Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sound of Silence

Meghna was playing with her dolls again, oblivious to her surroundings. It had been only three days since she had been shifted to this new psychiatric hospital but the environment was not new for her. It was the third psychiatric treatment center that was to be her new home till the doctors here gave up on her case as well. She was used to people giving up on her, just the way she had given up on the world. Eight years ago, Meghna had simply stopped responding to the world around her and withdrawn to a safe place inside of her. No sounds of the outside world seemed to reach her ears and no words came from her lips anymore. The doctors were perplexed by this willful deafness and what they feared was elective mutism. It was suspected that she perhaps sang to her dolls sometimes when no one was around.

Dr. Roy held his new patient's file in his hands and let out a sigh. It was his first day in this new place and although he had years of experience and was renowned in his field,  his heart was already sinking. He looked at the 16 year old playing with her dolls in front of him and wondered what kind of pain existed in this world to cause this beautiful soul to be forever stuck in her silent, childhood world of dolls. It was highly unusual for a person to become deaf and mute out of choice. He read in her files that Meghna used to be a normal, healthy, intelligent and sensitive child. Although she was an only child, her parents had not noticed when she had started to withdraw inwards. Until one day she stopped responding completely. She was 8 years old at that time. The previous doctors had tried all methods to elicit a response including sudden loud noises meant to startle and consistent conversations to touch an emotional chord. Nothing had worked so far. 

As he sat there, lost in his thoughts, the sound of beautiful, poignant music filled the air. It immediately called him back to the present and he hurried towards the big, open windows from where the sound was floating in. After searching frantically for the source of the sound, his eyes settled on a young man sitting under a tree in the garden in the hospital compound and playing his flute. He was wearing shabby clothes and a joyous expression on his face. Dr. Roy could not take off his eyes from this young man's face. The man was exuding a deep sense of peace from his very being and yet the notes on his flute were tugging at some long buried emotions in the heart. The doctor quickly turned away from the window in an attempt to break the spell this music was casting on him and was shocked to see that Meghna had stopped playing with her dolls. She seemed to have become absolutely still, and was looking towards the window intently. 

Dr. Roy felt a flutter of excitement in his heart. He wondered if it was indeed possible that Meghna had responded to the sound of the flute? It was the first sign of hope and the doctor would cling to it at all costs. He immediately rushed out of the room to find someone who could help him connect to the flutist. Luckily, he ran into Murli, the ward boy, who was sweeping the floor. Excitedly he asked Murli, "Who is this man who is playing the flute so beautifully? Do you know him? Can you bring him to me? He may be able to help me with this new patient. I can explain it to him once he is here."

"Oh, you mean Jadoo" said Murli. "His name is Jadoo?" asked Dr. Roy, slightly amused by the name. "Nahin Doctorsaab, but that is what we all call him here. We don't know who is he, where does he come from and where does he disappear afterwards. He shows up every few months, sits under that tree and plays his flute. And then he goes away. We all love his music, especially the patients. Even the most violent ones become quiet when they hear his flute. A peaceful stillness engulfs this entire hospital when Jadoo plays his flute. It is pure magic and that is why we call him Jadoo" narrated Murli. 

"Have you never tried to speak to him? To know who is he, where is his home?" Dr. Roy asked, feeling intrigued by the story. " We had tried a lot initially but the only response we got was a lovely smile. And then we figured it out. Saab,Jadoo is completely deaf and mute. He has never heard the beautiful music he creates for all of us. If that is not magic, what is?" and saying this, Murli let out a sigh and quietly turned around to go back to his sweeping.

A visibly stunned Dr. Roy, re-entered Meghna's room. He stopped in his tracks as his eyes fell on Meghna. She was now standing by the window, listening to the flute, the musical notes entwining two souls anchored in a world of silence. He watched quietly as tears rolled down Meghna's face. The poignant music had broken down the invisible walls that she had built around her and in her tears Dr. Roy could see that her healing journey had finally begun.

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