This is one of the cases from a series of cases recorded by the narrator. I have given it a working title. Still a first draft.
Fascinating and bizarre, those were the two words that came to my mind about my recent case. As a psychiatrist I deal with all sorts of mental disorders and abnormalities but this case was special and very challenging, something beyond my domain. I am that kind of person who, unlike others, goes beyond conventional techniques to treat a patient but Tara’s case left me with no choice than to withdraw which again was against the ethics of medical profession.
It was only last month when Peter came to my clinic. There was nothing unusual about him except the eyes. Those deep-set brown eyes were nothing but pools of hurt and fear and anger. He mumbled a greeting to me and sat down nervously on the side chair. I noticed that his hands were trembling slightly and he kept shifting in his seat.
“My wife is an adulterous.” He began without any prompt from me. ” She has someone else in her life. A lover. It has come as a shock to me. We shifted to this neighborhood recently. We hardly know anyone here. She has no friends and certainly no male friends. We were happy even though we had our usual arguments and fights but then everyone has them, don’t they? “ I nodded silently. I got such cases almost three times a week. There was nothing unusual.
“I could not understand the change in her behavior at first. She became moody and purposely started to keep herself away from me. We stopped going out and calling friends over just because of her mood swings. She did everything to push me away. Sex first became a routine and then died a silent death but never ever she insisted that I sleep in living room until two days ago. She said it was all over between us and that she had another man in her life. She said she cannot love me the way she loves that man. I, who have +been her companion for more than a decade. Tara never used to wear even a ring on her finger. Not the kind who would dress up and flaunt her possessions. Am sure all the new clothes and jewelry she is wearing lately has been given by her….” He couldn’t bring himself to say the word Lover, got up and began to pace the room and then collapsed on the couch sobbing uncontrollably. I somehow wanted to go and hug the man but stayed glued to my seat for some unknown reason. He came around finally and muttered an apology. I offered a glass of water which he sipped as if finding it difficult to swallow.
“Have you met the man? Anyone you know, maybe some old friend of hers or yours? “
“No”. “I even hired a private detective to watch over the house and her but nothing came up. She hardly goes out and no one visits the house in my absence. I even tracked her emails, phone calls, social networking profiles but nothing. “
“I think she is unwell and I need you to cure her doc”. There was an urgency and fear in his voice.
“I feel the change has affected her and she’s going insane. I love my wife and suffer day in and day out knowing there is something wrong with her. ““Please help us”. His eyes welled as he pressed my hand in his.
I watched him closely. He needed therapy more than his wife. To me he seemed in denial and shock, unable to cope with his wife’s affair but refrained from saying so. Sometimes a joint session helped couples in such cases. I made some mental notes, assured him that things will be just fine and told him to bring her along the next day.
The woman who walked into my clinic next morning was exactly as Peter had described, quiet, demure, and pretty. She had bright intelligent eyes and a beautiful captivating smile. She greeted me warmly and said she wanted to speak to me alone.
“I know why Peter wanted me to meet you. My husband thinks I am gone nuts”, she smiled “but let me assure you am perfectly fine.”
“Am sure you are”, I returned the smile.
“I love S, he is my childhood sweetheart. We had lost touch. I never thought I would meet him like this but it was meant to be. I didn’t want to hurt Peter. He is a good man, good husband but S is my soul mate. Now that he has moved in with me I am much happier and alive than I was ever before. “ I noticed the glow that radiated from her. She surely loved the guy.
“S moved in with you? How is it that Peter has never met or seen him? “I was beginning to see why Peter was worried about her.
“It’s our secret”. She giggled like a teenager. “He moved into the attic the same day we met. No one except me knew, not even Peter. She recounted all about the wonderful time she spent with S, their intimacy, and how they managed to keep it all hidden from Peter, waiting for the right time to reveal. “But then I was beginning to feel guilty to have both my lover and my husband in the same house. I had to tell him.” Her face clouded. Trust me I never thought it would turn out this way but I can’t help it. Hope you understand. That’s why I wanted to meet you alone.”
“I do”. I said but I knew from inside that this wasn’t going to be easy. There was something more than just what appeared at the surface.
“That’s a lovely bracelet you are wearing. “ The delicate silver filigree shone brilliantly on her wrist”.
“S gifted it to me as a token of love when we last met. I have always worn it since then.” She ran her manicured fingers gently over it.
“Doctor, I want you to help Peter come to terms with it. I am thinking of moving out to the new apartment S and I rented some time back. I need a divorce. Every time we make love I am aware of Peter’s presence in the house.
“Is that the reason you told him to shift to the living room”? I asked.
“Yes”. Her blushed and lowered her eyes.
“I will talk to him and I would love to meet S if it’s not asking too much.”
“Of course, he will be delighted to meet you. You will like him. In fact I am going to introduce him to Peter tonight. “
Interesting, I thought. How I wished to be there to witness the scene, a woman introducing her husband to an imaginary lover.
“You don’t think me mad, do you?” She turned around as she opened the door to leave.
“Not at all but I would love to meet you again sometime.”
“Sure. Thank you for understanding.” She looked at me with those deep eyes.
“Pleasure” I said and the door closed.
It was bizarre. We met again a couple of times at different places and she never mentioned S being with her but always told some incident related to them. I did not know how to get her into therapy sessions. She intrigued me not only as a psychiatrist but also as a person. There was something about her presence that stopped me from looking at her as a patient.
I called peter and narrated everything about our meeting. I told her Tara needed medical attention. We decided to meet and work out some plan to make her agree to take the treatment. I also told him to keep a watch on any unusual behavior.
The thing that disturbed me was that Tara did not show any signs/symptoms of any mental disorder. I thought it could be a mild case of ICI until one day when Peter broke into my office unannounced and looked as if he had seen a ghost. He was incoherent and trembling with fear.
“She moved out to her new apartment last night. I found the front door open and there wasn’t anyone there, just this note. I am scared and worried about her doctor.” His voice trailed off into a sob.
I took the note from his hand.
It had my name on it and an address.
“Give it to Dr. Shreyas and please do not try to visit me.” It said.
I had a difficult time making him understand that maybe Tara had created this whole story to leave him. She maybe couldn’t bring herself to break away in any other way. I told him to go home and rest while I investigate.
It was a still warm summer evening. I drove to the address written on the note. It was a small apartment with a small patch of garden in the front. It took her some time to open the door.
“I was expecting you. Please come in”. She wasn’t her charming self and looked tired and irritated.
“I knew Peter would go running to you. He refused to believe in my relationship with S and kept insisting that I needed to be admitted to your hospital. I introduced S to him but he was rude and insulting. He called him figment of my stupid imagination. I couldn’t take it anymore so left. Please tell him to leave me alone. I will send in the papers to him.”
I stood there in the middle of the living room listening to her when I felt something shift in the air around me. I ignored it as just a stuffy feeling due to humid weather.
“S, meet Dr. Shreyas”. She suddenly smiled and looked to her right.
There was no one but I still extended my hand and greeted. I strange warmth spread through me.
It was unreal. I had never thought of this angle.
“Let’s have some tea, shall we?” She said.
The door to left swung open and closed.
“Don’t be scared Doc, S won’t harm you. He is a good man.”
I was still to recover from my initial shock of having a ghost in the same room as me.
Something kept me glued to the place; I had no wish to run out of it screaming. Somehow I really wasn’t scared, just shocked.
She was living with a ghost in her attic, making love to him, and she left her husband to move in with him? A friendly spirit who had in some way filled the empty spaces of her life? It just couldn’t be true but it was. She looked happy and I could feel S’s lingering presence very prominently now.
I wondered how I was going to explain it to Peter.
It was surreal.
I don’t know why but I relaxed into their company and enjoyed it too. In last one week I have met them a few times and it makes me a little guilty too as a doctor that I haven’t reported it to the authorities or said anything to Peter for that matter. I just told him Tara wants to stay on her own and I haven’t seen any man in her life.
I never saw Peter again but I visit Tara on and off. Remarkable lady. I am sure you will like her too.
The evening sun was slowly setting behind the buildings and the city shimmered in a warm glow. I glanced at my watch.
“It’s time to introduce you to my friends. Let’s go” He smiled at me.
“I am looking forward to it. Let’s go.” I said. I had known Doctor Shreyas for years now and as a paranormal expert it was going to be an exciting experience.
We drove down in silence, each one wrapped in his thoughts.
We parked the car and walked up to the bright red door of Tara’s apartment. Dr. Shreyas rapped on the wooden door. There was no movement inside. He rapped again and then fumbled inside his pocket.
“I have a duplicate key to their house. Tara gave it to me.” He said.
It amused me that she should give him a spare key? I just nodded.
He opened the door and called out, “Hey Tara, We are here.”
After a second his face lit up. “Hey girl how you doing, how is S?” He moved towards the winding staircase and held out his hand. ” Meet my friend Robin.”
“Robin, this is Tara”.
The house was empty.