Didibhai

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A year ago, on 10th september 2013, I missed a call from my dad in the evening. I was out with my roommate, roaming about and goofing off. It did feel odd that dad would call in that hour, usually we always talked after dinner, but I didnt pay it much attention. Later we returned to our hostel room and I went to the canteen to pack two plates of cheese pasta. As I waited for my order I got a call from an unknown number, I picked it up and a girl asked me when was I coming home. I couldn’t place her, and was confused as there was no plan of me going home before Durga Puja, I told her the same and she just said ‘Oh! You haven’t heard….’ and hung up. That’s when the sense of dread creeped in. I was tempted to call up dad and ask him what was going on, but a part of me didn’t want to know. I deliberately put off calling him. I brought the pasta and didn’t say anything to my roommate, we ate and talked normally, but the sense of dread had already made a house in the pit of my stomach. After we finished eating I told my roommate about the call in the canteen and, without saying in words, conveyed to him what I was afraid of. I don’t recall the exact time, but it must have been around 7:30 or 8 pm, dad called me, I picked it up. He spoke in a broken voice, with clear evidence he was crying, I had only heard him sound like that once before, and it confirmed all that I needed to know. He asked me to come home as soon as I could manage, he said sis was sick, I knew that was a lie. If she were sick he would never had even told me, he even kept me in the dark when my grandfather had died because he didn’t want me to be upset before my exams. Still a tiny part wanted to hang on to hope or a miracle. I called my neighbor, uncle picked up the call and told me that aunty was at my home, he told me that my sister had hanged herself, he was albeit a bit tactless but he didn’t mean to be, but I was thankful for that, my emotions were the last thing I wanted people to care about. I called dad again, our cook picked it up, she had been our cook for more than 6 years and was more like a family member, she was as close a friend as my sister had, later I learned she, dad and my neighbors daughter were the once to find my sister hanging by her dupatta from the fan. She said to come soon as my sister was sick, I asked her to tell me the truth, she said sis tried to kill herself, I asked her to clarify whether she was still alive, I told her patiently not to worry about me, that I could handle myself, that I needed the truth from her, she handed the phone to the maid, who thankfully understood that I didn’t want any false hope, she told me exactly what happened, I said take care of dad don’t worry about me and hung up. I waited……waited to feel the loss of her, to feel upset, to feel the pain. I waited for the tears to come.

I thought about her, how i was avoiding her calls for the last few weeks, how I used to be irritated that she always just complained about her problems but did nothing to solve them, how she would make me listen to her incessant whining about her life and would never take my advice. I ssympathized with her, I had always adjusted with her, I had always put her needs and problems before mine. I felt like her only friend and support who actually tried to understand her, I knew dad and her friends all loved her and cared for her, but she was too moody, reckless, stubborn to let anyone close to her. Someone giving good advice would seem like an enemy to her, and I understood that sometimes it was just better to agree with her and be on her side than to argue with her and be cut off. In a way, I might have encouraged her towards her doom. But I knew she would have walked towards it anyway, I just didn’t want her to be alone. She was strong headed, but she was intelligent, she was wise, she wasn’t very clever though, she knew exactly what her actions would lead into, she just never had the control over her emotions to stop herself. I wont write about problems that led her into this, thats her personal story, it’s not mine to write about. This write-up is for my closure, not hers, it’s a selfish act, not an act of love. I however didn’t do great as a brother. I was a good brother, but I grew weary of her. It irritated me that she had a lot of guts, patience, strong-will and didn’t use any of it to mold her life. It seemed to me that she had started to enjoy being depressed, that she actually used all her faculties to make her life more hard. I realized giving her advice was useless as she would never take it. I started getting irritated by small things of her, and we would often fight, even her last text messages are a conversation of us arguing bitterly. And no, I wasn’t always right, my own emotions, my own prejudice, my sense of righteousness, my exasperation and my own problems had started to cloud my own judgement. I fought with her even when she was being sweet to me, I would unnecessarily point out her flaws and accuse her of deliberately making life hard for everyone else. I, who was her sole companion, co-conspirator, assistant, spot-boy…I who was her keeper…started to distance myself from her….I had started to grow tired of her. I don’t know exactly what set her off that day, according to those who were close to her then, she was cheerful and happy a day ago and was making plans for ganesh puja. She did leave a note writing why she did it. But the reason runs deeper than that, there is not one single person responsible for it, but in a way everyone was, my father; who despite his genuine love and affection for her could only manage to show his tough love to her, who in his zeal to give her independence as well as to keep her grounded clouded his affection in a mask of indifference and disdain, me; who despite being her closest person, despite knowing her better than herself, abandoned her at a crucial time, she herself; who despite being wise and intelligent enough to know that she was loved, let her impulses control her, let her temper hurt those around her, let her stubbornness consume herself, she allowed another person to hurt her so deeply that is only possible in love. Wish she had loved herself as dearly. I wish every person in this world falls in love with themselves first before they fall in love with anyone else.

The tears didn’t come. All along I had an idea this could happen. I couldn’t feel the loss, the pain or anything at all. I looked at my roommate, his eyes were moist, he looked at me with such pity in his eyes. I didn’t need pity, I wasn’t sad, in a part of me I was relieved. She was finally resting, at peace. This wasn’t the life she wanted to live, she couldn’t change who she was, nor could she change the hand she was dealt by fate. But she was a fighter, she had fought her whole life without backing away a single time, how long would she have kept fighting? Maybe she had escaped a far dreadful fate. At least that is what I try to convince myself. That is what dad says. I miss her, I feel her absence. But I don’t lament her loss, maybe I am an emotionless robot or maybe my coping mechanism is different, or maybe i had some sort of premonition. Whatever the reason, I do not wish to remember her as she died, but I wish to live in every moment as she did. I wish to have the courage to stand up for what’s right like she did. I wish to have the strength and patience enough to face the most difficult times like she did. She had a lot of life in her, more than any person i have known. And I wish to celebrate that life. I wish to be happy, for she wanted me to be. I wish to be as hard working and dedicated as she was. And I wish to be as loving and caring a person as she was. She is my hero, my inspiration and she will always be a part of my life.

Suicide is not an act of cowardice. It was her conscious decision to take control of her life, she was ready to go through the pain because it was temporary. It takes a lot of guts to make that decision, to convince oneself that it’s worth it. To accept death is to conquer your fear, before commiting the act, she had conquered her fears, if at that precise moment she had not been impulsive, she would have seen clearly that she needn’t have let her story end this way. Death will eventually come to us all, today or tomorrow, who knows? It will render all our worries, struggles, achievments meaningless when it does. Till then life is just a long process of making decisions, circumstances may not be in our control, but neither does it control us, we are free to respond to situations as we wish to and not as we are supposed to and we can make our own choices as to how our lives should be. Death is the ultimate equalizer, your choices and decisions should be made on what you feel is right and not as to what you think you are supposed to feel as right. Whatever difficult or painful situation you are in, there is always a way out, it may involve hurting a few people or sacrificing something dear or making a hard choice, but whatever it is will be worth it. Death is waiting at the end, there’s no need to rush, first try out your luck, take your chances, endure the pain, fight till your last breath, at least you will die knowing you did your best.

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