Turning Two Madness

I turned two at the madhouse. 'The House of Light', as it was called, blinded me with its brilliance at that tender age. The most 'alive' image I have of my birthday is of me playing with a clockwork truck. I am rolling its wheels on the floor and then turning it upsidedown to examine its helpless belly. I am watching its wheels navigate an invisible treadmill of a road like an insect kicking and screaming to be put back on its feet.
I also remember ruining that truck on its first day out of the box. It never got a chance to run its entire wind. It's wheels just rolled and rolled on an invisible treadmill road till its clockwork gave way before my obsession.

Turning two at the madhouse was like an awakening. And with that awakening I became aware of the world. Or a world reduced to a 'Ship of Fools'. A mad, Noah's Ark!

It was my mental birth, two years after the 'real' coming out of the womb.

We had two wire-mesh windows that opened in the madhouse. They were like rectangular eyes looking deep into the heart and soul of the madhouse. And behind these eyes was me. All of two. Grasping the sights and sounds of an upsidedown world, running and running like spools of a hungry tape. Running at the speed of a slow-motion shoot.

Looking through the wire-meshed windows meant observing reality through the eyes of schizophrenics, psychopaths, paranoids, manic depressives and drug-addicts. Some had even committed murders. It was like being in a zoo, where you knew no harm would come your way if you kept a safe distance.

We were prohibited from referring to them as 'paagal', mad folk. Mom insisted that we call them 'patients'. Their diagnoses anyway were Greek and Latin to us. They were just heavy words my mother used to describe the people she spent most of her waking hours with.

As a pre-schooler my favourite pastime was watching the patients wander the circular corridor of the madhouse. Some friendly ones even gave me special performances, having spotted me through the dark wire-mesh. Some were less charitable, and threw water, dust and garbled swear-words at the window.

Much of my make-believe life took place at these windows. They had a quality of transformation. They could change into a train compartment, a theatre stage, a movie screen, a diving platform and back into windows at the twinkling of an eye.

Sitting at these windows I'd quietly watch and absorb the fascinating lives of people who had become patients. It was a time when the strange was ordinary. And the ordinary, strange.

Then a couple of years later school happened. And everything was rendered monochrome, worldly-wise and ordinary.


  1. i enjoyed this memory of yours. don't know why but i had/has a certain magnetic quality to it. very attractive to sit and read.

  2. at the risk of sounding repetitive; you're really good at this.
    so you've been carrying the madhouse around in your head since you were two? :P

  3. CJ thanks, 'magnetic memories' sounds cool too :-D!!

    Yeah pretty much Scout! Also makes it easier for me to understand others with madhouses around their heads... you included ;-)

    Lemony, I guess the connection always stays, no matter how hard you try to shrug it off. I guess that's why when people go through regression under hypnosis they become the age they're describing... meaning the past is never really the PAST but a 'living' record that can be accessed. Mom was/is an amazing woman, without doubt!

  4. ooooooooh... nice tattoo. me likey! mine's a little more staid and under-wraps than that... but did I say... me likey!!

  5. mucho grassies! Mike has done over 5000 tattoos (sittings). Now he's lost count. His is most expert hand in the business... I am inclined to think!

  6. Madhouse
    but lines?
    where is it that psychopathy is normalcy?
    Are I still a psychopath if I don't care but I don't kill?


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