Comfort Objects Part II The Prince or the dragon?

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(A short fiction by Sidharth Vardhan
February 17, 2018)


(The story of patient’s sister which is mentioned in the beginning of this story can be found here.)

1.

“You, psychologists, are rather patient people – or perhaps you aren’t even listening. For here I am talking about my sister and her comfort object when this is supposed to be about myself.”

“My purpose? So you want to say that you think I have a purpose behind telling you about my sister and her need for her comfort toy to be able to sleep? You are right. There are poets in spirts who never wrote poems because they lacked the necessary language skills to translate the poems in their heart. I, sometimes, have the vanity to feel that way – and I feel the key to my being here – the reason of my trying to kill myself is so nice parabled in my sister’s need for her comfort object. I spend a lot of time psychoanalyzing myself – you see, that is habit one develops when one is a literature professor and, I have lately reached the conclusion that what we call love is, in my case at least, a need for a comfort object. Except in my case, the comfort objects weren’t objects, but they were people – women to be precise.”

“My mother was partial towards me – but her love came at a price of submission to her will. That might be typical of parents, what was different in my case was the fact that she never hit me or penalized me by not giving me sweets, toys etc when she wished to punish me or, since it never came to punish me, more correctly, to make get back to obedience. What she did as negative reinforcement was pretending to cry and, though I knew she was faking it – it was too clear, you would be a fool to not notice, the sight of her face wrinkled in that pretense of crying troubled me to no end and, it made me so anxious that I could do everything just to keep her from doing so.”

“You might observe that it was of my love for my mother – and in part, perhaps it was true. Upto ten years of age, I still needed to hold my mother’s arm just to be able to sleep. The only person wh seem to have suffered anything similar is a fictional character – it is the protagonist of Swannn’s Way.”

“But there is another aspect to it – I have discovered that I am similarly vulnerable to suffer from the very idea that someone else is suffering. And particularly so, when it comes to face expressions – whether of misery or joy. So much, that when I get emotionally excited regarding how people I am chatting with me use their emoticon – those emoticons, I think are the greatest invention in language and literature, I could give a Nobel Prize to whoever invented them, I am quite sure that they gain compassion from others just as they do from me – although perhaps not so much, and isn’t it what all language and literature is about? Expressing how one feels.”

“I grew up a mama’s boy – and stayed so even after her death when I was fifteen. I was taciturn and reserved at school – lacking playfulness or even a simple will to do anything. This passivity at school was contrasted with my activeness at home, in my mother’s presence, where I was rather talkative and always jumping, playing around. A question we often ask ourselves is who we are. In my opinion, the answer has nothing to do with what are called identities – whether they are name, nationality, religious one. TO me they are a set of qualities that we have. I believed that is was only in mother’s presence that I become who I really was. At school, i was someone else – I was a stick, who though straight by its true nature, was bent because of pressure (the social pressure in my case).”

“After she died, my self-worth declined in my own eyes. It was as if she was forever creating and recreating in me that euphoria in which I was a magical, special, different, destined-to-be-great person. When she passed Away, I gradually declined, in my own eyes, to be the least important of human creatures.”

2.

“Thrice did I become myself the way I was around my mother. In all three cases, it was caused by the presence of a woman. The first was a class teacher (third standard) – it was only in her class I would become mischievous, just so to make her laugh. As with my mother, the idea of making her angry scared me and I was rather calculative in the mischiefs I planned, as to whether it will make her laugh or make her angry. It was greatly important to me that I make her laugh, that she should always like me. I was even envious when she praised some other student. She taught me for one year and, it was only for that one year, I was a class clown – she actually nicknamed me ‘Joker’ and come to think of it, there are parallels between story of Joker in ‘Mera Naam Joker’ – which is also my favorite Bollywood movie, and me, we both have had four women in our life – mother, a teacher we both innocently loved, a potential lover and an actual lover.”

“After that year was over, I got into a fever for a whole month – which involved high temperatures, vomiting, lack of wish to eat in the first place and a restlessness. My family consulted a doctor who only treated these symptoms though he couldn’t recognize the cause for same. Later, I got into the similar state when I lost my mother and this time I won’t be able to return to my former appetite for two whole years. This bad health means I would have bad physique all the rst of my life.”

3.

“The other two cases were both the times I failed as a lover. The first time it was a woman far older than me and, at that, married with a daughter who was closer to me in years than her mother. She was my landlady during my college year. I became close friends with this woman but I never told her about my love – feeling guilt, as if the very fact that someone knows of my love would tarnish her (not her image – she was too pure in my eyes to be, even secretly, loved by as ridiculous a creature as me).”

“We shared a sense of humor between us – and she had values much similar to mine, and it was rare to come across such a person. I don’t have any other reason for feeling the love for her. She loved me in a platonic fashion and was never attracted towards me. I remember how I, who was never into good looks, would dress properly when I had a chance to meet her. I would joke around. When I made her laugh, I forgot for a while that I am the worst specimen of the human race.Looking at me now, you won’t believe what I would become in presence of these women.”

“When I finally had to left the room I had rented at their place, I got that old fever again – though this time it didn’t last much. Perhaps because I was already suffering from the after-effects of fever I suffered from my mother’s death.”

4.

“Separation anxiety? Is that what you think it is? Separation anxiety? Though I think you didn’t need to explain it to me, the very name seems to explain the concept. How do I deal with it?”

“Yes, I think, that is why I tried killing myself. You see I finally became a literature teacher three years ago and last year I fell in love with a student. This time she loved me back. I was tormented by the morality of our times and fear of hurting her. She was perhaps a decade younger than me. But I loved her and she loved me – we bonded over our talks on literature, and for some time we could ignore those obstacles. I didn’t want to lose her. But it was difficult to be around her. The college would have me expelled and it would destroy her reputation for good. You know how India is when it comes to female sexuality?”

“Yet I wanted to have as much of her time as possible. It was me – the older one, the mature one, the man, who was needy, She loved me and even told me she loved me already when I hadn’t yet even noticed her but she never needed me as much I needed her. And perhaps my constant neediness won her frown. Though I was rather cruel to her – passing critical remarks and blaming her for not wanting to spend more time with me. She bore with it with patience.”

“This grew worse over time – for I finally convinced myself that she didn’t love me any longer. I wished that she should keep telling me how much she loved me and it was, as I realize in retrospect, too much for her – it would have been for anyone. Finally, I asked her to stop talking to me, forced her to do so on the argument that she didn’t love me anymore. She kept on trying to convince me that this wasn’t the case but to no use.”

“Now here is the funny thing. As soon as she left, I wanted her back. I got that fever back and this time it was too difficult to bear, I begged her to come back. She did and I was grateful for some time. But soon, it was too much to bear anymore. She agreed that she no longer loved me and, since her eyes were my mirror, my own self-worth declined. I felt hurt by her and asked her to leave. Again, she left after some resistance. Again I was back to fever and again I begged her to come back. Again she came back. I realized I couldn’t live if she left, and couldn’t talk to her without being reminded of my own worthlessness. So, I took the middle course – I avoided her as much as possible.”

“She asked me why I was doing this. I told her. Another argument. Another time she left. Another fever. Again I begged her to come back. This time she didn’t. She had had too much.”

5.

“I still had to give lectures to her class (I hadn’t taken sick leave despite my fever yet). And it would fill me with hatred and anger over the whole of humanity. I wished to hurt her, hurt her bad. For some time, I thought it was just lover’s spite.”

“Then one day I had this epiphany – that I no longer loved her. I just wanted to hurt her. I was becoming a monster. And, what is more, I would be the same way if I ever loved again. I was a bad lover, on my path to be a miserable monster who just want to hurt those he loved the most. To be able to not do it, I finally availed my sick leave to be able to avoid her. It was still difficult not to call her. This cursed technology has made it so difficult to resist the temptation of trying to contact a person who is bothered by our doing so. It was just too easy to pick up the phone and call her, to send her emails, messages etc. And you know what is funny? I wanted to contact her again just to be able to tell her to leave me again. Can you believe it? I couldn’t help obsessing about her and I sometimes acted as if it was her fault.”

“I sometimes failed to resist the temptation and thus I became a stalker. I was afraid that the next stage would be worse. But It is not only temptation itself I had to resist – the health problems, the anxiety – what was that you called it? – separation anxiety, yes, that – they all seemed to like my body’s being hungry for touch of her presence – by touch, I mean just a hug, a wish to hold her in my arms and maybe a few kisses on forehead – and since I couldn’t do it all the time or anymore; I wished to hurt her for having deprived me of this solace.”

“I wished to tell her that I was dying to meet her. It felt like dying though I realized I wasn’t really dying. Still, in a poetical way, it was true – and not merely a figure of speech. But as in case of other unrequited lovers, the reality, which is nothing more than a long series of accidents in this universe, failed to live up to the beautiful poetry that is so easily evolved by the similar accidental movement of neurons in lover’s brain. I was dying to meet her in a more truer sense than reality would have you believe. My poetical truth was that I was a lover after the best fashion but reality had me turning into a monster. I didn’t want to be that monster – I was afraid of that monster I was becoming. And since, everyone just sees reality – I had to make what was true, real.”

“This is why I decided to kill myself and threw myself off that building, I wish I had succeeded. I had to do it- to elevate the reality to the level of poetry, to be able to say to her that I was dying to meet her. And even in that, I was doing a service to humanity by killing that monster I was becoming.” (the patient is growing more and more desperate every moment) “What would you do if you are both the prince and the dragon? I just had to end the conflict as I saw it in my mind and as it really was. You must understand it was the best thing from whatever point of view you look at it – I had to die. Do you understand? Do you?”

Copyright – Sidharth Vardhansidharth Vardhan signature


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