Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Suicide, Councelling & All About SURVIVAL & CELEBRATING LIFE



A student of NIFT recently (allegedly) committed suicide. 
Jiah Khan committed suicide some years ago. 
I clearly remember the day attractive model and my good friend Viveka Bhabajee had planned meeting me on Tuesday for a swim. Fun, smiling always, slim attractive Viveka.  I never saw any expression of sadness or pain in her, even though we spoke often and were fond of each other. She did confide her break-up with me, but never did she sound defeated, Infact she started her own event company and decided to work alone. The day of the appointed swim she didn’t show up and just a few days later I was horrified to learn that she’d hung herself to death. 

Before that fellow compeer Nafisa Joseph- self-assured and composed, we compeered many corporate evenings, before which I would be backstage looking at my cue cards.  Nafisa was happy to chatter ‘happily’ on the phone. Not long after one such event, I heard of the eerie incident of her hanging herself.

Not taking away from the anguish of their tragic end, one has to say there is an unfortunate element of self-absorption here, where  the person is so enveloped in his own woes that  all else is another universe.  What of the parents (for instance) who nurtured you and spent three fourths of their life caring and sharing and lauding your little or big achievements, and having heartaches over your trifling woes. A thought spared for them would've have been the red signal that  should've braked the devastation express! I have this pet peeve that education systems need to change their fundas. As Calvin grouses to Hobbes, "For some reason they'd rather teach us stuff that any fool can look up!" Yo Calvin!  We need lessons on 'Living Life’ EQ, communication, a ‘real world' perspective that would slash the narcissism quotient out significantly.

Not to mention it would instil values such as caring and empathy for those around. Apart from which they might also learn to reach out when and also reaching out when tormented and clinically depressed and unable to cope with the pressures of education, urban competitiveness, social pressures and especially those one is barraged with in the glamour world. Counselling is mandatory in many schools in America, and if one seeks guidance and help and is not ashamed to reach out, ones troubles shrink. (The bonus here being that there would be less rape and murder too). 

Jiah Khan had tried to kill herself some years ago by slitting her wrists. Should not her mother and peers have enforced counselling and intervened at that time? Perhaps we don’t take depression and being suicidal as a malaise in our country. It is those closest to us that miss the signals sadly.

I just feel that while the world feels it was a soured romance, it is a deep seated loneliness, an inability to cope with the social pressures of fame and wanting more fame and recognition, the feeling of fear of performance in the world of a glaring public and media and one’s own fears of failure that push a person already suffering depression to take such drastic step.

My mind goes back to Alexander McQueen. What made McQueen, the acclaimed creative genius said to be worth twenty million pounds, commit suicide at 45 at his stunning two million pound flat in Mayfair, central London? He was doing work he liked, achieved recognition, success, money, fame, adulation and was one of the greatest creative geniuses of our times. Not enough reason to endure living? Are there further barriers to the elusive state called happiness? Did he see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, on the other side from life? Perhaps!

The ostensible reason was that the fashion designer – high on cocaine- slashed his wrists with a ceremonial dagger on the eve of mum Joyce's funeral was the grief of her parting. But we loose people through life. Life is a series of loss, from the day we are born. So then what is the way out to grapple with pain, loss and suffering? I’d say the only way out is within. What comes to mind is a famous quote about happiness –‘chasing happiness is like chasing a butterfly in a garden. Try to capture it and it evades you. Sit on a bench and close your eyes - it will come and rest on your shoulder’.

McQueens psychiatrist shared with the inquest that he felt constantly let down by people. By friends whom he had felt exploited him that they had taken advantage of his fame and he had felt "let down" by some long-term relationships. And this only highlights the same point that could have been made to Jiah Khan and even Viveka and Nafisa Joseph before her, that the very elusive happiness does not come from relationships. Nor even from material triumphs. The bottom line is you cannot force love and longing. It has to emanate from within and when it didn’t materialise for these lovely girls, they ended their own lives. Sadly. Because the men have moved on, one of the men got married just this month. But the families of these lovely women suffer a wound that may never heal.

One cannot be obsessive about money, house, friends and faithfulness from those friends, because these wants and expectations prevent peace. Friendship, companionship and bonding like the forest, animals and trees are fast getting denuded in our fast age, relatives and brothers and sisters are materialistically dismantling each other. 

Relationships and friendships like greenery and wildlife is another causality to man’s material and technical evolution. One can only do what comes one's way and try to be serenely absorbed in that. Remember Fountainhead’s Howard Roark? His greatest joy was the journey, his creation, his obsession with his perfection. Sorrow comes from resisting reality and from discontent.  One has to flow with life and accept the let downs as teachers- to grow with the good and not so good. That is the only way to equanimity. Sorrow is what we allow ourselves to reach in and wallow. Please let’s live life one day at a time. I’d have said that Jiah, Viveka, Nafisa and Mc Queen. Let Go. Because you can’t change people and boyfriends, you cannot cling and you cannot change the past. People are what they are.

So then what is the route to happiness? I believe that there is no such thing as permanence in any state, not even happiness. But one can snatch happy times, learn to savour the moments and like Wordsworth so aptly put it, stand and stare. Do we really ever stop to enjoy nature (whatever little of it we have left)? Greenery is a great healer, and walking barefoot in the grass is therapeutic as is hearing music one enjoys. The good life is not a place you arrive at, it is a lens you bring to the place you are at right now! So snatch happiness and enjoy the journey. Because there is no destination at all but happy moments create a bank balance of fortitude and delight that you delve into when the going gets touch. 

It makes you into a survivor than a quitter!

Nisha JamVwal 


& Tweet her on @nishjamvwal
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Nisha JamVwal Roller Coaster Called Life