‘Whence understanding eludes, thence lays the genesis. Genesis of understanding. When you really under-stand something, you are closer to it. The periphery of its shadow depends on how well you know it. The closer you know it, the less are the fringes at the periphery. And when you understand the reason for the regions of penumbra you know the why of eluding. And then you see the penumbra become umbra. You are happy. Because you really under-stand the object of your understa-‘
The nib broke off. Wager Doe was disappointed again. This was the third time that he had broken the nib while writing. Third time in a day.
He read the paragraph. He loved the sense it made. Finally, the book has started, he thought. But his face saddened at the thought of how difficult it was for him to get papers and red ink. Next moment his eyes brightened. He had eventually solved his problem and he was finally writing.
Three days back he came up with the idea of writing a book.
The way he was intrigued by the psyche of the mad always surprised him. He wanted to write about how those minds work and how seemingly they go bad. He wanted to write about why the mads are called mad.
First, he thought he would write it as a discussion between a psychiatrist and his students. He would include examples of people that he saw around him every day. But then he thought a lot about it and realized that it would obviously be boring. Because a master-disciple conversation was so ancient. And so religious. He was afraid that through his book the readers will seek him as a new master. But he was not a master. Only a messenger.
So, he decided to write it in a story format. And he almost laughed when he finalized the concept of the story. A psychiatrist-practised for twenty years-and then he himself went mad.
Now that his nib was broken he took time off the paper. He looked around the room. The walls were white. Nice colour, he said to himself. He looked to his left and found his bed. That too was in white with pink patches. My self-made red ink, he thought.
Next time I ought to be careful while refilling my pen. I should not spill the ink. I don’t have much of it.
His eyes then fixed upon his writing table. The ink had spilt here too. Doesn’t matter, he thought. When Miss Isin comes with the breakfast she will clear up the mess. The sunrays too had spilt all over the room from the window just in front of the table. What a flood contest!
There were sounds at the door. He didn’t look back. He knew Miss Isin had come with the breakfast. She always took time entering the room. Maybe she was shy. Maybe she made up her mind while she clinked and clanked the metal of the door. Or maybe she did not want to upset him with her sudden appearance.
Finally, the door opened. He too was feeling hungry and waited for Miss Isin to say “Mr Doe, your breakfast.”
But instead, he heard a loud cry and the sound of the steel-plate as it fell from Miss Isin’s hand and danced on the floor. Miss Isin said something like “Oh, God!”. As if God would be kind enough to ask her back, “What happened, dear child?”. And then the summoner of God would empty her thoughts. And let God know about the inkblots. Wager Doe smiled at the rhyme he had created. He always knew that he could write well.
He turned in his chair to face the door. Miss Isin wasn’t there and his favourite bread-omelette was on the floor. The effort of five people condensed in nine minutes and forty-five seconds was scattered at the door. Understanding eludes me, he thought.
Moments later there were people rushing into his room. Understanding eludes them too. Doe said to himself.
“Why did you do it?”, asked Dr Muhta.
Wager Doe played dumb. Instead, he was playing with spit in his mouth.
“Dr Doe, can you tell me why did you do it?” Dr Muhta urged again.
“Wuoy deed Miss Isin ‘rope myee faabrit breekfest?”, retorted Wager Doe with spit leaking from the folds of his lip.
“What else do you expect of her? Your arm was cut. There was blood all over the bed and the table. And you expect her to say politely: ‘Dr Doe, your breakfast.'”
“Shee olways suummons mee ez Mr Doo an’ noot Dr Doo.”, said Wager Doe with spit still in his mouth.
“Can you swallow the spit, Dr Doe?” requested Dr Muhta.
Wager Doe obeyed.
“Again. Why did you do it?”
I wanted to write. My book. I needed red ink. For my book. You didn’t give it to me. I was left with only one option. My blood. My red blood. If you had given me my ink I would never have cut my arm. Oh yes! And the way I cut my arm was fabulous. With a fork. Oh yes! I wanted to write using a red ink. You didn’t give it to me. So, I had to cut my wrist. You morons! What do you know about writing? In fact, what do you know about madness? Mr Alphonso? You are in this job for just over five years. I have spent my life in this. I was a psychiatrist myself. I know what makes a mad, mad. I know why you all call a mad, mad. I know everything. You bunch of fools. And you treat me as if I am mad. I am not mad. It’s you who is mad. You all are mad. You live in a fool’s paradise. You don’t know the basics of your trade. What did I do? I just needed red ink. You did not give it to me. So, I cut my arm. What else could I do? And that Miss Isin! Why she had to drop the plate. My favourite bread-omelette! Why did she make so much of a fuss? And listen I am not mad. No. I am not. Because what I think is outside your periphery, I am mad? Because my conclusions are your opinions, I am mad? Because I conclude indefinitely, I am mad? I focus and conclude on a notion. It’s solid. Unlike yours. Not fluid. Not affected by whims of vomiting thoughts around me. And not just me. But so many like me. Some think it is night for all time. Some think that god exists everywhere. Some think that god exists nowhere. Some think it’s better not to eat anything lest they die. And some need red ink. And you all, all of you, don’t understand this rationale. Understanding eludes you-
“Dr Doe! I am waiting! Are you even listening to me? Why did cut your arm?”, Dr Muhta questioned.
Do I always have to say something? Don’t you understand that I don’t want to speak? Don’t you feel anything? You heir of morons! And why the qualm about the cut on my arm? I have five litres of blood and filling a pen would not even require a cup of that. Mere two hundred millilitres. Four percent. Don’t you see the logic?
“Nurse”, said Dr Muhta.
Of course! The only thing that you can think off and say is, nurse! So that she can give me Halcion. But I am not depressed. Neither am I mad. This doctor doesn’t even know that Halcion is dangerous for the human brain. And he is treating me!
With direction from Dr Alphonso, the nurse injected the anti-depressant.
Slowly I will fall asleep. And when I wake up there will be no pen and no ink. How will I write then? It’s so sad. I want to get out of here. These pieces of shit! I want to get out. Pen. Ink. My book. I. Mads.
The pupils of Wager Doe slowly rolled over. His eyes were closed. There were tears coming out at the corners.
The nurse and the other attendant left the room. After watching Wager Doe for a moment, Dr Muhta turned towards the door to leave. As he reached the metallic door he saw a crumpled piece of paper at the corner of the room beside the door. He picked it up and opened it. The writing was in a suspiciously straight line as if written with a scale underneath.
‘I opened the window. The sun came. I closed the window. The sunlight went. And in spite of all these verbs, I don’t understand why. Why I feel warm in sun and why I feel cold off the sun? Feelings need to be understo-‘
“Mads!”, said Dr Muhta under his breath. As he continued looking at Wager Doe from the metallic door, he was reminded of a feeling he had first felt when he came to work on day one. Similar to a feeling he had felt when he had seen that cut-opened-pinned frog on the tray in his biology class. He had vomited on the frog. With that look at Wager Doe, Dr Alphonso left the room.
The door shut slammed.