Review: Luke Carmanon Sanya Rushdi

A Lotus with a Long Stalk

Only a fool or a madman would proffer Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar as a genuine antecedent to Sanya Rushdi’s 2023 novel Hospital (the former written in English by an American, the latter in Bengali by a Melbournian), but then there are undeniable parallels between the two works. Both books texture the ‘slowly going under’ of mental misadventure with subtle slippages of consciousness, irreconcilable ambiguities of perspective, and oscillating intensities of symbolic estrangement. Both novel’s protagonists are profoundly ambivalent about the therapy and the therapists they receive. Both capture the lumpenprole camaraderie that comes from being interned. Both novels are concerned with the irreconcilable dynamics of family, self and other, and the tyranny of social forces.  

Perhaps most critically, Rushdi’s Hospital, like The Bell Jar, is presented as a work of fiction based on its author’s ‘real life’ experiences of all the above, and as such, it risks being misread as a work of memory. Mistaking Esther Greenwood for Plath does no harm to the aesthetic achievements of The Bell Jar, and says little about the discernment of the reader, since the desire to be ensorcelled by the formidable enchantments of Plath’s prose – which can be read and enjoyed without the slightest employment of any critical faculties – is entirely rational. As the dust jacket on the Harper Perennial 50th anniversary edition of the novel explains, ‘Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational – as accessible an experience as going to the movies.’ 

The same cannot be said for Hospital, a novel which requires the ongoing employment of the reader’s critical intelligence to keep up with the novel’s aesthetic intentions – not least because Rushdi’s protagonist, Sanya, is herself a complex critical consciousness committed to print. Rushdi narrates through a carefully sustained constriction of first-person perception, beginning with a micro-scoping scene where Sanya, a young woman living in the family home after a series of psychotic episodes, begins her morning with a study of four Monet paintings sent by email from her beloved sister, Luna Apa. ‘She thinks it’s harmful for me to spend too much time on Facebook or on the computer, and so suggests this alternative to pass the time’, Sanya explains. Luna Apa’s email encourages Sanya to write down her thoughts about the artworks, or ‘draw a picture inspired by them’. This seems innocuous enough an inauguration of our heroine, but it soon becomes clear that too much Facebooking is the least of Luna Apa’s sisterly concerns. The previous night, after switching off the lights in her room, Sanya was startled to find herself beleaguered by ‘brown things’ – ‘brown leaves, the brown floor, a brown carpet, brown coffins’. Sanya ran to her sister’s room, desperate to ‘think of something nice that’s brown’. Luna Apa rattled off a list: ‘Fresh bread, cake, chocolate, pianos, bookshelves, and so much more’. This inventory of positive associations did the trick, and with the dread of brown things relieved, Sanya returned to her room.    

In the easy light of the next morning, Sanya finds it hard not to acquiesce to her sister’s suggestion about the Monets, despite an aversion to drawing, and she begins a reproduction of Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lillies. This creative act provides Sanya an opportunity to observe her own state of mind in action, and in doing so, she begins her role as the dispassionate observer of her own unfolding experience. Sanya’s sketchy impression of Monet’s painting, she notices, ‘moves in a different direction’, and things absent from the original work begin to populate her version of the scene – most dramatically, a kind of ‘animation’. A lotus with a long stalk ‘sometimes wanders off towards the casuarina trees to the left of the bridge, sometimes towards the willow trees to its right, and sometimes close to the bridge itself.’ These animate infidelities and imagistic ambiguities establish Sanya’s dominant mode as one of fastidious but unstable self-observation, and they also provide a painterly contrast to the novel’s preference for minimal ornamentation. Far from plying the reader with the defamiliarizing syntactical arrangements of a narrator like Plath’s Esther, whose wild specificities generate an alienated and distorted view of her everyday world, Rushdi instead minimises Sanya’s frame of reference to placid inconsistencies of experience, giving her the detached eye of an alien anthropologist unaccustomed to the oscillation of her altered reality. 

We all live with a contingent relationship to sanity, but some of us live more contingently than others. Those with a record of breaking away from sanity are often condemned to a semi-permanent state of paranoid vigilance. Sanya, already convicted of two prior counts of losing the plot, cannot afford to dismiss the everyday irrationalities and insignificant mental misfires others might take for granted. The very first conversation in the novel, between Sanya and her sister Luna Apa, is punctuated by subtle signs and portents of encroaching insanity in the form of tense changes which transport Sanya out of her conversation and into the previous evening’s obsession with sinister ‘brown’ associations. Observing the awkwardness of this minor displacement – and who hasn’t been lost in thought on occasion? –  Sanya’s sister asks, ‘Oi Santu, where are you lost now? Have you fallen asleep?’ Sanya tries to cover her tracks, unconvincingly: ‘“No, I’m not asleep,” I reply, looking at her.’ Here Sanya is not merely ‘looking at’ her sister in the ordinary sense, but rather observing what Luna Apa’s expression might reveal – a kind of second-hand self-observation. It is telling, too, that the reader does not receive whatever information Luna Apa’s face reveals – that is outside the scope of our narrator’s impressions, and perhaps, we can conclude, she sees nothing there. 

Family, for Sanya, is a refuge from the immensely complex and unstable social world, and an intensely focused simulacrum of that world’s pressures. This apparent contradiction is made dramatically clear from the novel’s opening chapter, which has the extended family of uncles, aunts, and cousins intrude on Sanya’s dissociative dialogue with Luna Apa. No sooner does Uncle Farid sit down at the dining table – Sanya notes that it would normally be her role to host the drop-ins, but for some reason ‘the girls don’t let me do anything, they take care of everything themselves’ – Farid turns the conversation into a discourse on the merits of ‘someone’s picture’. The ‘picture’ in question is an utterly inscrutable object, strangely obscured from view – Sanya cannot even deduce what category of image Uncle Farid might be referring to, asking herself, ‘does he mean photograph?’ When one of the cousins argues the merits of this remarkable image, describing it as an impossible house – ‘its door almost as big as the house, a massive lock on the door and the lock itself is the key’ – which also ‘superbly, accurately,’ represents a ‘social system’, Sanya cannot resist suspecting her relatives of somehow ‘commenting on the picture I drew this morning’. The paranoid and absurd possibility that the cousins and uncles are discussing Sanya’s study of Monet frightens her, and she flees from the superabundance of family back up to her room:  

I don’t want to hang out with them any more. I go to my room and start thinking about why I was frightened last night. Was it a momentary fear, or had it been growing slowly since that lunch we went to? The house where we’d been invited had an enormous wooden deck. Someone saw Luna Apa and me sitting on a bench at one end of the deck and said, ‘There’s a furnace burning just below that bench, the deck might collapse.’ 

Sanya’s retreat from the impinging implications of the family’s enigmatic conversation is coupled with an expressed desire to engage in self-examination, and this coupling is a characteristic display of the narrative tactic Rushdi uses throughout the novel. The reader is confronted with just enough logic to thread together a compelling impression of Sanya’s disoriented thought processes. Despite the gaping logical distortions and lunatic pollinations that connect Sanya’s thoughts and impressions, her thinking is persuasive, cogent, even strangely relatable – after all, why can’t a sudden recollection of the structural integrity of a backyard deck Sanya was sitting on with her sister be a perfectly rational link between her own state of mind and the obscure conversation her Uncle and cousins are having about the image of an impossible house?  

Sanya’s madness is not a collapse of reason that brings forth monsters, but a kind of mistuned everyday thinking – in a saner mind, her kind of narrative illogic would be merely suggestive or intrusive. Extraneous or extravagant description lies outside the scope of this prose precisely because the smallest and most mundane actualities of Sanya’s experience are already caught in a cosmological conspiracy of illogical and saturating associations – associations which have her inferring, for instance, that an artist posting his work on Facebook must be communicating his intentions to offer Sanya his hand in marriage. Or that when her father glances into the darkness outside her window as he reads the Quran of an evening, he must be signalling passing helicopters to photograph his daughter as she sleeps. Or that a label on a pair of jeans on a hospital floor proves two star-crossed lovers are living in a fatalistic universe. Or that when a nurse pays for her Gatorade with some loose change, it is a sure sign of Sanya’s interiority becoming visible to the outside world. If Sanya’s wild intrusions of thought would only arise in their proper proportion, then her break away from reality would be merely neurotic. Rushdi’s concise rendering of the narrator’s consciousness turns these subtle spells of disproportion into a mimetic representation of madness proliferating in an otherwise discerning mind.  

In another telling episode, Sanya is tracked down by campus security after taking an impromptu excursion to Monash’s campus library, where she contemplates the grammatical implications of Vygotsky’s use of the word ‘systematically’ in his work on Thought and Language. ‘What could I have possibly done?’, Sanya wonders, and when, to her astonishment, the security guard offers her a phone, she finds her mother on the other end, pleading, ‘I worry. Come home, ma’. Despite Sanya’s own doubts about her mental state, she cannot accept the reactions of her fearful family as anything other than hysterical. To her mother’s litany of concerns, she asks, ‘But why do you have to check on me? Am I committing a crime?’ The exorbitant sting of Sanya’s recriminations reveals to the reader the cognitive dislocation under the increasingly strained surface, and before long even Sanya must admit that it is time to bring in the Crisis Assessment Treatment Team (CATT) assigned to her after two previous psychotic episodes.  

Sanya’s profound mistrust of her interactions with the CATT inquisitors is clear from the form their dialogues take in the novel. In direct contrast to the casual minimalism which Rushdi deploys to render Sanya’s interactions with family in the opening chapters, Sanya’s exchanges with the Team are presented in a severely formalised script. A characteristic example is the following exchange between Sanya and Nick and Gagaan from the CAT Team: 

Nick: Your family seems worried about you. Any idea why? 
Me: They’re the best people to answer that. 
Gagaan: Do you think there’s anything to worry about? 
Me: No. 
Nick: They were saying you don’t spend time with them, you’re alone in your room all the time. 
Me: Nothing new there, I’ve always been like that. It was only during my depression that I just couldn’t be alone, I needed company to survive, I needed conversations. And the fact that I did all the housework when my mother was ill was because my family needed me to do it at the time. This doesn’t mean that Sanya is who I am. 
Nick: So you’ve fully recovered now? 
Me: That’s what I think. 
Nick: Have you ever had a serious illness that needed you to stay in hospital? 
Me: Yes, I had psychosis in 2009 and 2010. 

The strange claim Sanya makes about her identity seems to slip through the CATT’s notice, but then it is almost impossible to tell what is noticed and what is lost in the presentation of these exchanges. These scripted accounts show Sanya operating beside herself, psychologically speaking – spontaneously displaced into the role of a schizoid observer of a disembodied conversation where she is examiner and censor of her speech, its signs, and any subsequent irrationalities, while also the subject of an equal and opposite examination by the CAT Team, who are just as unwilling to give their own game away. Their part in the script is marked by a furtive unwillingness to give away their diagnostic duties as they assess Sanya’s condition, which adds yet another layer of alienating affect to these comically guarded exchanges.  

Initially Sanya assents to this intervention, admitting that it is ‘for the best’ – she is, after all, a strong proponent of the talking cure – but their presence soon leads to a revelation that only a paranoiac mind can truly appreciate. In a very real sense, her family, Sanya realises, is in league with the CAT Team, and worse: they are all actively conspiring to have her hospitalised. The penny drops when Sanya notices ‘Nick exchanging glances with Abba, Abba with Amma, Amma with Luna Apa, and Luna Apa with Amma’. Sanya is appalled – not only have they conspired against her using gestures and certain coded phrases to pass messages to each other, but, more horrifying still, they have been colluding telepathically. By coincidence, just as Sanya has this realisation, Nick makes the off-hand remark, ‘We’re not mind readers, after all.’ Contemplating the monstrous new reality of telepathic betrayals come true, Sanya can only stare at him speechlessly, as they pack her belongings into a car, ready to send her back into the confines of the medical system – that locked house where the lock itself is the key. 

Like Esther before her, Sanya’s suspicion that her family and therapists are colluding is difficult to dispel precisely because the impression is accurate. Unlike Esther – who is treated to electroshock therapy despite assurances from the sympathetic Dr Nolan – Sanya is not in need of a human connection with her therapists. Though there are some doctors and nurses whom Sanya finds ‘nice’ or ‘intelligent’, her desire for communion is directed towards other patients. Besides, no medical collusion can compare to the betrayal Sanya feels about her family’s involvement in her hospitalisation, but even there, she cannot truly sustain her self-serving illusion that the family is working against her interests, and when the doctors question Sanya about her refusal to meet with family, she explains that she cannot bear their company because ‘they sent me to hospital, and [of] the way they did it. And after packing me off here, they actually come and visit me as though everything is normal.’ But in the very next scene, Sanya meets with her Uncle Heera and tells him to invite Luna Apa for a visit. 

Another medical conspiracy common to Hospital and The Bell Jar is the concealed use of non-consensual therapeutic procedures. Perhaps the most traumatic moment in Hospital occurs when Sanya is administered what seems, on the surface, to be an ordinary injection. When an orderly – Sanya calls him ‘Bodybuilder Russel’ – muscles his way into her room to watch another nurse inject into her bare ‘buttocks’ (the innocence of the word intensifies the violation), the moment takes on grotesque associations. ‘I feel I’ve been raped’, Sanya tells her nurses, ‘The needle wasn’t a needle, but something else.’ The hospital staff reassure Sanya that she is merely deluded, but once more Sanya’s confusion carries a powerful conviction founded on rational, if distorted, observations. ‘You all of you ganged up and insisted I take the injection. You said you’d literally force me’, Sanya argues. ‘It’s my body and I have never done you any harm.’ To this line of reasoning, the nurses have no answer. 

There is often a comical grandiosity to Sanya’s distorted self-perceptions in Hospital, particularly when she rationalises her confinement with the pretence of a freethinker imprisoned by a repressively conformist society. ‘There must be examples in history of those who, in an effort to protect their non-mainstream alternative thinking, pretended to be who they were not in order to shield themselves from politics’, Sanya thinks when she first confronts the hospital’s psychiatric ward, before deciding, ‘This may be a similar arrangement.’ Forced into a wheelchair, Sanya enters the ward under police escort, passing glass doors that buzz ‘like an electric shaver’. Despite these ominous portents, the hospital’s brutalist halls provide a delightful discovery: they are populated with comrades. Glen and Michael are the first contacts – two psychopomps who give Sanya the guided tour, pointing out artworks and photographs on the ward’s walls and offering their considered analyses as they go. ‘I see no abnormalities of any kind,’ Sanya observes of her new colleagues. ‘Are they also trying to shield themselves from society and politics by taking refuge in this temporary accommodation called the psychiatric ward?’  

For Sanya, scientist and medical ethnographer, the hospital reveals itself as a unique opportunity to collaborate with the beautiful rebels who represent an antidote to the repressive regime of the outside world. Lost in the joy of communal possibilities, Sanya is startled when ward-mate Glen puts his hand on her shoulder. ‘Sorry,’ he says. ‘I didn’t want to scare you. I called your name several times but you didn’t respond, so …’. Sanya explains her inattentiveness, ‘I have this habit of getting lost in my thoughts.’ When Glen responds that it must be ‘liberating’, getting lost in thought, the word itself swirls about in the confined air. Sanya is then introduced to another resident, Chris, ‘a great scientist’ and ‘superb guitarist’. Truly, ‘the most unusual people in the city are in this ward … who knows, we might be able to contribute to one another’s work.’ Sanya, far from disenfranchised by her placement in the ward, luxuriates in the social consolations of this heterotopia whose citizens have the creative and critical capacities to reject the tyrannical logic of the status quo and embrace the liberating potentials posed by alternative ways of being. 

Exploring the complex social dynamics of the hospital ward, Sanya maintains her analytic approach – ‘for one must be scientific, above all scientific’, as poor Septimus puts it, before leaping to his death from the doctor’s office in Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway – but Sanya’s emotional intensities break through the dissociative consciousness and into the narration. As she approaches the room of one inmate, he ‘unzips his trousers and lets his penis hang out.’ Far from being appalled, Sanya regards this exhibitionism as though transfixed by a sense of the sublime. ‘I look at him. He’s so handsome even at sixty or sixty-five that it makes me wonder how he must have looked when he was young. Is that a wounded resentment blazing out of his deep blue eyes? What is he rebelling against?’ Sanya looks away, but the reader realises that this may be the first time we have truly seen anyone at all through the narrator’s eyes, distorted as those doors of perception have become. 

One of the striking features of Sanya’s scientific method of observing life in the ward is an unrestrained desire to pursue libidinal relations with her fellow cuckoos. The superabundance of beautiful, fascinating men in the hospital means that Sanya is able to find more than enough romance in her time in the ward, though, these dalliances – with one uncertain exception – seem almost childlike in their chasteness and are blurred by Sanya’s ambiguous implications and obscuring absurdities. In the TV room, inmate Glen holds up his water bottle and shows Sanya white grains settling on the bottom. Sanya at once intuits that these white grains mean that the hospital staff have laced the water with arsenic, and, it follows, she must be reinterpret the actions of her fellow inmates as a form of protest against inhuman treatment. ‘How active! How Romantic!’ Sanya thinks, and in her swelling passion for the cause, she is bold enough to snatch up Glen’s hand. He squeezes back. Love has blossomed in solidarity. But no sooner has their romance begun, Sanya learns that Glen is scheduled to be released the next day. Sanya is devastated, but even as one liaison ends, the hospital provides another when a few days later a young man pushes through the crowd at the lunch table to introduce himself to Sanya. His name? Glen Two. Before long, Sanya and Glen Two are exchanging love letters and holding hands. 

Coming to definite conclusions about the nature of Sanya’s romantic relations in the ward is a complicated business – and why shouldn’t it be? After all, society is never simple for Sanya, even in the strangely liberating antechamber the hospital offers. Some of the other women in the ward have become, understandably, jealous – why should Sanya have all the Glens to herself? A woman confronts Sanya and her friends in the courtyard with a series of envious remonstrations, ‘What is it that she has that I haven’t, Jed? Am I not pretty enough? Sexy enough? Smart enough? Articulate enough? What?’ Another woman chimes in, ‘What do you guys see in her, Michael, tell us!’ Sanya walks away, indignant, and Glen Two follows. The pair walk hand in hand around the ward until they pass a sign that reads: ‘Working collaboratively to provide individualised care that promotes wellness and recovery.’ Sanya stops to consider this: ‘What do they mean by “individualised” here? “Individualism” from the viewpoint of what kind of social system?’ The intervention of this signposted policy transfixes Sanya, and for a while she ruminates on the boundaries of the self and on the lousy lot of the unproductive individual bound by social paradigms that discount and oppress the truly ‘individualised’ mind. Lost in thought, Sanya soon finds herself alone in her room when there comes a fateful knock on the door: ‘I look up to find an incredibly handsome young guy of twenty-six or twenty-seven standing there. I can’t take my eyes off him.’ In Ivan, Sanya sees ‘a beautiful person in a beautiful body’, but as the two exchange a long loving look, Glen Two wanders by, pacing in tearful circuits until his shirt is soaked with sweat.  

Even as this tragic image of the broken-hearted Glen Two begins to settle on the reader, its verisimilitude is abruptly called into question when, the next day, Sanya sits down to speak to Glen Two, and debriefs with him about his pacing of the halls. Confused, Glen Two replies ‘You mean when I was exercising?’ Was Glen Two pacing forlornly, sobbing into his shirt, or simply getting his steps up? The reader can only speculate, but the answer goes forever begging when later that day an ambulance takes Glen Two off to Dandenong, so, perhaps mercifully, he is not there to see Sanya embrace her beautiful new love. With her arms around Ivan, and her head pressed to his chest, suddenly, ‘the hospital feels like a wonderful place.’ But even among lunatics, change is the only constant, and the metaphysical solidity of this romantic scene is interrupted when Nurse Pauline shouts at Sanya: ‘I’m warning you not to follow the boys around any more.’ To underscore the nurse’s orders, Sanya is whisked away for an interview with Doctor Wong, whose chastisement of his patient for her habit of forming intimate relations with the male inmates is so hysterical that his bedside manner appears as absurd as Sanya’s exchanges with her litany of lovers. Dr Wong’s prescription? ‘Lithium! Lithium! Lithium!’ with a dose of Olanzapine. 

Eda Gunaydin calls Hospital ‘[a] remarkable study of the self, and of a descent not into madness, but into language.’ The same might be said of Plath’s Esther Greenwood, or any number of analogous literary heroines. As early as 1972, the literary critic Marjorie Perloff, while making the case for The Bell Jar’s universal qualities, dismissed the novel’s surface level ‘subject matter’ as yet another tired literary trope. ‘Surely,’ Perloff argued, ‘novels that chronicle the mental breakdowns and suicide attempts of beautiful and talented girls are by now legion’, annotating her own supposition with a list of familiar self-destructing heroines, from Scott Fitzgerald’s Nicole Diver, to Julien Green’s Adrienne Mesurat, to J. R. Salamanca’s Lilith and Virginia Woolf’s Rhonda. What makes Rushdi’s self-studying account more a matter of language than any of these potential antecedents is the nature of the verbal eruptions and impositions to which her protagonist is subject. Where the literary aspirations of Esther Greenwood mark The Bell Jar as a kind of künstlerroman in which the emotional extremities and poetic evocations are apt for a budding writer, the intensities in Rushdi’s Hospital are made through eruptions of a mind caught in the ‘trap of an imposed language’ – an aesthetic mode well suited to the student of linguistic scientism.  

Rushdi’s minimalism allows a peripheral reality to punctuate the text, but there is another register through which the reader catches glimpses of Sanya’s thoughts when the suffocating necessity of self-examination is suspended. We catch a glimpse of this psychic register in the Monash library before Sanya is interrupted by security – ‘Vygotsky’s “phases” are not like Piaget’s “stages”, though Vygotsky would like to accommodate Piaget’s observations within his own conception. Vygotsky’s phases are more fluid and unseparated’ – but also through the interjection of diary entries, which seem to appear in Sanya’s narration almost as though they too are part of her perpetual self-study. One entry reads, ‘How does an issue vanish from the attention of a nation? Backward, then a little forward and again a little backward, it vibrates like the strings of a sitar before eventually disappearing.’ In these lyrical and philosophical interludes, Sanya displays the sparkling pleasures of an intellect unfettered from the self-analysis that is one symptom of the tyranny of her madness – her mind flashes through the alienated metaphysics of her obsessive scrutiny like a beacon through the fog of unreason. 

Toward the end of the novel, Sanya and one of the hospital doctors, Dr Nevin – the nicer counterpart to the censorious Dr Wong – discuss the apparent improvements in her condition. Dr Nevin believes the regime of lithium doses has cleared Sanya’s thinking and stabilised her mood, but she rejects his claim: ‘This has nothing to do with lithium, my mood was always stable.’ The lithium, Sanya insists, is poison. The doctor diagnoses Sanya with a ‘lack of insight’: ‘You still don’t realise there’s something wrong with you.’ Even if there really were something wrong with her, Sanya insists, medication would not be the answer. Sanya has a preferred method of treatment: ‘Through language. Through conversation.’ In an attempt to prove that Sanya’s thoughts were indeed scrambled when she arrived at the hospital, Dr Nevin presents her with her diary and asks her to look inside at her own entries. Sanya cannot read them. ‘It seems the meaning of every sentence has changed between its beginning and the end.’ This only serves to convince Sanya further of the efficacy of talk therapy. ‘Now you have just helped me see this by interacting with me through language. And I saw it by using my current use of the language to analyse my use of the language then.’ There is something tautological yet revealing about Sanya’s reasoning – we see in this exchange what Rushdi wants from her narrator. ‘What is the mind then?’ Dr Nevin asks. ‘The mind cannot be defined. Defining it would turn it into an object. What we must examine instead is how the mind manifests itself to us.’ That is the essential texture of Hospital, the ouroboros of a self-discovering consciousness. 

Two weeks later, Sanya is freed from the hospital – cured – and the sun shines on her world once more, but here we should heed the doubts of Esther Greenwood as she considered her own rational renaissance: ‘How did I know that someday – at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere – the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again?’ An ellipsis cuts Hospital’s narrative here, and after three years pass into oblivion, Sanya wakes from a disturbing dream of storms and light. She reports ‘strange things taking place’ – the family has begun acting peculiarly again, speaking in codes, and just the other day a neighbour’s cat imitated a statue as Sanya walked past. Luna Apa calls to tell Sanya the CAT Team will be coming by to visit. Sanya, too, returns to her room, and her sketch of Monet’s painting from the opening scene some three years prior falls from a blue folder. Sanya studies it closely and observes that ‘The willows on the edge of the mainland are weeping. A lotus with a long stalk has bloomed in the pond kept alive by those tears. It wanders around on the surface of the pond.’ We leave Sanya as we found her, back at her beginnings, trapped eternally in the circuitous loop of linguistic return – a fastidious creation of mind turned in on itself.