Posted by Rimli, Guwahati, Assam and Team LV
Note: Today’s post may not be appropriate for children. Parental discretion is advised.
18th May 2020 in the midst of Lockdown 4.0: Rimli at Psychiatry OPD, MDV Health Plus, Guwahati.
As I wait to consult the doctor, I think of the reason I am here. When did it all begin?
I am a freelance journalist. Born on 12th December 1985 in Morigaon, Assam, a year and a half after my sister, Gargi. Before my homecoming, she was parcelled off to my paternal uncle’s home. Everybody thought, together, we would be a handful for Maa [Mother]. I was a happy child until…
One afternoon in March 1997, we (both me and my visiting sister) were informed that our mother was suffering from breast cancer. The very next day, Maa passed away. We sisters just sat and wept together next to her cold dead body. She did not utter words to comfort us as she usually did. That scene still makes me go numb.
Later I learnt, for five years, Maa had bravely fought the deadly disease. Owing to my father’s ignorance and callousness, she had not been diagnosed early or received proper treatment. All came as big blow to me. I just could not come to terms with the truth- “One’s mother can die anytime.” The first tinges of depression creeped into me.
Until then, Maa had been my best friend, teacher – my all. I had been so attached to her. I recollect waiting for her in front of the bathroom as she took her shower. A month after Maa’s death, my father announced he had plans to re-marry. I shuddered at the thought of another woman taking Maa’s place.
I stayed on alone with my father, while my sister continued with uncle. Evenings, he would get back late. It was then that my cousins molested me. I was very scared. The worst happened when my father did the same. I lost my sleep. A year later, I was at a psychiatry clinic for help. Since then, I have been on medication.
Rimli is called in by the doctor and after check-up prescribed new medicines. She walks back home and sends a phone message. The phone beeps and she stares at the reply.
Oh God! I have lost my job. I am shocked. How is it possible? Since the first day when the portal started, I had worked hard as if it was my own. Had taken care of everything from newsdesk to HR, food, electricity and what not. I was not given an appointment letter or I-card. With minimum salary, I had worked hard for my friend’s sake. Today, after so many calls and messages, my proprietor friend has responded that he is a thorough professional. He has decided to fire people he doesn’t need. And I am one of them.
Rimli is disgusted. Silently she continues to clean the leftover utensils and other household chores. She goes once again down the memory lane.
After completing my school, I was admitted to a college in Naogaon, 60 kms away from home. Without informing me, my father got married. This put an end to all his responsibilities towards me. He stopped supporting me. Even refused to give me my rightful space at home. The excuse was that the house was flooded with furniture from his recent marriage.
It was clear. I had to start my lone journey. I stayed in a destitute women’s hostel for months. With the help of my well-wishers, I completed my Higher Secondary. And then, moved on to Guwahati for further studies. But without money, I could not join college. Alone in the city, I spent nights in the railway platform and bus stand.
I had little choice but to marry a man I had known for a couple of years. He was 13 years older to me. Initially, we went to his home in Naogaon and then returned to Guwahati. I got a job for myself and went back to study after a gap of 4 years. I managed to get a degree in Mass Communication. My unhappy marriage lasted for 11 years. Finally, we separated in 2016. My childhood companions – insomnia and depression, now, got a stronger hold on me.
Rimli sighs. Takes out the food from the refrigerator. Heats it. She sits down to eat.
In December 2019, I joined a vernacular news portal NewsNow started by a friend of mine. I did not take a single day off till February this year. Suddenly, I was in great pain and landed up consulting more than 10 doctors. They all thought my suffering was psychosomatic and treated me accordingly. But my pain was too intense from head to toe. With worsening health, I had to stop going to office.
In mid-April during the second lockdown, the doctor asked me to get admitted to the hospital. I knew I could not afford to pay bills of a private hospital. It was also very scary to get into a hospital during the pandemic. I was alone with no one beside me.
My pain was getting unbearable. I cried and screamed like mad. But there was no one to take care of me. The left hand and toe of my leg had lost sensation. I felt almost paralyzed. In spite of this pain, I continued my household chores and visits to the doctor all on my own. All through, my two friends and sister supported me from afar. I had to get admitted to the hospital. But with my smoker’s cough, the hospital authorities refused to admit me without Corona test. After two and a half months of suffering and mistreatment, thanks to Dr Geetarth Gogoi, I have been finally diagnosed with cervical spondylitis. With his treatment, I am much better.
For the last one week, I had been calling up my proprietor friend. I had not heard from him for long. Had I lost my job? Whenever I asked him about my getting back to work, he would reply “Take rest… I will tell you soon”.
Now, I know, I am laid off with a month’s salary. Once again, I have to start my life from the scratch. Probably, the new medicine will help me cope better with the current situation.
Miss you Maa ! Wish you were here…
Editor’s note: Rimli has mandated that her story be published with her own name.
Thank you Satyen Bordoloi for connecting Lockdown Voices to Rimli.
Cover image credit : TheArtSherpa
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