Saturday, October 29, 2005


I decided to leave.
There was no clear-cut reason. I could continue my residency.

But psychiatry no longer mesmerized me.Dr Gidwani no longer inspired me.

The clinician in me preferred to practice evidence based medicine. Scientific, precise, methodical medicine. There were too much obscure factors in psychiatry..

I gave up my dream..

But I kept in touch with Lekha..Off and On..

The new block was inaugurated by the President Of India. Dr Gidwani was awarded Padmasree for his excellent service in psychiatry.

Rajeev continued his delinquent ways.. But he behaved properly with Lekha..He died in an RTA a few years later.

Ullas was never cured completely ..He had spells of sanity.. Lekha always delighted him .. Making him happy gave her deep pleasure.

But the depression recurred. He committed suicide during a bad spell. Dr Gidwani stated that it was common in Major depressive psychosis.

Lekha continued to face life with a determination to be happy at any cost.
A few years later ,She got married again ... To a psychiatrist in the institute..

Dr Gidwani died due to cancer esophagus in ‘Ullas memorial hospital.’. Lekha was the chairperson of the trust which managed the hospital.

We visited Manali this spring.. On the way back I told my husband that I wished to visit the Institute… see Lekha.
Lekha was transformed.. Poised.. Confident.. Mother of a six year old girl..

We walked through the enchanting campus. It was blooming.
“I am happy now”.. She smiled .

We met Dr Akash, Lekha's husband. A happy go lucky man with huge dimples, twinkling eyes and long unruly hair falling over his forehead.. We talked late into the night.. He kept us in splits with his anecdotes in the institute

He took his job in the right perspective.. I reflected.. Detached.. Balanced.. With a dash of humor..

I was pensive on the way back.
“”Mama..! Mama..!” I was startled out of my thoughts by Taj’s voice.. He was rubbing my elbows to attract my attention..
“Yes baby..” I was still thinking about the institute.
“Mama ..I want to become a psychiatrist when I grow up.” His huge eyes were ernest..
“Oh..!!” I was startled..
Multitude of emotion racked my body..

“Don’t take him seriously.” my husband laughed..
“Tomorrow he will want to be a fire fighter.”. He smiled at me..

“Hmmm.. true…” I muttered..

I smiled back at him..

P.S Dr Gidwani is still alive… I wrote about his cancer and death out of sheer spite.. and to satisfy Lash..

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I talked… Lekha listened..

We were walking along the winding path in the campus.

I remembered the scene I had witnessed as I had gone in search of Lekha and Ullas.

Both had been sitting by their favorite window..Lekha was looking out at the lovely garden..Ullas was trying to tie her hair together with a piece of ragged cloth he had torn from his bed sheet..

I finished speaking.. I waited for her response.. Nothing.. She continued to walk. Fast..
I had to strain myself to keep up with her pace.

We must have walked for hours. I noticed that it was getting dark.. It had started to drizzle. But Lekha didn’t seem to notice anything..

I started to panic.

“What if her condition worsened..?” I shouldn’t have asked her choice. As to what she wanted out of the situation.

I could leave the institute.. Take up residency somewhere else.. This was not the end of my world.. I had other choices.. I was more concerned about those two..

My eyes filled.. I gave thanks to my parents.. They had brought me up with proper values.. I wouldn’t cross certain bottom lines..
It was simple.
I would never choose career over guilt..
My choice was clear to me.. To do the best possible for them..

I wanted to know what Lekha’s choice was..

Finally Lekha sat down into a bench.. She sat there.. Her body was bent.. Her face was buried in both her hands..
She was sweating.. Breathing fast..

“ I don’t think I have a choice.” She whispered....
“Now that I am declared fit I can’t stay here..”

“ True.. it was not possible” I thought..

“A huge inheritance awaits me outside.”

“Yes.” I whispered back.

“The trust for the new block shall be operated by me..
I will have an office here..”

“Hmmm.. possible..Dr Gidwani would permit anything for the new block.” I knew.

“I can do my best for Ullas.. The best treatment.. The best care..
I can adopt him.. As my son… “
Her voice broke..

She was silent for some time..

“But Rajeev..? “I prompted..

“I am not bothered..” She replied shortly.

“I have to get a good lawyer.. Pay Rajeev a monthly allowance. As long as he behaves properly......We shall live as husband and wife.. Rajeev’s father will never support him.. He has more confidence in me..”

She was silent again..

“ I know it won’t be easy..” She whispered.. “But I have to..”

I was silent.. I let her words sink in..
Yes Lekha was right.. This was the best option.

Difficult.. But the best..

Lekha was cured.. Only a stable strong mind could take a decision like that..
In fact she was stronger.. More stable than me..

We sat there silently for some more time.. The drizzle had stopped.. The moon shining.. The mist was rising up the valley. A soft breeze played with our hair and silently went away..
We got up to walk back to the institute..

Lekha had made her decision..
Now it was my turn..
(To be continued)

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Dr Gidwani was the last to know. I was summoned to his room. I turned up dot on time.
He was pacing up and down. His hands were clasped behind his back.

“What is going on between your patients doc?” he was curt.

Nothing sir...” I was trying to dodge..

He stopped pacing and stared at me.. I averted my eyes.

“Listen to me”. His face was expressionless. “Rajeev is under police custody for some criminal case. His father has nominated Lekha as the heiress.” He paused..” Provided she is certified to be fit by a medical board of three psychiatrist. He has also offered to sponsor a new block for the institute if Lekha improves..”

“Medicines won’t be of much use in her case. It’s not a disease only an adjustment problem.. She needs lot of emotional support.. Carry on with your experiment..” He smiled at me.

My heart lifted..! I stared at him.. “ Young lady.. Do your best”.. His tone was warmer..

He looked at his watch.. Signaling that I could take leave..

I thanked him and floated out of the room.. I felt jubilant..!! Excited..!

Days passed Lekha showed definite improvement.. She unfurled gently into a quiet lovely person..

Ullas didn’t show much improvement.. He continued to sit and stare into nowhere while he was alone.. But he was transformed in Lekhas presence.. More smiling.. More interest in his surroundings.. He would answer my queries..

Dr Gidwani nodded at me when I greeted him in the wards.. I was flattered..!

It was raining when I was summoned to Dr Gidwani’s room one afternoon.. I walked in with a spring in my step .. Lekha was ready to face the medical board.. She was perfectly OK.

"Congrats doc..” My Professor beamed at me.

I smiled back at him shyly..

“Rajeev is coming tomorrow to collect Lekha.. She was assessed by the board today.. She is perfect.”.

“Rajeev.?!" I was stunned…".But sir.." I stammered..

“Yes doc..?” His voice was curt..

“Sir, Ullas and Lekha..?”

“Ullas will always be a lunatic.. The prognosis of Major Depressive Psychosis is not good..” he paused.. 'Have you not started to read your text books..?' He was scornful..

“But sir she is so happy with him..”

“Lekha is a married woman.. Her husband is coming to collect his wife.. His father has agreed to give him one more chance.

Now you have one more job.. Convince Lekha to go with her husband.. I don’t want any scenes tomorrow in front of Rajeev’s father.. Remember that he has to be convinced.”

I was devastated..!!

I started to stammer something.. But words wouldn’t come out.. My eyes filled.. There was a lump in my throat.. My breathing quickened..

“Young lady are you a doc or a drama queen..?” His face flushed..

“Now get this straight.... Either follow my instructions... Or be sure that you will never pass out of this institute with a degree in psychiatry.. You are not fit to be one.. You get too much emotionally involved with your patients..”

He signaled that I could leave..

I walked out. I was shaken..

I knew what my options were.. Obey Dr Gidwani , be his godchild.. And face guilt for the rest of my life.. Or reject my dream and try to convince Rajeev’s father about their love..

It then occurred to me that getting involved with Ullas and Lekha had been a great mistake..
(To be continued)

Sunday, October 09, 2005


In depressed patients there is a deficiency of certain chemicals in the brain.. These 'feel good factors' or endorphins are released in the body after brisk walking, exercise, dancing etc.
But severely depressed patients don’t feel like moving their bodies.

Maybe it was the overenthusiasm of a novice… The idealism of a fresher.. Maybe I wanted to achieve quick results and impress Dr Gidwani.. Maybe the madness around me had rubbed off on me too..
I decided to take Ullas and Lekha the two patients with depression for brisk walking daily..

I introduced them to one another but they didn’t even bother to look at each other.

So off we would go. Along the winding paths in the campus.. On the mountainside.. I would chat to them.. About the birds we saw.. My mom.. My medical school.. My fiancé...
I don’t know if they were listening to me .. They never responded.

After the walk we would sit in my fav spots enjoying the silence..

A month passed.. I hadn’t made any progress..

Then one day something happened.

I was walking a little ahead of them talking non stop. Suddenly I head them giggling..Usualy there was only a complete silence between them..

I was amazed..!

I turned back. They both stared back at me wide eyed and innocent.. The giggling had stopped. Wondering what was going on I turned back and continued to walk
Again the giggling..! I was about to turn back when I felt a tuft of my hair being pulled..!
OMG !!
I was being teased by my mad patients..! What sort of a psychiatrist would I make..?!

I felt furious..!!!.

I turned back and saw Ullas standing just behind me.. He was holding a butterfly in his hand.. Lekha was jumping with joy as he placed the butterfly on her out stretched hand.
Both their faces were glowing. There were stars in their eyes.

I had the breakthrough I wanted!!!

The butterfly flew away but the animation stayed. For the first time I saw a smile on their faces.. For the first time all the three of us were happy together..

I was excited.!!

I started taking them for walks regularly.. I tried to push them together whenever time permitted.

I am guilty.

I was slow to notice the love that bloomed between them..

I never imagined a love of that fervor would develop between them.. I didn’t know that love of that ardor existed.. In novels and movies yes.. But not in real life.. And never among two people didn’t who even know their own names..

Besides that I was too busy.. Clinical meetings.. Ward work.. Presentations..

One morning I was returning to my room after attending to one patient.. It was about 6. Am.I entered the common room to collect some notes I had kept there.

I stood shocked at the sight…

Ullas was sitting with his back on the wall and sleeping.. Lekha was curled up on the ground with her head on his lap. Their hands were clasped loosely even in their drugged sleep..

I should have put an end to it then and there..

I am guilty again..

Maybe I was a romantic fool.. Maybe I thought love would transform them. Maybe I wasn’t tough enough..

I was bewitched by the fervor of their love.. Their anguish on separation.. Their absolute tranquility on being together..

But what was a miracle for me was a joke for the rest of the world.. It was adultery.. It was a mad desire..
Soon I was the laughing stock of the hospital..
(To be continued)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


The first month was disapointing. Being the junior most resident I just did the paperwork. Writing casesheets, referral letters, dishargecards..Senior docs would call me from the comforts of their homes and give me instructions.. I stayed in the campus day in and day out..

I felt like a clerk in a white coat..

Dr. Giwani hardly acknowledged me. But then that was only what was expected.. I was only the tail end of the white coated peple who followed him during his daily rounds..

The only thing I enjoyed was takng the subdued patients outdoors..They were taken out daily from to 6. pm..They were a quiet lot.. I would just observe them and soak up the enchanting nature around me..

I first noted Ullas cos he always seemed to occupy the spots I preferred to sit.. A wooden bench near the pool.. A swing overlooking the valley.. A moss cvered stone beneath a huge tree..Also he would sit near the music system in the common room..He would just sit there staring into nowhere...

A tall slender man with gentle eys and beautiful hands..I knew his history.. An intelligent boy with good accademic records.. he had begun "to lose it" during his graduation years..

Major Depressive Psychosis.. Loss of intrest in surroundings.. withdrawal.. sadness,.. guilt.. worthlessness.. hoplessness.. his deterioration had been slow and steady..
Nothing seeme to exist in his world.. He never responded to the ward boys or the nurses.. I tried to talk to him but there was no reponse.. In everyway he was a dead man walking..

Then Lekha arrived.. she was not a psychiatry patient in the strict sense..

It was just adjustment disorder with depressed mood..Married to the black sheep of a rich business family, she had been tortuerd, abused and beaten up by her husband Rajeev..One night after a big fight he wanted to have sex with her.. She kept pushng him away.. until in a sudden fit of anger she slapped him.. Rajeev had lost his cool and banged her head on the wall... Lekha fell down unconsious and had an abortion..When she came to know about it she cut off from the world and went into a deep internal void..(To be continued)