Mind that matters

With right attitude: Psychiatrist turned author C P Rabindranath during an interaction, in Madurai. Photo: R. Ashok   | Photo Credit: R_ASHOK

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..,” the sagacious words of English bard and polemicist John Milton had a telling effect on C P Rabindranath, who chose to dwell on the complexities of mind. A psychiatrist by profession, he turned into an author of two books, first a novel The Lone Limbo, and the second a collection of 55 short stories, God Created them All.

“My books are not case studies,” he makes it clear at the beginning of the chat. “Rather, my writings are based on true stories drawing inspiration from the life events of my patients,” he says. In fact, Rabindranath wanted his second book to enter the Guinness Book of world records for being the largest collection of short stories in a single volume by a single author. He could not get through as there was no such category in Guinness. “But, they have told me they may consider introducing a new category to facilitate my record,” he smiles.

Hailing from the royal family of Pandijare Kovilakam of Calicut, Rabindranath was interested in arts and literature, a trait he inherited from his mother C P Dhakshayini, who was a voracious reader. “It was she who introduced me to James Hadley Chase and Agatha Christie. Perry Mason was so popular in our times. She motivated me to read books by telling stories,” he says.

Born to an ex-serviceman, Rabindranath was bright in academics and his meritorious performance earned him a medical seat, which he joined much against his wish. “I wanted to pursue English literature as my passion was to become a writer and then a journalist but my father told me I could become a writer even after doing medicine,” he says.

His love for writing continued even after joining the medical course and he found psychiatry to be the best discipline to further his cause. “Literature is the study of life while psychiatry is the study of mind. The way both complement each other fascinated me. My interest in philosophy also made me a better writer,” he says.

Rabindranth started reading James Herriot and delved deep into the lives of the authors to study what prompted the writers to come out with the stories and the reason behind the character formations. “I understood if a writer has to master his art, he has to be an expert in observing people’s behaviour and reading the mind in order to breathe life into the characters,” he says.

Though he began by reading crime novels, he moved on to non-fiction later and developed interest in reading Shakespeare and Charles Dickens to get a fair idea about English literature. “Throughout my career as a psychiatrist, I wanted to author a book, but my foray into teaching gave little time for that,” he says. During the fag end of his career, he was transferred to Tiruchi and a two-hour train journey from Madurai to Tiruchi triggered it all. “To kill boredom I started scribbling on a writing pad and that developed into my first novel The Lone Limbo,” he says.

The novel is a true saga of a computer professional, who is a happy person until he encounters tsunami that alters his outlook on life. He becomes hyperactive and disorganised but some interesting events in life transform him into a daring hero. He helps his inspector friend to solve cyber crime cases and immediately gets recognition for his efforts from his kith and kin. Life takes him to newer adventures and finally, he decides to support the cause of the mentally challenged and help in their rehabilitation. “Actually, the person is now an IAS officer and I was inspired by his resolve to overcome adversaries,” says Rabindranath.

Being a psychiatrist, he never fell short of ideas. His approach is straightforward. “Psychiatry is difficult to comprehend and explain. Hence, I don’t trouble my readers with jargons. I keep it as simple as they would like a story to be and garnish it with humour,” he says.

His second book God Created them All compiles interesting patients he came across during his career. For instance, an economics professor who was obsessed with superstitious beliefs to the extent that he became a nuisance for his family and friends.

“My first meeting with the professor was arranged and his wife cautioned me to hide all the brooms in my clinic as her husband would not enter the premise if he sees a broom. I gave him medicines and he was ok with it. I only tried to make him more insightful and realise that he was overdoing,” points out Rabindranath.

Rabindranath has also talked about hypnotism in a story and how it can make or break a family. He has two more books in the pipeline. One is about the witness protection programme, which is in nascent stage in the country, and the other is about non governmental organisations.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 8:40:54 AM |

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