There’s something about being on the road for long periods of time, that is meditative in nature. Of course, there are many fleeting thoughts that catch one’s fancy, memories hang from a tree somewhere and faces appear and disappear with the sprinkles of rain but all in all, there is mostly inner silence.
On my birthday, I saw a video on an acquaintance’s wall…something about plastic. I don’t recall the video, just the first still. A plastic bag covering a man’s face. Reminds me of the last time I tried to kill myself, something I had found on Google and watched in a film, where the killer suffocates the victim with plastic and then chops her up. Fortunately, I was discovered by someone who has made it his mission in life to get my ass out of trouble. It was a nice reminder of how low, low can feel, on the day I was born-it was a lovely birthday present. Like Javed Akhtar says-‘Khudd khushi kyaa dukho ka hal banti…maut ke khudd sau jhamele the. Hum to bachpan mein bhi akele the. Sirf dil ki gali mein khele the.’
Suicide! It’s funny when Dharmendra yells, ‘Mausiji suicide!’, in Sholay. In real life, I can’t begin to describe the mix of desperation, loneliness and courage it takes. Ya, I know people always say it is an act of cowardice, but people say a lot of things like parrots, thoughtlessly repeating something they heard, read or were fed, without feeling or thinking, much. Is it a cry for help? Sometimes, but in my case I think it has been conditioning, something I learnt was a solution when life got tough.
I was nine when my mom tried to kill herself. She has bipolar disorder, I won’t say suffers from because it makes her who she is-unlike anyone I have met! Her entire life has been one long attempt at trying to destroy herself, through drug abuse and suicide attempts, a punishment she induces on herself for not being like everyone else. I learnt the tricks of the trade, early. By my adolescent years, I was a professional masochist (my celoids are a good reminder of those days)
and before I turned 18, I had been hospitalised twice for overdosing on pills. Two stomach pumps and a loving boyfriend and his family later, I calmed down. I discovered the one thing that saved me and continues to till date-photography. Shrinks? Well, a few did make some failed attempts on me but I am my mother’s child! Besides, no outsider can teach you self worth.
It was in my early thirties, when I felt the same kind of thing. It’s like being an alcoholic, you got to admit that you are one to deal with. I somehow managed to forget. I somehow believed that if I had not done anything after my brother’s passing, I had miraculously become so strong that life could not bring down. But bang, I was there in the same spot.
Over the past few years, I have thought many a times about this. I recently saw a video where the orator, an actor was talking about his life and trying to reach out to people, especially children who feel so alone that they want to kill themselves. It made me think- If I was asked to tell a child not to want to kill himself/herself what would I say?
If you have thoughts of suicide, it’s probably because are in a situation that you feel you can not handle. Know that it’s okay to not know where life is taking you. It’s fine. We don’t always need to know. The adults don’t know either! If they do, it’s something that was scripted for them by their loved ones. If you’re lost, you will find your own way.
You are alone! Learn that as quickly as you possibly can. You came alone and you will die alone. In between you will find people who will walk with you for a while. Don’t wait to not feel alone. Infact, embrace it. That’s where you will derive your strength from. But don’t let yourself get lonely. Aloneness is the ability to embrace your own self, loneliness is a sadness about being on your own, a hole nothing can fill.
If you have these thoughts, it is probably because you don’t feel who you are is enough or that you are not living upto the expectations of your loved ones. Your loved ones are human beings not demi gods! They are flawed like you and I, they are selfish like you and I and they make mistakes like you and I. The world doesn’t owe you anything and you don’t owe the world anything, either. Don’t let people’s expectations weigh you down! No one owns you! When you stomach is being pumped, they will be thinking about police cases and not your life. When you are dead they will be thinking about how difficult their life is, not yours, you will be reduced to being just a body a minute after you pass away. Before, you start thinking how terrible they are, darling, you would be thinking the same thing if when you were in their position!
If you have had a tough childhood and you look at other people and wonder why? It’s because God wants to give you the courage to be your own person. Most people I know who come from loving homes find it harder to take a stand because they don’t want to hurt their loved ones. They find it harder to deal with rejection. Turn all the crap that has been hurled at you into something great. If you have been told you are not good enough your entire life, if one more person says it, it shouldn’t make a difference. When people say something terrible to me now, I just think, ‘join the que. ‘ If they say you can’t, I think ‘wait for it!’
A boxer was being asked recently on a British talk show, if he won a particular game because he was younger? In his answer lies the truth about survival, ‘ I am a fighting man and at the end of the day I think you have to have spite. That’s what makes you go for a few more rounds.’ It isn’t anything other than spite that made me get up from bed, otherwise I was gone. Despite, all of my Mom’s tangos with Death, when it really does come close, she fights like a champion.
Find something that you love. Not like- love. Channel that excessive passion into something else, preferably not a human being. That’s just suffocating for the other party and not sex because it does tend to get messy. Academics, sports, music, art, take all your broken pieces and turn them into something beautiful.
And finally, as I drive from one city to another, meeting all sorts of people, chasing rainbows and laughter, getting more blessing than I deserve, I find myself thanking God for this life. There are too many experiences that are waiting for you to embrace them, too many more heartbreaks to feel and too much more love to give. Don’t give up just yet! Life is waiting for you just around the corner. Faith and perseverance are all you need.