What Mamata Banerjee told her security guards while leaving the Book Fair on Wednesday evening might not land her in the dock but doctors said it suggests lack of sleep and stress are beginning to take their toll.
“Chabkano uchit apnader (you should be whipped),” the chief minister told cops in a shocking outburst. The trigger was a delay in calling for her car after what some police officers said was an “unanticipated exit”.
Doctors saw in it tell-tale signs of sleep deprivation and mounting stress. “Deprivation of sleep and the heightened stress that it results in prompt additional excretion of adrenaline and noradrenaline in the body. That creates pressure on various organs, from the eyes to the kidneys. Shaking in extreme anger can be one of the fallouts of this pressure on the organs,” said psychiatrist Ranadip Ghosh Roy.
Mamata, who would as an Opposition leader stay awake till dawn and sleep almost till noon, has been forced to change her sleep cycle as chief minister. She still sleeps late but is forced to wake up early, sources said.
In her first year at Writers’, she would be in office by 10.30 unless there were other engagements. “With the panchayat polls approaching, she has a busy morning schedule. She wakes up early and starts calling up party leaders. And then she reaches Writers’ around 11.30,” said a senior Trinamul leader.
At 58, Mamata has bundles of energy but her taxing schedule seems to be leaving a scar. “A sudden and prolonged change in the sleep schedule results in stress,” said psychiatrist Amitabha Mukherjee. “In case of chronic stress, the body undergoes several bio-chemical changes and irritability becomes one of the inevitable fallouts.”
People who have trailed her for long say the chief minister has been irritable of late. She snapped at a reporter in the corridors of Writers’ Buildings on the way to the Book Fair on Wednesday.
At a party meeting in January, she admitted sleeping for barely two hours. After the swearing in of the parliamentary secretaries a few days later, she said in the Assembly: “I’m very tired. Feeling quite sleepy.”
Opposition leader Surjya Kanta Mishra, a doctor by training, took the chance to advise her to sleep longer.
According to doctors, a person’s sleep pattern can be broadly classified into three types: short (two to four hours), average (six to seven hours) or long (up to 10 hours).
Depending on stress and other physiological conditions, the need for sleep goes up. “Every individual has a certain stress-bearing capacity. There are problems when the exertion exceeds the threshold,” said Ghosh Roy. “It can even lead to a public outburst where the person is oblivious of the surroundings. Sometimes, such an expression is followed by a bout of repentance.”
It could not be confirmed whether the chief minister was repentant on Thursday.
“She has to find stress-busters and take enough rest,” said a counsellor attached with a private hospital in the city. “Ideally, there should be more delegation of work. Else, the stress will get the better of her.”
Mamata sometimes paints to relax and some say she even catches the odd soap on the telly. But that might not be enough.
Some doctors found flaws in her diet of mostly puffed rice and oil cakes. “She needs a more balanced diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables,” said one.
IF YOU THREATEN TO ‘WHIP’A COP
Several lawyers said a person could be charged with defamation, criminal intimidation and abetment, all of which can lead to imprisonment if proved
“In this case, anyone from the police fraternity who feels that his or her dignity was lowered because of the comment can bring the defamation charge against the speaker,” said a senior lawyer.
The charge was unlikely to stick in court, said a lawyer, because “the complainant has to prove that the speaker had intended to undermine