Chapter 5: Mind Games
Once I was working as a teacher in a university, in a far corner of India. I lived in the bachelor quarters and shared my room with a colleague, a very gentle, good-hearted man, simple. But then came the festival of Holi, and he took some bhang, a psychedelic - and he had never taken it before. So he went completely crazy. He was found in the street naked. He was caught, and the whole night he had to stay in the police station. That disturbed that poor soul, and that disturbed him so much, he became paranoid.
He came back - I had to go and find him, where he was. I found him in the police station; I persuaded the police officer that he was a simple man, just a victim of some friends, and he had never taken bhang before, so it affected him too much. I brought him back. But from that day he became afraid, so afraid that a car would pass and he would jump on my bed and he would say, “The police are coming!” In the night, somebody would be knocking at somebody else’s door, and he would immediately hide under my bed: “The police are coming!” He became so afraid that it became impossible for him to go and teach, because anywhere you can come across a policeman.
Twenty-four hours a day I watched him, because he was just an exaggerated case of ordinary humanity. And when a case is exaggerated you can watch more easily. He started creating fantasies of his own, nightmares, that the government was conspiring against him. An ordinary teacher in a university, why should the government bother? There are many other things to bother about.
A simple-hearted man, but now he created in his own imagination - he worked it up, and the more he worked it up the more he got into it - that the whole world was against him, and everybody was watching him, and they were just trying to find an opportunity to catch him and throw him into jail. He stopped going outside the room. Even if I came back he would look first from the window, make certain that it was me and not somebody else trying to deceive: maybe the police have come, or somebody else - the enemy. When I came, minutes would pass, even sometimes half an hour, then he would open the door, when he was absolutely convinced that it was me and nobody else.
Then it became too much because I also could not sleep or rest - the whole night, the whole day! Even if just a breeze came on the door and knocked he would jump up and hide in the cupboard. So I had to do something.
I went to the police station, I persuaded those men: “You have done this. Now help me - because he says that the police have some documents against him. So you please come tonight, bring a file, just a false file, because there is no document against him or anything, he has never done anything else other than this taking bhang once. So you bring a false file, his name written on it, with many papers inside - any papers will do, and you beat him hard. A shock is needed, otherwise he will not come out of his enclosure, and he is shrinking and shrinking inwards. So you beat him hard, don’t be worried. Hit him hard. And bring the chains, put him in chains, then I will try to persuade you, and I will bribe you in front of him, so he is satisfied that now the case is closed, and you burn those files in front of him.”