"You were scared of me.. right Leo ?. I know, you used to walk away from me when you see me sitting infront of the house. Guess you were in class 5 then."
Trying my best to deny a fact, I mumbled: No, pauly chetta.. I was never scared of you. Why should I be ?
Again with a partial smile on his face, he continued. It’s ok Leo, I know everyone used to be scared of me. But trust me, Pauly chettan is no more the same. I’ve changed, but no one understands that now or want to believe so.
Pauly was the only graduate in his family. Studious, most beloved son of his parents and a good neighbour to us. It was in ’95, when people spotted him doing exercise on the middle of the road at mid night. It was the beginning. Unknown the reason was, but he gradually was losing balance of his mind and as any helpless mentally challenged person he too was branded as a ‘madman’ or a ‘branthan’ soon. Within an year his parents passed away and soon the eldest sister-in-law took control of the home.
It was in her better interest that Pauly stay a madman. Thus he was smartly kept away from all financial deals of home. Was never fed properly and beaten when asked for food. A hell in earth, that’s what he was in for past 12 years. His freedom came in the form of dividing ancestral property by siblings(they just had a small hut and a hutly shop), and that made S-I-L to go out of home. Since then Pauly is a new man. He has recovered tremendously and is now all words with people around. It would now be difficult to tell that he had some mental illness few years back. Above mentioned conversation to me when while at home, reiterates the fact that Pauly has certainly changed. He now speaks more sense than many living in the same street.
But, how do we take care Paulys of the world ? By medicine or just by being a little more humane ?.. Guess through a combination of both, but with more dose of latter they have a better chance of regaining their self.