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I don’t need this. Perhaps I’ve become a little weird, as my friends say, after the brewery caught fire. All those nights spent concocting recipes– completely wasted. They say I need stability, an anchor. Something to look forward to. They are mad. I have no problems, none at all, nope. No problems. So what am I supposed to see in these stupid ink blots?

“Don’t think too much,” said the young psychiatrist, a scrawny fellow with an oversized Adam’s apple and no chin. “Say what comes to you first.” His hand shook a little as he held the card. I observed the round swirls.

“I certainly don’t see you.”

“Be spontaneous.” His voice was low.

“That was spontaneous”

“It will help us if you say what you see, not what you don’t,” he said.

“A pair of arms. Definitely not yours.”

He held out another card.

“Two heads, kissing.”

Another.

“Two singing blackbirds.”

He frowned and displayed another print. He’d said ten. Seven more to go.

Then, a chance glance through the glass window revealed a beacon of hope: the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen, sitting outside, awaiting her appointment. She caught me staring and smiled. My mouth went dry. I fell in love in that glorious moment, when the dimples appeared. I made a quick song about them. I also made a plan that began with acquiring her number and ended at possible honeymoon destinations.

The shrink coughed.

“I see a tree reflected by a river,” I blurted. He fumbled with the cards, displaying another.

“A drunk old man on a merry-go-round. Hence the blurry lines? Bingo!” I was happy.

“There’s no wrong or a right answer.”

“Then what’s the point of this exercise, wise guy?”

He looked like he didn’t remember and simply took some notes. Is this how they planned to save the likes of me? With ten random ink blots? My eyes wandered. The girl seemed happy. I took in her bizarre dress made from what looked like jute. Boy, she did need a shrink. But I didn’t care: she reminded me of a woodcut seen years ago of the hot Sumerian brewer priestess Ninkasi, in The Pale Ale magazine. My memory was fine, at least. It was the shrink who needed some tests.

I returned to the swirls.

“Looks like a gasoline explosion,” I said, “electronic configuration of the gold molecule; the Bluebird hill in the neighbourhood; a medieval witch-burning.”

The last card was up. Phew.

“Two men brawling,” I said, “over a woman.”

He stacked the cards neatly and sighed. “Come back tomorrow for another session,” he said, after minutes of scribbling notes. I proceeded towards the door with the intention of eavesdropping till my jute-clad, dimpled beauty was through. She walked past me. I turned at the exit. She hugged the psychiatrist. Then she held his nonexistent chin.

“So how was your first session with a patient, love?” she asked.

I thought she suited him perfectly.

—–

©vaidehi

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