Either way, I might end up being mad. Overthinking is my forte, which is subtly juxtaposed with absent-mindedness so that my brain can breathe. But OD’ing on either can cause a mental catastrophe on my cerebral plateau.
Ever since I was a kid and saw a distant paternal aunt lose her marbles, I was worried I might have that dormant gene. Ma was always telling my brother and me, “Beware. You have a mad gene in the family. You might just lose it!” I don’t know about my brother, but I was pretty certain that if it caught up with one of us, it’d be me.
Years later, I count on the little paranoias I seem to have – misophonia (fear of the eating sounds of others), toilet phobia (self-explanatory, but mostly meaning public loos), biennophobia (fear of slime/slimy), emetophobia (fear of vomiting) and even agateophobia (fear of insanity). I think now I can tell Ma: Well, there you go!
Neither of them is acute but they are there, right where I can see them. Many of them emerged with a gender bias I think. You know, ‘being a woman you must fear these’ sort of thing. One cannot be patriotic by being paranoid about ‘Aswach Bharat’ without sweeping the slimy and grimy public compound. I take care of my garbage and refrain from littering roads and public/private property, but that’s it. I cannot bring myself to join the public ‘Abhiyaan’ yet. I will simply have to bury myself the next day.
And then, some other fears came up just like that. I abhor noise. I can be very chatty and candid in good measure. I even dance to loud blaring music in parties; lesser now than before. But for all that, I cannot simply bear to put up with people who think it is fun to knock your door at night for a chat or those who think partying means breaking the stereo. I also get tired after 2-3 continuous phone calls; that’s because I finish my quota of calling people the same day mostly. I hang up by the third and see my stamina beeping – ‘Low Power! Exit to Silent mode to Recharge’.
I am also still looking for a single word to explain my fear of losing my solitude. I love being alone. I love having my husband around or my family; friends too. But I will lose my screws if you tell me that I will not have any me-time. Or that I have to share my room every single day with more than one person. I survived secondary school, college and uni, only because I was sharing my room with only one person. You’re a saint if you can manage with a barrage of information and laughter all the time, everyday. I could only stand so much of that polythene/potato-chips bag-rustling one of my roommates did, early morning during exam days, because she thought I could sleep like her through thunder. And I didn’t argue with her because she usually kept to herself and was normally monosyllabic. How do you dare offend that and survive an awkward roommate-hood? So I overcame that by propping the pillow over the ears every morning.
Blame it on the fact that I grew up in tea gardens, where even the drop of a pin was audible, three doors down, but I steer clear of noise. It took a lot of pent-up feelings for me to listen to and enjoy Glam Rock music. And that too, because it was a phase. Now, I cannot tune into anything that Growls, Head-bangs or Snarls for all I know. I cannot help. I like the world in a different way.
Fear can totally drive you bonkers, if it gets out of hand. So I was thinking. Just like therapists tell you – One at a time – I’m going to approach each of these fears (even the ones I haven’t mentioned), one at a time. There has to be silence in the noise. I’m going to look for it shortly. Or else, the loony bin!