Ashok looked at his watch before he turned the page and continued to read the
autobiography of his next patient. It was almost 9 p.m., and he hoped his new client
would arrive soon.
‘Doctor, your son is on line two’, the secretary informed via the intercom.
‘Thank you, Monica. You know, you can leave. There is no need for you to stay.’
‘I’ll wait for you to finish up, Doctor. Thank you.’
‘Are you sure? I can close up myself, you know?’
‘That’s alright, I don’t mind.’
Ashok switched lines to speak to his 6-year-old son, Jai.
‘Papa, when are you coming home?’ Jai squeaked.
‘Soon, I just have to finish up some work. Aren’t you supposed to be in bed?’
‘Papa, there is a monster in my room! It’s not letting me sleep,’ he sulked.
‘Oh really? It’s back, is it? I’ll come home soon and take care of that monster,
‘Yes beta, I promise,’ Ashok said, reassuringly. ‘Let me speak to mummy.’
Ashok looked at his watch again.
‘Ashok, why aren’t you home yet?’ Sonia asked sternly.
‘I’m still waiting for my client.’
‘At this hour? You finish up by 6 usually,’ she nagged.
‘Yes, but I told you I’d be late today.’
‘This late? Ashok! Which psychiatrist stays open at this hour?’
‘I have to go, I can’t have this discussion now.’ His frustration began to take over.
‘Ashok, I’m worried about Jai. He hasn’t been sleeping. His teacher called and
said he falls asleep in class. His schoolwork is suffering and he just looks
haggard. We need to see a pediatrician.’
‘Sonia, please, can we talk about this when I get home?’
‘Ashok, this is your son, for God’s sake!’ she shrieked.
‘Fine!’ Ashok screamed back, ‘I’ll set up an appointment!’
‘Your dinner is in the fridge.’ She slammed the phone down.
Ashok replaced the receiver and began to pace around his office, trying to get his wife’s
irritatingly nagging voice out of his head. Eight years ago, it was the sweetest sound.
Today, when he hears her call his name, he can feel his blood pressure rising.
He once again began to wonder why the property billionaire and philanthropist, Rakesh
Mehta, sought out his services and that too, at such a peculiar hour. Ashok was aware of
his capabilities, and knew he wasn’t considered a renowned psychiatrist. Yet, this pillar
of society wanted to speak with him. This was too good of an opportunity to pass up!
‘Doctor Virani, your client has arrived,’ buzzed Monica.
Ashok pushed the button and instructed his secretary to let in the most prominent client
he’s ever had. Standing upright, he began to straighten his tie. For the first time since he
had opened his practice, his hands were clammy.
Rakesh Mehta walked in and immediately, his presence could be felt. A tall, broad man,
with thick hair, his aura and charismatic smile could capture a room. Ashok noticed that
Mehta was much bigger in person than the papers suggested.
‘Doctor Virani, thank you for seeing me at this hour,’ Mehta strode forward with
his hand outstretched.
‘Oh, it’s my pleasure, Mr. Mehta,’ responded Ashok, as he tried not to wince with
his hand being crushed in Mehta’s vice-like grip.
‘Please, call me Rakesh.’ Rakesh released the doctor’s hand, noticing the pain he
was in. ‘Unfortunately, my schedule is rather hectic so this was the earliest we
They exchanged formalities as they sat down and shared their opinions about the weather.
Ashok was curious, and while he wanted nothing more than to get into the session, he
was seasoned enough not to let it show.
‘I’m sure you’re wondering why it is I wanted to see you, Dr. Virani,’ Rakesh
asked while unbuttoning his impeccably tailored pinstripe suit.
‘It certainly did cross my mind.’
‘Well, why does anyone want to see a psychiatrist? To hear themselves talk of
course!’ Rakesh smiled, easing Ashok somewhat.
The irony wasn’t lost on Ashok. In this situation, it was he that was supposed to calm the
patient. However, the stature of Mehta was so immense, he couldn’t help but feel out of
‘Doctor, I am sure you are aware of my public image and standing in society?’
‘I am,’ Ashok nodded, maintaining his poise.
‘Then you understand that anything discussed in this session cannot leave this
office, regardless of circumstance.’
‘I’m surprised you’re asking, Mr. Mehta -’
‘Please, call me Rakesh,’ he interrupted.
‘ - Rakesh, since you must be well aware of the doctor-patient privilege we are
‘Indeed I am doctor, but I do need to protect my interests. Certainly, you
‘Then you wouldn’t mind signing this confidentiality agreement?’ he asked, as he
pulled out an envelope.
‘Rakesh, I assure you this is not necessary.’
‘I hate to put you in this position but this is a necessity for me,’ his tone now
‘I can’t sign any documents without my lawyer having a look first.’
‘Then I’m sorry, but I can not continue this session without a signature on these
Mehta stood up and began to place the envelope in his pocket. Ashok twitched, and was
uncertain about what to do. He justified the situation to himself; what would a man of
Mehta’s prominence want to swindle a mediocre psychiatrist like him for?
‘Please, Mr. Mehta’, he stood, ‘we’re here to help, and if this is what we need to
do to guarantee you peace of mind, then so be it,’ he reached out for the papers.
‘Thank you, Doctor. I understand I’ve put you in an awkward position, but it is a
necessity.’ He handed over the envelope, ‘I assure you it’s nothing more than
regular boilerplate information. Basically, if any of our session is disclosed to
anyone, I can sue you for everything.’
Ashok’s hand paused an inch above the paper and he looked up, disturbed.
‘I’m sure that won’t happen…it’s not as if you intend to leak any details to the
tabloids, are you?’ he smiled.
Ashok smiled nervously. He signed and handed the documents to Rakesh, before sitting
down, feeling a little rattled.
‘Shall we begin?’
‘Yes, let’s. Do you mind if I walk around, Doctor? I prefer to walk and talk, it
helps me communicate. I hope that’s alright?’
‘Whatever you’re comfortable with, Rakesh.’
‘Thank you.’ Rakesh walked around, absorbing the vast amount of information
that surrounded him. He inspected Ashok’s degrees, his books, even the family
‘What a beautiful family, Doctor. Is that your son?’
‘Yes, his name is Jai.’
‘Thank you, but you haven’t come here to talk about my family, have you?’
‘Of course not,’ he laughed, ‘I’ve come to talk to you about mine.’ He turned
towards Ashok and smiled. ‘Do you know anything about my family, Doctor?’
‘Well I know what I’ve read. You lost your parents at a young age and were
raised by your uncle and aunt who dealt in garments. That’s pretty much it.’
Rakesh once again faced the walls, ignoring the fact that Ashok was scribbling away on
his note pad.
‘Well, allow me to fill in the missing details. Lata, my older sister, was my
parents pride and joy. She also was the closest thing I had to a parent. We weren’t
from a wealthy home, so both my parents worked hard to provide us with a decent
life. My mother was a nurse and often worked nights while my father managed a
factory floor. He, too, worked late.’
‘Doctor, it’s your son on line one,’ the intercom buzzed.
‘Monica, you know not to disturb me when I’m with a patient.’
‘Yes sir, but he said it’s important.’
‘Monica, he’s six! You should -’
‘Sir, he’s bawling,’ she interrupted.
‘Doctor, please take the call, I’m sure it’s important to Jai.’
‘I’m sorry, Rakesh, I won’t be a moment.’
‘Hello? Jai? What’s the matter?’
‘Papa, it’s in my room again and won’t leave. It’s troubling me,’ he sobbed.
‘The monster papa. Papa please come home. Please Papa!’
Ashok could barely understand what his son was saying through all the wailing.
‘Jai, let me speak to mummy.’
‘Papa, please! The monster’s here! It won’t leave me! It’s sitting on the bed now
papa! It’s coming closer!’
‘Jai, beta, calm down. Let me speak with mummy. Jai? Hello? Jai?’
Realizing Jai had hung up, he called his wife’s mobile phone.
‘Sonia, can you please check on Jai, he’s in hysterics! I’m in the middle of a
‘What happened?’ Sonia was alarmed.
‘Nothing, he’s talking about the monsters again. Please get a handle on this!’ he
hung up, frustrated.
‘I’m terribly sorry about that, Rakesh,’ he said, regaining his composure.
‘Is everything ok?’ Mehta asked, sounding genuinely concerned.
‘Yes, yes. You know children and their imaginations. My son insists there is a
monster in his room that has been bothering him for a few days.’
‘Every child has a healthy fear of the monster in their room,’ he smiled.
Ashok was confused with that response, but paid it no heed.
‘As I was saying, my parents worked late and it was Lata who raised me. I was
always asleep by the time my parents got home and only saw them briefly at
breakfast. Around my seventh birthday, my father passed away in a fire. It was a
tragic scene, numerous employees died that night. I’m sure you’re aware that
India isn’t well known for its safety standards.’
Ashok instinctively wanted to respond but knew better, and allowed Rakesh to continue.
‘We received some compensation, but it wasn’t enough. My mother started
working double shifts and began to run her self into the ground. I saw her even
less. Lata became my mother.’
Rakesh stopped walking around and sat down across from Ashok.
‘I understand you live near the Rajni Estates.’
‘Yes,’ Ashok was surprised, ‘Yes I do, but how did you know?’ he stammered.
‘It’s my business to know, Doctor. Information and knowledge are important
commodities. Acquiring it and containing it is what controls the world.’
Ashok sat silent, unsure about how to respond.
‘Don’t be alarmed Doctor, I own a great deal of property in that area so I’m
bound to know.’ Rakesh smiled.
‘Oh I see, ok,’ Ashok said, reassured once again.
‘Are you aware of how my property empire came to be?’
‘Well, I understand you purchase land and construct.’
‘Yes well, before all that, it was more primitive, if you will. My mother passed
away when I was fourteen. Being aware of our situation and the impact her long
hours had taken on her health, she prepared a decent insurance policy in case of
her demise. Being the entrepreneur that I am, I took a portion of it and invested.
You see, the area near Rajni Estates, where you live, was very dilapidated during
my youth. I hated coming home to such a morose and depressing surrounding.
Hiring some of my friends, we began to refurbish homes. It started first with
painting and repair, and then turned into brick and mortar work. Some children
used to play, I used to make a living. It helped me deal with the loss of my
mother. It also allowed me to stay away from home.’
Ashok caught on to one of the statements. Mehta had a desire to stay away from home. It
wasn’t surprising since he had lost both his parents and lived in semi-poverty but still, he
made a note of it. Suddenly, he felt his mobile phone vibrate against his waist.
‘Rakesh, I do apologise, it’s my wife.’
‘Please, family comes first,’ Rakesh insisted.
‘PAPA!’ Jai screamed. Ashok wrenched the phone away from his ear, grimacing
in pain. The loud blood-curdling scream startled Rakesh. ‘PAPA!!!’ he screamed
‘Jai? What happened?’
‘PAPA HELP!!!’ He screamed again, ‘I’m begging you, HELP ME!’
‘Jai, what’s the matter? JAI?’
The line went dead again. Immediately he called the house and Sonia answered.
‘What happened? Jai just called me screaming!’
‘I know, I just heard. I’m heading upstairs. Let me see and I’ll call you.’
Ashok replaced the phone on to his belt and looked at Rakesh who had a concerned
expression on his face.
‘Is everything ok? Perhaps we should end the session?’
‘No, I’m sure my wife will take care of it, it’s ok. Please continue’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes, I’m sure it’s nothing. My wife will call momentarily telling me it’s ok.
Ashok ruffled through his notes and began;
‘You mentioned your work allowed you to stay out of your home and gave you an
opportunity for a brighter future. What were you running from?’
‘It wasn’t what I was running from but rather, whom?
‘Excuse me?’ Ashok asked
‘You see, there is something I haven’t mentioned to you about my childhood. It
is, in fact the reason why I am here today. It all started near the time my father
passed away. When I was seven, Lata used to creep into my bed with me.’
Pausing briefly, Rakesh unbuttoned his top button and loosened his designer tie. Taking a
deep breath, he cleared his throat and continued.
‘She threatened that if I told anyone what she was doing she would kill me. Then
again, who could I tell even if I wanted to, she was the only parent I had. I loved
and hated her. At first, she convinced me that this was how one loves another, but
I knew it was wrong. There were times I cried through the whole experience,
begging her to stop, but it didn’t matter. She used to take me to school and back,
made my meals for me as a loving parent would, and at night, had her way with
me as a lover would.’
Mehta reached for the tumbler of water and took a sip to moisten his parched throat.
‘The abuse continued for years. When our mother died, I hoped it would end, but
it didn’t. Since Lata was my guardian, I couldn’t leave her either. So, I began to
spend as much time away from home as possible, hoping it would stop. It didn’t.
When Lata started having boyfriends, I hoped it would stop. It didn’t. Every night
I feared her entering my bedroom. I wanted to sleep, hoping that she wouldn’t
wake me, but I couldn’t sleep because of the fear, the anticipation. I was haunted
every night until my fear became my reality, a reality that took place almost every
Mehta paused once more and ran his fingers through his thick, grey stained hair as he
leaned back in the chair.
‘After my mother died, I hoped we’d move in with my uncle but Lata, being the
legal guardian and decision maker, made sure we stayed home. She said she’d
never leave me. That she loves me.’
They sat silently. Ashok waited for him to continue. Mehta, stone-faced stared into
‘I remember I was fifteen at the time and Lata was still abusing me. I knew she
was never going to stop creeping into my bed. For half my life I lived in fear. She
tortured me and found pleasure in doing so. I wanted it to stop and I had to be the
one to stop it.’
Still sitting back, Mehta tilted his head back ever so slightly and gazed at the ceiling as he
remembered what transpired next
‘She had a party at home for her twenty first birthday. It was a Saturday. I
controlled the bar and made sure the alcohol kept flowing throughout the night.
More importantly, I made sure Lata’s glass was never empty. In the early hours of
the morning the last of her drunk friends left. Lata had passed out on the sofa. I
picked her over my shoulder and lay her on my bed.’
Rakesh leaned forward placing his elbows on his knees and intertwined his finger. His
‘I opened up my cupboard and removed all the clothes. There was a large hole in
the back I had dug over the past few days. I bound and gagged Lata before
placing her in to the cavity. I lit a large candle and put it in with her. I wanted her
to watch the candle and the light die with every second that passed until she was
immersed in absolute darkness. I wanted her to suffer the torment of waiting for
the inevitable. I watched her for a moment in her unconscious state. She seemed
so peaceful. After the moment passed, I sealed her in, alive.’
Ashok’s phone vibrated once more and he picked it up without hesitating or asking for
‘Ashok you need to come home now!’
‘It’s Jai! Ashok, he won’t stop crying. He’s so cold. He keeps rocking back and
forth shivering and murmuring. He keeps saying, ‘help me, help me’. He won’t
even look at me, he just looks straight ahead and rocks. I slapped him but I can’t
snap him out of it. I’m really scared. Please come home we need to take him to a
‘I’m coming. Give him half a valium and put him to bed. That should calm him
Ashok looked up to find Rakesh standing by the door.
‘I’m sorry, Rakesh, it’s an emergency. My son needs me.’
‘I understand, Doctor, don’t worry about it.’
‘Perhaps we can reschedule, I’d like to help you.’
‘Help me?’ Rakesh smiled, ‘I’ve made peace with my demons Doctor, I am here
to help you.’
‘Help me? What do you mean?’ he looked confused.
Rakesh was half way out the door. He took a moment.
‘Doctor Virani’ he sighed as his grip on the door tightened. ‘You’re living in my
house.’ Rakesh turned towards him, ‘Your son, Jai, he sleeps in my room.’ He
paused, ‘I’m sorry, Ashok,’ whispered Rakesh before he gently shut the door