The Two Sides Of A Coin
The Two Sides Of A Coin10 mins 19.6K 10 mins 19.6K
Mysha smoothed her flaming-red silk scarf, as the jetliner banked away from Ibiza. Her brows knotted and her sensuous mouth pinched as she grimaced at the impending confrontation at home.
Mysha Oberoi -a scion of one of Mumbai’s wealthiest family- raised in the lap of luxury, could not have been any sadder. Her Indian father and Russian mother had died in a car crash when she had been all of five years of age. Her brother Roy had only been a babe of 1 year.
Sasha. Even the thought of her led to revulsion for Mysha. Sasha and Mysha were like chalk and cheese. Where Sasha was quiet and so called modest, Mysha felt it was only fair for her to live with full joie de vivre. Sasha was a home-bird who loved to interact with family and close friends. Mysha was a regular at Ibiza, any and all underground party circuits- the farther from home the better. Mysha loved to express herself by having her-self tattooed –beneath the clothes. Sasha deemed tattoos repugnant and an affront to her natural beauty.
Sasha and Mysha were of the same age and just couldn’t stand each other. The ferocity of animosity between them was akin to the tempestuous steam formed when hot lava flows met frigid arctic waters- hidden but scathing.
Roy was autistic from the age of three months. Whilst Mysha believed that Roy had been responsible for her parents’ death, Sasha simply doted upon her younger brother and had opened a Non- Profit to care for Roy and his ilk. Mysha had a bad temper and she hated Roy vehemently for stealing her parents from her. On the other hand, Sasha would never allow her darling Roy to be hurt. She had promised herself that she would always take good care of him, unto death.
Mysha just couldn’t fathom why Sasha was Sasha, when she could just live life queen-size. Mysha sighed, took a swig of her wine and curled up in her first class seat. Slumber soon overtook her.
Sasha dumped her luggage on the rich Persian carpet and almost flew down the foyer. She had been deflated after having attended the exhaustive seminar and wanted to meet Bijji and Roy as soon as possible.
Bijji -her nonagenarian grandmother was sleeping beatifically. She crept into the room and kissed her on her cheek and moved out as quietly as a mouse.
Sasha bounded up the stairs, two at a time and dashed to the room at the end of the hallway. She rapped on Roy’s door, pushed it open, nodded at the somber looking duty nurse and sat next to Roy.
“Hello Roy-boo! How have you been?” She cooed, draping her lustrous, blue scarf on the Ottoman beside his chair.
“…Av you been ….you been.” Roy intoned, rocking to and fro, grinning at a point in between the building blocks he had arranged in the form of a complex spire.
Sasha patted Roy lightly, so as to not disturb him, and retreated back to the nurse.
“Has Bijji woken yet?” She asked the new nurse. “Not yet Madam.” Said she as she looked at Sasha quizzically and then returned to her note-taking.
Sasha sighed and went back to her room with a heavy heart.
Bijji had been both mother and father to them after their parents had passed away. Their paternal grandmother, she had ensured that the family had remained wealthy so that her grand-children did not need to worry about fending for themselves.
Eighteen years hence, Bijji- their strong Bijji was fighting her final battle alone. Catatonic in coma, for the last so many years.
Sasha could not do anything about it. This tore away incessantly at her…
The night had encircled the Oberoi estate with its forlorn darkness. Not a single star lit up the sky above, not a single soul moved in the confines within. The entire duty staff was away. Only old Mohanji the guard stood watch at the entrance and Bijji’s night nurse had cocooned herself in deep slumber behind Bijji’s stout, wooden doors.
Mysha’s red scarf fluttered against her cream blouse. Mother’s pearl and diamond necklace iridescent against the same. She kicked the spire Roy had constructed painstakingly out of building blocks. Her hand had a vice like grip on Roy’s hand. Red, angry welts besmirched Roy’s smooth, cream coloured skin- where Mysha had hit him. His eyes, focused far away into the darkness outside, brimmed with sorrow. Mysha had her forearms covered in cuts and bruises, her hair tussled and unkempt.
“F*c**** B****** you should have just died before having Mum and Dad sent away to visit USA for a cure for you! I hate you, A******!” whispered Mysha menacingly.
Roy sensed the blood curdling rage beneath Mysha’s one green and one black eye.
He screamed plaintively.
Mysha brandished the kitchen knife she had brought to slit Roy’s throat with and swung it to slice Roy. A globule of blood oozed out languidly from the knife-tip prick. Roy did not feel it because of his condition. But then, something strange happened.
Mysha saw her reflection in the mirror. A voice inside her awoke with sudden ferocity.
“No!” shouted Sasha from somewhere within Mysha.
Her hand drew the knife away from Roy, and in one fluid motion, plunged it into her own arm.
A sharp stab of pain shot through Sasha’s arm, up her spine. Blood sprouted out and spread across the sleeve of her cream blouse. In the mirror opposite them, she spied her hand still tight around Roy’s arm. Her other hand clenched the hilt of the knife. Her green and black eyes grew wide in shock and disbelief. Suddenly, the ground swayed below her feet and Sasha crumpled to the floor- a translucent sheen covering her eyes before the darkness without the Oberoi house made itself the darkness within.
Sasha awoke to an incessant thumping on her chest, to the accompaniment of a searing pain in her left arm. Tears welled in Roy’s eyes and dribbled down onto Sasha’s cheek.
He crumpled her blue scarf in one hand and the red scarf in another and ceased his drumming only when Sasha opened her eyes.
Her hand stretched and clutched Roy’s hand with the blue scarf.
“Mysha…here no more? No… no more?” he asked.
“Mysha? Ah! Here …no more.” Sasha replied, with a weak smile on her face, as she caressed Roy’s cheek with her good hand.
She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. Yesterday night’s events seemed as if they were a terrible movie that she had viewed. A movie of what had happened to her -which she spectated in vivid Technicolor and Dolby sound, from out of her body.
Roy had saved her. Before pounding her with his fists, he had pressed the alarm on his bedside. An ambulance had been at their residence within 10 minutes to minister care to her. Roy had stayed back at home, scampering into his hiding place the moment the ambulance had trundled down the drive-way. He subsequently stayed out of sight, until the ambulance left the estate grounds.
She had been hospitalized thereafter and had been discharged an hour ago on successfully convincing the authorities that it had all been an accident. The fact that the knife had only Sasha’s finger-prints and had been found in her arm helped. A blind eye had been turned to her cuts and bruises because of her lineage, the hospital’s policy of maintaining patient privacy and the following comment in the report by the hospital’s clinical psychologist:
‘ Highly intelligent, rational, charming lady with a great sense of humour. Very considerate of duty staff and had developed a good rapport with the nurse assigned to her. Volunteered her-self to come for follow-up sessions. Tells cuts and bruises are results of accidents arising out of stress-induced preoccupation and absent-mindedness. Wounds may seem self-inflicted but can also arise as indicated- while preparing meals or on falling down. Some of them may have been inflicted by her brother in playful scuffles. Accident is reported to have been self-impalement, while trying to cut apples and simultaneously playing with differently abled brother. Fainted the night before reportedly due to sight of blood. Suffers from stress induced anxiety. Maybe discharged with recommendation to do regular Yoga and take more holidays.’
‘What we hate the most about the world is only a reflection of that which we hate the most within us’, mused Sasha. It turned out that Mysha had been purely a person created by Sasha’s mind. Sasha googled and realized that she suffered from an acute form of ‘Dissociative Identity Disorder’.
Sasha jogged her memory and painstakingly recalled many childhood episodes where she experienced herself going through the motions of life as a distant spectator divorced from her own body. She also used to have bouts of amnesia followed by intense feelings of confusion and guilt. It had all started before a four- year-old Sasha spilled the beans on Ramu uncle who used to play painful games with her.
Back in the nineties, her parents sensed that Sasha needed special attention to counter her trauma. Sasha had been the apple of their eyes. After Roy developed autism, their trips to institutions in India and abroad, researching such conditions increased frenetically.
Due to her parents’ celebrity status, their visits were clandestine and Sasha’s condition had been kept well-guarded. A secret too well kept- no one knew who the Oberois were researching for. Different identities matching those of Sasha’s profile had been created to ward off the paparazzi.
With her parents’ death, Sasha had been shocked and deeply disturbed. While her expressed symptoms disappeared, her condition took a more insidious turn. Her subconscious guilt was overwhelming and Mysha had been born.
Slowly and steadily, the myth of Mysha was bolstered.
Since, Mysha’s personality seemed so real to Sasha, it was only natural for her to think of Mysha as a distinct person. Sasha believed that the interactions she had with Mysha within her own mind were in fact between two distinct personalities with their own physical bodies. Sasha as Mysha created her own parallel life complete with a distinct set of identity papers- legal and illegal- unknown to Sasha’s consciousness. At a subconscious level, Sasha adroitly ensured minimal overlap between the two personalities and their different worlds. Case in point- Mysha’s tattoos on her body were rationalized as temporary and as pranks by Mysha when Sasha was asleep. To the rest of the world, Sasha was Sasha when she was in control of her body and senses. Sasha was Mysha when her ‘alter ego’ controlled her body and senses.
Bijji was unaware of Sasha’s situation initially- giving young Sasha space to mourn. Bijji concentrated on strengthening the future for Roy and Sasha, economically. However, when Sasha’s behaviour started becoming inconsistent and Bijji became suspicious, she started digging deeper into her son’s personal records. Before she could enlist help from experts, identify the alter ego, comfort Sasha and take her to seek medical help, Bijji’s illness had overcome her.
Roy seemed to have always been aware of both Sasha and Mysha. He loved Sasha dearly and was tolerant of Mysha, albeit scared of her. He could tell who was who, all with the help of the scarfs!
Sasha fingered the red, silk scarf knotted around her neck, staring at the serpentine wisps of hot steam writhing up from her roll, condensing on the plastic tumbler containing her iced coffee. She thought back on all that she had jotted down about Mysha on her note-pad, her mind churning on the beautiful confluence between the torrid and the frigid. Mysha was and is a part of herself that she had always hated to the moon and back.
‘Sometimes those that we hate the most, deserve the most love’, she thought thinking whether she would have been happier and more vibrant with a reconciled Mysha…
Sasha’s brooding eyes started to glow smilingly. A self-conscious grin suffused her serious, pursed lips, as she suddenly realized that she had an entire life-time to understand and to love her-self and find that out!