Heavy breath, I was breathing hard going up these rock steps. Counting steps and my breath almost lost. Look at the word on the gate. “Castle Peak hospital” in Chinese. Listening to my MP3 singing, “how everyone is silly in the world, and you are the genius…. who can live like you—so insanely peaceful? Everyone else looks forward to their life, and you only keep playing the past looping like broken record….” I was so touched about the lyric in Chinese, I thought I laugh a bit about the irony, it was a funny moment that I am coming here, all the way from united states to Hong Kong, where I am going to ‘release’ my dad from the psychiatric hospital. The famous psychiatric hospital where only severe mentally ill people being locked up and lived there. In a peaceful afternoon, I walked up to the hill, and the hospital has no horror ambiance like the Halloween’s advertisement for this year.
The metal gate has its cold texture; the security guard has his blank look. ‘Please sign in with your name and ID.’ He said in the monotone like he said it million times in his life, without emotion. I put my name and give him my ID for verification. He looked and ask, ‘Who are you visiting today? Please put down the patient’s name as well.’
‘My dad.’ The song still looping in my MP3… ‘who can live like you— so insanely peaceful? In this tiny room, outside of knowledge’s light… people said you are a sad case, but in your eyes, being mentally stable and clear is a disease, being busy is a disease… is being insane more loveable than being ordinary normal?’
I wonder, is this my dad’s destination— stay in a madhouse forever, or I can release him to somewhere? Where would be his dream place to live? Will I be part of his dream?
Metal door opens, I signed in. Follow with the medical assistants into the locked gateway. I can’t see the passcode and the two authentication processes with the actual key. They told me to sit on a white plastic chair to wait, and they left me behind. I noticed there is no pattern in the room, everything is white, and the computer screen is hiding under the glass table so the only doctor who sits down can view it. I don’t see the keyboard, perhaps it is hiding underneath the table and visible to the doctor only. The electrical sockets are all taped off using a cover to protect them. I am wondering what kind of room is this. Everything in white and metal silver color, contrasting the colorful mind the mad people have internally. I start wondering if this room makes me crazy nervous because of the color combinations or I am just that nervous. I have not heard from my dad almost a year now. My heart is pounding fast, and I wonder how I would handle the situation this time. Recalled my memories from my dad’s call sounds very firm, he wants to get out of this madhouse, and for a second I wish I do not have to deal with this alone, here in Hong Kong, on this white plastic chair uncomfortably.
Couple minutes later, a speaker saying my dad’s name loudly. I can’t see much from the big glass window, all suddenly I feel like I am in this giant fishbowl being transparent. I wonder did they know I have mental illness too? I wonder would I ever be as sick as my dad and being locked in here forever and that would be my destination as well?
By the time my creativity run wild about the possibility of doing art in Castle Peak psychiatry hospital just like Yayoi Kusama. The doctor disturbed my train of thoughts.
“Hello, I am the primary doctor for this patient (my dad), and who do I see here today?”
“I am the patient’s daughter, traveled from the United States.”
“Thank you for visiting, due to your dad’s condition— He no longer has self-caring skills, and he cannot live alone anymore, shall we discuss what to do with his condition?”
“What is happening? Why is he ended up in here? Is his mental illness getting worst?”
“This patient got mild stoke when we found him, he was out of breath for couple seconds on the street close to where he lived. Moreover, he has a history of mental illness, and therefore we send him to here.”
“I got a phone call from dad, and he told me I have to come here to ‘release’ him, what if I want to do that?”
“Your dad again cannot go back from the apartment he used to live due to lost ability to take care of himself, and the next step is to have him to live in an elderly home. So, you need to find a place for him to stay, we can provide a list of elderly homes to call to see if there is a spot for him. If you cannot find anywhere that accept him, he will be living here in the hospital until the end.”
“Can I talk to my dad to see where does he want to live? Which elderly home?”
“Yes, let me tell them to bring him to the room.”
My dad is led by two security guard and two people who wear medical coats. The two medical coats sit down on the other side of the table where I am facing at. Two security guard stands next to my dad.
“Hey dad, how are you? How are you feeling?”
A piece of silence. Dad nodded.
“I heard you cannot live alone anymore, needs to move to elderly home. Did they tell you about this? I cannot just ‘release’ you back to where you lived, but needs to find a new spot for you.”
Another piece of silence. Dad nodded again.
“Do you have a preference for where to go?” I respected my dad’s choice.
“Where your grandma lives.” He said it short and firm without looking at me.
“Ok, I will go back and ask if they have a spot for you in that elderly home.” I feel relief that he looks like his brain still function. His eye is so deep, and I can imagine he is not totally here but wandering lost in the train of thoughts. He never truly lives in the painful present, but the shameful past.
We all have history, but most of us choose to only look what is in front of us, or even planning or predicting our future, our destiny. Some love the joyful past, yet other that cannot forget and forgive what happened. The parallel between insanity and philosophy is thinking backward to tiny reasoning. Who are we? Why are we here? What makes us alive? Why do we poop and eat? Why do we all have to dream? Why does the past haunt us in the dream and we wake up with regrets and anger?
Perhaps I looked at my dad like a broken philosopher— who trapped in the past in a horror film setting mirrored with his angry doubles. He never speaks up about what is he thinking, but I can feel that his broken record memories looping with no end. Just like his favorite song keep looping in my whole childhood. He only loved one song.
The song of sadness.