To be stuck in a room with glass windows, for 24 hours, at the Marina Barrage.
You really don’t remember, do you? … I don’t. Do I? I don’t remember. “Could it be denial?” the therapist had asked. She couldn’t get over it. It kept repeating itself. Her thoughts often did that, and so did her speech, and her actions. Stop. Rewind. Play. Pause. It was “maybe”. That was her reply. Maybe. What does that mean?
She had come alone. She had been wandering around. She found herself in the hallway, with residents sitting around, some were sitting by the glass windows. She had been looking for a good spot to place herself in. What am I doing here? She asked herself. This wasn’t what I signed up for. I wanted to be a writer. I just wanted to write. That’s all. She looked around her and she couldn’t take it anymore. She felt suffocated. It was as if someone was choking her.
“Excuse me, do you know what’s going on? It’s my first time here. I have no idea what’s going on.” From behind his glasses, he was judging her, she knew it. He had given her a once-over, and he was deciding whether or not she was pretty, whether she was too fat or too flat, whether or not she was worth being nice to. He was wearing a red sweater, and she liked the colour red. “Oh they’ve just given us the first dose for the day. It’s my first time here too. Why? Do I look like I’ve been here many times?” He asked, jokingly. She noticed his shaven head, which made him seem rebellious. She liked rebels. “Have you taken the first dose? You can go get it now from the doctor.” He gestured, lazily. “Oh, ok. … Is there anyone sitting here?” She asks, and she thought to herself, how alone I must seem. “Yeah, you can sit here. We can share this couch.” He replied politely, and he made space for her. “Thank you,” she said. She sat down, relieved.
There was another man sitting on one of the six dark-grey armchairs which were randomly placed along each side of the hallway. He was seated just adjacent to them. “Is this your first time here?” She repeats herself. “Yes it’s my first time,” he replied quickly, smiling self-consciously. He didn’t want to talk to her, she knew that. They remained in a comfortable silence.
At that moment, she could hear them, she could hear people, from where she was sitting. Thinking to themselves. Those in their rooms, those solitary, sitting, silent. They owned themselves. Eccentric by choice, in absolute solitude, in the flight of the mind.
The asylum stood at the edge of the island, just down the southern tip of the mainland; and they existed from a distance, away from civilisation, in a thumping, roaring silence.
(To be continued)