Today's Idioms- 1) Walk in the park/ 2) White as a sheet
Meaning- 1) An undertaking that is easy is a walk in the park. The opposite is also true - "no walk in the park
2) A bad shock can make somebody go as white as a sheet.
“Hello Lalitha, how are you feeling today? Did you sleep better after taking the medicines I’d prescribed”, Vishnu’s voice was loud and clear.
Lalitha meekly nodded her head. She looked so fragile that I wanted to gather her in my arms and kiss all her fears away.
“Well, today I want to try a technique called hypnotherapy”, Vishnu continued talking to Lalitha.
Lalitha stiffened with anxiety and I could see the mistrust in her eyes.
“Don’t panic. Hypnosis is perfectly safe and I’ll be there to guide you through the process.”
“I don’t want to try hypnosis.”, Lalitha said in low voice.
“Lalitha, don’t you want to get better? I’ve got to get to the root cause of your problems and for that we’d have to regress into your repressed memories. After that we can start your therapy. Of course, it’ll be no walk in the park but it’s perfectly safe. Don’t you want to be better for Sudhir’s sake?” Vishnu though gentle was persuasive and Lalitha agreed.
She sat on the couch in a relaxed position with her eyes closed.
I could hear soft, tranquil music fill the room and Vishnu’s voice guided Lalitha to focus her attention to the point between the eyebrows.
“Let your body relax. Let your mind drift into a calm and peaceful place. Press your thumb and forefinger together and hold your breath for a count of five, then slowly release your breath and fingers while letting your mind float. Get rid of any anxieties that you are feeling and focus on your breathing.” Vishnu lulled Lalitha into a trance like state and asked her some generic questions before gently taking her back to her childhood memories.
“Do you remember your childhood, Lalitha? Were you a happy child?”
“Yes. I loved playing with my cousins and I loved going to school.”
“Do you remember your old house where your Ajji used to live? I believe you went there often in your summer holidays.”
Immediately Lalitha’s body stiffened. “Yes, but I didn’t like going there. Amma wouldn’t listen to me when I said that I wanted to spend the holidays with them.”
“Was there a particular reason why you didn’t want to go there?”
“I didn’t like Chandra Chikappa. He took me to the attic of the house and coaxed me into playing games with him.”
“What kind of games?”
Lalitha hesitated before speaking again.
“He asked me to get naked and then he used to touch me in the wrong places. He threatened to hurt me if I didn’t obey him. Often when I went to bed in the night, he’d come to my bedside and fondle my private parts. He warned me to keep my mouth shut. He said he’d lock me inside a dark room full of snakes. He knew I was terrified of snakes.”
“Did you try to tell anyone about it?”
“I did attempt to speak to Ajji but she slapped me and called me a liar for making such filthy insinuations.”
“How many years did your Chikappa continue to abuse you?”
“I think it went on for a couple of years.”
“Do you remember the night you killed him? Can you tell me what happened that night?”
“I had gone to bed and Chikappa came near me. He lifted my skirt and put his hands on me. I could smell his foul breath and I knew he had been drinking. He ripped my clothes off and fell on me. I tried to fight him but it only incited him more. Hearing the commotion Ajji came to my room and she hit him with her hands. But he dragged her on the floor and pushed her out of our house. I saw the devil in his eyes. I knew that he wouldn’t spare me that night. I tried to run but he grabbed my ankles. I fell down and he forced his body on me.”
Beads of sweat had formed on Lalitha’s forehead and her breathing had become quick and shallow. She was speaking rapidly, the words tumbling out in quick succession.
“What happened then?”
“I don’t remember. I think I fell unconscious. When I opened my eyes, my hands and clothes were bloody and Ajji was rocking me in her arms. I could see Chikappa’s body near my feet. He had been stabbed multiple times.”
Vishnu continued unperturbed.
“Can I talk to the person who killed your Chikappa?”
But Lalitha didn’t respond. The small room was as silent as a grave. Vishnu prodded further.
“Lalitha, can I speak to Monica. I’m sure she’d know the answers to my questions. I’d like to talk to her now.”
Immediately Lalitha opened her eyes wide. She sat straight and crossed her legs at her knees. She pouted seductively as she leaned towards Vishnu to lightly touch his legs.
“You wanted to speak to me? Poor Lalitha, she’s so boring that men lose interest in her so quickly.” Gone was the shy, demure act. Lalitha, on the screen, was tantalizing, flirting with Vishnu. She spoke lazily and she radiated charm and oomph. Lalitha and Monica’s personalities couldn’t have been more contrasting. The transformation had been so shocking that I’d gone as white as a sheet.
“Monica, can you tell me about the night you killed Chandra?”
“Are you sure that you don’t want to do anything else other than talk? No? Ok. Nothing much to talk about that bastard! He tried to rape her. She couldn’t handle him. So I was born. Monica, the strong and fearless! I kicked him and ran into the kitchen. I grabbed a knife and plunged into him. He was dead even before I could stab him a third time.”
Lalitha looked calm and unfazed while talking, almost as if killing men was an everyday occurrence for her.
“How often did you appear on the scene to rescue Lalitha?”
She laughed heartily throwing back her head. “Doc, I’m not a super-woman but every time Lalitha had an anxiety attack I had to materialize to take control. And I don’t need to tell you that Lalitha is a scaredy-cat. She was scared of her father’s temper, her boss’s dominance, of the dark. She was even scared of getting married. She thinks she’s not ready for the physical intimacy, you know.” Lalitha winked wickedly with a sly grin.
“She was scared that Sudhir would leave her once he realized that she couldn’t give him what he wanted.”
“So what did you do when you were forced to take control?”
“Things that poor Lalitha was forbidden from. Oh, but I was very careful. She has a huge, secret wardrobe of western clothes that she is not allowed to wear. So I wear them in the middle of the night and I dance till my feet ache. What glorious fun!”
Monica rambled on for few more minutes and then Vishnu slowly, gently guided Lalitha back into consciousness.
“Did I do something that I shouldn’t have? I feel weird but I don’t remember. I have so many memory lapses and try as I may, I can never explain these black holes in my head.” Lalitha shook violently as she pleaded with Vishnu to help her.
The screen turned black and Vishnu shut the monitor off before looking at me with concern and uncertainty.
Chikappa- father’s younger brother.
Ajji- paternal/maternal grandmother.