Peter Pan Syndrome
Peter Pan Syndrome
Katy sat on the bank of a placid, glassy pool. She was all by herself. She needed time to adjust to the unbearable pressing situation in her life and time for reflection. She was a Psycho-therapist by profession, but when it came to her personal problems, she felt over-blown. As she sat on a soft grassy patch, picking up small pebbles, she flung them into the water with a feeling of vengeance, so as to disturb its tranquility, as her own mind was a whirlwind of doubts and forebodings. What if she had to give up in the end, though for her it would be a downright shameful defeat! She, who was a renowned Psychotherapist, could not face the challenge she was confronted with! As she watched the pebbles causing ripples in the water, she reflected that we, by our actions, also create ripples, one after the other, not only in our lives but also in the lives of people connected with us. Sometimes the effect is so disastrous and far-reaching that from childhood, it molds and mars the destiny of a person. Such was the case with her. She had to get married to Bob, who had the Peter Pan syndrome, because of parental pressure. At that time her father was deep down in debt, as his business had crashed. He had been assured that he would be rescued from the financial crisis, by one of his friends, if he agreed to get me married to his son. Katy’s father had accepted the offer. Her father had assumed that Katy being a Psycho-therapist could easily tackle the problem. She had then recently come back to India after completing her studies in the U.K. As her father had given his word, and being told about his financial need, Katy had no other option than to comply. But how could she have a meaningful married life with a person with a mental age of a six year’s old boy? Though Bob’s chronological age was thirty-two, mentally he was determined not to grow up. Katy and Bob were now married for seven years, but there had been no improvement in Bob’s behavior, though she had tried her very best.
Katy remembered how on the first night of their wedding, Bob had insisted that his mother should also sleep with them, as without his mother he would not be able to sleep. Katy had been upset initially, but then she knew she must tolerate all his whimsical demands, as her husband had a psychological problem. She attributed the full responsibility of Bob’s suffering from Peter Pan syndrome because of having over-protective parents. The problem had been created by others, but like the ripples in the water, the effect touched the lives of many, and she too had been subjected to its impact.
The parents were responsible for ruining their son’s life. Even at this stage, a thirty-two years old man had to be told when to take his bath. They did not allow him to bathe till the sun was high up in the sky, lest he should catch a chill! He was not allowed to drive, lest he meet with an accident! He was not permitted to have food in the restaurants, lest he should get an upset tummy. Bob did as he was told and willingly accepted being controlled by his parents.
Bob was extremely handsome and had a good masculine figure. Katy felt any woman would be charmed by his looks. But day after day Bob would not shave, and stubble of hair lining his chin, looked ever so slovenly. He would not wash his face unless told by his parents. He had been sacked many times from his jobs because he was not serious and would not care to attend office regularly. He would sit in the house and play ‘Ludo’ and ‘Snakes and Ladder’ with the servants. The Electricity Bills were left unpaid, with the fines mounting, but that did not bother Bob. In the end, his parents took over the charge.
Sitting by the side of the pool, Katy was now seriously contemplating whether she should ask for a divorce, for her marriage had become a farce. On the other hand, she felt she would not able to show her face to the world! She, being a renowned Therapist, applying for a divorce just because her husband had some psychological problem!
There was something else that was creating an emotional turmoil in her heart. She herself would not admit to herself, that she had fallen in love with a person, other than her husband. It had happened without her knowledge, automatically, and she felt very uncomfortable about the whole affair.
It was about two years ago that the position of a driver fell vacant in their house. There were many applicants, but Katy selected the candidate whom she felt to be most deserving. He was Sunny Bose, a young man with Post Graduation in English. When he came for the interview, he was dressed in a simple white shirt and trousers, but his black shoes were sparkling. When he was asked why he had applied for a Driver’s job, he had said that it was difficult for a student with M.A. in English to get an opening. His Mother was a Cancer patient, and he required money for her treatment. So whatever job he was offered, he would accept happily, without reservation. On hearing about his difficulties, Katy’s heart melted, and the job was offered to Sunny. So this is how Sunny became a welcome addition to the family.
Sunny was a conscientious worker. No other driver could have done his duty better. He treated the family with due respect and did not try to become too familiar. He was always very helpful and voluntarily he would be at Katy’s side to be of assistance. If she needed someone to queue up for the cinema tickets, he was there. He would get medicines for her from the Pharmacy, and help her with the heavy bags, after she had done the marketing. But he knew that he should not exceed the limits of courtesy and politeness, which made him the right person as a Driver. When her husband, because of his childish behavior became unmanageable, he would with brotherly firmness, get Bob to settle down. Katy was very grateful to him for all the help offered without any expectation on his part.
Many times Katy’s and Sunny’s eyes had met, and each had felt that there was an unspoken message in that look. Many a time their bodies had touched, and each had felt a vibration passing through. But these sensations were buried in the depths of their hearts. But now that Katy had become conscious of her feelings, she felt that the shackle of her marriage to be throttling her. On the other hand, she also knew that she would not be able to tear herself apart from the family to which she now belonged. Neither did she consider it right to desert a patient, in this case, her husband, who was mentally and emotionally impaired. So after much thought and contemplation, she decided to go through life without any further upheaval, as for her taking a divorce was out of the question.
It so happened on a very inauspicious day, Sunny had parked the car in front of the South City Mall. Bob had also come out with Katy but had not accompanied her to buy her grocery- stores. He was sitting in the car looking at the crowd outside, and at times going through the pages of a Children’s encyclopedia which Katy had given him, to keep him occupied, whilst she did the marketing. Sunny saw Katy come out of the Mall with her hands full of her purchases. As was his usual routine, he went up to her to help. But all of a sudden, Bob got a brain wave, and he was up to his childish pranks. As soon as he saw Sunny leave the car, he released the hand brake. The car was parked on a slope. Bob did not have the faintest idea of what the effect of his action would be. The car rolled forward and picked up speed and with a thundering, deafening sound crashed against the wall, and was reduced to a mass of metal. The windscreen got shattered into myriads of shards, and smithereens of glass covered the ground. Bob screamed in fright. But it was too late. No one could help him. His body lay crushed and mangled between the dented frames of the smashed vehicle. Both Katy and Sunny throwing whatever they had in hand, rushed toward the car, but in a matter of seconds, the accident had taken place. A crowd had gathered, and the Police had assembled at the spot. An ambulance shrieked to a stop and the limp body was lifted into it. Blood flowed down relentlessly, like a river in floods, and left a trail of crimson. The bones of Bob’s body had taken weird shapes. Katy was shaking like a tower when there is an earthquake. Sunny put his arms around her to steady her. The sight of Bob, smeared in blood was too much for a woman to withstand. She told him under her breath, “I think I am going to pass out!” He held her firmly and lifted her into the ambulance next to Bob. Katy felt his sinewy body against hers. Despite the nerve-wracking accident which had taken place, she was very much conscious of his heart beating next to hers vigorously, like war drums. She realized that though Sunny was not showing it, he was also very much shaken by the incident. In the hospital, the Doctors certified, “Brought Dead.” As the police were there at the time of the accident, there was not much of a problem to get the release of the body. The parents were heart-broken but consoled themselves thinking that for Bob, with Peter Pan syndrome, it was not possible to survive without somebody looking after him all through his life.. So after their death, he would be left unprotected and not cared for. Though they had got him married to Katy, so that she would be his life-long guardian, they had realized that it had been very selfish of them to have compelled the girl to marry their son. God in His mercy had ordained what was best for both Bob and for Katy.
Life went on in their household as usual. But one fine day Sunny announced, “Ma’am, I will have to leave your services shortly. Sorry, I could not give you a month’s notice, because of which you can deduct my pay.” On hearing this Katy looked at Sunny incredulously”. “How can you do this Sunny, it is like a lightning from the blue!” It was then the driver explained fully. “You see Ma’am; I have got an offer for a professor’s position in St. Xavier’s College. I have to join there on Monday.” All that Katy could say was, “Sunny, how will we do without you?” But the driver’s words stirred up all the buried emotions in her. In another two days she would be losing him forever, never to see him again! On the other hand, Sunny was so casual about his leaving! Men could be like robots, perfect in their duties, but heartless! She was feeling as if he was her tearing her heart out and leaving her lifeless. How could he opt to become a Professor, when he would not be able to be with her, rather than continue as a Driver so that at least they could see each other, every day. The thought of this cold attitude towards her was unbearable for her and brought the most torrential downpour of tears, which even Sunny, caught unprepared, could not control.
Very gently he pulled her towards him and stroked her hair. Then he commanded her to stop crying and took out his handkerchief to wipe away her tears. He then tried to reason with her, and explain to her, why as a Driver he could not muster up the courage to approach such a prominent Doctor, high up in status. In the given situation, his own feelings did not matter, as he could never take advantage of her vulnerable position after the demise of her husband. But he gave his word that the day he became a Professor, he would be there, on equal terms, to express his true and overwhelming love for her, without any inhibition, which he had kept buried within the depths of his heart. .Katy trying hard to comprehend the full significance of his words, looked at him dazed, but he just smiled, and winked at her, and said that he would be back on Monday.