Living in Time Warp (Chapter 2)

by Dr. Pran Rangan

Aditaya is quite happy in the Institute and has made a couple of new friends but most of time he keeps aloof. He mostly likes the company of Atul, who stays next door in the hostel. Atul notices that all of a sudden Aditaya has started avoiding him and his other friends. Since he couldn't find a reason, he once tried to ask Aditaya but couldn't get the proper answer.

One day when Atul comes back from classes, he finds that Aditaya is in his room. Thinking that probably he may be sick, he enters his room, which is not latched from inside and notices that Aditaya is sitting in a chair staring at the ceiling with a blank expression. He then looks at Atul as if he can't recognize him. Atul tries to talk to him asking if he is not feeling well. He doesn't get a reply; instead Aditaya keeps on staring at him with the same blank expression. He again prods him to talk what the matter is with him. He gets back the same blank stare from him. When he is unable to extract an answer, Atul leaves the place with his mind upset pondering over what the matter is with his friend.

After going to his own room, he tries to relax by lying down in bed after changing into comfortable clothes. He doesn't know when he slips into a sound nap. He gets up after the refreshing nap and gets ready to go to play football in playground. After the game, he goes to his room and then straightaway heads to the bathroom to take a leisurely bath. Meanwhile, Atul has completely forgotten about Aditaya's condition. Going to his room after dinner, Atul studies for a couple of hours and then goes to sleep forgetting again to find out the condition of his friend.

Next day, after taking breakfast in the hostel mess, he hurriedly rushes for the classes lest he might be late since he wakes up late in the morning. Being in a hurry for classes, he again forgets to find out about Aditaya. Coming back from classes in the afternoon, he straightaway goes to mess as he cannot stand his hunger pangs. After a hearty lunch, Atul goes to his room to have a siesta as he is damn tired.

When he gets up, he goes to washroom before going to Adiaya's room. He just pushes the door and it opens up as it is not latched from inside. What he sees on entering perplexes him as Aditaya is murmuring something to himself while sitting in the same chair Atul had found him earlier.

Atul asks him, "What is the matter, dear friend? Why are you talking to yourself? Is something wrong? Let me know I will definitely help."

He replies with indifference, "All is fine. Don't bother." And then he again starts murmuring something as if Atul is not present there.

Atul is totally perplexed by his behavior but is unable to conclude anything from it. He decides that he will positively speak tomorrow to Aditaya's father telling him everything in detail. Leaving him in this condition, he goes to his room to study waiting for tomorrow.

In the middle of night, Atul suddenly hears some loud voices from Aditaya's room that wake him up. He rushes to him hastily; pushing to open the door, he finds that he is shouting aloud while facing the wall, "I am a superman; I am a superman .......!"

On seeing Atul, he quickly becomes silent but keeps staring at the wall. When Atul asks him, "What is the matter?" He gets the same reply as before, "All is fine. Don't bother." And he continues staring at the wall. Atul's bewilderment increases all the more but he doesn't want to disturb his father in the middle of night.

Next day, as soon as he wakes up, he narrates everything to his father on phone, who listens to everything through grogginess of sleep. His grogginess totally vanishes when Atul finishes talking. He is also unable to fathom the situation and soon rushes to his wife to tell her everything. Soon their daughter Shyamala joins them. Sadanand tells in detail what all Atul told on phone. Listening to this, all the three got extremely worried unable to reason out what the matter is with Aditaya. Sadanand requests Atul to keep him informed about Aditaya's condition till they are able to decide what is to be done. Atul promises him to do so.

Shayamala, who had joined a coaching Institute after successfully completing intermediate with high grades, assures them that she will speak to some teacher to help her guide about the situation.

As soon as she reaches the Institute, she meets Mr. Ramesh, a mature and conscientious teacher, who after listening concludes that a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist needs to be consulted for the problem. He assures her that he knows a psychiatrist, to whom he will talk to become doubly sure about the issue.

After informing Aditaya's father, Atul goes to find out about him. But he is aghast to find that his friend is not there. He then goes to the washroom to see, he couldn't find him there too. He tries mess and then asks some friends about his whereabouts; still there is no clue. Being hapless in his efforts, he gives up for the time being as he has to get ready for the classes.

In the evening, when Atul goes to Aditaya's room to see, he finds him there lying in the bed - very sloppy, smelly but the blankness of stare is no more there. He explains incoherently when asked where he had been to.

Atul asks him to take a bath and change the clothes, which he does obediently. He then takes him to the canteen so that he can eat something as he might be famished. Aditaya eats whatever he orders for him but does so without interest. After leaving him in his room, Atul goes to play football.

Next day, soon after waking up, Atul goes to his room to find out. Again he finds him missing from the room. Without wasting time, he informs his father about what all happened. Aditaya's father arrives next day by train and soon contacts authorities of the Institute.

To be continued

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