The most bewildered occupation I ever had was a housekeeping job at John and Madison’s rented house. John was a physician. He was practical in the extreme, and had no patience with faith. He scoffed openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures. Madison was an obedient, imaginative and soft woman with overall affection from her husband. “Jennie,” called John. “You must very well take care of Madison while we live here for three months. She has nervous breakdown I want her to take rest as much as she can”. Madison looked fabulous when we entered the old mansion. She would listen to him in every step he told her to follow; after all he was a physician. Her brother was a physician too.
John looked worried but confident that he could help cure Madison from the nervous breakdown through his medical practition. Being John’s sister, I would try hard to make them happy. I felt that Madison would recover soon from her nervous breakdown since poor John had tried his every possible option.
All for the benefit of Madison’s fast recovery, John brought Madison to this old mansion in order that she could breathe better air and rest as comfortable as she could. There were some legal issues, the mansion was empty for years and John could rent at a cheap rate. The house was three miles away from the village so the place was quite lonely, standing isolated on the far side of the road. It looked calm but not the calmness that any people would want. For the first few weeks, I had difficulty adjusting to the place as most people usually did.
“Jennie, please follow her schedule in case if she gets carried away on her imaginative things.” said John walking hurriedly towards the door. John had scheduled Madison’s prescription for each hour of the day. He let her exercise, drink tonics, journey, catch more fresh air and never let her do any sort of work specially writing which he thought would pressure her mind with more fancy ideas. John said I am supposed to keep watch on Madison if she ever touches any paper.
There were many rooms for maids and guests on the ground floor, but they chose to take the room on the upper floor, the room is big, airy, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all ways, air and sunshine bountiful. The wallpaper had few scratches; maybe previous landlord’s children must have played around a lot.
John wanted to repaper the wall, but later dropped the idea because they were only going to be here for few months and if he starts, there will be never ending repairs to be done for three months. He said that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give a way to such fancies.
She felt uncomfortable whenever I entered the room to clean it. When I caught her several times her face changes to flush like a blending style of chameleon. I could see her hand move swiftly to set aside the book. I always look straight forward to grab the book and advice her that it would be detriment for her health.
During the second month, Madison seems physically better. But her eyes looked tired in the morning whenever I serve the breakfast. I could understand that she had not slept well during the night.
Madison always faced the wall that has scratches on it. It seemed like she always meditates on that wall. She does walk around but mostly she concentrate for much longer time as if her soul has been stuck on that fancy wall. When I enter the room in those first weeks, Madison would describe that there’s something unique about that wall.
Most of the time, John would come very late. During the day Madison would never come out of her room for hours. In those first two months, she was collaborating with us, following the schedule set by her husband. Those provisions really improved her physically but not mentally. She seems abandoned from the present world and kept herself sticking her eyes to that wall much longer than usual.
Near the last week of third month, I was busy cleaning up and putting back things where they belong in the first place. We took things up and down to embellish the room, rearrange the position but now it’s time to move everything back to normal position. Madison would never come out of her room. I noticed in the morning that she had scratched the wall little bit.
Although it’s the last day, I heard John scream at the door. “Open the door, my darling!” Madison had locked herself inside. John could not find the key to get inside the room. I walked up the stairs and let John know that I am available for any help. Madison replied in her gentlest voice. “The key is down by the by the front step, under the plantain leaf” John was very nervous and his body was shaking.
We could hear from outside what was going on inside. She was peeling off all the papers and tearing down whatever she could reach like a cat scratching the couch. John got frustrated looking for some way to break-in. I found the key and he snatched it from my hand. He nervously put the key into the door’s lock, the door hesitated to open, but with a final shove he got through.
“What is the matter?” he cried. “For God’s sake. What are you doing!” She was still scratching the wall, she looked at John over her shoulder through disheveled hair. John ultimately fainted on the ground. I wondered what had gone through her mind. She was so soft and yet she absorbed everything inside herself.