I stand among the hundreds, watching them. Their faces don’t reveal the torment they have inside. They move about with quiet determination wearing a thousand masks. But I can see their very souls behind that masquerade. The creeping anxiety, the seething anger and the fear that seeps through their veins. I feel like I know them like no one else does…but they don’t know me.
It was a week back when I started hearing voices. I stood near the doorway of the train, the world rushing past in time,a large mosaic blur. It started in my eyes, the lights became too bright and the colours became more pronounced….so much so that it hurt.A slight tingle arose in my fingers which spread like a cancer to my legs. Soon enough I could feel myself losing all sensation. Don Henley’s voiceechoed in my head and despite my situation it made me smile –
“On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night…”
My head had grown heavy too but I couldn’t stop for the night…I fell. When I opened my eyes, I felt my face stuck to the cold metal floor. For a moment, it was difficult to move or to even figure out where I was. All I could see was that I was surrounded by feet, shuffling against each other. It was as if I had suddenly shrunk, Gulliver in the kingdom of Brobdingnag. Then I turned and saw the faces that belonged to those feet, peering at me. I knew something had changed inside me. There was a constant din in my head, an incessant murmur. A pair of hands grabbed me and I waddled up. Someone handed me my bag and offered me a seat. I was not hurt but there was this throbbing in my head, like a jackhammer digging into solid concrete. I wanted to break out of my own head. And there was this buzz. I blocked my ears, the train’s rattling died down a bit but that buzz…it was right there, pulsating, unnervingly clear. As I regained my focus, the buzz started to make sense. As time passed by,I could hear actual words. “Need to finish those audit reports by today or I am dead! Should grab my bag now…almost there” The man right in front of me rose, pulled his bag from the rack and slowly waded through the mesh of humanity.Almost as soon as he got up a young man jumped into his place and placed his bag near his feet. “Lucky, lucky, lucky!” With a satisfied smug look, he dug a book out of his bag and immersed into it. My eyes wandered to an old man who was eyeing the lucky guy in utter disdain. “Punk! No respect for senior citizens…have been standing here for such a long time, my knees hurt…uh!” I stood up and offered him my seat. His tired, wrinkled face constricted into a smile. How was I doing this…how was I able to hear words which had never been uttered. The human ear can hear noises falling inside the audible range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Anything in this spectrum can be converted into electrical signals which the brain, then interprets and compares to sounds we had previously heard or had subconsciously stored. But what was happening here? What frequency was I tuned to? As realization dawned, the truth started sinking in. Somehow, by some inexplicable anomaly in the physical universe, I was able to listen to brain-waves. I was able to read minds. The possibilities were endless. How would these people feel if someone told them that there darkest, innermost secrets were being intruded upon. Our mind is the only place on earth where we are what we actually are and not our mental projections of what we are. We live in those projections all our lives, morphing, distorting our images to suit our objectives but inside we never change in the least.The voices swarmed my head like an orchestra of a billion cicadas. “Need to take it back empty…a few dozen left…can buy liquor…” “Wow…she is hot, wish I could….” “Why is he staring at me like this….creep” “Om namah shivaya…hey ram…” “I f**king hate this job, hate this life…why isn’t he getting off…I never get a seat…” “Man this new shirt rocks! Hope the ladies are looking at me…maybe I should stand like this…make my biceps bulge…” “Wish I had studied a little more…will surely flunk this one…screw it, will play temple run…” It was too much. I was being bombarded with meteors and couldn’t do a damn thing about it. “Now which station is next? How much time to__ ?” “It’ll take some 15 minutes…” I had not said it aloud but the man looked as if all the blood had frozen in his face.Was he able to hear me? Did I just project my thoughts into his head? He was looking around frantically. The voice he had heard had definitely come from inside his head but till then he thought he was the only one inside his head. Who wouldn’t be scared?
I was scared too. The voices won’t go. I have frequent headaches now…blinding pain in my eyes. I have stopped sleeping. “With great power comes great responsibility…” But this is not power, this is a burden, a curse. Maybe in some ancient era, every human being had this ability to communicate without the presence of language…by projecting images to other minds. Maybe when the complexity of life grew, they developed words. Gradually evolution may have phased out this lesser used ability into oblivion. Somehow, this primordial gene had gotten triggered in me.
I can hear you right now but I won’t tell you what I know. I’ll only scare you. I know you don’t believe me, no one does…not even my wife. But I don’t blame her or any of you. That’s it…I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Please shut that off will you ? Hey ! Stop that now ! I want my coffee…bring me my coffee…my head hurts…
Subject # 12983J6: Paranoid Schizophrenia Session: 237
Patient still exhibits auditory hallucinations with grandiose delusions but is succinct in describing the purported reasons for his “experiences”. Is not able to recognize or measure the passage of physical time (time-loop span: 1 week).
Diagnosis:Electroconvulsive therapy recommended.