The Come Back – Chapter 32

by Anita Menon

‘James died last night. He died in his sleep and with a smile on his face.  But after he died they changed his smiling face into an unsmiling one. Perhaps they thought it was rude to  smile when one was dead. The men and women in white drew him away from the place of the living to deposit him along with the dead. I did not know what to make of it until I saw James, the young James, sit next to me, in the cold floor of the hospital corridor. When you live life, it seems unending and unchanging. Each day may emulate the previous but then life just surprises you with what it can do to make you take notice. Away from James and the children, may have been the most difficult choice I made in my life, but it had to be done so that everybody could lead saner lives. But life being life, found a way to disagree with my best laid plans. As I lead a solitary life, my children, I realize now had the toughest time. Should I feel guilty for making a choice that I thought was right one for all of us? Or was I wrong in making a choice for everybody, thinking they would understand? Living in exile hasn’t been easy for me and not a day passed that they didn’t cross my thoughts.’

Maya scribbled away furiously at her pad while taking a break in between waiting for Nicole to return. She wondered if it was ominous  to start writing a story announcing the death of a loved one. James who was seated next to her didn’t mind. He hadn’t taken his eyes off her even for a second, she noticed.

She was seated in the reception area of Nicole’s clinic. Nicole came back with Dr. Abelhammer and a very young, attractive looking girl. Dr. Abelhammer, pulled Maya off her chair in a big swoop and hugged her tight. Maya realized it was an act of showing his deep felt condolence. She wanted to tell him, she was quite alright with what had happened since it was quite inevitable. Dr. Abelhammer’s eyes were red and sore from crying. The loss of one of his great friends had definitely hit him hard. How could she tell him that James wanted to go because he had got all his answers?  Crying for him and wishing him back was futile . James was right here, sitting next to her and watching her scribble away. James was nudging her to write her story and not be bogged down by any of these distractions. Maya motioned him to wait for her outside the office while she finished the business with a new therapist. Her therapist was this young, confident looking Indian girl with a pleasant smile on her face. She immediately reminded her of Anna. The therapist had an air of erudition about her and she warmly extended her hand to greet Maya.

“Hiya! I’m Sheel. It is really nice meeting you, Maya. Dr. Abelhammer has been telling me wonderful things about you.”

Maya only shrugged and did not extend her hand to greet the therapist. That didn’t deter Sheel and she quickly retracted her extended hand and asked Maya to accompany her to a room close by. James seemed a bit displeased, Maya noted. He got up and walked out of the reception area. Maya followed Sheel with her note-book in one hand and the pen in other. Her story would have to wait. Maya entered a dimly lit room where the drapes were heavy and concealed all the blinding light from the sunny day outside. She liked the feel of the place. She was made to sit on a comfortable couch and her shrink  sat next to her in another chair which seemed less comfortable. With a note pad and a pen in hand, Sheel smiled at her. Maya wasn’t entirely comfortable with her for some reason and longed for Dr. Abelhammer to be with them in the room.

“Tell me something about yourself Maya.” , Sheel asked her politely, in a soft voice which seemed like a cat purring.

“You mentioned that Dr. Abelhammer had told you things about me. Wouldn’t that be good for a start?”,  Maya replied.

Sheel laughed a like a little school girl and Maya melted. She looked so much like Anna. The same radiance but a different hue. A murky brown as if behind that laughing countenance there was a hidden agenda, a purpose that the therapist wasn’t revealing.

” I would like Dr. Abelhammer to be with us in our sessions.”, Maya suggested.

This request seemed to take the shrink by surprise but she managed to conceal it.

” Well, let me see if Dr. Abelhammer has some time on his hands. But you do understand that this is not a one off session. We would have to have atleast 9-10 sessions to come to any definite conclusion.”, advised the therapist.

” I do not know what conclusion you are talking about here, Doctor.”, Maya exclaimed defensively and looked around to see if any characters came to her rescue so that she can float away with them in her mind. Unfortunately, for Maya, none came to her aid. She felt betrayed but continued to stare at Sheel, expressionless.

Sheel got up and walked out of her office and in a few moments, came in with Dr. Abelhammer.

” I hear, you want me to be with you, while the session is on?” , enquired, Dr. Abelhammer.

” Yes. If you may please. It is only because I promised James before he died that I would enter therapy, that I am here. I am utterly clueless about what he was worried about.” , explained Maya.

‘” Well then, let us not waste anymore time and get on with it.”, spoke Dr. Abelhammer and the therapist obediently took her place on a different seat, allowing Dr. Abelhammer to use her’s.

” Where should we begin? From the beginning?”, asked Dr. Abelhammer.

” Well if I could have my way, I would start from the very end.” , said Maya.