Featuring an excerpt from the powerful and poignant ‘It’s All in Your Head, M’ by Manjiri Indurkar, with the kind permission of Westland Books.
ALSO READ: Our interview with Manjiri Indurkar right here, including her thoughts on this excerpt below.
It’s All in Your Head, M: An Excerpt
Moments that change your life are often unremarkable. One minute everything is fine—you are having dinner, you are watching television, you’re walking in your carefully cultivated garden, and the next minute it has all gone wrong.
People you love drop dead in front of your eyes and you are left wondering what you could’ve done differently. You step out of your house to meet a friend and someone runs you over. You lose a limb or two, puncture an organ maybe, and life as you know it has changed forever. Suddenly you become the tragedy that fuels conversations at family gatherings.
My life altering moment was terrible by all standards, but it didn’t leave any visible scars. Hiding it was easy, so I kept quiet about it, even to myself. Instead of acknowledging it, I told myself I felt nothing. And for a while, I did feel nothing. It took me nearly a quarter of a century and one epic stomach ache to realise that my life was falling apart. For me, the Rotavirus Attack of 2014 symbolised the opening of doors I had locked a long time ago to keep unwanted emotions away.
For a whole week, I shat constantly, every few minutes. And while shit could just be shit, my shit, I know now, was a pain-in-the-ass metaphor for my mental ill-health.
It was a cold January morning. The small, ugly living room clock that Avi’s parents had hung on the wall was smugly sitting at three. I had just come back from my zillionth visit to the toilet. I had not stopped pooping all day. I was crying.
‘I want my Aai,’ I said loudly to no one in particular. Should I wake her up? Should I make that call? Aren’t late night calls scary? What if they think I am dead? What if they don’t take my call and I actually die of pooping. Do people die of pooping? Sure, poor people do, don’t they?
Avi interjected my chain of thought and said, ‘Just call them, tell them it’s worse, they’ll know what to do.’ I dialled the number. Baba answered the call, but before I could get a word out, he gave the phone to a panicked Aai.
‘I cannot poop anymore, Aai,’ I cried. ‘It’s hurting. It burns a lot, and it hurts, even though all I am passing is water.’ Aai, on the other end of the phone had begun to melt into tears. ‘Tila kae zala asel? (What must have happened to her?)’ she turned to Baba for comfort. ‘She needs to go to the hospital,’ Baba said firmly to her, but more to himself. ‘She should have done that in the afternoon. It’s always the eleventh hour with her.’ And then he asked me to put Avi on the phone. ‘Call an ambulance and take her insurance papers with you. We’ll be there as soon as we can,’ he told him.
And that is how I found myself in the ambulance in the middle of the night.
Excerpted with permission from it’s all in your head, m by Manjiri Indurkar, published by Westland, October 2020. You can buy the book here