You can call me a counselor, a shrink, a psychiatrist or even an agony aunt. It is up to you and will not affect me. I am not one of those who have big consulting rooms with flashy boards and upholstered furniture. I don’t flaunt my degrees to impress my clients and attract them. Instead I seek them where they are and who are mostly abandoned by family and society. They live their own lives in a cocooned corner of drugs, alcohol or whore houses. It is easy to spot them and you don’t need any special skill.
I leave my home at 9 am in the morning to go on my daily rounds to the park, mall, bars, drug hide outs, red light areas and isolated places even funeral homes. In what I consider a social work, I don’t need well-cut suits and expensive leather bags. I am content with my rather old blue serge jacket and slightly faded jeans. I do not pay much attention to my looks and I am aware the long hair needs a cut. My work is important to me and not my appearance. I cast my look across the places I visit. I can invariably find the individual(s) who need my professional help.
I was in a large grocery store where I found this middle aged man with bloodshot eyes filling the basket with half a dozen bottles each of whiskey and beer, vodka besides I think rum and tequila. There was also a lone bottle of wine. You don’t need any further proof of this man’s addiction to liquers.No one buys so much unless he is a alcoholic. I gently approached him and smiled at him. He returned the smile but continued to look for some other variety. I coughed slightly and when he turned I said “liquor is harmful and it is difficult to break the habit. Not so much at one go.”
He ignored me. I considered it my societal responsibility to wean him away from this weakness.
“If you can spend 30 minutes with me, I can cure you of this dependence without any obligation for I consider this as my duty to society” I said softly.
He looked at me contemptuously and bawled out “What shit are you taking? Get lost before I lose my temper”
Even as I was saying “Do not get upset. I am aware it takes long time to break the habit”, he punched my nose hard with blood oozing out. In a short while the security led me out with a warning not to harass customers. I do not get disheartened by such violent rages or failures in my attempts. I keep looking for the next client.
With a band aid on my bloody nose, I happened to see a zombie sitting on a bench and smoking what I was certain hash. I went closer and as I feared, his eyes had a vacant look and his cheeks were shrunk. He was oblivious of my presence close by his side or my salutation. It was evident he was hooked to drugs. I could sense a sweaty smell of one who had no shower for a week or more. He moved away from me. I do not give up easily and followed him.
“Leave me alone. Why are you stalking me? I have no money with me” he said with some irritability
“Cool down, I have gone through this hell but could shake it off though with difficulty” I said gently.
“What do you want? What are you talking about?”
“Let us sit down for a while. But tell me what are you into, Ice, LSD, cannabis, opium or ecstasy or any such stuff? I have done all these. I know you get high, into a world of heaven if you have a female partner to boot. I have come to save you from the hell you are sliding into.”
“You wish to save me, yes by all means. I have been without a job for four months and need one immediately. Can you fix it? My wife and child are starving” he said
“I have heard this refrain countless times. Come on, let us go and sit on the bench over there” I said in persuasive manner.
The man pushed me down and started hitting me with such ferocity for a weakling like him. Soon a crowd gathered to save me with a policeman also joining. After hearing him and despite my protestations that I was trying to help him, the police took me to the station and look at the irony, searched me to see whether I carried any drugs. After confining me for the whole day they sent me away with a warning not to harass people with my help.
I was disillusioned and remained at my place for two days. Then on the evening of third day I went round the bazaar area around 8pm. It is not far from the red light area and was busy with people. I saw a good looking well built young woman standing under a lamp post. She wore jasmine on her head and the large bindi went well with her round face. She looked decent. I wondered why she was standing there like ‘other’ women. I wished to check whether she needed my help despite the warning from police.
“Why are you standing here alone at this hour?”I asked
She did not answer. When I repeated the question she said “I am waiting for my man”
I assumed she stuck to one person unlike others and said “Glad that you are sticking to one man unlike others of your type. Even then it is a vice. Better get married to him instead of standing here daily’
She let out a shriek saying ayyo when a two wheeler with a man and a girl of 6 years with a bottle of coke screeched to a halt before us.
“What happened?” he asked
“This idiot thinks I am a woman of shady character waiting for some customer.”
Soon there was a crowd and some manhandling and I was taken to the police station. They did not let me go home this time.
Someone came next day and talked to me about the incidents. When I told him in detail that I am a counselor doing social work voluntarily in saving people caught in vices, he laughed aloud. He asked me lots of questions and had my blood sample taken.
I overheard that man telling the inspector “That smelly guy needs a shrink as he is slightly deranged and suffers from hallucination that he is a doctor. May be he also requires de-addiction and some medication for an acquired ailment.”
Now I am in a mental hospital and the fun of it is doctors are treating me. I laugh at them but revel at the opportunity to help the large number of inmates here. The moral I learnt is never do anything free as you are mistaken for a fake.