Guest post by-My friend
I have been suffering from continuous fever and severe headache since April 27th night onwards. The headaches were non-stop and so severe that it sometimes even drove me to insanity and I also wondered if could do anything senseless in a moment of madness. My family GP helped 2ith medicines and advice. Nothing worked and my medical tests ruled out suspected malaria and typhoid.
Then I moved a rung up the ladder and visited a consultant Physician who I had consulted previously for other problems. She, I must say is a very sensitive doctor, methodical, having kept detailed report of my long and complicated medical history. She suggested I do a chest x-ray (I had to do 3 takes as the plates were not clear; this will no doubt have added to my radiation risks.)
I was started on broad-spectrum antibiotics (400mg twice a day for 10days.) It occurred to me that the effects of the drug were worse than the symptoms. I suffered side-effects such as diarrhoea, mouth ulcers; little did I know that worse was yet to come. I began to have night mares or hallucinations.
Around 10.30pm, I was sleeping in my mother’s room (she passed away two years ago); when I woke with a start disturbed by her snoring. I was appalled and told her to be quiet. I now think was it my own snoring? At 12 midnight I rushed out and went to my own room and tried to sleep. The moment my eyes closed, I started seeing strange characters in old English costumes nodding their heads and some were blinking and winking at me. I was fascinated that the heads were lolling from side to side, and some came dangerously close to me and I began to cringe in horror. Most of them were in line drawings or etchings.
Each lolling head reminded me of a character from English literature. I recognised many of them- they were from classics like Shakespeare. Poets, such as Byron, Keats , Shelley, Coleridge, etc. Some faces were in bright lurid colours such as orange and red, green and yellow making them a frightening spectacle.
I tried not to shut my eyes, so I decided to clean out my cupboard. Then I went to my work room to listen to some music. But I was reluctant to sleep on the narrow divan, fearing I would fall off. So I unplugged my music system, and searched for music and fixed up the system in room. Initially it was soothing and I felt my troubles were over. But the terrible guys were at their pranks again as soon as my eyes shut.
Then I decided to sit up and put on the light and note down what was happening in order to document my dream/nightmare.
Here are some of the characters who harassed me.
The following poem, Leisure by William Henry Davies
“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows. “
The Conversations of Cow by Suniti Namjoshi (of lesbian cows in Canada and one from India.
The image of cows were recurring perhaps on account of the beef ban.
Snowball (pig) and other animals in Animal Farm by George Orwell
Rabbits going in and out of warrens in Watership Down by Richard Adams
A beautiful scene of nature made me long to be there and never return. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
A very frightening Miss Havisham in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Little people were trying to climb on to my stomach (no easy task, poor guys) – Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
There was a floating image of an elegant but sad woman in white which was rather eerie. Deirdre of the Sorrows by Irish playwright John M. Synge
Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
Captain Hook with his menacing hook hand (Peter Pan). I had to be on guard not knowing when he would take a swipe at me
The frightening part begins here.
The Man from La Mancha came purposefully on his steed pointing his fence at me. When I realized he meant business, I screamed to Sancho Panza to save me. But Sancho was too fat to act fast and in sheer desperation, I raised my spare pillow as a shield. Satisfied that Don Quixote had killed me, he retreated with his horse. It was all so vivid that I could even hear the distant hoof sounds of the retreating horse. (Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes)
In the Old Testament, Job is a patient man suffering endless tribulations and physical deprivations. Despite the mounting problems heaped on him, he praised Jesus Christ and his faith only became stronger. As per my understanding of his character he never complained. But this mild man suddenly vented his ire on me for no reason what so ever. He told me “You non-believer you will have to suffer like me”. I replied “you are believer and you still suffer”, at which he attempted to pounce on me. I recoiled at his oozing boils and in sheer fright and desperation I somehow leapt out of the bed and rushed to the bathroom. He was quick and lithe and shot like a lightening after me. He was amazingly fast, but I ducked and he landed in the commode. I quickly shut the lid and sat on it and managed to flush several times. Then I dragged two buckets ad placed on the commode lid, and I rushed out making sure to lock the bathroom door from the outside. Whew!!!! (Book of Job -Christian Old Testament.) My Christian friends please do not be offended. And Jesus said, “Father, please forgive them for they know not what they do (say). (Luke 23:34)
Needless to say, I was exhausted by morning. In fact I had been sleep deprived for several nights. I also noticed that somehow in the scuffle I had bitten my tongue.
Morning has broken by Cat Stevens
Morning has broken like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing,
Praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing fresh from the world.
A new day began as I welcomed the morning in relief and I went to the bathroom. I was shocked to see the commode lid down with two buckets on it. This unnerved me. Did it really happen??
An interesting question to ponder is “what invoked the literary characters?” I am surprised as the last I had studied some of these texts was in mid ‘70s. I have not taught English Lit nor I have read the same texts again. How was I able to recall their titles and authors, when I had trouble remembering even recent events and people, including my immediate family and close friends.
Is the hallucination a result of the drug? I think I will contact WHO’s Adverse Drug Reaction Survey. On a lighter vein, the hallucinations seem to have kindled my creativity and I cant help marveling at this hilarious piece.
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