The Lonely Rainbow
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Do you find anything abnormal in my body, Doctor?” she asked in a calm voice politely, the fullness of veins upon her forehead betrayed her hidden anxiety.
“No”, I said, “Your physical neurological examination is completely normal. You do have a fast heart rate, maybe because you are anxious today”. I did not mention the many sharp horizontal scars on her wrists: a tell-tale sign of past suicidal attempts.
At 24, she was suffering from headaches, lack of sleep and episodes of sudden fearfulness, palpitations and sweating. Heart workup was normal prior.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“What about my mental status?” she asked. Before the physical we had performed a mental status examination, which was normal too. I told her so.
“So you think I am mad?” she asked. The calm in her voice was scary. I noticed the reddening of tiny blood vessels in the white of her eyes, under the shine of an extra layer of wetness.
(Funny, this liberty we take to call ourselves mad many times, but fight like wet hens when someone else claims that!).
“I do not think you are any more or less madder than most people I meet” I tried to lighten her mood, “but I need to ask you few more personal details if you allow”. She sipped water from her water bottle and paused. I noticed the unusual painted design on her water bottle: a combination of geometric shapes, overlapping in different shades.
“I think you have some stress. Do you want to talk about it?” I explored cautiously.
“It is difficult to explain, Doc. I don’t get along with most people. I don’t hate or dislike anyone, but I feel most people don’t understand me, so it is better to stay away”. Just as I prepared to tell her that this was a very common feeling, she spoke: “May I ask you a few questions, Doc?”
Reluctant, but I had to solve the issue and find an answer to what was happening. If I played curt she would never open up.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Go ahead” I said, hiding reluctance.
“Doc, have you faced a lot of suffering and pain in the past?” she asked.
That was easy. I replied “Very few will answer a ‘NO’ to that question. Most people like to think that their suffering, struggle and pain is unique. I think so too sometimes”.
She started fluently “But it has made you a different person than you are. You love to laugh but are hiding behind a stranger’s mask. You fear losing people, so you keep them at a distance. Maybe because you had a very bad experience with some. You dislike the noise of plastic bags, and you love white colour. You have an upright ego and do not like criticism. You are extremely sensitive and emotional, but feel ashamed to let anyone see that. You will die but not compromise”.
I had to interrupt.
“Thanks, but I am the doctor and you are the patient. Your analysis of my nature is not solicited. Please talk about your own stress” I shifted my face to defence mode.
“One last question, Doc. Are you stressed? Please answer me honestly even if you are angry at me.” she asked.
“Yes, I am, like most sensitive doctors who get too involved with their medical practice” I answered honestly.
“That is my problem, Doc. I am very sensitive and care for people’s feelings. I feel bad when someone feels bad. I cannot ignore the pain of the animal served as food. I cannot be strong enough to neglect others. I am gifted this sensitivity by God, but everyone makes me feel guilty about it, as if it is a crime to be sensitive. I am a professional artist, and my art sells very well in India and abroad: paintings, designs and other objects. My husband is brilliant and on a big job, but he has no interests beyond financial well being and exhibiting it. He looks down upon me as if I was mentally challenged by being so sensitive” she choked, and had another sip of water.
“My hubby says it is a huge disability to be sensitive in today’s world. Everyone must think materialistically to survive. People openly mock those who are sensitive and selfless. “.
“I involved myself in love relationships twice during college, but was hurt to find how easily the word “love” misleads. I was so ashamed of myself, that I tried suicide whenever someone close deceived me. Then I stopped interacting with people and was lost in my art. It helped me survive: not as money but as oxygen”.
“I see and feel beautiful things that most people don’t. I recognise qualities among others that they are themselves unaware of. But the moment I start mixing with others, I realise that my world is different: I cannot find anything interesting in discussions about money, clothes, food, job, traffic, politics, gossips, relationships, TV or such usual topics and the meaningless conversations that follow.”© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Now a days nobody talks about the beauty of life and art and the different ways human nature can be palpated, how we can evolve to make transparently innocent relationships, and in general, things that do not get money, sex or pleasures of the five senses. Creativity is extinct, except in gadgetry. People do not think anymore, they only react or expect”.
I had felt it coming: another case of a colourful rainbow in a black and white world!
The diagnosis was not mentioned anywhere in the medical textbooks. We doctors are trained only to assess only the known and averaged, scientifically studied.
She, like few others, was a case of extraordinary (and hence abnormal) genius, who perceived the world far more beautiful than most people can even imagine. She knew meanings of things that many don’t know even exist. In a world where normalcy is the average of intellectual and cultural-social evolution, she was an outstanding “mad” by being far superior!© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The supra-normal are left out to be mocked, trialled, punished and often abused via discrimination. Some surrender and become slaves to public expectations, performing popular mental stunts. Some, unable to step down, kill themselves. Some come to light eons after their death. Some fight all their life against the very people who they want to uplift.
“You are perfectly normal” I told her. “You cannot adjust with people because you are different. I am no judge but I think you are far superior. This is a common story of many artists, thinkers and geniuses. You should be able to invest all your attention towards your art, and neglect people’s interpretation or analysis of what you do. At least after few years, people will grow up to what you are. Like the language of intellect and kindness, you will find few who understand you.”
“The only fault about your thinking, that is stressing you, is the wish to be accepted and appreciated by others. It is like expecting the night to sing praises of the rainbow. It won’t, because it cannot see one!”.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
I gave her medicines to deal with anxiety for a short while.
She returned in a few days. Her radiant brilliance brightened the aura around her beautiful face.
“I made this for you” she gave me a water bottle. “I noticed the other day that you liked the painting on my water bottle, so I made this for you”.
On one side of that water bottle, there was a rainbow, on the other, there was a beautiful moon on the background of a dark blue nightsky.
“I felt bad about the night..”.she said. “it cannot see the rainbow.. so I gave it the moonlight”
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande