We’re All Equal
Meeting a patient confined by a straitjacket was strangely appealing. It was the first time my erstwhile idea of a patient in a mental institute came alive. Despite the synchrony between my mental picture and the patient in front of me, I trod cautiously. Unpredictability was the only certainty within these walls.
“Hi there! Mind if I have a word with you?”
The patient stopped pacing and turned to face me. Her eccentric braids flew and whipped her throat. The sound of a flagellant’s instrument echoed through the sombre quarters, her purple lips stretching in a sinister smile. I gulped.
Ranjit liked birthday celebrations, especially ones he was invited to. Once he had been convinced to crash a birthday bash, much like he had heard people crash weddings. It had ended up being a bash, just not the kind young Ranjit had in mind.
The sound of flush loudened. Ranjit was sitting at the chabudai sipping his morning tea when Vipin came out of the bathroom.
“I sure am using my right hand an awful lot these days!” he said. Ranjit paused with teapot in hand and looked at his flatmate with knitted eyebrows. It was not the sort of conversation starter he would expect from Vipin. He cleared his throat and resumed pouring tea for his flatmate.
The aroma of samosas sauntered up his nose as Ranjit turned the corner near the local sweet shop. He smiled. His sister was to visit him and she loved freshly made jalebis. But he was smiling because he knew he could munch on a couple samosas while waiting for a fresh batch of jalebis.
Although he knew what he wanted, there was one going through a decisional crisis, his face tenser than a bomb squad member’s.
“Hi, there,” I greeted with the best smile I could manage.
“What do you want?” The words were intermixed with a sigh. The night outside the cell was intrusive, silent.
“I’m just going around visiting patients for a project, to know about the…their…um.”
“Madness,” he said turning towards me. The springy bed didn’t make any sound as he turned, doing its bit to make the room dingier.