I am Anuraag. This is a plea of help for my friend, Asha.
We have been friends for a long time and she desperately needs help. I sincerely hope that someone would hear my plea and help her. Asha is the only daughter of wealthy parents. We started out as playmates and then gradually became very good friends.
Asha was eight at that time and it was her birthday, her parents had arranged a grand party for her, which was supposed to be unforgettable and memorable event in the society. The best caterers were engaged and the cream of society was invited. Everything was to be perfect including the paper napkins that were folded and placed on the buffet table. They went through every minute detail but for one that was to wish their daughter on whom they did not lay eyes on till the party.
Believe me when I say that they love her in their own way. They just failed to understand that more than the pretty dresses, the wonderful dolls, all she wanted were hugs, kisses and someone to listen to her. For them it meant nothing but for her it meant everything. All she wanted was to be loved; all she needed was the feeling of being loved. Asha would have gladly given up all the presents and the gala party for just a hug from her parents. All hell broke loose that night as she vented out her anger and frustration to me.
Asha was always scarred of thunderstorms. It was one such night when Heaven had opened up and was unleashing its fury on earth. The crashing thunder scarred the living daylights out of her, she ran to her parent’s room but alas, her mother refused to let the terrified Asha stay with them. She wanted her daughter to be independent and brave. May be her intentions were good but she could have let the terrified little girl spend the night with them or comforted her for sometime instead of turning her out and telling her not to be such a baby. Asha spent the night huddled under the sheets covering her ears and trembling violently for every clap of thunder. She was too scarred even to call me.
Once she fell down the stairs when she was sixteen and had broken her arm. For a few days she was in the hospital. When she came home I was the only person to keep her company. Every day she would request her mother to stay with her and everyday her mother used to refuse to stay with her saying that she had an important party or ladies club meeting to attend. Her father was never at home even during the evenings. Of course they had arranged an excellent nurse to take care of her, as if it would compensate for their absence. I was a silent spectator to all this.
I watched them treat Asha in an absent minded way and ignore her. So it’s not a wonder when I say they ignored me also. The more and more they ignored Asha and called her troublesome the more and more she became close to me. It was not hatred that drove Asha away from her parents but fear. Fear of being hurt again, fear of another rejection. Her fear drove her to me. Her fear made her dependent on me. There was a need for love, need for warmth and a need for friendship, which made her cling to me.
As the days went by Asha wanted to spend a larger part of her leisure time with me. After coming from school she would call me. She will do her homework while chatting to me. After that she would take me to the garden. By chance if we met her father or mother they would ignore us. The servants learned their lessons from their masters and they too would ignore us. She stopped paying heed to any of this. She would say repeatedly “I have got you. That’s more than enough.”
It was my ears that listened to her dreams, her fears and her anxiety. It was to me she disclosed her passion for singing and would always sing to me. It was to me she confided her secrets, including the crush she had on one of her classmates.
Initially she used to talk about her parents often. She would defend them. She would say that her father was working very hard to create an empire for her and her mother loved her dearly. She would contradict herself in a few days saying that they don’t care an iota for her. She doubted whether they really wanted her in their life. She began to have doubts about herself. She thought that maybe she was not a good daughter and that’s why they ignore her. She began to think that she was not intelligent or beautiful. I was always the listener and had nothing to say to her. Asha was just happy having me to listen to her as no one else did. It was heartbreaking to see her going on discriminating herself and defending her parents.
Time went by and Asha had started attending college. She had some friends at college. She used to narrate all the funny incidents that took place at college. Her laughter was confined to her room. You cannot find her laughing anywhere else in the house.
Out of the blue there was a change in Asha’s parents. Whenever Asha and I passed by them they used to whisper something to each other. The servants also started to talk in low tone to each other when they saw us. Asha’s parents began to monitor her telephone calls. Asha never said anything about her parent’s treatment except that they did not want her to have any friends. That was all she told me.
All of a sudden they stopped her from attending college. For a week she was kept in her room and she saw only me. For the first time in our friendship, she did not tell me what was happening.
One fine day, her parents walked into Asha’s room while she was narrating something to me. Her mother looked at her daughter with fear while she asked Asha to get ready to go somewhere. She was about to say something else but her husband stopped her. After they left Asha asked me to accompany her to whatever place her parents were taking her.
When we were coming down the servants stopped whatever they were doing and were talking in hushed tone. We were able to hear a few words like” she is mad….”, herself”,
Throughout the journey Asha’s mother went on looking at Asha and me. There was fear in her eyes again.
Asha’s parents had brought her to a Psychiatrist. The Doctor met her parents first, then he wanted to talk to Asha. She was scared to go in alone so she asked the Doctor “Can I bring my friend with me.” The doctor smiled at her reassuringly and said “Its O.K. I will talk to your friend later. I want to talk to you first.”
Asha went in half- heartedly. She was with him for more than forty-five minutes. When she came out her parents were asked to come in. They were gone for ten minutes when the Doctor’s assistant went inside the room. When he came out he did not close the door properly, so we were able to hear what was spoken. The Doctor was saying, “Actually he was just her playmate initially. Many of them have such playmates during their childhood. They come out of this fancy when they grow up”.
“Your daughter craved for love. Everyone needs love and affection, especially small children. When they grow up they need a lot of support, appreciation from their parents. Asha did not get enough of this from you but derived it from her playmate who in time became the most important person in her life. This had gone to the extent of your daughter believing in this person she had created. He is real according to her. I have tried to explain her situation to you in simple terms and not using scientific jargons. We can help her out but it needs a lot of cooperation from you. You need to spend a lot of time with her making her realize and help her to understand that you love her”.
“Bring her to the clinic twice a week for counseling sessions and you would also need to attend some sessions with her. In time we can make her understand that the friend of hers is a figment of her imagination. One fine day she will understand her friend Anuraag is nothing but her imagination.”
I am Anuraag. So now you will understand my plea of help for Asha.