The replacement

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


The true story of an adolescents attempt to regain her companion ,in a firm and strict environment of academic excellence brought about by her over-indulgent parents

Submitted: July 15, 2018

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Submitted: July 15, 2018

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The  Replacement

She was a fair, frail girl who had completed her 10th standard two months back and was the topper in her school. She was staying in  the next lane in our enclave and on my daily morning ritualistic walks ,I have found her pouring over her books with her mother always at her heals. Her name was Nandini .She would hail me at times with a smile ,as she knew that I was a friend of her paternal grandfather.  Her grandfather spoke a lot about her during our daily walking exercise. Her only consolation was  this  very old grandfather who would most of the time  comfort her when she cried after her parents taunt her. Both her parents were bank officers, busy on their own , but  strict to the point of being punitive at times to make up for the little time they could afford to  spend with her.

I  wasfrequently visiting  my native place for several months  and  bereft of my morning  jaunts, I did not have the chance to see her or talk to her grandfather.

Almost six months had lapsed when their parents wanted me , a Psychiatrist, to seek my consultation regarding her strange behavior. I went to her house to examine her ,because I knew her grandfather well. She was lying in the bed very pale ,thin with edematous lids and ulcers in her mouth with a stony face without any emotions  . It was apparent that her intake was very low and she was subsisting on fluids only. Her tone was low and monotonous. She clamped up when her parents spoke about her.  I walked  away from the room to get details of her behavior before examining her on my own.

Her mother’s narration was very precise with dates and timings. Two weeks before , she had left the house  early morning all by herself without informing everyone. They had searched her everywhere, her usual haunts  but could not find her. They were about to inform the police when she returned back all by herself at about  4 pm ,a week  later. She had being very stubborn and refused to inform the details of her where about. Shereacted to  all their question with a stoic silence. Ever  since then she was mostly bedridden and took only  liquids. All her activities of daily living almost grounded to a halt , She had to be shouted and coaxed to carry out these activities. Prior to her departure she was a lonely girl, very good in her academics ,obedient out of necessity and fear and was strictly brought up by her  parents with no cause for any complaints. Even her hobbies were decided by her parents and she indulged in it passively.

 They wanted me to find out where she had gone for  one weeks and if she had any psychological problem.  .

They accompanied me when I went to question her. She was shy ,sensitive and certainly resented my questioning initially. She looked apprehensive and had sudden startle reactions, when her mother sitting near instructed her  loudly, to answer my questions. Her father,  was apparently indifferent and seemed to be content with his wife’s deliberations; probably he did not want to compound the pressure on her. I smiled at her and  the corner of her lips twitched a little .Tears flowed from her eyes. Her  parents were happy that her emotions were intact as she had not cried at all  after her recent quirky nature..I  enquired  about her studies and she answered  that she completed her 10th exam with flying colors. Her mother intervened to say that they had to always supervise her studies ;they would have done it nonetheless. “what did you eat today in the morning?”  Before she could answer ,her mother interjected and said “ She had only fruit juice. I had prepared  idly and dosai which she refused to eat, with venom bellowing ,for  not obeying her. She added by saying “ I had prepared her whatever she asked ,brought her everything she wanted, spending lots of money. I have not denied her anything . “Tell the doctor,  Nandini ,if I had deprived you anything” . she shouted at her . She in turn  stared at her mother.  I knew what her problem was. She had everything except love and affection, in so many words.“I would meet her whenever  I have time and counsel her” . “Whatever is wrong with her ?  enquired her mother . I need more time to discuss with her and find the cause “ I ventured “ Please see that she is  cured.  You know, I have only one child ,she is precious to us “ She cried to which her husband nodded his head. As I came out of the house on an impulse ,I  enquired about  her grandfather.  “So ,you did not know , my father in law expired a month back . He was ninety years old “ He did not suffer much  in his old age and he did not bother us much”.  Now, I understood Nandini predicament and her odd behavior.

Days passed by .I made it a point to meet her once in two days and literally feed her with food.  I left the sermons and spoke about all that a 15 year old would like to discuss ,from cinema, to friends ,school ,dresses, TV programs ,nature, birds, animals with stories and anecdotes. . She avidly responded with a fund of knowledge which she learned from her grandfather. She then requested me to come every day to see her. As the session progressed she improved very well but her parents were not satisfied and were skeptical as she was still hostile towards them and continued to maintain the stoic silence  in their presence, as she was still fearful. After a week when I had established a rapport ,I indirectly asked her about her grandfather . She started crying and said “ I kept on  telling him thathe was my close friend and that he should live  to be 100 years old. He would smile and say that God would decide it, but he would pray every day for a long life .” You can also pray for me and accept what God has destined for me. After his death ,I became very lonely” . She appeared to be better for a few days after that, as though she had unburdened her grief..

 A few days later when she was better,  I  gathered the courage to ask her about  her disappearance for a week , to which she did not respond initially. Later when she noticed my frustration ,she asked for my mobile. She made a phone call and spoke for sometime. I could gather that she was requesting permission from someone.  Finally she handed over the phone to me to speak after she made me to swear to secrecy. She then added that she would spill the beans when the time was ripe. I heard all that I have to hear from the person who had provided her safety and shelter for one week and I was satisfied.

She improved very much but still continued to be hostile towards her parents. Her parents were not happy with the counseling, expecting a quicker recovery .

After another 10 days  she was feeling much better  after she continued to  converse  through my mobile to the person who had provided her shelter when she ran away. She had no access to a mobile which her parents had denied after the incident. Her attitude towards her parents also improved when I pointed to them  the necessity for my continued counseling. She was able to catch my insightful instructions very fast  when she was provided a congenial  atmosphere to discuss the problems threadbare.

After a week ,their parents visited me to confirm if they can leave her safely without her taking any precipitate action ,as they had to go for an international banking  conference  to Switzerland for 10 days .  When she promised that she would not do anything impulsive and when  I also guaranteed, they decided to leave promising her a wonderful gift, with a far relative  to prepare food for her. .After their departure ,she was frantically convincing the  person on my mobile to visit her. I also allowed her for her own sake. For the next ten daye she was active ,happy and wanted me to take part in all her activities. I acquiesced whenever  I was free from my usual routine.

On the day of their parents arrival she was up and about as though preparing for a momentous  occasion in her life. By 4pm , her parents arrived. She ran to open the car door and embraced them. The parent’s  joy knew no bounds. They looked at me as though  I deserved  being a doctor after all. “Darling ,I have brought many gifts for you that you will love ”.to which she responded, “ I have a wonderful gift which you would also love to have “. They all  entered the house , with me  toeing behind them. Nandini dragged her mother to her room and opened the door. An old man was seated in the chair reading a book.  Her mother’s  surprise grew into a joyous rupture when she saw her father ,separated from the time of her love marriage,  as  her husband belonged to another caste.  Her father got up and kissed her on the forehead and all of them embraced together . It was a tumultuous homecoming for all of them. “Mom, You wanted to know where I had gone disappearing for a week. I was with your daddy, requesting him to come home after the death of my paternal grandfather who had also helped me to reach your father .  I had discussed it with the doctor and we wanted it to be a surprise when you returned from your foreign jaunt. Your dad arrived her the day after your departure”.

I did not think that Nandini had any illness She was reacting to an extraordinary situation in her life ,from fearful and  strict parents who did not have the time to express their love and affection and from a old  patronizing empathetic paternal grandfather in a mature realistic way, of course at the behest of  him.  The maternal grandfather substituted him and the family was back to square one. Any amount of counseling or drugs would  not have been more effective than the replacement.


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