A Candle in the Wind-II

She was awake for a long time, and at some point, the panic gave way to exhaustion and she slept fitfully. When she opened her eyes the next morning, she felt unrested and sore. Her eyes felt hot and heavy from lack of sleep. Her head felt heavy and clogged; there were a million noises within it. She lay in bed for a while, unsure of herself. She felt that her whole life had collapsed and closed in on her. She couldn’t bear to think of getting up from bed, facing her parents, facing the day ahead. There was no longer the drive to live life. All she wanted to do was lie down in her bed for eternity. She tried to get up from bed, but was gripped by a feeling of intense nausea. She felt dizzy from the effort. Her body seemed to have given up as much as her mind. She looked at the clock. It was seven. If her parents did not see her downstairs in another hour, they would come looking for her. Slowly, she reached for the phone and called Kavitha. Kavitha was her best friend and she stayed just a few houses away. The moment Kavitha heard her voice, she knew something was terribly wrong. ‘I need you to come over now. I am in a terrible mess. Mom and dad have no clue. I don’t want them to know…they won’t understand. Can you come over and say you want me to drop you to college today?’ By the time Kavitha arrived, Diya was dressed and ready. She came downstairs. Kavitha engaged her parents in conversation while Diya stuffed her breakfast into her bag. She ignored the exasperated expression on her mother’s face and walked out with Kavitha. She filled in Kavitha on the details, but there was not much time. After dropping Kavitha, she rode to college. She felt a strange detachment from her surroundings. Hoping that things would get better with time, she attended her clinical postings. But she was lost in a nothingness she couldn’t describe. As time ticked by, the panic returned. The moment she thought of returning home, she felt terrified of the loneliness that would greet her. She spent all morning dreading this one thought. Finally, she could bear it no more. So she decided to meet the psychiatrist and confide in her. She had just finished her psychiatry rotation; that was a blessing. She walked slowly to the Psychiatry clinic, her hopes renewed. The psychiatrist was a middle-aged woman- soft spoken, approachable and pleasant. She smiled as she saw Diya approaching. ‘So how are you? What postings now?’, she asked. Diya’s eyes suddenly welled up with tears. ‘Ma’m, I am not well’, she said. ‘What is the matter, dear? Tell me. Relax, and tell me’.
Diya tried. The words came out in a jumble. The psychiatrist heard her out and smiled. ‘This is a small problem, my dear. You are worrying over nothing’, she said. Diya was disappointed. The psychiatrist went on consoling her, but her words sounded hollow and distant. ‘So, pull yourself up, wait for a couple of days, and if you still feel just as low, take this tablet. It is an antidepressant’, she said as she jotted down the prescription.
As she rode home with the prescription in her wallet, she was certain of one thing. She would not take the antidepressant. She felt a soreness in her throat, and by the time she reached home, she felt cold and feverish. Her mother touched her forehead; it was warm. And yet again, she was thankful. This physical illness would provide her a cover for the illness of her mind. She took to bed, closed her eyes, and went into deep sleep.


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