With some help from ‘quite a coincidence’, I met with a lunatic friend of mine, on my way towards Dalhousie, Kolkata.

Hey Adrish, What are you up to? How are you and how’s life? : Asked a familiar face.

Same as before. : I replied, while trying to recognise the stranger and eventually succeeding in my efforts : Hey, Pathik. Man, you’ve grown healthier.

Fatter you mean? That’s because I’ve stopped going to the gym. : He seemed more than satisfied. : But that’s acceptable. After all I am a Bengali. Obesity here, is considered to be a boon. By the way, what are you up to these days?

He came up with his usual childlike smile.

Became a writer : I said : Or was I before? Okay then, now on top of it, I’m a struggling writer. Easy enough? What about you?

I’m a Fantasy-Therapist. : The smile grew bigger.

Fantasy who? : I was shocked. Being a writer wasn’t an easy job. I had to keep a track of all sorts of professions I had peeped in the contemporary era.

A Fantasy Therapist. : He confirmed. Then he stared for a while at the utterly confused face of mine. : Wanna see what it is? Not at all… am I correct? That’s great. Come I’ll show you.

I have to go … : I knew that he must have come up with some kind of a mad idea of a profession. That’s how he had been during our college life. Did anything to impress Smriti… his girlfriend.

What? : Pathik seemed a bit upset while he dragged me towards a particular side of the street. I had spotted a red Chevrolet that had been waiting there for a while. It’s probably been waiting for us. : The therapy stuff is no big deal. I simply need to tell people what they want to listen. May sound like flattery. Does it? How dare you? It is flattery! Sounds tasteless? Then let me show you its positive effects on my customers. Meet my new Chevrolet. Get inside as fast as you can. I bought it with flattery, and we are getting pretty late for the flattery.

How’s Smriti? : I had to ask.

Must be great. : He seemed more than confident.

Must be? : I felt a bit confused. : In the sense?

Maybe or must be ! Don’t you dare think otherwise. : He stared blank and then started laughing, about to instruct the driver of his chariot. :  Parthasarathi da, gaari chalaao (Let’s move).

The lobby of the office was huge. The lady at the reception smiled generously. She seemed habitually polished in her behaviour.

Meet my business partner : Pathik pointed at her. : Debarati, he is Adrish, my school friend. We studied in the same college too.

Wow : Debarati demonstrated her wit. : Friend of an enemy…

I attempted a handshake.

Namaskar – She smiled with her hands folded.

We entered the actual chamber. The chamber showed off an enormous amount of investment along with an idol of Lord Ganesha.

Where were you going? : Asked Pathik.

Towards Howrah Station : I kept staring at all the luxurious decoratives around me. : Had gone to meet a Director and a so called Publisher. I explained to them that I am a realist writer, who believes in hardcore realism, life struggle and bitter truths of life.

And they kicked you out : Pathik started laughing : I bet you didn’t enjoy the experience thereafter. Change before you have to. Realism, is what you can make real. Whatever satisfies the soul, is real.

I can’t : I said : It was a story on the life struggles of the protagonist and the director asked me to add bikini scenes, action scenes, bhakti songs, romantic situations etc. He must have felt like an alchemist.

Did you refuse? : Asked Pathik : Come on bossy, it’s business, not philosophy. What he said is the realism of the real world. They sell dreams. The revenue comes from those dreams they sell. The industry runs on money and it leads to the betterment of the lives of their employees. Of course it may not be your negative realism, but it’s nothing but the real picture of their Business Model.

And what about the exploitation of the workforce? :  I asked : Are you asking me to skip that part? Very unreal my dear friend. Life there is nothing but hell. An underpaid development-hell that ends with unfair criticisms from self proclaimed critics. Let’s replace the word with ‘morons’.

A man entered with two cups of coffee and kept it on the Mahogany table. That is when I noticed the designation marked on a metal plate kept on the table.

Pathik Aguan, Fantasy Therapist, B.A Honors? Why the B.A honors?

I passed it with a lot of difficulty. : Pathik looked more than serious. : Couldn’t have resisted including those educational tags.

The clock struck an alarm and Pathik’s first patient or so called ‘Client’ entered the room. I knew him. He was none other than the famous politician Mr. Gobardhan Samajpati.

Namaskar Namaskar (Greetings): He roared. : How’s life?

Namaskar : Replied pathik : Better than the best.

This patient of your would have died without your counselling Mr. Aguan : Confessed Mr. Samajpati

The doctor shares the same condition : Pathik smiled : He would have starved, if not counselling you. Please tell me how I may help you and yes, please meet Adrish, my new assistant. You may share your thoughts in his presence.

Assistant? : I felt like beating the soul out of Pathik. I decided I’d eventually complain of it to Smriti. Wherever she is.

They have again made me compete from a constituency that I have never even been to : Said Mr. Samajpati.

Who? : Asked Pathik.

The high command of our political party : Mr. Samajpati looked terrified.

And why is that?

Sabotage. I’m sure this time I’ll lose by a record margin. : The politician seemed to have given up.

Bullshit : Shouted Pathik : Last time you had presumed something similar and won by a record margin, due to your charismatic personality. At the end of the day your party is not going to vote for you, but the common people would. They may love your personality once again. All you need is a bit of propaganda and a ‘Har baar, Gobardhan sarkar’ sort of a slogan. Let’s start.

Suddenly Pathik jumped up from his chair and started blabbering in favor of the possibilities of Mr. Samajpati’s victory in the upcoming election. It sounded like a habitual and constant recitation of memorized mantras. Jokes apart, even I came to the conclusion that if anyone in India were to be absolutely certain of winning the election, it had to be none other than one and only Shree Gobardhan ji.

Counseling is over. : Pathik was sweating. : It’s time for the next step.

We went inside a dark air-conditioned room. Debarati was waiting for us. There was a massaging-chair at the center of the room along with a connected tape recorder at the corner of the room. Only one dim source of light was hanging from the ceiling and even the dim blue light source was covered with a dotted basket, leading to formation of small dots of blue light around the room, that induced a sense of hallucination. Gobardhan ji sat on the massaging chair. Debarati pressed the on button and the chair started vibrating. The tape recorder started playing in a repetitive and monotonous tone. Another button made the light source swing at the top, generating a feel that as if the entire room had started to move. The sweet tune repeated itself again and again.

Violin. : Whispered Debarati. The voice sounded distant.

Meanwhile Pathik started saying something at a very hushed and husky voice, as if hypnotising Mr. Samajpati. I tried to listen to what he was saying.

You have won the election : Hissed Pathik : Nothing can stop you now. The ones who had planned to embarass you to defeat, have themselves lost the election.

That’s sweet : A smile appeared on Gobardhan ji’s face as he fell asleep. : I won! Victory.

What happened to Smriti? : I asked.

She is now a married lady. : Pathik stared straight at me. : We were supposed to escape on the night of her marriage. However I kept waiting at the station and she never showed up.

You lost : I said. : A negative…

I still won : He argued, staring at my eyes : I always win, I won and don’t you think otherwise.

Where did you learn to counsel? : I asked. : I ended up believing in Mr. Samajpati’s victory in the upcoming elections.

Practice makes us perfect. : He took a handkerchief out and wiped his face. : It’s not that hard. I use uncle Google to download some information about my old clients and as for the new ones like a lawyer fellow who’s just joined the party, I’ll use some handy hymns from Bhagwat Gita. Had to memorize them.

The very next client, a lawyer by profession, was sitting in front of the two of us.

I’m the most successful lawyer in the city. : said Mr. Kothin Ray : V.I.Ps of this city are my clients. I need to win every case, and I always win.

That’s good. We share similarities. : Pathik seemed more than interested. : Here, have a chocolate. Now please tell me, what’s wrong with winning cases one after another?

I come from a very poor family. My father used to run a small grocery shop. One day while coming back from his shop my father had the ill luck of witnessing a political murder. He reported the same, to the police. However, instead of listening to him, they accused him and put him behind the bars as the convict. My mother used to cry a lot. : Mr. Ray continued. : Last month, as usual I won a case for my client, came out of the court and saw the wife of the convict crying outside the court. I knew that the person convicted instead of my client, was absolutely innocent. From there on, I haven’t been able to sleep at night. I felt miserable. Yesterday I lost the first case of my career Mr. Aguan. I’m mentally unstable. Save my career.

Listen to me very carefully : Pathik swallowed the piece of chocolate and freed up an orator’s tongue. It was time to go to war. : Do you think that the person was innocent? Fine! But who are you to judge that? You are not a judge, are you? You are a lawyer and it was your job to take the side you took. According to Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna had suggested his devotees not to bother of the consequences of their actions, as such it’s beyond their control. Karm karo, phal ki chinta mat karo…

Here comes Bhagwad Gita. : I thought. : Freak show.

Pathik continued with his lecture, while the politician woke up from his hypnosis, handed a Rs 10000 cheque over to Debarati and left with a smile on his face. The lawyer replaced him on the chair inside the creepy air-conditioned chamber.

You need a holiday. : Pathik’s voice said in a low pitch as the lawyer dozed off in peace. : A wonderful holiday awaits…

We exited the hypnosis chamber and returned to the counselling room.

When Smriti didn’t turn up, I had a few questions in my mind that had remained unanswered. : Said pathik : So I felt like being a part of a profession that would involve reading people’s minds. They would tell me, what they couldn’t tell anyone, and I’ll sell dreams to them irrespective of who or what they are. It’s like being the director of a commercial movie. Just like the media or entertainment industry. It felt like being a therapist. So I named the procedure – Fantasy Therapy.

But it’s like quackery too. : I had to sound rude, because the entire mechanism seemed unbearable.

Your next patient is here : Said Debarati, before Pathik could counter my attack. : Doctor Sushrut Sen.

A doctor? : I fell down from my chair.

Anyone, remember? You never question the director of a movie do you? So why me? Go tell them it’s quackery. : Pathik came out with his naughty smile and an offer for me. : Chocolate?.

The patient was in serious condition. – Said Dr. Sen : His relatives called me up at 1:00 a.m in the morning. After the day’s work, I was literally unconscious. He was a poor fellow. I had no hopes of getting a fee. So I told them that I’ll be there the very next morning. I thought at least he is not gonna die.

Obviously. : Agreed Pathik : Poor people don’t die that easily.

Now tell me. : The doctor jumped up and shouted. : That exceptional moron died and they have put a dharna in front of my house. A bunch of disturbing elements. I mean, they need to realise that I have a life of my own. Am i not a human being?

Definitely not. : Said Pathik, trying to cover it up. : Doctors are known to be Gods. Gods must know how to spare a person’s mistake. Pardon the poor fellow.

I felt like slapping the two to death.

Did you ever fail? : Once the doctor successfully dozed off, I had to ask Pathik.

Yes. : Confessed Pathik. : Once had I failed. A little boy had his mathematics exam the very next day and came sprinting along with his mother. I had tried my best, but he kept saying that he won’t appear for the exam.

You are an opportunist. : I shouted. : You are pushing them in a world of fantasy. Something that does not exist. It’s neat brainwash. I hate to call you a cheat, but you are one, Pathik.

See… : Pathik remained as cool as a cucumber, as if I had said nothing. : The human brain needs a wash and a bit of oiling at some point of time because it’s a machine. If you keep feeding it the bitter truth, for eternity, it will fail to operate at its maximum capacity after a certain point of time. Ideals apart, isn’t that a universal truth?

Before I could answer him, Debarati came running. She said there’s this patient named Prem Rastogi, who had been suffering from depression. He doesn’t have an appointment, but his condition is so critical that he had been caught attempting a suicide. We had to run towards the outer lobby. There he sat with his elder brother. His wrist was bandaged and the wound seemed fresh enough if not immediate.

I had loved a girl. :  Said the young boy of 25-26 years. : His father tried to get her married to another fellow, resulting in her commiting suicide.

The dark chamber doors unlocked. The light started swinging once again. A tune from the tape recorder bridged the gap. Some village folk playing a flute.

You have to live my friend. : Said Pathik. That’s for someone you haven’t met yet. Someone just like the one you lost. She loves clear blue skies. She loves rain. She loves flowers. Wants to live and doesn’t want to die. Live because… you’ll meet her some day.

Pathik came out of the room. He was crying. He had always tried to hide his emotions under the carpet of his practicality and to such an extent that he had himself started refusing to believe that even his brain is nothing but a machine. We sat in the hollow of absolute silence.

I have a five hundred rupees note in my pocket. : I said after a while. : I need that therapy or whatever that is, if it comes at an affordable price. Hope it works on an inferiority complex.

It comes free only to people suffering from that particular disease. : Pathik’s naughty smile came back all over his face. : Let’s start with a story. Once upon a time, there was a writer who met an old friend on the streets of Dalhousie and started writing whatever he saw at this friend’s chamber. Whoever read it, took a like upon the writer. Applause. Chocolate?

The story continued…

Glimpse of a short film based on the satire

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