The Crusader of Mental Health

The Flying Coconut

In Attibele village, a school teacher’s daughter had been suffering from schizophrenia for many years. Worried that the prospects of marriage for the younger daughter would be blighted, the family hid the condition from all and locked her up in a room instead of taking her to NIMHANS. However the entire village knew about the case. When the doctors enquired at the PHC about mental patients in the area, the teacher’s daughter was mentioned the most frequently.

As their van approached the village, a group of men sitting around a tree saw it and one cried, “Look -the mad-doctors are coming!”

Another replied, “I hear they will go to the teacher’s house to treat her daughter. Do you think they can cure the girl?”

A third joined in. “These city bred doctors? Shobha will chase them out of our village for good! You watch.”
All of them laughed, looking forward to the prospect. The doctors did not have to ask around; they had located the house in their previous visit. CRC introduced himself, social worker Parthasarathy and the nurse, Prema. The lady let them in and quickly shut the door behind them. “The villagers should not know the purpose of your visit, ” she cautioned them. She need not have worried : the entire village knew about her daughter. But all maintained a façade, with only some nosy women occasionally enquiring why they did not get to see her daughter.
The mother showed them Shobha’s room, where she had been living locked up, for the last three years. The doctors winced at the sight. Through the grilled room they saw the unkempt girl, the matted hair which was untouched by oil and comb, and the filthy clothes. The room was stinking for it served as toilet too, with a chamber pot at the corner. The girl had not bathed for an indefinite time.

“The nurse will give an injection to your daughter”, CRC explained, and the men started questioning the mother about Shobha’s behavior and treatment given. The younger daughter let Prema into the room.
Within a few moments the men were stunned when a coconut flew past Prema’s head and landed in the kitchen, breaking on impact. They looked in to find that Shobha had escaped from the room and entered the kitchen. It was she who had thrown the coconut and was now holding another, ready to throw it. The frightened nurse cowered behind the men.
Shobha was shouting “Go away doctors. I do not need any treatment. I will kill you!”
She looked like a wild apparition in the dark house, with her loud voice, menacing red eyes and dirty appearance. She opened the door and ran away. The doctors gathered their wits and ran after her.

“Come back Shobha. We will not hurt you.”

“ No! no! You will give me injection! Doctors go away!”

The neighborhood children sized up the situation and joined in the chase, shouting “Come back Shobha. Come back!”
Shobha was strong limbed and ran a good race. The gleeful urchins chased her laughing. The not-so-fit doctors lagged behind. Finally the mother and daughter, who had joined the chase, caught up with Shobha, and Prema managed to give the injection. A supply of tablets was given to the mother be taken daily by Shobha.
With a few follow up visits by CRC, Shobha improved and her mother started bringing Shobha to the hospital.