Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Lucid interval

Emma Manuel
Eshwar Rajesh
Chennai, India

Clutches of Cannabis. Photo by Marlon Lara on Unsplash

Even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, some people like me were silently grateful for the opportunity to spend some time with their family. Born as a single child whose parents got frequent transfers, I had lived with my grandparents to get proper schooling, and then some twenty years passed in a flurry of seeking accomplishments. This whole lockdown sounded like a perfect excuse to be home and spend time with my parents.

Ever since I reached home, I kept spitting callous words like, “Thanks to Covid, I’m home,” “I hope the pandemic lasts a bit longer,” “Probably lockdown is a good thing,” and so on. One evening when I said something similar, my mother cut me off saying, “You are an insensitive idiot aren’t you?” While I looked positively flummoxed, she continued, “Lockdown is nothing but an unpleasant necessity to contain a pandemic and not a vacation for most people. Many people have lost their income, the economy is dwindling, and there are so many other issues raging within families which wouldn’t dare cross your wildest dreams.”

“Okay,” I asked her, “What issues?” That’s when I heard the story of Krish.

What is more joyful to a twelve-year-old than indefinite holidays? No school, no homework. Yet Krish looked morose when he got home from school. He had studied at a boarding school since he was five. His father worked abroad and his mother was a busy doctor who could spend little time at home. Krish always seemed a happy child or at least that is what his parents thought. They flooded him with gifts and riches before he even asked for them.

The first week of “lockdown vacation” was uneventful except for his reduced interest in even some of his favorite dishes. Then his mother noticed that he was not able to sleep at night, waking up screaming from dreaming something terrible. Things got really worse as the boy grew more restless and nervous all day.

Krish was taken to a pediatrician first and then to a child psychiatrist who diagnosed cannabis withdrawal. After extensive counseling sessions, a dark story of drug abuse in young children came to light. The senior boys at school introduced the noxious habit to their juniors, especially the rich ones, just to use them later for uninterrupted pocket money to sustain their supplies. The issues were then brought to the notice of the school authority and things are fixed now.

As mother almost finished, I was left with mixed emotions—sad, angry, helpless. “So, Mom, how’s Krish now?” I asked.

“He is a lot better now. And maybe you are right, maybe due to this lockdown, a family got their child back, that counts as a silver lining, right?”

“Mom, you are a sentimental idiot, aren’t you?” Both of us laughed and silently thanked life for the family we have who stay close even when we are far apart.

EMMA MANUEL, MBBS, MD, is a post-doctoral fellow in Hospital Infection Control at National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, India. She has a splendid academic record, including placing top 1 of the country in the fellowship entrance examination. She has developed a flair for applied microbiology and is a passionate researcher.

ESHWAR RAJESH is pursuing MBBS from Madras Medical College, Chennai, India. He is a national level swimmer and a skydiver, winner of various quizzes and seminars in national and international level competitions. He held the Limca National Record for being the youngest advance open water scuba diver in India. He speaks 7 languages and is a certified Pianist.

Highlighted Vignette Volume 13, Issue 2– Spring 2021

Winter 2021



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