Department of Mental Health
Attending physisan: Dr. Singh (January – April 2004)
Dr. Rao (April 2004 – December 2006)
Dr. Iyer (2007 – 2008)
Dr. Wankede (2009 – May 2010)
Dr. Thomas (June 2010 – 2011)
Dr. Murthy (January 2012)
- Patient seems to suffer from violent tendencies brought on by paranoid schizophrenia. Says he hears voices telling him what to do.
Dr. Singh – 11/03/2004
- Has attacked care givers and doctors in the past. Patient J broke his attending doctor’s arm (Dr. Singh) when doctor tried to inject patient with a sedative.
- Patient J is unresponsive to repeated questioning as to why he harmed the doctor.
- Protocol has been changed so that an orderly is present with attending doctor at all times.
Dr. Rao – 1/04/2004
- Fifteen sessions of psychotherapy have enabled Patient J to begin to open up about his past, though he still does not like to volunteer information. He says he kidnapped all those men on the advice of ‘his little friend’ (sic).
- Patient J has trouble communicating, and is often withdrawn and moody. Often, he abruptly stops speaking in the middle of a session and refuses to participate further. When he’s pressed, he says ‘someone stole his thought’.
- Advise increased doses of anti psychotic medication. Careful monitoring of patient is required.
Dr. Rao – 25/10/2005
- Patient J has expressed a threat to his attending doctor. Upon any questioning during his psychotherapy sessions, he only responds with, ‘You’re going to be number 96.’
- Advise increased dosage of anti psychotic medication.
- Attending doctor requests immediate transfer to another patient.
Dr. Iyer – 01/11/2008
- Patient J has suffered lacerations and cuts from self harm. A raid of his room has produced a spoon that he has filed down to a sharp edge. Evidently this was the weapon used.
- Weekly searches of his room have been scheduled.
- Patient is largely unresponsive during psychotherapy sessions.
- Advise sedatives to help calm his aggressive tendencies.
Dr. Wankede – 12/02/2009
- Patient J shows signs of sleep deprivation. Night orderly reports screaming at night coming from his room. Upon entering the room, orderlies find Patient J to be awake and hiding under the bed. Patient J refuses to come out until after they exit the room.
- When attempts were made to force patient to come out, he responded with violence, giving one orderly a black eye.
- Night orderlies report regular night terror and nightmares from Patient J. They refuse to enter the room after the last incidence of violence from the patient.
- Advise increased dosage of sedatives to help patient J sleep.
Dr. Wankede – 1/05/2009
- During psychotherapy sessions, Patient J shows signs of Persecution Complex. Claims that his ‘friend’ is responsible for him being institutionalised, and has attempted to frame him many times in the past for crimes he has not commited.
- Has requested to see his mother. This is the first time Patient J has requested visitors since his being sent here by the court.
- Advise visit be allowed, supervised by attending doctor and orderlies.
Dr. Thomas – 10/08/2010
- Patient J showing signs of progress. Visit with his mother was a success, Patient J apologised for his behaviour during his teens, and received forgiveness and closure from mother.
- Patient J shows remorse and has taken responsibility for his actions. Increasing psychotherapy sessions to twice a week, hope to achieve breakthrough and make J admit his ‘friend’ is imaginary.
- Advise reduced dosage of sedatives and anti psychotic medications.
Dr. Thomas – 11/09/2010
- Patient J has regressed. He attacked an orderly today, screaming that it was his ‘friend in disguise’. He claimed the friend was attempting to drive him mad.
- Advise increased dosage of anti psychotic medications.
Dr. Thomas – 05/01/2011
Dr. Murthy flipped the patient log book closed, and took a breath. It was a sad story. The doctors had done the best they could, but clearly, all of them had had a shadow of fear hanging over them because of the patient’s past actions.
Indeed, it was difficult to forget that this particular patient had been sent to the hospital after he had been convicted of the kidnapping of 95 men.
J was still young, only 30, but he had had a chequered past even before the serial kidnappings. He had first shown signs of mental illness at 15, though his parents had dismissed it as normal teenage rebellion. He had started to smoke, and do drugs, and claimed it was the influence of his ‘friend’. His parents had changed schools, hoping to break their child of the supposed bad influence, but of course, in reality, there had been no friend.
J had dropped out of college in his second year, his attendance being too low. His parents had attempted to have him finish his education via distance education, but in the end had to give up. They bought him a small business, a cybercafe and DTP centre, which he ran for four years. This was where he kidnapped his victims, usually targeting males who came singly.
He had kept them in the floor above the cybercafe, keeping them sedated with chloroform most of the time.
Dr. Murthy was sure there was still hope for J, though, because while he had kidnapped all those men, none of them had been harmed significantly. They had suffered dehydration and malnourishment by the time they had been found, but they were all alive now. Their testimony had helped convince the judge Patient J was mentally unstable, they reported violent mood swings, where one minute, J would be remorseful and promise to let them go free, but the next he would strike anyone who provoked him.
It was a stroke of luck that J had been in a docile mood the day the police had raided his house.
Seven years he had been in this hospital, and it was clear that he could be saved. He had expressed remorse for his actions, even going so far as to accept responsibility for them. The greatest problem with treating paranoid schizophrenics was their insistence that they were only carrying out ‘orders’ from God, or angels – or their ‘friend‘, as J had claimed.
It was a big step for them if they could come to the breakthrough point where they understood that they had done everything on their own.
With a sigh, Dr. Bhima Murthy took off his reading glasses, and passed his hand through his thinning hair. His own grandfather had been a schizophrenic, claiming to hear the voice of God. Since he had been the temple priest in a little village in Anantapur, the villagers had naturally seen it as a sign of their priest’s holiness.
Their family had lived in fear till the old man had died, afraid of his mood swings, and his pronunciations like ‘television was evil’ and ‘Western clothes were evil’, because ‘God had said so’.
Now, with modern medicine, Dr. Murthy was confident that J could be saved, where it had failed his grandfather.
With a quick tap on the cover of the file, Dr. Murthy replaced it into his filing cabinet. It was time to visit Patient J for himself.
The patient didn’t even look up, but Murthy didn’t mind. He entered the room, motioning the orderlies to follow. They crept in behind him, evidently unhappy to be in the same room with the patient. Murthy ignored them, turning again to the unresponsive man sitting on the bed with his back to the wall, knees drawn up.
‘Jara?’ he said again, entering his line of sight. He took care to keep his hands empty and hanging loosely in front of him, to show Jara he was not a threat.
After a while, Jara looked up. ‘Why are you here?’, he asked sullenly. ‘Where’s Dr. Wankede?’
This was unexpected. The last doctor Jara remembered was the one who had attended to him nearly two years ago. It was unusual to see such a large gap of lost time, but then doctors dealing with mentally unstable patients had to be able to deal with anything.
‘Dr. Wankede left, Jara,’ he said gently. ‘He retired two years ago. I’m your doctor now. My name is Dr. Murthy.’
A pause, while he waited Jara to reply. When there was none, he spoke again.
‘May I sit down?’
Jara shrugged, and Murthy sat down in the centre of the room, the two orderlies taking up flanking positions – behind him, Murthy noticed. With a mental sigh, he opened his notebook, and started the tape recorder. Stating the date, and time, he began his first psychotherapy session with his new patient.
He would make Jara whole again.
From the halls of a tyrant enamoured of a dancing girl with a deadly secret, to a village where the unquiet dead are exorcised with food, to moonlit forests where goddesses meet with demons, this collection of twenty two short stories serves up tales from Indian mythology—with a twist.