Najma Khatun (name changed) worked at households for a living and dreamt of a family of her own in a big house one day . Shortly, she fell in love with a boy . As days passed, she got so engrossed in the dream of their life together that she almost lost touch with the reality .Najma stopped caring about what others told her, stopped paying attention to her clothes and even her speech started to turn incoherent, as she shut out the rest of the world and focused on the boy . But she remained so absorbed in her thoughts that she did not realise when the boy had drifted apart. As the boy refused to meet up with her anymore, Najma one day accosted him on the road, begging him to “make it work“. But the boy rejected her proposal: “Tui to pagol haye gechhis. Toke ke biye korbe? (You have turned mad, who will marry you?)“ That was the end of Najma’s love life. Next thing, she remembered was her sessions with a psychiatrist trying to pull her out of the darkness. “She could not take the rejection. But even before that, she was so obsessed with the romantic relationship that she lost her stability,“ said Labony Roy of NGO Iswar Sankalpa. “Her fault was perhaps that she loved, and loved madly .“
Psychiatrist Rima Mukherjee explained that there was an irrational aspect of love. “It is as important as ho nesty in a relationship. If you bring too much of rationality, a relationship will lose its charm,“ said Mukherjee, speaking at a discussion on Love and Madness at a city book store on Sunday . “Sometimes, you find a pair who ostensibly don’t match but the element of irrationality brought them together and overcome the apparent mismatch. Unfortunately , if love is madness, rejection causes greater madness.“
Sarbani Das Roy , secretary of Iswar Sankalpa, pointed out that there were many like Najma, who craved for love and rejection threw them off the balance. “It could be a lover or a family that could have turned them down.What they did not realise that the person might not be able to handle the rejection,“ Roy said. Shefali Maitra, former professor of philosophy at Jadavpur University , who also attended the event, felt those outside the margins of social acceptance have lost their home, family , health, property , and even their identity. It is a civil death. “Caregiving is part of love. To love is a commitment. When that is not met, sense of rationality goes for a toss and mental imbalance sets in,“ she said.
In the past eight years, Iswar Sankalpa has rescued at least 350 people who got trapped in the “chaotic world of lunacy“. “We could treat some and send them home. For others, it was too late,“ Roy said. The NGO calls them “homeless persons with psycho-social disability“.
But the strains of madness is perhaps deep within society . “You find the word `diwangi’ used in songs and poetries. It is a reflection of a mental state where people are obsessed with their object of love. It could be a person or it could be a creation,“ said journalist Ratnottama Sengupta. “Don’t we see great film directors or painters who have a bit of madness? This madness is not always clinical, there is spirituality to it, too.“ Some might not fit into the social construct, but they are one of ours.