The last two days have been hectic for 66-year-old Mon Maya. Besides her regular household chores, she has to keep checking on her son.
Her son, Bir Bahadur Tamang, 30, lies asleep under a thin blanket in a small compartment adjacent to their house in Rangthaling, Tsirang. Few planks serve as a bed on the cold floor.
Mon Maya is worried that the cold would worsen her son’s condition. Every 10 minutes she checks to see if he has eaten anything that has been left near his bed. She said he has not had a glass of water for the last two days.
One of their cousins pelted stone and injured him recently, she said. “He bled and cried in pain for many days. His siblings say he deserved it.”
Mon Maya said her son has been a victim of stone pelting often ever since he was diagnosed as a mental health patient. “Neighbours and relatives have been doing that often to chase him away.”
Bir Bahadur is locally known as a ‘psycho’ and the mother said he started acting strange some 15 years ago when he was staying in the forest, practicing shifting cultivation. “He began behaving differently. He talked to himself and giggled.”
She said he became violent and destructive. “He broke all the window panes, poked CGI sheets, and tore blankets and all the garments.” He was even sued in court for beating a neighbour.
A few years later, he was taken to the hospital. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Following medication and diagnosis, he was treated in Sikkim Rehabilitation Society for five months in 2009.
Mon Maya said his condition improved but relapsed. He was then treated at the psychiatric ward in Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) for two weeks. In 2012, he was treated for substance abuse and behavioural problem at the JDWNRH.
Psychiatrist Dr DK Nirola recommended that he be admitted to a mental hospital in Tezpur after his parents could not handle him and had to resort to institutionalising him. He advised Mon Bahadur be treated for underlying schizophrenia for his bizarre delusions.
Mon Maya said that when all treatments have failed to work on Bir Bahadur, her husband also started acting like a mad man. “Both my son and husband sleep for days without food. I don’t know what to do.”
She said that it has been years that she had any visitors or guests. Her daughters are scared of their brother. “My elder son, who lives nearby, comes to see how I am doing.”
The family claims that they have written to the gewog administration several times, seeking help. “My only wish and request is to put my son in a rehab so that he doesn’t suffer. We can’t even cage him here.”
Nirmala Pokhrel |Tsirang