Everyone at the place where she was locked up was, scared of her. Maya. In sly whispers they always said “She is mad”. Maya heard it so often and her anger never abated. “No” she screamed. She beat the iron bars of her cell with bare hands until she bled profusely. “I am not mad. Don’t say that. Let me go. Please for god’s sake let me go.”
But no one listened. Everyone stayed away from her except the nurse who came to give her the medicine.
Days passed by and her shouting and screams slowed down. What was the point anyway, when no one cared.
The Nurse began to like spending time with Maya. She was only agitated when she had to wear the chains. Maya begged her to remove the chains ” Please. I feel like being reduced to an animal when I wear this. Please take it off.”
But the Dr. Sahib refused to comply. “It is for her protection” he said. ” We dont’ want her hurting herself”
And so Maya stayed there with chains around her ankles and wrists, becoming quiet as days passed by.
The Nurse took pity on her and began to take her outside everyday. An hour walking seemed to put Maya in a much better mood. She seemed happier, her eyes lit up and she began to speak more often. It felt like she was almost normal.
The nurse was very curious as she saw glimpses of humor and intelligence when Maya spoke.
So one day during their walk, she asked Maya ” You seem almost normal. How did you end up here, in this mental asylum ?”
Maya didn’t answer for a while. She just stared at the distant hills and then spoke in a low voice with tears in her eyes.
“They said I was mad. I wasn’t, but they insisted I was. I was like any normal girl. I danced, I sang, I laughed, I played and like any other girl, I dreamed too. Dreams, where only happiness was allowed. But they said I couldn’t dream. Listen to what we say, you don’t know anything. We are the ones who are in charge so you will listen to us. I had no right to dream, they said.
Get married, have babies, be home, be safe, be quiet, be invisible and for that you will be lauded. You will be crowned with titles. “Good daughter. Good wife. Good mother. Good Woman “. The labels that are given by us. That should be enough for you. Don’t speak up,. Don’t question anything. Just go with it. Hold on to your family. That is all you are allowed to have.
Husband is your life they said. But I was just another thing to him. He said I was his. Yet he never knew me. His dreams were supposed to be mine. But my dreams were not his. He molded me into someone, who he wanted me to be, and in that process I got lost. The real me was broken down, beaten to pieces, reduced to ashes , until I didn’t exist anymore.”
Maya then turned to look at the Nurse. Now tears were streaming like a river.
“But you see, it didn’t make sense to me. Why ? That is all I asked. Why should I listen to them? Why shouldn’t I dream ? Why shouldn’t I marry the one I love ? Why shouldn’t I live alone.. Why ? Why ? Why? .. So many why’s. Its my life. The only one I have. So why should I be miserable? And then came the anger. I fought back. I didn’t listen to them. I refused to live my life according to their rules. I was fucking angry. I yelled. I screamed and screamed, until I thought I would die………..And that’s when they brought me here. To this place.”
“She is mad .. they said. “