A Story of a Suicide- Family Tales

I haven’t really seen suicide from close quarters. My mother has, though. Her first cousin from Grandma’s side had committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling fan in his room two years back. His life was tough, yes, but nobody had ever guessed that he would take such a drastic step. He had seemed to be accepting his condition and his life.

About five years ago, he was fatally injured in a motorbike accident. His brain had suffered a life threatening hit, and it was almost a miracle that he had survived. Everyone in his family had prayed non-stop for his life, throughout the period that he was in a coma. He had got back his senses after two days, but couldn’t talk- even when he managed to talk, he couldn’t hold a conversation. His brain couldn’t handle more than a few sentences coherently. He couldn’t process things told to him with rapid succession. His speech had become slurred, yet he didn’t realize till many months later. It was as if he talked with a half paralyzed tongue. Relatives started pitying him, he could sense it. They talked to him differently, not because they enjoyed doing so, as was the case before the accident, but because they wanted to comfort him. He was not let to go alone anywhere, except the backyard of the house. The family members offered him constant vigilance. His elder brother became a vegetarian, as he prayed for his betterment perpetually. He felt stifled. But nobody knew the extent of it, till the news of his self-inflicted death reached all.
He had started sitting in a shop that his brother bought for him, doing the finances of the products in the shop. Everyone hoped he could have a life. Years went by. His brother married, his sister-in-law was very loving and caring. Everyone was frank with him now, and made him realize through compassion to accept reality that he couldn’t have a family. His career should be the purpose of his life now. He seemed accepting it, with sadness, but vigor, going about in his chores to the shop to make his day’s profits.
Then one day, he told his sister-in-law that he was going to take an afternoon nap, and not to disturb him. Three hours later she was heard banging the doors to wake him up, but found the hanging body instead.
My mother was stunned by the news. She kept up a brave face but crumbled inside. I didn’t know how to react. After a few days, things came to normalcy, but the suddenness of it all still makes us sad.
Yesterday I heard another news. It was an old one, about six months old, yet no one had the courage to let me know. It’s about another cousin of my mother, he is about my age, so he is more close to me than he is to my mother. He had one day poured the entire jar of kerosene on himself, and asked for a matchstick from his younger sister after a few minutes since he couldn’t find any. She is about thirteen but was quick to realize why he was dripping wet, and smell so pungent, and timely shouted out for help. They live in a large joint family, so help arrived immediately in guise of fathers who slapped him, mothers who dragged him to the well in the backyard and washed him with lots of soap and water, and siblings who consoled him to make him realize that death is not the answer to every problem in life.
He too has a story that perhaps no one knows till date. He was saved that day, and made a few visits to the psychiatrist, and is almost recovered now from that dark phase. He is preparing for an alternate career now, once again, with focus and dedication. His weird behavior started a year earlier when he was staying in Delhi preparing for competitive exams. He started visiting the railway stations and gazing the incoming trains continuously. Perhaps he was planning to jump in front of one. His friends suspected something amiss and informed his family in Odisha. His brother went and brought him home. Everyone was tensed about what might have happened, he didn’t share anything even after too much prodding, so they just let him be. Today they are just so thankful that he is safe, and that moment of wrong decision didn’t turn out to be tragic or irreversible.
Being surrounded with such family stories, and reading thestoryofasuicide has made me want to be vigilant to minds plotting their own doom. It is sad, very sad. I hope this story reaches all those who need to read it.


Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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