Battle Fatigue

Imagining by Farrokh Chothia

Battle Fatigue

I’m not sure about the symptoms. But I’m a girl with hunches.

Maybe I feel distressed because I’ve been lying in the lap of darkness. Leaving that place takes a lot of yellow. Maybe I’m muddled because I made a contract to save my life. Now, I’m surrounded by debris and questions: What next? Next, what?

Do you want to upgrade?

Arhaan, who is seven, and magnetic, plays Monopoly with me on a stone floor in Goa. Dice roll and he lands on Mayfair. Checks the stack of cards at his side. Grin spreads because he owns Mayfair, and he wants to buy a house.

He hands over a fistful of monopoly bills.

‘I want to UPGRADE’

pause as he places the small plastic house on his square.

‘And you are going DOWN!’

I can’t get these two lines out of my head.


maybe if I downgrade, I can’t go anywhere but UP.

This see-saw action of the universe is making me less polite. But a better person. Now that my hemoglobin is rising, now that my time to curl is over, I only want to find a place where there once were many people and now there are none.

Like Bassein Fort.

I want to be solitary. And I want to tell you things.

About Divya’s swan dream and Denzil’s 40 watt bulbs, about Tip Top Tea Shop and Barry the St Bernard. About the Glasshouse outside Rishikesh. About National Integration Tissues and singing the lumberjack song in Bulsar. About Patrick the Healer and Tishani walking to the End of the World. About how I am simulating my life when I am not living the only way I know how…

With no fixed return.

Since I got back from India last month, I’ve been feeling oppressed and fearful. I can call it Battle Fatigue.

Or choose not to name it.

Whatever it is, I can’t manage or encode my feelings anymore.

I need some EPO. Emotion Processing Outsourcing. My own personal call centre.

In an old bookcase in Goa, I came across this passage:

‘I began to see how my fascination with the drama of my emotional life and my too great faith in the powers of my intellect had withered my spirit. You have become imprisoned in the knowledge you acquired. Now you must let it go for another knowledge to come in.’

All right then.

What does that have to do with the fact that I’m cancer free?


Yesterday I cleaned out my medicine cabinet. I threw out the apo-metronidazole, the apo-granisetron, the ran-pantoprazole and the ativan and tried not to linger on the labels.

‘Take 1 tablet 1 hour prior to chemotherapy’

‘Take one tablet every six hours when needed’

‘Take 1 tablet three times daily until finished’


None of the containers are empty.

You might call me irresponsible or inconsistent. Someone singularly unsuitable to use a spreadsheet.

I prefer to think of myself as having a glorious uncertainty when it comes to uniformity.

Either way, I loved tossing them.

Making space.

Cleaning out my cabinets.

My port remains though. I thought about taking it out when I got back from India.

But there will be blood tests. Regularly. To check.

And bobcat is battle scarred. He needs a break.

From me.

There’s so much to share.

And in this tornadic swirl of compelling experiences there is a centre.

And the centre is yellow.

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