This work of fiction is not set in any particular country, for the intention was to appeal to a wider international audience (the internet, you know). As a result, the reader is likely to notice a certain fusion of cultures of the East, particularly of my native India, and that of the West in general.
This work of fiction is not set in any particular country, for the intention was to appeal to a wider international audience (the internet, you know). As a result, the reader is likely to notice a certain fusion of cultures of the East, particularly of my native India, and that of the West in general.
Dr. Donkor (Behaviour therapist)
Rita (Donkor’s secretary)
Norma (Donkor’s assistant)
Rook Bacher (26 years old, good looks)
Mrs Bacher (Rook’s mother)
Freda (Rook’s sister, in her late teens)
A Waiter (in night club)
Extras (in night club)
INT. DR. DONKOR’S OFFICE
INT. DR. DONKOR’S OUTER OFFICE
INT. THE BACHER HOUSE: HALLWAY
INT. THE BACHER HOUSE: ROOK’S ROOM
INT. NIGHT CLUB
(RITA, THE SECRETARY, IS BUSY AT HER DESK. THE DOOR OPENS AND MRS. BACHER AND ROOK ENTER, ROOK LOOKING MISTRUSTFUL)
Mrs. BACHER: I am Mrs. Bacher and this is my son, Rook Bacher. We have an appointment.
RITA: Oh, yes, Mrs. Bacher. Please sit down.
(RITA INDICATES TO THE CHAIRS ACROSS HER TABLE. THEY SIT.)
RITA: If you’d like to fill this out.
(SHE PUSHES A QUESTIONNAIRE AND A PEN TOWARDS MRS. BACHER. WHILE HIS MOTHER IS WRITING, ROOK LOOKS COLDLY AROUND AT THE OFFICE; RITA GIVES HIM A SMILE BUT HE KEEPS HIS EYES AVERTED FROM HER. WHEN THE FORM IS FILLED OUT, RITA TAKES IT AND RISES.)
RITA: Just a moment please.
(SHE EXITS TO THE ADJOINING OFFICE OF DR. DONKOR.)
(THE DOCTOR IS BEHIND HIS DESK, STUDYING SOME DOCUMENTS. BEHIND HIM IS HIS LIBRARY AND BESIDE HIS SWIVEL CHAIR IS A SMALL TABLE ON WHICH IS A TAPE-RECORDER. HE LOOKS UP WHEN RITA COMES IN.)
RITA: Mr. And Mrs. Bacher. They are here.
(SHE HANDS HIM THE FORM. HE LOOKS AT HER IN PUZZLEMENT)
DONKOR: No son?
RITA: Mother and son.
(HE GLANCES THROUGH THE FORM)
RITA: Attempted suicide.
DONKOR: (LOOKING UP AT HER) Yes, show them in.
(RITA ADDRESSES THE BACHERS FROM THE DOOR.)
RITA: This way please.
(WHEN THEY HAVE COME IN, SHE SHUTS THE DOOR ON THEM FROM THE OUTER OFFICE. DONKOR GETS UP AND EXTENDS HIS HAND)
DONKOR: Good afternoon…Do sit down.
(HE GESTURES TOWARDS THE TWO CHAIRS ACROSS HIS DESK. THEY ALL SIT. MRS. BACHER, LOOKING SAD, TAKES A HANDKERCHIEF OUT OF HER HANDBAG AND DRIES HER EYES. DONKOR LOOKS AT THE FORM)
DONKOR: Now you have been recommended to me by … Dr. Singh from the general hospital…
MRS. BACHER: He said Rook should be in a psychiatric hospital…but…we want him treated privately.
DONKOR: I see…eh, does Rook have a father?
MRS. BACHER: He died 12 years ago. (SHE SNIFFS AND USES THE HANKY AGAIN)
DONKOR: Any brothers or sisters?
MRS. BACHER: He has two younger sisters.
(DONKOR JOTS IT ALL DOWN ON THE FORM. THEN HE LOOKS UP)
DONKOR: On the phone, Mrs. Bacher, I told you how much I charge for every session. But you must understand that there may be some additional expenses, depending on the kind of treatment Rook receives.
MRS. BACHER: Oh, that’s all right, Doctor. It doesn’t matter how much it costs, as long as Rook gets better.
DONKOR: Good…How do you feel about coming to me, Rook?
ROOK: (SHRUGGING SHOULDERS) I don’t care one way or the other.
DONKOR: Do you think you could come here every day?
ROOK: No problem…but I doubt if you can do anything for me.
MRS. BACHER: Now you mustn’t say things like that, dear.
DONKOR: That’s all right, Mrs. Bacher. (DONKOR TURNS AND SWITCHES ON HIS TAPE RECORDER)
DONKOR: (TO MRS. BACHER) Well, perhaps you’d like to tell me what Rook’s problem is.
ROOK: Shouldn’t I tell you that?
DONKOR: We’ll come to you later, Rook.
MRS. BACHER: He…he is a university graduate, an engineer, but he doesn’t want to work…he remains at home and all he does is read his books and watch television…he doesn’t even have any friends except one who seems to be a criminal; if he does go out, it's to see the movies or to meet this so-called friend, and then he is straight back…Some years ago Rook saw another psychiatrist but that didn’t do him any good; in fact we thought it made him worse for he began to find fault with his dead father, something he had never done before. Even now Rook goes on about the poor man –
ROOK: (CUTTING IN) Ha!! Poor my foot !
MRS. BACHER: You see?…I know he doesn’t mean it. I know he does it because he is not well…
DONKOR: Could I just have the name of this psychiatrist, Mrs. Bacher?
ROOK: Dr. Ratnake. A quack.
(DONKOR JOTS THE NAME DOWN)
MRS. BACHER: He called himself a psycho-analyst.
DONKOR: Yes, I see.
DONKOR: Anything else you want to tell me. Mrs. Bacher?
MRS. BACHER: I cannot have him try to take his own life again, Doctor. He must get well. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, but he must get well. He must get well and he must settle down – I mean he is already 26.
ROOK: (MOCKINGLY) And he must go to the mosque.
MRS. BACHER: God will forgive you, my child.
DONKOR: Have you had any problems with your daughters, Mrs. Bacher?
MRS. BACHER: Oh, no…they are in the best of health, thank god.
DONKOR: What do they do?
MRS. BACHER: They go to school.
DONKOR: And what do you do, Mrs. Bacher?
MRS. BACHER: I –
ROOK: (CUTTING IN) She is in the house -- cleaning and praying.
MRS. BACHER: I have never taken any outside job. My husband didn’t think it a good idea. I can see now that he was right. I mean when one has children, one ought to be able to take care of them, instead of letting others do it for you. How can others do a proper job when it's not their own children?
ROOK: Look what a proper job you did with me!
MRS. BACHER: God knows I did everything I could for you, like I did for your sisters. I…I just don’t understand why…
(HER VOICE BREAKS AND SHE BEGINS TO WEEP)
ROOK: (SHOUTING) Yes you do understand! You just don’t want to admit it!!
MRS. BACHER: (TRYING TO CONTROL HERSELF) If your father did anything wrong it was not today or yesterday or even last year. Why can’t you forget what happened long ago and forgive.
ROOK: How can I forgive when that bastard left me twisted?! I have to keep on suffering, don’t you understand that! Why do you think I took those pills?!…That…that freak Ratnake couldn’t do anything for me and this (HE TURNS FIERCELY TOWARDS DONKOR, THEN SPRINGS UP)…come on, let's get out of here!!
(ROOK FLIES OUT INTO THE OUTER OFFICE, LEAVING THE DOOR OPEN BEHIND HIM)
(ROOK EXCHANGES A LOOK WITH RITA, THEN, TURNING HIS BACK ON HER, HE WAITS FOR HIS MOTHER)
MRS. BACHER: (HORRIFIED) Rook, come back ! Please !!
(SHE TURNS BESEECHINGLY TO DONKOR AND BREAKS INTO SOBS)
DONKOR: (AFTER A MOMENT) It's all right, Mrs. Bacher. Just take him home. We’ll meet again.
(SHE GETS UP SLOWLY. OPENS HER HANDBAG)
MRS. BACHER: Thank you, doctor… I’d like to pay…
DONKOR: It's all right. We’ll take care of that next time. (HE SMILES)
MRS. BACHER: Thank you.
(SHE EXITS TO THE OUTER OFFICE)
MRS. BACHER: (TO RITA) Thank you.
RITA: Good bye, Mrs. Bacher
(MRS. BACHER TAKES HER SON’S HAND)
(MRS. BACHER): Come on, Rook.
(THEY EXIT TO THE CORRIDOR. DONKOR COMES OVER TO RITA, THOUGHTFUL, HANDS IN POCKETS)
DONKOR: He thinks I am a crook.
RITA: (SMILES) He is quite handsome.
DONKOR: And very intelligent.
RITA: Aren’t they all?
DONKOR: He is more so.
(RITA LOOKS AT THE DOCTOR REFLECTIVELY)
(CLEAN AND ORDERLY. THE FRONT DOOR BELL RINGS. FREDA COMES OUT OF THE LIVING ROOM AND OPENS THE DOOR)
DONKOR: Good morning. I am Dr. Donkor.
FREDA: Come in, please.
(DONKOR STEPS IN. AS HE TAKES HIS COAT OFF:)
DONKOR: You must be Rook’s sister.
FREDA: (SMILING) Yes.
(SHE TAKES HIS COAT AND HANGS IT UP)
DONKOR: What’s your name?
(DONKOR NODS. SHE TURNS AWAY FROM HIM)
FREDA: I’ll get my mother.
DONKOR: Oh, just a minute, Freda…
(SHE STOPS. TURNS BACK)
DONKOR: I’d just like to have a word with you, if I may.
DONKOR: You know why I am here, don’t you?
DONKOR: Tell me…how do you get along with Rook?
DONKOR: And your sister? I believe you have a sister.
FREDA: Lin gets along fine too.
DONKOR: Do you have much to do with him?
FREDA: Not really.
DONKOR: Do you talk to him much?
FREDA: Sometimes…when he comes to eat or to watch television.
DONKOR: What do you talk about?
FREDA: Oh…various things…films, books, music, that sort of thing; but…
FREDA: Well, he can’t really discuss anything properly. I mean he just comes up with some remarks, that’s all.
DONKOR: Have you told him that?
FREDA: No. He hates to be criticized.
DONKOR: Tell me about your father. Do you remember much of him?
FREDA: (SHAKING HEAD) No…Only that he gave us presents sometimes. I…I do not know why Rook hates him so much.
DONKOR: Does your mother know?
FREDA: No. She thinks it’s a terrible sin to talk like that about the dead. But she can’t stop him.
DONKOR: Are you also religious, Freda?
DONKOR: And Lin?
FREDA: She too…Even Rook was religious, until a few years ago. Now all he does is curse religion and this makes my mother very unhappy.
(MRS. BACHER COMES OUT OF A BEDROOM DOWN THE HALLWAY)
MRS. BACHER: Why, Doctor Donkor, I had no idea you were already here!
(SHE HURRIES UP TO THEM)
DONKOR: That’s all right, Mrs. Bacher. I was just having a chat with Freda.
MRS. BACHER: (TURNING AND POINTING DOWN THE HALLWAY) Rook’s room is the last one down on the right.
(DONKOR BEGINS TO MOVE AWAY)
DONKOR: Thank you, Mrs. Bacher. Thank you, Freda.
(MOTHER AND DAUGHTER LOOK ON AS THE DOCTOR GOES AND KNOCKS ON ROOK’S DOOR)
ROOK: (FROM INSIDE THE ROOM. OOV) Ya?
(DONKOR GOES IN)
(ORDERLY ROOM. ONE WALL TAKEN UP ENTIRELY BY BOOKSHELVES. ROOK, IN PYJAMAS, IS LYING IN BED, READING A BOOK. DR. DONKOR ENTERS)
DONKOR: Hello, Rook. May I come in?
(ROOK LOOKS UP COLDLY, WITHOUT A WORD. DONKOR SHUTS THE DOOR AND LOOKS AROUND THE ROOM. HE NODS TOWARDS THE BOOKSHELVES)
DONKOR: Quite a collection you have there.
(ROOK STARES AGGRESSIVELY AT THE DOCTOR, WHO NOW TAKES A PEEP OUT THE WINDOW)
DONKOR: You are wondering why I am here, right?
(ROOK CONTINUES TO STARE)
DONKOR: I’ll tell you why…The other day, in my office, you practically called me a charlatan…I want to prove to you that I am not.
(A LONG SILENCE. THEN:)
ROOK: (CURTLY) How?
(ROOK LOWERS THE BOOK ON HIS STOMACH)
DONKOR: You are a scientist, aren’t you? An engineer?
DONKOR: You like things to be backed up by proof, right?
DONKOR: Suppose I were to offer you scientific proof for all that I did to help you? Would you be satisfied then?
ROOK: Did to help me?! What the hell can you shrinks do! Except talk, talk, talk!
DONKOR: Is that what Dr. Ratnake did?
ROOK: Yes. Plus one other useless thing – he prescribed pills. They didn’t help either.
DONKOR: Help against what?
ROOK: Unpleasant memories and thoughts…I…I…Look, just leave me alone, will you !?
(ROOK PICKS UP HIS BOOK AND RESUMES READING IT. DONKOR LOOKS AT HIM FOR A WHILE)
DONKOR: If you don’t do something about it, you are going to keep on suffering, aren’t you?
(ROOK LOWERS THE BOOK AGAIN)
ROOK: I don’t have to. I can take Soneryls again. And I won’t make the same mistake !
DONKOR: What mistake?
ROOK: I had a hundred of them. I…I took only sixty.
(HE SLAMS HIS FIST DOWN ON THE BED)
ROOK: I don’t understand why !
(HE IS SEIZED BY SELF-PITY AND BEGINS TO CRY BUT CHECKS HIMSELF QUICKLY. DONKOR COMES AND SITS ON THE EDGE OF THE BED)
DONKOR: (GENTLY) Why do you shut yourself in here?
ROOK: I like to be alone.
DONKOR: Like to be alone?
ROOK: No…I…I…I find people…difficult…
DONKOR: In what way?
ROOK: I don’t feel they like me.
DONKOR: All of them?
ROOK: Well, if some of them do, it's not long before I discover that they really don’t. They are all selfish.
DONKOR: Do you get into arguments with them?
DONKOR: What then?
ROOK: I am afraid of them…I am afraid they might find fault with me, or get angry with me or not give me what I want…I just feel uneasy with them…If they happen to invite me into their homes, all I want to do is to make sure that I am out of there before they get tired of me.
DONKOR: What happens if they do find fault with you?
ROOK: Well, now I have begun to tell them off, instead of running away and suffering in silence. This was something…
ROOK: Well, this Ratnake fellow…He asked me why I didn’t express my feelings. He said it was because I was afraid and that it was very unhealthy for me; so…I began to hit back at the bastards.
DONKOR: So you do get into arguments with them…
ROOK: No. I avoid them. I can’t bear to see their angry faces.
DONKOR: How can you hit back at them and not make them angry?
ROOK: I hit back and disappear. Or I hit back through the post. There are many ways to take revenge…Once I sent a false tip to the police against a bastard, claiming that he was a smuggler…I feel I must take revenge – thanks to Ratnake. If I don’t, the pain persists for days and it's terrible. No, it can persist for months and months. Sometimes I even remember incidents that happened years ago.
DONKOR: Is that what you call unpleasant memories and thoughts?
(DONKOR TAKES OUT A PENCIL AND A LITTLE WRITING PAD FROM HIS POCKET. HE BEGINS TO WRITE)
DONKOR: That can be taken care of easily.
ROOK: I want nothing from you.
DONKOR: Don’t worry. No tranquillizer.
ROOK: I don’t want to be your patient.
DONKOR: (LOOKING UP FROM HIS PAD) Oh, but I never have patients. Only clients. (HE RESUMES WRITING)
ROOK: What’s the bloody difference?
DONKOR: Patient implies that you are sick. Well, you are not sick. You are simply the victim of what we call mal-adaptive learning. (HE TEARS THE SHEET FROM THE PAD AND HOLDS IT OUT AT ROOK)
DONKOR: Here, follow these two simple instructions and you are rid of your disturbing thoughts. I am going to talk to your mother about them.
(ROOK TAKES IT DOUBTFULLY AND READS IT)
ROOK: Ha! A load of rubbish!
DONKOR: Why don’t you try? And find out for yourself?
ROOK: (INDIGNANTLY) I think you had better leave – Mister Donkor.
(DONKOR GETS UP)
DONKOR: Yes of course.
(DONKOR GOES TO THE DOOR. OPENING IT, HE TURNS BACK TO ROOK)
DONKOR: If you want some evidence for that – (HE NODS TOWARDS HIS CHIT ON ROOK’S CHEST) – come to my office.
(RITA IS FILING SOME PAPERS. THE CORRIDOR DOOR OPENS AND A VERY EMBARRASSED LOOKING ROOK ENTERS)
RITA: Good morning, Mr. Bacher. (SHE INDICATES TOWARDS THE DOOR TO DONKOR’S INNER OFFICE) Go right in, the Doctor is waiting for you.
(ROOK GOES IN QUIETLY)
(RISING FROM HIS SEAT, DONKOR WELCOMES ROOK)
DONKOR: I am glad you came, Rook. Do sit down.
ROOK: I don’t doubt that you are glad.
(DONKOR SMILES AND SWITCHES ON HIS TAPE-RECORDER)
DONKOR: Well, what have you got to report?
ROOK: I want to look at that evidence you talked about.
(DONKOR TURNS TO HIS BOOKSHELVES. HE FINDS A FILE AND HANDS IT OVER TO ROOK)
DONKOR: You can take that home. Study at your leisure.
ROOK: (GLANCING THROUGH THE MATERIAL) Thanks.
DONKOR: But of course you don’t need to look at it now, do you?
ROOK: (LOOKING UP AT THE DOCTOR, EMBARRASSED) Has my mother…?
DONKOR: (NODDING) I spoke to her on the phone after you rang me. She told me how carefully you had followed my instructions.
(ROOK LEANS AWAY FROM THE FILE)
ROOK: You knew I would, didn’t you?
DONKOR: How could you not? It was so simple.
ROOK: How come Ratnake didn’t think of this?
DONKOR: Well, maybe he didn’t know…You see, Rook, Psychology or the science of behaviour, as we like to call it, is a pretty young science. It hasn’t seen much development – simply because the human mind is such a complex instrument. As you know, if you can’t get at the causes, you try to offer guesses, and that’s the reason we have in Psychology today so many schools of thought.
ROOK: But if these facts about diet and exercise are in these journals, how could Ratnake not have known of them?
DONKOR: Probably because he is pre-occupied with his own theories.
ROOK: So I was right then. He is a quack!
DONKOR: I wouldn’t go so far. He did something for you, didn’t he? Told you to express your feelings.
ROOK: But I am still afraid to. I told you I can’t stand confrontations. I can’t bear being spoken to disapprovingly…
DONKOR: Why are you afraid?
ROOK: I don’t know for sure; but I think it has to do with my father, the way he treated me…..
DONKOR: You were pretty sure when you were here with your mother. You said your father had left you twisted.
(ROOK LEANS FORWARD PENSIVELY)
ROOK: I have a few memories…And after I started with Ratnake, I began to read a lot of Psycho-analysis, although Ratnake didn’t want me to – he said knowing about things like Free-Association and all that would make analysis difficult. I didn’t care…Well, I began to put two and two together and I got to my father…He…he was my father but the amazing thing is that I never called him that. I didn’t call him anything. Very often I felt that I ought to call him Dad or something, also because it was so cumbersome to get his attention when he was a little away from me; but I couldn’t bring myself to; I just couldn’t…
DONKOR: Did your sisters call him anything?
ROOK: Yes. Papa…I…I remember one incident from my childhood. I think I must have been seven or eight. My father and I were playing hide and seek and he happened to fall and hurt himself. I felt sorry for him. I wanted to ask if he was all right, but the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth…Freud talks about the importance of the first three years of our lives and about hate being buried in the sub-conscious and the sub-conscious not allowing the conscious to do things…If that’s correct, well, then, it’s my father who is the culprit.
DONKOR: What else do you remember about your father?
ROOK: Well, if it happened when I was three years old, how can I remember?
DONKOR: It doesn’t have to happen when you are that young.
DONKOR: No. It can happen any time in our lives. Only it has to happen repeatedly. Now try to remember more about your father.
ROOK: Well, I think I was about fourteen when he died…He was a man who liked to boast a lot about himself. He had his opinions and he liked to stick to them, no matter what evidence there was to the contrary.He did not like other people coming and telling him what to do. He was also said to be a very jealous man, jealous of other people’s success – Oh, and I remember one thing: he always appeared very surprised when he found that I knew something important, you know, something in the field of politics or such-like; he was surprised but he never said well done or anything…
DONKOR: Did he lose his temper with you?
ROOK: Yes, but then we all do that, don’t we?
DONKOR: Did he lose his temper often?
ROOK: I don’t remember how often.
DONKOR: Did he often find fault with you?
ROOK: I suppose he did.
ROOK: I really can’t say.
DONKOR: You said quite a bit about his boastfulness and his stubbornness and his jealousy. How come you remember all that clearly?
ROOK: Oh, that’s picked up from relatives. People who knew him.
DONKOR: You said you couldn’t call him father. And that you couldn’t express sympathy to him…What about your mother?
ROOK: I call her mother. That I can do. But I find it difficult to sympathize with anybody…Oh, and when it comes to people generally I find it embarrassing to call them by their names. I just can’t.
DONKOR: Before you walked out of here last time, you insisted to your mother that she knew what had happened to you. What does she know?
ROOK: That since she was there when I was not more than three years old, she must have witnessed the damage done to me by my father.
DONKOR: So it's mainly psycho-analytical theory that makes you accuse your father?
ROOK: Plus my memory of the hide and seek play and the fact that I couldn’t call him father. Don’t you think it makes sense?
DONKOR: Maybe…But speculating about that is not going to get us anywhere, as you found out with Dr. Ratnake. What happened in the past is actually not as important as what we can do for you now. However, before we –
ROOK: (CUTTING IN) What can you do for me?
DONKOR: We can relieve you of your fears. So that you can live a normal life.
ROOK: Is this something to do with diet and exercise again?
DONKOR: No…It has to do with Counter-Conditioning. (DONKOR SMILES)
ROOK: What the hell is that?
DONKOR: It’s a method to unlearn what you have learnt.
ROOK: Oh…How do you go about it? Or shouldn’t I ask?
DONKOR: You may ask. I hide nothing from my clients…However, for practical reasons, it is best that you learn about it when we come to it. Right now I would like you to tell me something about your sex life.
ROOK: (FEELING EMBARRASSED) I…I haven’t had any.
ROOK: Well, actually I have had it with a married woman.
DONKOR: A married woman?
ROOK: Yes. My friend Kaiz helped me get her.
DONKOR: This is the one friend your mother calls a criminal?
ROOK: I don’t care what my mother calls him. Kaiz has a heart of gold and if he hadn’t wanted to be friends with me, I would have been completely lonely.
DONKOR: What does he do?
ROOK: He say he works with his uncle. And because his uncle is a big time racketeer, my mother calls Kaiz a criminal.
DONKOR: All right, so you haven’t done any normal dating…
ROOK: I should have thought that that was obvious to you. I…I could never bring myself to ask a girl for a date…proper fool I would be if she…
DONKOR: Haven’t girls tried to make advances to you? While you were studying?
ROOK: Oh, plenty of them. But they are all hypocrites. As soon as you let them know you are willing, they change their bloody minds…They may be keen but they want you first to fall on your knees and beg them…
DONKOR: What do you mean?
ROOK: I mean they want you to show that you love them…no, maybe not love them, but…you know, that you like them very much…I can’t do that. I mean I like them, they attract me but I can’t reveal that to them…I find that…sort of humiliating…
DONKOR: What would happen if they found out you liked them?
ROOK: I told you. I would feel…well, perhaps humiliated is not the right word…you know, embarrassed.
DONKOR: Try to think a little and tell me what exactly you are afraid would happen if you told them you liked them.
(ROOK IS SILENT FOR A MOMENT. THEN HE THROWS UP HIS HANDS)
ROOK: I don’t really know. I just feel bad, uncomfortable…
DONKOR: Are you afraid they would laugh at you?
ROOK: (AFTER SOME THOUGHT) No…I don’t think they would do that.
DONKOR: But you are afraid they would reject you…
DONKOR: Even though they have made advances to you.
ROOK: Yes…I know it sounds crazy.
DONKOR: It's not crazy. There is a logical explanation for it…Tell me, did you have playmates when you were small?
DONKOR: None at all?
ROOK: I may have had some. I don’t remember.
DONKOR: How did you get along in school?
ROOK: I hated school.
ROOK: The others…they teased me. It was awful.
DONKOR: Tease you about what?
ROOK: (AFTER A DISTRESSING PAUSE) I don’t like to talk about it, if you don’t mind.
DONKOR: Does the memory disturb you?
ROOK: It's painful…I…I couldn’t even complain about it when it was happening. I had to keep on bearing it – alone.
DONKOR: How long did it go on?
ROOK: A long time. (ROOK GETS UP SUDDENLY, ANGRY) Look, I don’t want to talk about it!
(HE TURNS HIS BACK ON DONKOR, MOVES A LITTLE AWAY FROM THE DESK)
ROOK: (QUIETLY, NOT LOOKING AT DONKOR) I couldn’t tell Ratnake about it either. He said it was important that I tell him, if I wanted to get better. (HE TURNS TOWARDS DONKOR) Do you think it's important?
DONKOR: Everything is important.
(ROOK COMES BACK TO THE DESK, BENDS DOWN AT DONKOR)
ROOK: No, I mean, would I get over the pain just by talking about it?
ROOK: There you are! You are not sure. So what’s the bloody point?!
DONKOR: The point is that it might help to draw a complete picture of the origins of your problems, and thereby make it easier to solve them.
ROOK: (EXCITEDLY) But…but the origins are not important! Isn’t that what you said? The important thing is to solve them. Those were your words !!
DONKOR: Yes, that’s what I said. But it's good to be able to unearth the causes. Anyway, let's move on, or rather, back. To sex. How often do you masturbate?
ROOK: (INDIGNANTLY) Now what kind of a question is that ?! I never said I masturbated !!
DONKOR: Don’t you?
(ROOK SITS DOWN QUIETLY)
ROOK: Yes, I do…it's…it's something I began only a couple of years ago, after I read about it. I mean after I learnt that it was not harmful. It's not, is it?
DONKOR: (SHAKING HEAD) It is the anxiety felt about it that is harmful. Not the practice of it.
ROOK: Well, I hate anything that’s abnormal.
DONKOR: It's not. What kind of fantasies do you evoke?
ROOK: (GRINNING) I think of some girls I have seen on the streets, or some film stars – you know, anybody I think is sexy and beautiful.
DONKOR: How often do you do it?
ROOK: Every day.
DONKOR: Do you get any sexual dreams?
ROOK: I used to. Before I started masturbating…It was terrible. I used to prevent the ejaculation.
(ROOK SLAMS HIS FIST ON THE TABLE)
ROOK: Damn the bloody religion !!
ROOK: Well, what else? It’s the damn religion that gave me these crazy ideas! Thou shall not wet your pyjamas, thou shall not wet your bathroom floor, thou shall not wet women until some idiot priest has pronounced you man and wife…Hell, how I suffered! I suffered until I no longer feared God. I mean, just imagine, some bastards torment you and this so-called good God just lets it happen!
DONKOR: Let me ask you this, Rook: What kind of girls do you like?
ROOK: (SMILING) Beautiful and sexy.
DONKOR: Tall, short, thin, fat, long hair, short hair…??
ROOK: Oh, I like them fat. No, not too fat. I mean plump, you know, well covered with flesh, so that you can feel the softness…the lips must be thick and soft too, the breasts big of course, and the hair should be long, falling loosely over the shoulders…Why? Why do you ask?
DONKOR: I’ll answer that on your next visit. Our time today has run out, I am afraid.
(ROOK GETS UP, TAKES OUT WALLET FROM POCKET)
DONKOR: I think it would be a good idea for you to stop masturbating for the time being, Rook.
DONKOR: In order that we may treat you.
ROOK: What…what has the treatment got to do with it?
DONKOR: You’ll find out. Until then, you’ll do as I say, won’t you?
ROOK: (HESITANTLY) Yes.
(ROOK HANDS OVER THE DOCTOR’S FEE)
DONKOR: Thank you.
ROOK: Good bye.
DONKOR: Good bye, Rook.
(ROOK EXITS, LEAVING THE ‘EVIDENCE’ BEHIND ON THE DESK. DONKOR PICKS UP THE FILE AND RETURNS IT TO THE SHELVES. THEN, SWITCHING OFF THE TAPE-RECORDER, HE GOES TO RITA)
(RITA IS SITTING AT HER DESK)
DONKOR: Norma…Get her.
RITA: (SMILING) For the next visit?
(RITA PICKS UP THE PHONE)
RITA: I’ll see if she can.
DONKOR: She had better.
(DONKOR IS RELAXING IN HIS CHAIR. SEATED ON THE OTHER SIDE OF HIS DESK IS NORMA, A WOMAN IN HER LATE TWENTIES, LONG HAIR, VOLUPTUOUS. SHE IS GLANCING THROUGH A BUNCH OF PAPERS IN A FILE. THERE IS A KNOCK ON THE DOOR)
DONKOR: Come in.
(ROOK ENTERS, SHUTTING THE DOOR BEHIND HIM)
DONKOR: Come in, Rook.
(DONKOR GETS UP, SHAKES HAND WITH ROOK)
DONKOR: I’d like you to meet Norma. One of my assistants.
(STANDING UP, NORMA EXTENDS HAND)
NORMA: Hello, Rook.
(ROOK TAKES HER HAND, PUZZLED. THEY ALL SIT)
DONKOR: Now, Rook, in order to be able to understand the rationale of the treatment, it is essential that you have some idea about the cause of your problem. Norma has gone through your case. She is going to explain.
NORMA: Let me ask you this, Rook: Are you bothered by loud noises?
ROOK: Loud noises?…Yes, I think so.
NORMA: You see, all of us are bothered by loud noises; but some of us are more sensitive to them than others…Now it is very likely that you are rather sensitive, which is probably the root cause of your neurosis. Don’t let this word neurosis frighten you. It is simply another word for faulty learning. As you probably know, we human beings have to learn to cope with life after being born, like not touching fire or keeping away from certain dangerous animals. Now if we happen to learn to avoid things that are harmless or learn to do things that are likely to get us into trouble, that’s neurosis…The question is: How do we learn? What must happen in order that we may learn…?
ROOK: Something to do with conditioning.
NORMA: Quite…Let me explain it this way: suppose I were pushed before you and at the same time or a few seconds later somebody shouted in your ear? You would wonder what on earth it was all about, wouldn’t you?
NORMA: You would still wonder if the process was repeated again and again – that is, if I were repeatedly put in front of you and you were screamed at – but now there would be a difference in that you would have acquired some fear – of me! Does that make sense?
ROOK: (AFTER A LITTLE THOUGHT) Why should I be afraid of you and not the man who screams at me?
NORMA: Oh, but you don’t see the man who screams at you. You see only me.
ROOK: I see.
NORMA: Well, anyway, take our word for it: You’ll be scared stiff of me…Now when you were looking at me, you were doing something, right?
NORMA: You are also doing something when you listen or smell or think or touch or move. Right?
NORMA: For example: Say you saw a piece of cake somewhere and you picked it up, and your father saw this and gave you a clout. You would again wonder what on earth it was all about, assuming of course that your father kept his mouth shut. Well, if you continued picking up the cake on different occasions and you kept getting clouted, you would eventually stop bothering about the cake, wouldn’t you?
NORMA: That would not be such a big problem for you because it is possible to go through life without eating cakes.
ROOK: (SMILING) But this time I would be frightened of my father too. If I knew it was him…?
NORMA: No…Because we are assuming here that it is only your cake-taking that gets him worked up; your relations with him are pleasant as far as other things go.
(PAUSE. ROOK CHEWS IT)
DONKOR: If you never saw him except during the cake incident, then you would be frightened of him.
NORMA: (ACCENTUATING) Or if he stopped you from doing a host of other things as well – indiscriminately – including things that a lot of other people did every day in the normal course of events: then you would not only be afraid of him, you would also be afraid of the language he used against you. You know, “Don’t do that”; “Shut up!”; “Idiot”; that sort of thing…..Now you don’t report being beaten up –
ROOK: (CUTTING IN) I might have been. I don’t remember.
NORMA: Well, it's not necessary. More often than not it’s the angry shouting that does it, and if your ears happen to be sensitive, as is likely they are, you begin to fear faster.
ROOK: But in the school….I wasn’t beaten up and they didn’t shout either….
NORMA: Yes but they used words, didn’t they? Words that had, sometime or other in your past, acquired unpleasant meaning…The thing to take note of is that you acquired fear of various behaviours…either you were doing it wrong or you shouldn’t have been doing it at all. And fear of all the negative language used against you. And, worst of all, fear of your persecutors’ faces, which you then generalized to all human faces. That explains why you don’t feel sympathy for anybody, why you can’t call people by their names. To you, everybody who has a mouth and a nose and two ears is a potential bastard, as you like to call them.
DONKOR: I might add, Rook, that you are a very angry man. Your anger has remained suppressed within you for a very long time, and it looks also that at one time, under the influence of religion, you have even tried to suppress it from yourself –
ROOK: (EXPLODING) Why !!! Why didn’t I fight back ?!!
DONKOR: It's no use blaming yourself. It isn’t your fault. You just happened to have the odds against you…You would have been all right if you had run away but even that was not possible for you. How can you run away from a home – and this is assuming that your father had something to do with it – how can you run away from a home where you still had some form of security in the form of food and shelter? Where could you run to? You could of course have run away from your school, but how could you explain that to your family when you can’t even explain it to me now after all those years? So just don’t waste your time with regrets. What you should do now is to prepare to put yourself into Norma’s hands. She is going to help you.
NORMA: You wouldn’t mind my company for a few weeks, would you?
ROOK: (LOOKING BEWILDERED) No…no…
NORMA: Can you start today?
NORMA: Yes. This evening. Are you hungry?
ROOK: Not really.
(NORMA TAKES OUT A CARD FROM HER HAND-BAG)
NORMA: Well, you would be in a couple of hours time. Why don’t you go home now, put on some smart clothes – tie and coat and all that – tell your mother you won’t be in for dinner this evening and then meet me at this place at 7 O clock.
(SHE HANDS HIM THE CARD. ROOK EXAMINES IT, NODS, GETS UP)
ROOK: All right.
(DIM LIGHTS, ROCK DISCO MUSIC, DANCE FLOOR JAM PACKED, COUPLES KISSING HERE AND THERE. NORMA, DRESSED VERY SEXILY, IS ALONE AT A TABLE, STUDYING THE MENU AND GLANCING NOW AND THEN TOWARDS THE ENTRANCE DOOR. ROOK ENTERS PRESENTLY, LOOKING NERVOUS. HE CATCHES SIGHT OF HER, GOES TO HER)
NORMA: Hi. (INDICATES THE CHAIR BESIDE HER) Take this chair here.
(ROOK SITS DOWN UNEASILY)
NORMA: How are you feeling?
(SHE SMILES, GIVES HIM MENU CARD)
NORMA: What would you like to eat?
(HE STUDIES THE CARD FOR A MOMENT)
ROOK: It's very expensive…
NORMA: Don’t worry. This first meal is on me.
ROOK: First meal? You mean we are going to be eating all the time?
NORMA: (SMILING) We don’t have to. But it helps…But of course you can also eat at home before coming here.
ROOK: I think I would prefer that.
NORMA: All right. But for now, just pick what you like. I am paying.
(ROOK NAMES THE DISHES AND THEY ORDER)
WAITER: And a bottle of wine?
NORMA: No – No, thank you. Just water.
(WAITER NODS AND LEAVES)
ROOK: Are we going to be coming here all the time?
ROOK: What for?
NORMA: Don’t you like the place?
ROOK: (LOOKING AROUND) Not very much.
NORMA: Have you been to such a place before?
ROOK: Once or twice. Long ago.
NORMA: What’s wrong with it?
ROOK: Well, they get drunk and then they get nasty.
(SHE LOOKS AT HIM FOR A MOMENT. THEN:)
NORMA: Have you done any dancing?
ROOK: They had some dancing lessons at the university. In the Student’s Union. But that was some years ago.
NORMA: You mean you haven’t danced after you learned it?
ROOK: Well, just once, with an older woman. I think I have forgotten it again.
NORMA: Well, we’ll take care of that right away. Come.
(SHE SPRINGS UP)
ROOK: (LOOKING WORRIEDLY UP AT HER) But…I don’t think I can…
NORMA: You wouldn’t know until you tried. Come.
(SHE STRETCHES OUT HER ARM AT HIM)
ROOK: But…but what about the food??
NORMA: It’ll take some time.
(HE LOOKS ABOUT SHYLY, THEN RISES, TAKING HER HAND. SHE LEADS HIM. AFTER A FEW FAULTY STEPS HE DANCES REASONABLY AND RELAXES. SHE HOLDS HIM CLOSE TO HER. AS THEY CONTINUE DANCING)
NORMA: You don’t really have to know how to dance. Not in here. As you can see, it's too crowded; you can hardly move.
ROOK: I am glad.
(AFTER A LITTLE WHILE)
NORMA: How do you feel?
NORMA: I mean being so close to me.
ROOK: Well, it's…I mean…I feel okay…
NORMA: What I want to know is: Do you feel good?
NORMA: Do you find me attractive?
(HE LOOKS AT HER, PERPLEXED. THEN STAMMERS: )
ROOK: Yes…Why do you ask?
NORMA: Oh, a girl likes to know such things. Even boys do. Don’t you?
(ROOK SHRUGS HIS SHOULDERS)
NORMA: Have you ever been told you are attractive?
ROOK: Am I?
ROOK: (LAUGHING, EMBARRASSED) I don’t believe you.
ROOK: Because you aren’t any girl. You are a shrink. It's your job to say things like that.
NORMA: (SMILING) You are wrong. Dead wrong. First, I am not a shrink; I have no such education behind me. And second –
ROOK: (CUTTING IN) What…?! How come you know so much about all those things then? Things you told me in Dr. Donkor’s office?
NORMA: Any fool can know them. They are some of the simplest facts in the world…No, I am merely Dr. Donkor’s assistant. So, I am not a shrink. And second, it's not my job to flatter you. My job is to blot out your anxieties.
ROOK: Isn’t that the same thing?
NORMA: No…As you shall see.
(SHE BEGINS SUDDENLY TO DANCE CHEEK TO CHEEK. AFTER A MOMENT, WHILE STILL DOING SO: )
NORMA: (IN HIS EAR) How do you feel now?
ROOK: Eh…rather good…(HE SMILES A LITTLE)
NORMA: (SOFTLY) Do you feel like kissing me?
(PAUSE. HE APPEARS A LITTLE TAKEN ABACK)
ROOK: Do you want me to…?
NORMA: Do you feel like it?
NORMA: Are you sure?
ROOK: Yes. Yes.
NORMA: Do you remember my name?
ROOK: Name?…Your name?
NORMA: What is it?
ROOK: Eh…Norma. Isn’t it?
NORMA: I didn’t hear you.
(SLIPPING HER MOUTH DOWN HIS CHEEK, SHE PLANTS A KISS ON HIS LIPS. THEN SMILES AT HIM FOR A MOMENT)
NORMA: Well, I think our food is ready to be served. (SHE INDICATES TOWARDS THEIR TABLE) Shall we get back?
(HE NODS AT HER, A TWINKLE IN HIS EYES. THEY RETURN TO THE TABLE. )
(WHILE THEY ARE EATING: )
ROOK: You said you were Dr. Donkor’s assistant. Does that mean you have a regular job with him? I mean permanent?
ROOK: How many assistants does he have?
NORMA: Quite a few.
ROOK: All girls?
NORMA: Of course not. (SHE SMILES)
ROOK: And they all come here?
NORMA: No. Where they go or what they do is entirely up to the treatment.
(PAUSE. THEY EAT)
ROOK: You mean you don’t have any other job besides this?
NORMA: That’s right.
ROOK: What did you do before?
NORMA: I was a secretary in an office.
ROOK: I see.
NORMA: (SMILING) I think I know what’s bothering you.
ROOK: No, it's nothing.
NORMA: You think I might be a whore, right?
ROOK: No, no…!!
NORMA: It's all right. I am not offended.
NORMA: You don’t like whores?
ROOK: Do you? I mean, do you approve of them?
NORMA: They are doing a lot of service to a lot of unfortunate people.
ROOK: They are cheats – scums!
(THEY CONTINUE EATING. WHEN THEY FINISH AND THE TABLE IS CLEARED: )
ROOK: What now?
NORMA: (SMILING) Have you any suggestions?
ROOK: (AFTER A BRIEF SPACE) We could dance.
(NORMA SPRINGS UP, SMILING)
(THEY DANCE CHEEK TO CHEEK. AFTER A LITTLE WHILE, AS THEY CONTINUE: )
ROOK: (IN HER EAR, DRYLY) Norma.
(NORMA SMILES AND BRINGS DOWN HER LIPS TO HIS. A LONGISH KISS. THEY CONTINUE TO DANCE, CHEEK TO CHEEK. THEN SUDDENLY SHE LEADS HIM BACK TO THEIR TABLE)
ROOK: What’s the matter?
NORMA: (SMILING) Nothing is the matter. I’d like you to look at something.
NORMA: See those girls there?
(SHE NODS TOWARDS THE PERIPHERY OF THE DANCE FLOOR, AT THE LINE OF CHAIRS)
ROOK: (LOOKING) Yes.
NORMA: What do you think of them?
ROOK: What I think of them?
NORMA: Yes. Are they attractive?
ROOK: (AFTER A LITTLE THOUGHT) Well, some of them are. Why?
NORMA: What do you think they are doing there?
ROOK: Sitting and staring at the dancers!
NORMA: Why do you think they are doing that?
ROOK: (LAUGHING) Because they have nothing better to do!
NORMA: Like what?
ROOK: How should I know?
NORMA: Can you guess?
ROOK: Well, they could dance.
NORMA: So why don’t they?
ROOK: Maybe they don’t want to.
NORMA: Take a good look at them. At their feet and their heads; they are swinging with the music, aren’t they? And look at their eyes and their lips; they are smiling, aren’t they?
ROOK: Okay, it looks as though they might be keen to dance.
NORMA: So why don’t they?
ROOK: Because the stupid world does not allow them to go and ask a man for a dance!
NORMA: In other words they are waiting for a man to step forward, right?
NORMA: Let me see you be that man.
(ROOK STARES CONFOUNDEDLY AT HER BEFORE THE REALIZATION DAWNS ON HIM)
ROOK: But…but you are with me. They can see that…
NORMA: No they can’t. There are too many people here for them to notice such things. And even if they did, it doesn’t make any difference. It's very common for couples to dance with other people.
ROOK: (AFTER A MOMENT OF NERVOUS INDECISION) I…I can’t…
NORMA: Yes you can.
NORMA: Remember, you are good looking.
(HE GAZES WORRIEDLY AT THE GIRLS. THEN SHAKES HIS HEAD: )
ROOK: I can’t.
NORMA: You are afraid they might refuse, right?
ROOK: (DOWNCAST EYES, HE NODS) Yes.
NORMA: Suppose I were to guarantee you that if they did refuse, you wouldn’t feel bad?
ROOK: (HE LOOKS AT HER WITH ASTONISHMENT) How can you do such a thing?!
NORMA: Trust me.
(SILENCE. NORMA LOOKS AT HIM. HE LOOKS AT THE DANCE FLOOR)
NORMA: Now the first thing you do is to appear confident. When you appear confident, you also feel confident. So let's see you put on a smile on your face…Come on.
NORMA: That’s fine, keep that up. Now come on – on your feet.
(SHE GETS UP, TAKING HIS HAND. HE RISES. SHE LEADS HIM TO THE DANCE FLOOR, NOT FAR FROM WHERE THE GIRLS ARE SEATED)
NORMA: Okay, go up there and ask very politely if the lady would care for a dance.
(ROOK GOES. SHE STANDS THERE AND WATCHES HIM. HE IS SEEN FROM HER POV. HE SUCCEEDS AND DANCES. SHE SMILES AND GOES BACK TO THEIR TABLE. A LITTLE LATER HE COMES BACK, GRINNING BROADLY)
NORMA: (GETS UP, SMILING) Well done, Romeo. Come on, I want to dance with you now.
(THEY DANCE. THEN, WHILE STILL ON THE DANCE FLOOR: )
NORMA: Okay, you go into action again.
(ROOK LOOKS DOUBTFULLY AT HER, THEN MAKES HIS WAY PAST THE DANCERS TO THE SEATED GIRLS. NORMA’S POV AGAIN: SHE IS OBSERVING FROM THE SPOT WHERE SHE STOPPED DANCING WITH ROOK.
ROOK GETS A REFUSAL; HE TURNS LOOKING FOR NORMA, HIS FACE A MASK OF WRETCHEDNESS.
NORMA DASHES TOWARDS HIM. GRABBING HIM, SHE STARTS DANCING WITH HIM AND KEEPS HER LIPS JAMMED ON TO HIS IN A CONTINUOUS KISS.
CLOSE SHOT OF THEIR FACES. THIS SHOT IS THEN FROZEN AS THE DISCO MUSIC PLAYS ON.
(DONKOR IS AT HIS DESK. ROOK, CHEERFUL, ENTERS)
DONKOR: Aah, Rook. (DONKOR GETS UP) It's good to see you.
ROOK: Hello, Doc.
(THEY SHAKE HANDS AND SIT)
ROOK: (TURNING HIS HEAD AROUND THE OFFICE) Isn’t Norma here?
DONKOR: No…why, did she say she would be?
ROOK: No…no…I just thought she might be…I mean, I haven’t said a proper good bye to her, so…
DONKOR: Well, you have her telephone number, haven’t you?
ROOK: Yes, yes.
(DONKOR PICKS UP A DOCUMENT FROM HIS DESK)
DONKOR: I have here her report on you…
(DONKOR LETS THE DOCUMENT DROP BACK ON THE DESK. HE SMILES)
DONKOR: (CONTINUING) Very impressive.
ROOK: (GRINNING) Has she made any mention of all those applications for employment that I sent in?
(DONKOR LEAFS THROUGH THE REPORT)
DONKOR: (CONTINUING)…that they all turned you down.
ROOK: “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”.
ROOK: So I said to hell with the applications and went out to talk with the guys personally. And you know what, I got a job!
DONKOR: Why, that’s wonderful. Congratulations.
ROOK: I don’t know if I am going to be any good. I mean, not having worked before.
DONKOR: Is it engineering?
ROOK: Ya. Something to do with ships.
DONKOR: Well, all you can do is to give it a good try. The important thing is that you do not lose your balance in the face of negative reactions.
ROOK: I won’t…I can’t now…It beats me why ?!
DONKOR: Didn’t Norma explain?
ROOK: Yes, but…How is it possible? How can the brain be made to forget things in that way? I can understand diet and exercise and all that, but this – this is incredible!
DONKOR: The brain is a marvelous instrument, Rook, but there is one thing it can’t do and that’s to entertain both positive and negative feelings at the same time – for example anxiety and sexual behaviour. If you have one, you can’t have the other. We are in effect gradually displacing anxiety with something pleasant; breaking an old association and replacing it with a new one. That’s all there is to it.
ROOK: Yes but that means you are changing the brain for good, without having to do something to it, and if you can do that you are in effect destroying the very idea of free-will. It means you can make me do anything. I am no more than a robot!
DONKOR: I should have thought that that had occurred to you long before.
ROOK: What do you mean?
DONKOR: If you were behaving inappropriately and if you were convinced, as you rightly were, that it was because of how other people had treated you, you should have known that you were their robot.
ROOK: I would have hated the idea!
DONKOR: We are all robots, Rook. Of parents, teachers, playmates – everyone we grow up with…Most of us are lucky: we get programmed to more or less fit into life. A few are not so lucky.
ROOK: Am I going to be lucky now?
DONKOR: If you don’t have any more conflicts within you, you would be.
ROOK: I have – a new one.
(ROOK GETS UP)
ROOK: But I can resolve it without your help, Doctor. Good bye.
(ROOK EXTENDS HAND. DONKOR RISES, AND AS HE TAKES ROOK’S HAND: )
DONKOR: What is it, Rook?
ROOK: Matrimony or…
(ROOK TURNS, WALKS TO THE DOOR. AS HE OPENS IT, HE LOOKS AT THE DOCTOR AGAIN)
ROOK: …or should I just screw around?
(ROOK EXITS, SHUTTING THE DOOR BEHIND HIM)
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