Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 931

“Man in the broken mirror”

Department of Neurology, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, Kerala, India

Date of Submission30-Jul-2021
Date of Acceptance25-Aug-2021
Date of Web Publication17-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Ajith Cherian
Department of Neurology, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum . 695011, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aian.aian_692_21

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How to cite this article:
Cherian A. “Man in the broken mirror”. Ann Indian Acad Neurol 2021;24:931

How to cite this URL:
Cherian A. “Man in the broken mirror”. Ann Indian Acad Neurol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 Feb 6];24:931. Available from:

'I did it.'

When he rushed into my cabin and gushed these words that I could decipher his brand of tobacco, despite the N95, I knew it was too late.

I had shifted to this coastal town, as a consultant psychiatrist and was confined to giving 'Zoom' counselling to my hyper anxious, pandemic-panic gripped patients with the usual 'vaccine jabs will take care' kind of advice. My secretary had been mentioning about a middle-aged, bearded, blue-eyed immigrant who had come repeatedly to see me but, his need was considered 'cold' and appointment deferred. Though the exigency in his emails evoked some inquisitiveness, he refused to divulge details unless he had a professional talk turkey with me and I left it without much ado.

My career had revolved around the mundane; the predictable paranoids, the unusually anxious, the typically deluded and the perpetually depressed. I had been waiting for “the Hannibal Lectors” unfortunately none turned up. Many such 'Jack Rippers', happen in fertile hypomaniac minds, and perhaps don cleric gowns in daytime. Stamps of 'Tab Risperidone 2 mg OD' made sense, for my job had digressed to rut routine. Watching paint dry seemed more appealing. Except for the pay nothing else was exciting.

Five decades had elapsed since my parents immigrated here and I was born here by serendipity. I scrapped through medical school, keeping aloof from anything controversial, as it was easy for an immigrant to be trapped in one, like in a quagmire. Even the wrong tattoo was a potential hazard. As time left its emotional hiccoughs I realised that the moral compass kept readjusting. Initially, it's all utopian ideals, but as life goes on, cartoonish ideals vaporise and shades of grey emerge and life is all about delimiting the darker shades. I was offered this cushy post with minimal responsibilities and maximum holidays, the cherry all of us were craving, little realising that I had begun to resemble the same contemptible ones whom I had loathed during my residency.

However, life of an uneducated immigrant in a foreign land with alien language is akin to an auditory challenged being afflicted by alexia and agraphia. The obstacles one surmounted to reach this El Dorado, pales in comparison to the hurdles ahead, with no glimpse of the finishing line. It is a crisis exponentially multiplied by catharsis, akin to a deer caught in the headlight blindly rushing head on to the accelerating wheel. This town had witnessed more per capita crime rates than any other due to its ghetto status. Condemning its asylum seekers for all that is wrong is a defence mechanism called the “psychological projection”; where a person always attributes his disease to some extrinsic factor, the accident that he has had or to the drugs prescribed.

A couple of weeks later there was breaking news. The gruesome nature of the event shattered the town's tranquillity. There was a lookout for a middle-aged, bearded, blue-eyed foreigner.

That moment, I realised that I was looking into his eyes.

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