respond to medicines in hospital. His mental illness became more severe. He started developing suicidal tendencies. Nothing was under control. He became more violent. He was losing the beautiful life he once had with Parvati. He was there alone in hospital bed about to give up all the hope. It was then he heard a strange voice from distance.
‘Why are you so alone in this world, Shambhu? What is it that your heart desire?’ the voice asked.
Right as it was; it put Shambhu in great thought. After one day of deep thinking, remembering his true love Parvati and what he really was, he was able to answer that voice.
‘What makes you think I am all alone? I feel cool breeze pass through me every day. I see the sun rise from distant land at dawn – its sunlight removing darkness and giving this world a new hope to start life. I see little buds blossom into lovely flowers. I see innocent smiles on the face of children who are yet to learn the seven sins of world.
When I have no one to listen to, I go to seashore and listen the waves roar. I go to forest to listen the birds sing and the streams gurgle. These sounds are free from the selfish needs and provide inner peace to my mind.
When I have no one to talk to, I close my eyes and pray to mighty Lord. He listens all grieves to show me right direction. And then in the silence of night when the whole world sleeps, I watch the beautiful sky decorated with shining stars. I watch moon change its course as the night progresses.
More than all this, God sent Parvati to be with me forever so that I can never be alone. There are so many things that I am with every day. I don’t think one can feel lonely with such beautiful creations of the Lord,’ Shambhu answered.
Shambhu realized that voice was of none other than his own conscience. He understood he should do anything he could, to pursue his only dream – to get out of there to be with Parvati forever. He considered himself lucky to have schizophrenia because it gave him his true love. He started responding to medicines and was dispatched from hospital soon. He finished his education in that town and got out to be with Parvati forever.
He also made other good friends after that but Parvati remained his only true love. He grew old with her seeing every ups and downs of life. After all there is only one life for love and one love for life.
I don’t know how else the true love should be but for me the true love is as Shambhu did all his life,” Shankar finished his long story.
The three friends stood and hugged each other. Sometimes emotions are enough to express everything. The New Year had brought new rejoice among the three. Shankar was happy because he had finally said what he intended for past many years. Murli and Gopal didn’t say anything after the discussion but they knew Shankar had told them his own story. They were brothers for life and nothing could separate them. Shankar held hand of Uma, his only true love, and returned home in bliss. After all there is only one life for love and one love for life.