Sudas dives deep into his past.

'Birthing' by Sudas
‘Birthing’ by Sudas

S. was definitely heterosexual, even too much so, but this did not prevent him from also looking at men and having aesthetic predilections that made him feel uneasy. Those others seemed very distant from himself, and different too.

There were young and handsome sannyasins, even very handsome ones, whom he liked and he would have liked to be as tall as them, as strong as them, as well-toothed as them; but there were also some not so handsome men about whom he allowed himself to think that they had a particularly rich soul, full of humanity, even if bruised, and suffering from too much living. The bruises were clearly visible, and wounds marked their faces, but the eyes really looked, really saw. Deep down, S. wished he would look like one of them, one day.

There was one in particular who made him sit up and take notice: a group therapist who used hypnosis techniques that, it was said, could take one far. His name was Santosh. He was English but looked more like a French actor, and from his way of walking, of looking, one could tell that he must have gone through many experiences, and seemed to have a great compassion for all that’s human.

Partly because the man inspired him, partly because he was looking for someone to lead him inside himself to where he could not go alone, S. enrolled in a hypnotherapy group.

He was expecting to be hypnotised for three days, and great was his disappointment when he realised that he would not be hypnotised even for five minutes. He would be bored, he thought, but he did not shirk.

S. was not tall, was not strong, his teeth were not that great, but he possessed to a great extent a quality that he knew to be quite rare: imagination. Therefore, when the group leader invited the participants to lie supine on their mats and to travel with their eyes closed, following his directions, and when the imagination was running at full capacity, S. would lose himself in descriptions of unknown planets, improbable landscapes, images that must have had a strong symbolic value.

It was his bread and butter after all: as a painter was he or was he not a dreamer with a very haphazard relationship with reality? He did not realise that by dint of fluttering around imagining, a sort of weakness, or rather fragility, was growing in him, or rather he was sinking into a regression he had never experienced before.

The therapist did not need to be strict, and everything took place in an atmosphere of sweetness and amniotic protection. Every now and then someone would burst into tears and very intimate things were heard in the feedback that were received in a reassuring maternity that ensured maximum confidentiality.

One afternoon the group leader asked to do some rebirthing, a therapeutic technique based on breathing, that requires lying down with a partner close by; in this case swapping the roles of caregiver and cared-for. The person lying down has to breathe into the upper chest, something S. had already practised for a long time.

After about half an hour of ‘circular’ breathing, which meant no interruption between inhaling and exhaling, S. felt light and well away from certain recurring nightmares.

His partner in the exercise was a very sweet and reassuring Californian woman who occasionally gently put a finger on his chest to remind him where he should focus his breathing; she also spoke to him in a caressing voice.

S. was in a complete let-go, confident that with such a guidance he would go far. At one point he felt the need to open his eyes, but could not find the woman sitting next to him. In her place was a dimly defined and… very tall dark silhouette.

He began to tremble, beseiged by a fear he could not explain. From some unknown depths rose a wailing cry he had never heard before; he wept because something, he did not know what, was terrifying him.

The people in the group surrounded him, whispering words of comfort; all were very tall and he perceived their dark silhouettes cut out in the light that had been switched on in the room.

S. cried out of fear, from a feeling of being very small and very vulnerable. The warmth, the loving kindness of the group accompanied him in regaining his real size, and he slowly saw his companions for who they were. He felt very tired and stoned.

Afterwards, the group leader said that S. had probably relived his birth. It seems that the visual perception of dark, tall silhouettes is that of a newborn child when he faces the light of the world.

S., when he later happened to talk about it, omitted the word ‘probably’.

Translated from Italian by Punya with edits by Madhuri

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