G for Ghost from the Past
The most respected Psychiatrist in Mumbai, Dr. Shyam Swaroop, is tensed and fidgeting with his cell phone, chaperoned by me and Maya-the illusion, that’s how I call her, facing the media. The poor Doctor has no choice but lie to them as we sit inside the air-conditioned conference hall at Trident Hotel in Bandra, surrounded by the sea and stormy waves crashing.
I try to act cool but can’t beat the pulsating nerves. Maya, the illusion decides not to address the media and that’s how she chose to dump me. Guess, we will face a barrage of questions in this press conference. I gulp a glass of cold water to beat stress.
The Psychiatrist straightens his voice to show an air of confidence. Good Morning, ladies and Gentleman and our media friends, I am Doctor Shyam Swaroop, the appointed Psychiatrist of our young friend. There have been several media speculations that Akhil Kumar has lost his memory and is suffering from depression. However, I am glad to inform you that my patient is perfectly fine and as the document that I am sharing with you shall attest, he is sane. It’s the figment of imagination of his foes and media speculations doing the rounds.
A journalist stands up and asks, “How are you feeling?” I reply, “I am hale and hearty. We are actors and sometimes we are ego ridden and suffer from idiosyncrasy. What happened on the streets of Mumbai was an act that I’ve pulled since I am preparing for my next film. Unfortunately, my sworn enemies have put it that I have lost my memory.” I tried to avert any gaze that will let the cat out.
A pretty female journalist raises her hand, “Sir! This ain’t happening for the first time. We all remember the hungama you created by fighting on the street with the actress that you were dating and on another night, you danced in the middle of the street in a drunken state with few girls where you created a ruckus by threatening neighbours.”
I am taken aback by this question and say, “It’s a spate of lies and I intend to take the case to court.” The journalist is adamant, “There are few cases against you in court, as well Sir. You gave dates and took Rs 5 crores from producers but never reported to shooting. Also, what’s the guarantee that you are not afflicted by memory loss?”
Maya-the illusion steps in, “I am his media advisor and let me tell you that we shall refute all allegations in court.”
We hush out of the stormy press conference and sneaked out of Mumbai in the middle of the night. In the car, Maya asks me, “You don’t remember anything. Any particular incident? At least try to! A diary…pen…paper?” I am getting irritated. “No, I don’t. What is the relationship between a diary and my memory?” I protest. That’s okay, she says, we will find out first thing in Jamshedpur. We reach the factory the next day for shooting.
Maya spots a boy, in ragged clothes, following my gaze everywhere and gapes at me as if he found his lost brother. She calls him, “Hey, are you his fan?” The boy bends his head and shyly says, “He is from our gaon (village). My father tells how he was mischievous as a child…that incident made his run away to that big city with sahebs flashing big cars, gold rings and stay in palatial houses…”
Maya stops him, “Which incident?” The boy shrieks and flees from the spot. “Hello!,” Maya calls out but he is already gone. She forcibly takes me in a corner, “One thing is for sure. You are from Jamshedpur. Now, something is boiling in my grey cell. What have you done that you run away from your village?”
“What have I done?” I throw the question back at her. I took a cigarette drag and mutters ‘STD booth.” I am shocked at myself and asks Maya, “Did I say STD booth?”
She flashes her tooth, “Yes! You did. Think yaar!! What was the last thing you did before sleeping the night you lost your memory?”
I am having a headache and at the back of my mind, I am hearing voices, fire breaking, glass splinter and cackle of laughter. What’s that! I crash on the floor.
I can hear voices yelling, ‘pack up’ and let’s carry him to the vanity van.