Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pain ... left over

The counseling room was neat and tidy but those who walked into the room had made a mess out of their minds. Kannan had been practicing in the hospital for a few years now. At the age of 45 he was already looking 60. Like the winds in the desert leaves the dunes with ripples the wrinkles on the face of Kannan spoke volumes about his life. tied long hair, salt and pepper beard with a red pull over he would look like Santaclaus. The white coat for doctors was just a cover to the over-sized Counselor dressed in back shirt and dark blue denims. The door outside had the white board Kannan Iyer Clinical Psychologist. The white tissue covered bed was not meant for most of the patients who walk into his room, and so the sheets were white as it had been laid. The table had a few books, a Diagnostic Manual DSM V, and a writing pad and a pen. Kannan was on a call when the nurse walked in

"Sir... “the nurse interrupted.

Kannan pushed his spectacles up the bridge of his long nose and looked towards her as if to ask what it was.

"Bala is back with his daughter" she replied
"I will call back" said Kannan over the phone and gestured the nurse to send them in.

Bala, a man of around 35, well dressed with uncombed hair and shabby beard, sunken eyes tired from crying walked in. He took his seat and asked his daughter to sit, with gestures. The room was very silent. strangely it did not look as if the child was in the room. Kannan looked at her and asked

"So how is my sweetheart?"

She nodded with a smile. With her well braided hair, bright brown eyes, smooth baby skin shining, faded blue denim jacket and the jeans, the cute 7 year old said nothing but nodded and smiled.

"Will she talk to me doc" Bala asked and could not hold his tears back

Kannan buzzed the attendant and a young lady in white uniform walked in. 

"Take Henna to the play area" he said.

As the attendant took Henna out of the room, Kannan turned his attention towards Bala

"Henna could not bear the loss and she has lost her mother Bala, you know adults can't handle losses ... she is a kid. But let me refer you to Dr. Sreekumar, he will do the needful. It is temporary ... she is in shock and will be alright" assured Kannan and quickly wrote a referral note on the pad and handed it over to Bala. Bala took the referral note and walked out of the room. 

The mind is so misunderstood yet no one minds it, thought Kannan to himself. Bala and Henna were the last to visit him on the late Wednesday afternoon. Kannan reclined on the chair and on the intercom checked for anymore patients. The answer that he was free for the evening reeled Kannan into the past. 

With closed eyes he could still remember the room where his uncle Natarajan was admitted. The dimly lit, enough wide corridors, of Lakshmi Nursing Home with rooms on either side with ailments of all kinds. The corridors smelled of Dettol and had a few cleaning it over and over again leaving the moist smell to penetrate the nose, leaving it numb for a while. The night fall made the whole hospital sleepy and silent. Kannan was a boy of 7 when Natarajan Mama was admitted for an appendicitis operation. He knew nothing about the procedure, but that his mama was not well and operation would be done on him. As they say in kiddish language, his mama had uvvavu.

Kannan walked into the room with Amma, to see the dense and curly black haired Natarajan mama with a thick moustache like a brush, in bed and trying to sit up. He was wearing the green uniform given to him by the hospital. It looked funny enough for Kannan to see his uncle in a lady like dress.

"So the procedure is tomorrow" Amma said, for which he nodded with a smile.

Kannan was in his own world and sketching something on his small sketch book. Amma and Natarajan mama were talking about a whole lot of things, when their attention was broken by a knock on the door.

"Have to give him an injection" said the nurse in a stern voice. 

The sight of the needle made Kannan and Natarajan mama equally nervous. After the scare bout was over and the nurse stepped out, Kannan saw a girl  standing at the door.

"Can I come in...” she asked

She was in her teens for sure. Dark complexioned, with a brown long blouse and a green long skirt, big eyes like a white saucer holding a black ball, and loosely tied hair with oil on it. She walked in and asked

"Uncle ... you are afraid of needles ... right"

Natarajan mama laughed. She wished Amma and lightly pat on Kannan's face. Sat down on the bystander cot in the room. She was smiling for sure but had a  strange sadness on her face. 

"This is Keerthana ... she is in the next room" said Natarajan Mama to Amma.

She went on talking to both of them as if she had known them for years. About her house, about her school, her friends, her likes, dislikes and a whole lot. She stopped for a moment and asked.

"Can I sing a song for you ... in Sreeragam... classical?"

Natarajan mama who used to play the Mrudangam professionally showed his interest and accepted the offer from the girl. They were all ears. Kannan's eyes shined as he loved music too. 

"Akka sings ... she sings Sreeragam well" he broke in with his comment.

For which Keerthana smiled and started singing "Karuna cheyvaan enthu .... thaamasam krishna ...." And as soon as she started singing the whole corridors filled with melodious voice and filled it with a unique ambiance. But from the moment she started singing she had tears rolling down her cheeks. She was crying and singing incessantly. She would neither stop singing or crying. The breath pauses became moments to wipe tears and take breath with great difficulty as they had sobs blocking the flow of the song. The tears shocked Amma and Natarajan Mama alike, as they did not know anything but that she used to come and visit Natarajn mama once in a while, and took her to be a bye-stander in the next room. Kannan did not understand what was happening. In the meanwhile a nurse came running from the nurse station a few rooms away hearing Keerthana sing. 

"She is in shock as her first stage performance as a singer had to be halted with a news of death of her mother" saying this she gave Keerthana a shot of sedative and slowly the song faded as she slipped into the induced sleep. Two attendants came in and lifted her by her arms and legs and took the bag of sleeping music to her room.

"Sir... the vehicle has come" said the young man dressed in formals. The drift back in memories were broken by his information. The little Kannan who saw the tears in Keerthana's eyes had the same pain when Kannan saw Henna's smile, who lost her ability to speak when she saw her dear mother die. 

"We carry pain in our hearts so much that the pain remains even when the scars of the wounds which caused vanish." Kannan thought to himself. 

Trying to make a change in the lives of people who are distressed, Kannan awaits another day when people with more pain would walk into his room. Henna will speak to Bala soon...

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