“There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind.”
~ Patrick Rothfuss
My sister turned crazy when she was eight.
I don’t know if it was because of our financial situation, the sick violent relationship between my parents, the constant isolation, or the combination of it all that drove her out of her mind. Or perhaps she was just born that way.
I can still remember the first time she showed an unusual display of behavior. It was the evening we acquired an electricity connection and I was happily reading a comic book under the light when I heard her reciting a multiplication table from the other room. There was something that wasn’t right the way she was doing it. The tone of her voice for one, and she kept repeating the damn thing over and over again but mixing the whole thing up! I thought: what’s the matter with her?
The same day, I woke up in the middle of the night and saw her posed over the sleeping body of our elder sister holding a scissor above her head ready to strike. I could understand. I could imagine myself doing it also for countless reasons but we usually don’t act the things we imagine, do we?
The next day, she came home from school crying hysterically, quite beside herself mumbling about some accident on a national highway, dead, mutilated bodies strewn on the road, things like that… The funny thing is: there was no accident. Young as I was (two years older than her) I knew for a certainty that time that she lost it.
And it never stops. Then there was a decapitated head on the bridge, an occasion when she rode on top of a vehicle naked and bleeding, she tried to kill herself by slashing her wrists with a razor I had to carry her all the way down from the attic to the hospital. And all that because a guy didn’t fancy her. And the time she was raving mad and climbed over the gate of someone’s house shouting the name of the sophomore (who turned out to be gay) whom I didn’t realize she was in love with but the boy didn’t know she existed and why he should? He belongs to the upper-middle class and from a prominent family in town, and who are we? In his eyes, we were just dust on the road. After the incident, more than ever.
Pity because my sister had and have still a brilliant mind.
She was a straight-A- student, even after that unfortunate incident with the gay sophomore, she finished the year with a gold medal. She is the most intelligent among us, the only one who has a magnificent voice she used to sing the solo in church and school choir. If I have a photographic memory, then she has the most advanced camera in her brain, the girl can recall every small detail of a long time ago which I have long forgotten. If I am a psychic then her power compares to mine is tenfold. Not only she can predict who is going to come on a certain day but she can tell you the exact time. She knows the name of every medicine known to man and can recite them in their generic names. I remember the time she went to a hospital and stole a lab coat and pretended she was a doctor. It took them a couple of days to find out the truth. She’s that good. She once worked in a law office as an assistant and she has no law degree or any education related to law. She attended high school only a year before they shifted her off to college and even there she excelled.
We tried to get her committed to a mental hospital but after every interview, the verdict was always the same: she’s not crazy but emotionally disturbed. She doesn’t belong to a loony bin. A fact she will gladly and readily use against anyone who dares to challenge her cranial capacity and state of mind. Whatever her real condition is, it hinders her to lead what society considers a “normal” life. She is not able to hold/sustain a relationship for a long period of time and take care of her children. She tried. Harder than any of us. She wants the kind of family we never had: functional, together, harmonious and loving. In the end, the continuous betrayals, the hard facts of life, the huge responsibilities of keeping a family proved to be too much for her; she left and lives a life of a drifter. She becomes homeless.
For some people perhaps she seems like someone who is a sexually delinquent person but the truth is she just wants love, attention, caring, warmth; all the things that have been denied to her all her life. My mother saw her as a nuisance, ugly (she doesn’t look like any of us and not charming but in my eyes, it doesn’t make her ugly) and always treated her with contempt. An attitude she extended to my sister’s children as well. I don’t understand.
For all the things she did out of the ordinary, there are two occasions that are engraved in my brain forever. One was when she jumped in pitch dark night into an excavation filled with coarse gravel straight through between barbwire fence and came out unscratched. The second was when we were in a bus traveling to the mental hospital and she squeezed herself through the window and jumped; landed on the highway, rolled over, stood up unharmed, and started running away. Sometimes I think, she’s blessed in some other ways.
I don’t know where is now. It’s hard to keep track of her when she’s always moving around. I hope she’s doing okay despite everything. I love her. She’s the best among us. Good at heart and innocent. Yes. Innocent…