“Notes by a schizophrenic : visits to the psychoanalyst” by Susmita Paul


Notes to myself, twenty years after:

Amidst the row of empty light pink and cream yellow walls, his door was an enlightened green. It soaked you in, through the wood. His house opened up into a courtyard where I never went. There were too many mosquitoes, or weeds. In front of the window bars that almost looked like prison gates, he was housed. A corner room on the ground floor, smelling always of sandalwood incense sticks, he cohabited with books and music. On other days, he would be housed in a room in her daughter’s apartment with plywood partitions segregating his worship room from his living space. Here too the smell of sandalwood incense hung with a synaesthetic texture. Sometimes, I couldn’t tell which was which.

We did not talk about what ails me for the first few months. He was in no rush to heal me. He never attempted to.

Twenty years ago:


I sit cross-legged on the revolving chair, imagining the sun. Outside the wooden door, my family sits, waiting. I see a gush of me running across the oval mirror hanging at the corner of the room. Outside, it is spring.

I look up and speak nothing.

Tears roll down the cheek as I sit there, and he asks me how do I feel. I howl. I can feel my family’s white cheek soaking through the wooden door, looking at me with vacant eyes. I rush past them. I can feel eyes following me everywhere, pricking my skin with the gaze, spilling blood all along the way.


“The tiny room has strange tiles”, I overhear myself saying. I see forms, moving, in swirls and brown lines. He asks in a quiet voice, “What do you want to do today?” The swirls are now flying , reaching out to my fingers holding on to the hand-rests of the revolving chair. I look up and see Ganesha sitting on the bed, now reduced to a pyre of books.

Nothing, I whisper.

We sit there doing nothing. I watch him close his eyes as he sits in the cross-legged posture. Elephant ears burst out of his little ear lobes.


“So, what do you think?”, he asks as he puts the bookmark at the juncture where Yama is talking to young Nachiketa. Yama has agreed to give three boons to Nachiketa.

I stand before the god of death , asking for the third boon.

I am waiting as he crosses over.


L. Subramanium’s violin commences and I feel my rib cage being strummed. Each note wrings something inside- something from the navel, rising and bellowing, howling a quiet ruckus. The music became droplets and escape me. I can’t feel my limbs. I am not crying. He doesn’t yet know that I can summon the rains.


On days when the volcano erupts, a cloud of wasted dreams climb up with cupped hands, praying. Ort clouds fall off, the universe quivers.

I look at my nails.

I don’t bite my nails. They don’t give away my anxiety. I ruminate inside- what it is to tremble with all that force that unsettles you. You want to run across the brick borders of the balcony. But then, you are caught, by life, once again. It flips you over and lays you down, holding down your heart by a gravity that is four point six times more than that of earth.

I survive the bruises and the bumps. Once more.


There are crow’s feet appearing all over my body, I complain. And we talk about crows for the next hour or so.

I miss my flight these days. I paint vehemently and cautiously, alternating the brush strokes to create sunsets, and mango blossoms in my neighbour’s mango tree. I can never bear a mango tree I rue. They don’t survive harsh winters covering all wounds with white-washed snow. Mango gains the kernel in the tropical heat, seething with rage, procreating anger into an edible fruit. I can never bear a mango tree. Neither can I become the kernel ever.


The swirl is but fluid and cracks are but mere bends. You heal that which is broken and erupting. You swim through a vacuum, a nothing that envelopes you, that is tangible and yet sand in your palm. Trepid steps sink into the sand that seems to be the boundary of the ocean. You look up and the horizon looms, unending, elastic, bending.

If only you can take a dip and let the droplets slide along your mortal skin, bobbing up and down, you can feel the ripple, the wave, the tsunami happening. The endless sand sneaks away under the ocean carpet, making you feel it is but an effervescence. It is but a seamless stitch, the neatness of the top takes away our eyes from the crafty underbelly at the back.

There is no healing, of the gold bursting through the ceramic cracks. There is an unravelling. A gift wrapped in layers. Onion peelings, shredding like cloaks of mortality.   


It is not a luxury product that I advertise. It is strewn with rat faeces and smells of dying lapdogs. It is quailing with unflinching negativity. It is doom.

However, the next time you meet it, if you do, try to remember that the moon has craters and we cannot see it whole. It needs our crutches to wax and wane. Crutches be not your cross. Crutches be simply crutches, condemned to dare. 


Susmita is a creative writer and independent scholar with bipolar mood disorder with schizophrenic potential. She writes in English and Bengali and is published in “Headline Poetry and Press”, “Montauk” and “Learning and Creativity”. Her published books are Poetry in Pieces (2018) and Himabaho Kotha Bole (When Glaciers Speak) (2019). She is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of The Pine Cone Review. Her personal website is www.susmitapaul.org 

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