Saturday Story 1: The News
She saw the Whatsapp message at 4 pm. By then it had already been an hour, since the news was flashed across all screens. Nandita felt her already fragile heart sink a little lower…No… not today… not on the day which she dreaded every year. God had already given her a very heavy bag of regrets and unanswered questions.
“Sushant Singh Rajput…. committed suicide… the promising young actor was just 34.”
As she scrolled through the messages on twitter expressing shock, anguish and disbelief, Nandita only felt numb. But the logical part of her brain – the psychologist – was analysing the situation. Why were so many people affected by the death of a person they did not personally know? Because he was living their dream.
Sab kuch to tha uske paas. Fame, money and good looks. And yet, he did not find life worth living? To phir what hope is there for the rest of us? Even though she was a trained psychologist, with 15 years of experience, that question had creeped into Nandita’s mind. The day ‘Tara’ (name protected for privacy) had arrived – unannounced – into her life.
“I.. can’t… go on,” said the doe-eyed beauty, heartthrob of millions, sitting in Nandita’s modest clinic. The actress had walked in, hidden behind extra-large large Christian Dior dark glasses. The eyes behind the armour told their own story. Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts… she was just 28, and already feeling ‘over the hill’. Unworthy, unloved, unwanted.
Nandita was surprised to have such a high-profile client. But the actress had her reasons. What would happen to her career, if the news leaked out? People would call her unstable, high strung, or maybe even a basket case. So she’d asked her childhood friend for a reference to a ‘good psychologist’ but far-removed from tinsel town.
“Depression is an illness, like cancer or diabetes,” Nandita said to her, gently. “It can be treated.”
Over the next few weeks, and months, the client made progress. Slow progress. Nandita knew it took time to build a rapport, establish trust. There was no hurry. She referred Tara to a psychiatrist who could prescribe medication, and that played its role. One day – around 5 months into treatment – the floodgates opened. Tara released her long-held trauma.
She had been sexually abused as a child. By her own uncle. The abuse went on for years – she was too young to understand what was happening. When she did tell her mother, nothing changed.
“No one believed me….” sobbed Tara, rocking her body back and forth, as she hugged herself.
It took many more sessions of sharing, listening and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, to make Tara whole again. But that day was a turning point. 13 months after she first walked into Nandita’s clinic, the eyes did not need any dark glasses. For they sparkled with zest, and life. On her last visit, Tara brought a stainless steel dabba with some puranpolis.
“Please have some… maine banaya hai,” said Tara, shyly. Nandita accepted the offering, for, wrapped in that delicious morsel was gratitude. A silent thank you, for a ‘job well done’.
The job was not to prevent a client from dying, but inspire her to live. To not get lost in the labels given by the world, and its false expectations.
For behind the fame, success and money, is just another soul. In need of love, and acceptance.
Nandita pulled the chocolate cake out of the oven, and added a single candle. It was her annual ritual, on the 14th of June.
“To my darling sister Neelu, who would have turned 41 today.”
A life cut short, when the promising medical student jumped off her hostel terrace, 21 years ago. There were no cries for help, only a final act of despair.
“I could not save you, Neelu,” whispered Nandita, as she blew out the candle. “But you gave me purpose in life.”
I am here, I am listening, I can help you… so reach out. You are never alone.
Coming soon: Read new stories every weekend, by subscription. Watch this space!