It was dark, lights went out and I was trying to search her in the whole house. I asked mother but no one really knew about her. I was worried as she was behaving not normal for a couple of weeks. When I went outside the house, I saw lights in other houses and father asked me to check our electrical switch. Just when I entered the store room with a candle, I saw her shadow on the wall. I looked at the electric switch and it was off. As soon as i switched it on, I saw her sitting down on the floor, her arms folded on her legs. I shouted Mom and she came running upstairs. I was scared as she was wearing nothing. I called her name and she looked at me with her eyeliner spread on her face, mixed up with her tear. When mom asked what was wrong, she said, “They are coming.”
It was 3 days back when this happened and I wrapped her with my T-shirt and took her downstairs. We were all so worried and I spoke to my friend who was a psychiatrist in New Delhi. She told me to visit her. While my mother insisted to accompany us, I wanted to go alone with her. The same night, we were in a flight and I wrapped my arms around her and just looked at her.
Her eyes had lost that shine she had when we got married. It’s just been two years since we got married and her skin had gone pale and her breasts had shrunken. Her nails were not pink anymore. It was her beauty that she was proud of and always took care of, which seemed gone now and thats what worried me the most. As a husband, I wanted to fill my house with her laughter and not with her fears and sadness. One year ago, she would jump on the bed and would hug my mother for a good night hug, but then recently she would get scared whenever mother came across. Earlier i thought, that this awkward behaviour was some social problem or some mood swing due to hormones but after this latest incident, I have realised how wrong i have been.
Dr. Madhavi was my childhood friend and she arranged a hotel room for us and had already booked an appointment. I thought my wife would get insulted and angry, if I would present a psychiatrist in front of her. She was not insane but something had gone wrong with her. So the same evening I went to meet the Doctor in the lobby of the hotel while my wife was sleeping.
During my discussion with her, I thought that I might have been too late for a normal treatment but I would never allow anyone to take her away from me. Me and Vandana were best friends for the past 10 years, I know her inside-out, but this thing had shaken my confidence.
“When was the first time you discovered there was something wrong with her?”, Dr. Madhavi questioned. I told her that one day we both slept early when in the middle of night around 3:00 am, I heard a weeping voice. I switched on my lamp and I saw her bare back which was full of scratches. I stayed up for a while without making a noise, and I saw her scratching her back too harshly with her nails and peeling her skin off like its nothing. She was whispering about leaving her alone. I put my hand on her back and she stopped doing it. When she turned her face towards me, I kissed on her head and asked her, what’s wrong.
Madhavi looked astonished as she figured out the problem but she asked me to complete the sentence. I started crying by myself as a result of self analysis of not making her checked earlier. I took a long breath and told her what she replied to my question the bed the other night.
“Hey, I am alright” a voice came from behind while we were in lobby. She was up and figured out that we came on a trip to meet the doctor and not to spend the time together. She looked at Madhavi and then at me and exclaimed, “I am not mad, so what’s she doing here?” I had no answer to it. When Madhavi said hello, she looked and ran and I had to get hold of her. I asked the doctor to come along to the room. Madhavi hesitated at first but then she decided to start the appointment in the hotel room only.
While we were going upstairs, she asked what was it that she answered in bed that night? To what I replied, she looked deep in my eyes and kept her hand and talked to me. She said” I feel someone is crawling over my body”. I couldn’t fail to reason why I did not see it as a first symptom of some mental trauma and I chalked it off as a bad dream. As Madhavi was about to become a part of it, I told her about sleep taking, harsh dreams whenever she saw a horror movie and sleep walking problems. We all took it lightly till the latest incident.
When I first met her, she had the longest hair I ever seen in my life. I wanted to make them longer than her. For the first two years of our friendship, she never would let me touch her hair. And again recently she would hide herself in the bathroom and the entire floor will be full of her hair. I didn’t know why she would cut her hair. It was the strongest symptom of depression, but why would she had depression was the first point. I started crying, as a best friend or as a husband; I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Her hair now were shoulder length and she saw me crying. She did not say a word but when I leaned forward for a hug, she pushed me away and ran towards the other room and she whispered, “who are you”?
The strange thing was that she switched on the TV and started laughing after a couple of minute. When we went to the other room to check on her, she looked at us and smiled. Then Madhavi asked me to bring her to the office. Madhavi asked her if she wanted to see her new office and she agreed to it.
At the first the first session, I was not allowed to come inside and sit with my wife. I waited for 3 hours outside the office. Mother and father were worried. She had told me that the first session was all about knowing the patient. My anxiety level rose up when the door finally opened. I was requested to join them and she asked me to sit down just next to my wife. She smiled and left the room. Madhavi looked upset, and she question the same thing that was in my mind, “why didn’t you bring her earlier?”. She explained that she would not be able to share about these sessions due to the confidential contract but she said that my wife would only get better if she was willing and wanted to get better. The doctor told me to ask my wife as she stated in the end that if she really wanted me to attend the session with her, the medicine would be family support. As we went back, I asked her about her session and she leaned on my shoulder and requested me to accompany her the next day. She said, she wanted us to hold her hands for the entire session. In the last so many weeks, that was the only night when she slept peacefully and I promised her with a little kiss on her cheek that I would never leave her hand.
She stood by me in all my dreams; she shattered her wishes over mine. Sometimes we would fight over each other’s wishes and then mother would choose one. My mother was smarter as she always picked hers over mine. Many other times I would envy her as my parents always wanted a daughter and it made me feel like that i was their son-in-law. Once my mother and she teamed up against me and my father for a Fifa cup on my XBOX and sadly they won, so just to cover up our failure, my dad just made a joke of letting women win as to have a nice dinner afterwards. It’s been 2 years to it and they still don’t know the truth. I just wanted those days back and I could do anything to get them back.
Madhavi called me up in the middle of night and asked me to take a room for a month as she was going through her notes and said that it would take long time to get our Vandana back.
The next day when we went for the appointment right in the morning, I asked our doctor about the problem, and she said she did not want us to know as she did not want us to goggle about it. She asked us to trust her and promised to make her fine. She was a friend before being a doctor and I trusted my life in her hands. So, she made her sit on the couch and I was sitting near the table. She sat across us and asked her to relax. She looked me and asked me to hold her from the back and never leave her again. She closed her eyes, and Madhavi asked her to see her past and explain, what crawled on you? I could feel her heart pounding, so was mine. I kept on kissing her hair, as I didn’t know if I were ready to listen to what she had to say.
After the session, I went to bathroom and cried for an hour as to understand what just happened. I was taking long breaths when Madhavi knocked and asked if I were okay, to that I said, no. I did not know how to face my wife, I was embarrassed and so was she. Madhavi then explained that it was a part of the activity and after sometime she would not remember most of it.
She took her back to the time of her college, she would not really remember what she was speaking. I believe the method is called hypnosis. She wanted her to stand right there and explain the entire thing. When Madhavi said, that she knew everything already and she asked her to speak all of it was because firstly she wanted her to face the fear verbally and secondly she wanted me to hear it.
When I asked how did she knew about it all, she explained that it was in a post online and to understand a subject, it was important for her to do a background check. She even told that all her problems were written in kind of different stories as either she was scared to face them or this was the best way for her to express her pains and desires.
She asked me to take her back as the session was over for that day. I heard it all but still I had curiosity to read what she wrote. She could never hide anything before and this was all new to me. I wanted to ask her for a reason but it wasn’t the right time. After she went to sleep, I opened the link doctor sent me and I read all of it. Every single word was correct. I could not sleep. It read:
“Even to this day, it would crawl up to me and say, I want it more, so give it. I went to Mrs Tarika Ma’am on our farewell night. I was walking past a tree and somebody just pulled me on the side. It was a girl, I could feel it. She closed my eyes and asked me to walk quietly. We entered a room, I could hear whispers. They were many girls. I thought I might be a party, so I didn’t mind walking through a corridor straight up to the room. It had nothing but a Disco light globe. I couldn’t see anything, it was a huge room, there were around 10 girls and I asked what it was.”
It was the hardest thing in our relationship I ever did. Knowing that my wife was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, because of the trauma she faced during her college time and she could never discuss it. I know the reason now. I could not imagine that this girl, who made all my dreams come true and filled my life with all this happiness was suffering from this much pain. I was told that what makes it a disorder is that even she didn’t know that this incident was ever present in her subconscious mind. As I continued, “they just took off my clothes. I shouted but no one heard me. I could not see the faces but could only feel the hands on me. I asked them to let me go, but no one did. It was her hand that was in, and many hands more came. After sometime, they all left the room. I took my clothes and ran off to my car. I did not tell anyone. I just could not. I never went to college again. I would stay awake for days, never speaking a word of it. I just wanted to forget that this ever happened with me.”
I could not read more. I leaned onto her sitting on the bed. She wiped my tear off my cheeks and we hugged each other and slept. I called Madhavi, the same night and apologised to her and end these sessions. She asked me not to do it as it was important for her to get a therapy but I knew it in my heart that i could take care of her and even cure her. Before I shut the laptop down, I whispered her to pack and as we were leaving, I just read the last line, “it was a night of a dark humor”
We took a flight back to the house at 2 am, I took my car and I took her for a ride. Mother was confused but she did not say anything as she could see a husband trying to get his wife back. I didn’t know how would it go, but it was important. I took her back to her college. I closed her eyes and asked her to walk to that spot where she was pulled right back. When I opened her eyes, she started shouting and asked me to take her back home. I forced her and told her sternly to make her stand right there. It was the only moment that I could teach her to fight back her demons. After 20 minutes she dragged herself down and stopped crying. I asked her not to fear and she said, she never wanted me to know. The more I projected my confidence, the more scared i got. She was my wife after all and if this experiment could hurt her, I would have never forgiven myself.
I was sitting there was an hour, she crawled into my arms but didn’t satspeak a word. Then, I requested the warden to let us visit that room. I had to pick her up. It was till 6:00 am that we sat down, silently in that blank space of room. I could feel back her heartbeat. I put my head over hers, we relaxed and she sighed. I picked her up and took her back in the same position. Her face was in my buried against my chest and she did not want to hear a word or face anyone till then. So we just stayed there in silence.We were there for hours. I kept her head on my lap, patted her head to made her sleep. I didn’t move an inch. I wanted her to feel calm, feel together. She was doing a lot of thinking and i think she realised that her past is spoiling her beautiful present and she wouldn’t want to waste anymore time of it. She sat up and looked at me and kissed me with a smile on her beautiful face.
She felt secured and I felt happy. I don’t know how right or wrong I was in life, but no one could make her heart beat like her man.