WHAT is common between a Jersey Gau (Cow) and an anaemic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patient? Well, if you ask me, not much—I swear upon the holiest oaths ever invented that the difference is minimal. After all, some philosopher did state that man was a something animal—something escapes me. The cow is fed generously so that she produces more milk, and an anaemia patient is fed in the same way so that their haemoglobin levels rise. Whether any consideration is given to the cow’s likes and dislikes, I have no knowledge of, but I will vouch for the fact that it is the last thing under consideration when an anaemic is being fed.
Meet yours truly, an anaemic PTSD patient holed up in his sickening yellow room since May 5, 2012—how I curse that day. PTSD reminds me of Rajesh Khanna in the babu-moshai movie; it sounds impressive in its full form. I can see what he meant by the look on his visitors’ faces when he announces the name of his disease: awestruck.
Of course, in my case most of them have never heard of the name of this illness and those who have, consider it a type of madness. I wish it were. (Maniacs can get away with murder, in case you did not comprehend the subtlety). Now that the issue of visitors has been raked up, let me discuss them in a little detail. Most of them come in hordes, equipped with watermelon, melon or boxed juice—so much so that I am of the opinion that juice companies and fruit vendors must pay me a commission. After all, I have ensured that their sales go up.
The visitors also come laden with free advice which I have the misfortune of having to endure, patiently nodding in agreement. Baijaanas goum hatakh te pate kati manavan. (As I suffer from flashbacks, my mother’s rueful expression compels me into submission.) God has created an infinite variety of human beings and as a consequence, advice is of an infinite variety, too. From marriage to mediation, food to sleep, from dressing to talking, reading to writing, there is no single issue under the auspices of the Lord’s sky on which I have not received advice. You must pardon me for not remembering all of it. After all, I am human and so kuch advice yaad rahee, kuch bhool gaye (I can recall some advice and have forgotten the rest).
As it is, I was hardly able to remember much: Ah! the almond nut advice given by a relative that almost made me nuts. It is taxing but then as Kashmiris frequently say: phas gaye toh tadapna kya (if you are caught in a tight spot why agonise; its best to take things in your stride). Organisms learn to adapt and bear—cacti grow thorns to survive the desert. I wish I could grow thorns, too. At least it would have spared me the watery kisses and sympathetic caresses. Some caresses knock the wind out of you, some spoil your carefully parted hair—but then, it is their love—haan jaan gaye, haan maan gaye (yes, I know and accept!)—and when was I averse to love? Sigh!
There is one more thing that relatives come laden with: diagnosis. I am sincerely of the opinion that Kashmiris have originated from a progenitor who must have been a doctor or a compounder. A select few pronounce my condition as GARMI (heat, of/from what, God only knows). However, most declare me a victim of the evil spirit and the evil eye: he is such a good writer, he looks so handsome, nazar toh lagni hi hai. I am seriously contemplating a raiment of rags and unkempt hair when I go out in public. Yes, little boys will throw stones at me but I would take them gladly in exchange for such diagnosis. And as every Kashmiri professes to be a know-it-all, the addresses of doctors and saints and shamans, too, are freely swapped. Doctors I can bear (though, inexplicably, most turn up late on days I have an appointment), but it is encounters with the shaman, or holy men, that trouble me.
One just does not know what is in store when one visits a shaman, called peer in local parlance. I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of one who immediately pronounced that a pari (female genie, duffer!) was besotted with me. My relief and joy knew no bounds. For all you know, it could easily have been a djinn. How would I have faced my friends?
I am heterosexual and it would have been a rather unpleasant conjecture. As for joy, is there a better antidote for a breakup than a readymade relationship waiting for you with open arms? Who needs a girlfriend when one has a pari for a lover? (dillagi hai PARI say toh KHAREE kya cheez hai). I was engrossed in pleasant dreams of the pari (O hansini, kahan ud chali) when I became conscious of a slight tingling in my right arm. Then I felt a searing pain.
As I roused myself, I became aware that the baba was raining blows on me with a plastic rod to ward off the pari. My protests were drowned by my cries of agony. Not satisfied with the performance and remedy, with great force, he started pulling my hair with both hands. The fires of hell could have been doused by the deluge from my eyes. Still not content, he took out an instrument, a cross between a chisel and a screwdriver, and began to bore at my calf with it. I work in the government irrigation department where they dig tubewells. They would give the earth for the finesse with which the boring of my leg was being carried out. Naturally, my resentment did not count. An entire tube of Himani Fast Relief ointment was exhausted in the evening but the pain would not go. Believe me, there is no greater lie than Big B’s proclamation: dard mitaye chutki main (relieves pain in a jiffy). At least mera toh na mita (mine did not vanish).
Another peer gave me a near heart attack when he took out a long, sharp knife to gauge what the matter was with me. My relief knew no bounds when I saw him stick it into a wooden block and brag that he had imprisoned the pari that was troubling me. That very evening, I had a terrible attack. I guess there is corruption in the genie world, too. How else would you explain a prison break in a matter of five hours? Perhaps the warden’s heart melted when she sang lambi judaai, chaar dina da pyaar ho rabaa (a long separation after this short-lived love, oh lord!). It is a long rambling tale and I have no desire to bore you with all the details.
Coming back to the original comparison, between a cow and an anaemic, I am being fed like a cow with generous quantities of sickening watermelon and nauseating pomegranate juice. How I yearn to crack the watermelons on my visitors’ heads or drown them in the sickening fruit juice. Of course, the stomach and digestive system protest, but then repression is a trait Kashmiris are long familiar with. My only sincere parting advice to my readers (especially, the young) is this: ishq kabhi kariyo na, ishq kabhi kariyo na (never fall in love). As the auto-wala bhaiyas declare with great sagacity: no girlfriend, no tension.
—Yours truly, majnoon chanpoori
- The essay was first published in the anthology ‘Side Effects of Liiving – An Anthology of Voices on Mental Health edited by Jhilmil Breckenridge and Namarita Kathait (Author) and published by Speaking Tiger Books (2019)
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