(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Shut up, Papa! You are a man too, you too stare at women” Tiya retorted at her father.He was a senior scientist in his late fifties, now beyond embarrassment.
Her mother, a banker, didn’t react. They had learnt a very hard way that the best way to deal with their beloved daughter was to shut up and bear.
“That’s not the way to speak to your father in front of others” I tried to stop her.
“F*** my father. I don’t care about him. Let’s talk about what you can do for me” she said.
Slim, fair, chiselled body. Hard set face of a model. Minimally dressed. Dark black scary eyes with thickset kohl outlines. Dark purple lips. Hair cut short with golden spikes, one pink. Many piercings: ear, nose, tongue and bellybutton. Tattooed on the neck and one visible shoulder, exposed hand and leg. Tattoos mostly knives, swords, blades, bullets and revolvers.
One disturbing tattoo of a hanging gallows just below the neck.(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
At the age of 26, Tiya has now had over 20 suicidal attempts, three of them serious enough to make her comatose, spending weeks in ICUs. Somewhere in between she had convulsions and was found to have a brain tumor, operated, recovered, the tumor was not cancerous. She missed her epilepsy medicines often. She has been through many street drug addictions, but fortunately did not need rehab, as she came out herself from that world.
She is not depressed. She is brilliant and never minces her words, speaking exactly what she thinks.
She is also a karate black belt, and has her own art and crafts store online. She also works for some child and animal care NGOs. Her parents grew her up outside India, in a country with semi-western culture. (c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“I don’t find much meaning in what is happening in this world. Most people are s***. I can’t stand them” she continued.
“Can I speak to the doctor for a moment?” asked her mother with love. Tiya gestured her with her left hand to go on.
“Doctor, Tiya often drinks a lot. Last week she picked up a fight with some goon at a nightspot in Mumbai, and we had a hard time bribing people not to register a case”.
“So why don’t you let me die peacefully? Why the F*** do you take me to the hospital everytime? That B****** was staring at my *****. I showed him what that costs”.
Her father wanted to interrupt her, but decided to not embarrass himself again.
Exasperated but dogged, her mother continued “Tiya has eight cats and three stray dogs at home. We have come to accept her lifestyle. Her sister stays upstairs, tired of her mood swings and fights, rarely she speaks well with her. You saw how she speaks with us”.
I asked Tiya if she had any reasons to behave so.
“They never knew how to raise kids. They just knew …….”
I interrupted “Can we please stick to sane language for a few minutes? Do speak whatever you want, but there’s no need to abuse anyone else”.
She remained silent for a long time.
“Doc, they knew when I was growing up that I was a trouble child. But they were confused. They didn’t know what to do. They wanted everyone to think that they are ultramodern and advanced. They didn’t question or stop me. I was given unrestrained freedom. I had first sex at fifteen. Then many boyfriends. Aborted once. My father and mother smoked and drank at home, so I smoked and had alcohol in my own home. My father only came and tried to talk me out of it, instead of being firm. Who will listen to philosophy when hooked on?”(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“That’s past. Now that you have grown up, what do you think is troubling you? Now why cannot you take control of your life?” I asked.
“Because I have sudden rush of fears. I cannot describe the restlessness within my heart. I feel like a hundred demons are simultaneously shouting to control me. I sometimes feel that I cannot endure it, then I try to kill myself. At other times I cannot see my parents suffering so much because of me, and then again I try to kill myself. They don’t even let me die. Then I think this is harrassment. My anger piles up”.
Her physical examination did not reveal much, except scars on the neck and the wrist. Mental status examination yielded normal results. I heard some new words that make people blush.
The presumption that every child will grow up into a good adult citizen automatically is a myth, Without any controls, inhibitions, discipline and on some justified occasions physical punishment, a child is more likely never to realise the importance of respecting and treating others well. Misconstrued concepts of freedom,are producing mannerless, arrogant children, and the helpless parents keep on saying “Now a days all children are arrogant and self centered” not even realising the damage that they inflict upon their own children!
In a world where adults seldom know themselves, the kids are being left to understand themselves!(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Tiya had realised early in life that a bad language and behavior gets her more attention, especially male attention. She used it well.
“I have been to psychiatrists, neurologists, counsellors everyone. Nothing works. I am fed up of medicines” she raised her pitch “what’s the F****** use of it all? Everyone dies”.
A few changes in her anticonvulsants (some epilepsy medicines cause / worsen psychosis) stabilised her mood swings. Anxiolytics calmed her down. A counsellor friend started working upon her. In a few weeks, Tiya became near normal, with only minimal spurts of anger.
One night at about three AM, I received a series of whatsapp messages: that she was planning to finally die. She had written that she had already consumed ten tablets of some medicine, and was continuing to eat more. I asked her for her address, tried calling her. She had switched off her cell.
Somehow I remembered that her father had emailed me once. That email had his cell number. I called him, properly panicking myself.
“I am out of town, Doc, with my wife and other daughter. I will call police immediately and give my address” he said.
“Give me the address too, I will send an ambulance with a doctor” I shouted. He messaged me the address.
She is now on a ventilator. There has been significant damage to her brain due to low oxygen levels. Her parents sit outside the ICU by rotation. I cannot bear to see their faces, but must talk to them everyday.
One midnight, as I walked to my car, her father joined me and we chatted.(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Doc I am a meek man. I never punished my kids, nor allowed my wife to discipline them too much. Now I think I was wrong, but my parents were just like this. still I never misused my freedom. Do you think I was wrong?”.
I did not have the answer to his question. “I sympathise with your situation” I told him. I was truly amazed at his patience.
“I am a firm believer in God, Doc. I believe that whatever happens is for good. I believe that God gave us this child because he knew we could do all this for her. If she is alive, it is another chance God has given me to love her, to show what I can do for her”.
Driving home that night, I looked at the orange glow of street lights that was enhanced by a twinkling drizzle. In that moment I realised what a great thought the unfortunate father had passed on to me:
That if I am alive, this is one more chance for me as a doctor to save lives, to ease suffering and to bring back life from the clutches of death. One more chance to show my love for life: not only my own, but of all those who reached me. That divine purpose is inddeed my duty!
(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande