Red Phantoms:Individual vs Group

For the first time in my life, I was brought at the place against my will and kept there shut. I felt shaken and thought it must be mistake and soon they would let me go.
At the same time, I knew in my heart that the world where I lived before would never be the same again. On incomprehensible reasons, I became outcast, object of persecution; I broke certain rules and revealed my alien nature to others. I failed to act in reality that all others people except of me shared. So albino crow in flock of black birds is hit by beaks of others till it is dead. I had feeling that all others shared knowledge I had no access to.
Many years would pass until I realize that everybody creates his own truth, and common reality for all does not exist. I would realize that unanimity and group thinking point out to higher levels of compromise only and also ability to float at surface of interactions without digging deep inside Feeling of being fatally unique and isolated was destructive and overwhelming illusion of my youth. I was subservient and quiet girl, brought up in family of five children as youngest, accustomed to respect older and rely on their wisdom.

When writing these lines, I am sitting at the balcony of my Vienna flat with laptop. As the weather is hot, the windows of all nearby apartments are open. My serenity is disturbed by shrieks of woman from opposite house, who is obviously beaten by her husband. Sounds of her speech and word “Allah” she moans remind me of soviet-Islamic environment of my childhood. The girls there were brought up to be pure and submissive.
Men often express opinion that best wives are those of Russian and Central Asian origin, because they are less emancipated and also obedient and meek!

Coming back to sceneries of soviet punitive medicine, that I personally witnessed, I say
there was no meeting with any psychiatrist at the start who would diagnose deviations in my personality and authorize coercive hospitalization. To be locked in madhouse one needs to demonstrate pathological asocial or suicidal behavior at least. But I was locked there after one single call of school admin to authorities of medical institution. My relatives were not consulted or informed, and after three weeks of searches in morgues, they thought me to be dead or worse.

The old communist system of secret reports was still at work. Not so long time ago one written anonymous accusation was enough to send person in places-
where check on presence of lice was performed, by other words, secret private report to organs of power was enough to put life-long print at forehead of victim, to launch investigation process and his factual imprisonment.
Steel reception door of soviet funny farm opened to let me in and then shut down behind my back.

Like all doors in hospital, it was completely smooth and unbreakable imprisonment artifact without handle, while every person at power used to carry handle in his pocket.
I felt myself weird and disembodied. Big red-faced woman ushered me in watch room with huge cracked bath in the corner, where she abruptly ordered me to strip myself of cloths.
When I told I preferred to keep my slip on, she pronounced puzzling phrase:
– You want this and that. And fix bracelets you don’t want?

Galina Toktalieva

Kyrgyzstan-born author residing in Graz, Austria

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