The truth about Sandra is that she has been battling with who she is for as long as she knew.
Is she the girl who recently rejected a proposal from her long term boyfriend?
Or is she the girl that has always craved a marriage, kids; the stability of a home?
Who was she really? What did she believe in? What does she love? Or hate?
She did not know, and that was the problem.
So she sought the help everyone seemed to think she needed; a psychiatrist.
The first she went to was called Dr.Henry Wabusia. A plump man in his mid forties.
He was kind; or just had a kind voice. Sandra couldn’t tell the difference.
“Sandra, don’t worry. This is a common problem. A question of Self Identity disturbs many. I will help you get better. Do not worry.”
But Dr. Henry did not help her get better. He made things worse.
How? Sandra couldn’t tell but If she had to guess, she would say it was the pill bottle of Clozaril laying on her night stand.
“Take a pill once daily. It will help clear up your brain.” he had said.
Because Sandra has faith in his kindness; or kind words; she took the pills home. It was only later when she was experiencing dizziness and unending headaches did she google what kind of drug Clozaril was.
An antipsychotic drug.
What the hell?
Sandra was not crazy, she knew that. So why had Dr. Henry prescribed a psychotic drug to her?
Maybe he was the one who was crazy!
In a fit of rage from the recently learnt knowledge, Sandra took the pill bottle to her toilet, opened the toilet seat and poured all the pills in the toilet bowl.
She stood there for a while, watching the yellow pills floating. She then flushed them, and watched further as they disappeared into the drain.
Crazy my ass, she thought.
If that was what it meant to go to a psychiatrist she might as well stay as she was before.
And so it was decided in Sandra’s mind. She will not be seeing anyone. She did not need anyone. She was perfect, and dammit if she did not know who she was and what she believed in.
How many people really knew who they were? She bet her parents (God rests their souls) did not have problems as these.
And what was with her fellow millennials always wanting to find themselves? She knew who she was, even though sometimes the lines got blurred. She knew she was Sandra, and no one was ever going to make her doubt who she was.
And so what if she loved Ray one moment, and hated him the next?
So what if she believed she wanted a marriage and the next moment she thought not?
Many people have varying differences; she was not the first one and she was not going to be the last.
It’s the nature of humans, right? To love and hate?
Sandra was so convinced of this fact that for several weeks, she believed she was fine. And she felt fine. Until Ray came to visit.
Ray, her ex boyfriend, her almost fiancee and now just a platonic friend.
Why he insisted they remain friends even after she publicly stumped on his heart Sandra could not understand. That was the thing about Ray. No one could say they really knew what he was thinking.
So when he came this time round and suggested rather imperatively that Sandra see another psychiatrist, she had no choice but follow his heed.
That’s how she met Dr. Farida Ahmed.
“Call me Farida,” she said, smiling, when Sandra entered her office.
“Farida,” Sandra rolled the name on her tongue, loving the feeling of it. Perhaps, she will stick with this one.
“I was recommended here by Ray.” she started when she sat down.
She looked up at Farida, expecting her to automatically know who she was but instead found a crease of eyebrows and confusion in her black eyes.
“My friend. Well, he is my ex fiancee. Fuck, I mean boyfriend. Ex boyfriend.”
This time, Farida did not seem to be confused. She nodded, understanding, not judging.
She is a really good one; Sandra thought.
“Sandra, can I ask you a question?” she asked.
Yeah sure she could ask her.
“Can you kindly describe to me how your typical day goes?”
Umm, that’s an odd question, but sure why not.
“I wake up, mostly at around Eight. Then I have my breakfast, read a book until lunchtime, have lunch, continue with the book, take a shower at around four, prepare supper, eat, finish the book and then I sleep at around ten.”
“What about friends? Family? And a job? Don’t you have one?”
Sanda’s parents, rich and dead, left her with an inconsumable amount of inheritance. One that she needn't look for work ever again.
As for friends;
“My neighbours visit sometimes. Mostly on weekends. They love how big my house is. And Ray visits too. He is my friend now. Platonic, he said. “
Farida listened, her face expressionless yet still calming.
After Sandra was done, she crossed her legs, leaned forward, and looked her in the eye.
“Sandra,” she started in an ethereal voice that made Sandra believe she will not like what she was going to say.
“Sandra, “ again the ethereal voice, repeating her name.
“You do realise that Ray is dead. He has been dead for ten years now. “
What was Farida saying? Ray is not dead. He came to her house yesterday, and insisted she see Farida.
“You must be mistaken,” Sandra said, laughing lightly.
Farida must really be mistaken.
“Sandra,” Farida’s voice; calm, ethereal. “Your husband Ray has been dead for ten years. Sandra, do you know where you are at all?”
“In your office.”
Why was Farida treating as Dr. Henry did? She knew Ray was alive. She knew he was not her husband but her friend. She had rejected the proposal, she did not want marriage.
Marriage can only bring loss, she had told him when he asked why. Loss of them, loss of their individuality. She did not want that. So she said NO, and he understood.
She knew who she was, who Ray was. Why was Farida making her doubt what she knew was real?
“Sandra, I mean do you know where you are right now?”
“In your office Farida. Why are you asking me these questions?”
Why was she asking her these questions?
“Sandra, you are in a psychiatric ward. This is not my office. I came in to see you. You did not come to see me. I am just a nurse here. Look around Sandra. Really look around and tell me what you see.”
Sandra looked around, and saw instead of the couch she thought she was sitting on ,a narrow metallic bed. And what she had seen as her favourite dress to wear to a psychiatry appointment, a hospital gown. And what she had seen as the gentle face of Farida, a stern nurse holding the pill bottle, the words Clozaril wrote across it.
“I have come to give you your daily dosage Sandra,” the nurse said.
"Am I sick?" she asked.
Farida, still holding the pill bottle, looked at her with kindness in her eyes.
"Yes dear, I am afraid so."
"You are schizonephric dear. "
What does that mean ? Sandra thought.
"What does that mean?" she asked out loud.
It meant that Ray did not exist. It meant that she did not have an ex boyfriend but rather a dead husband. It meant she was not a millenial but rather a woman in her forties. It meant that she did not have a big house, and the neighbors she imagined were her fellow patients who would pass by her ward.
It meant that Dr.Henry was right all along, if he was even real.
It meant that she had been sick for three years, and each morning she held onto a reality that only existed in her head.
Worst of all, it meant that she really did not know who she was, and perhaps will never even know.