Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Fade to Black

Today marks the passing of a month since the death of our flatmate and friend, Nadia. For reasons that will probably be forever unknown, she decided to take her life just 2 days before what would have been her 21st birthday, in the most traditional of ways - A rope around her neck.

And for the past month, i have been quietly disgusted. Not at the fact that she 'chose the shortcut' or that 'she was too weak to face her problems'. But at the way people whisper and prod at her memory after her untimely demise. And yes, it includes close family members. Both mine and hers.

Our fathers were both in the same line of work and thats how we knew each other. You see, kids like us, especially those whose family doesn't have a family home in the state their fathers are assigned, spend our childhoods following our father's postings. These start at the rural areas and move towards the larger cities as seniority is attained. So we basically do not have a stable childhood, or people to grow up with, that may be considered childhood friends. The only kids we ever have a somewhat solid chance of befriending semi-long term are other officers kids. And even then, since no two officers follow the same pattern of transfer and posting continuously, its a very broken connection. Still, seeing a familiar face from time to time was of great comfort at times especially in the more barren regions. Nadia's family and ours have had the chance to stay in close quarters 5 times throughout. If i remember correctly, this is the most times we have kept contact with any other family. We were never the closest of friends, though there was a long period of time (almost a year) where due to the lack of any other distractions we spent some really interesting moments together, as pairs of siblings. Our youngest siblings, both being boys of a similar age, were the ones who were really able to strike a proper friendship. But this too wore off as time went on, as Nadia's younger brother went into less physical avenues of recreation while my brother was the opposite.

Nadia was a really nice person. Though she was never the sporty type, she was always lively. We had our own interests and relative hobbies, but she was the type that could jump into any group outing or activity. She was apparently above average in her studies and was good at making friends with people. She was quite on the thin side when it came to her looks, she even used to joke about having an Olive Oyl figure. By the time we were neighbours again though, she had withdrawn a bit and was a little more reserved, though this was pretty natural for any teen growing up and going through her latter stage of teen development. The last time we actually met was about a week and a half before the fateful day. It was a chance meeting at the Mall, she was with her college mates, she looked perfectly happy.

Its always the ones who look perfectly happy. They're the ones which hit the hardest. Because its that much more difficult to explain why and how it happened. Its like what Heath Ledger's Joker said in the seminal Superhero movie The Dark Knight Rises - "When things go according to plan, no one cares. When things don't go to plan, everyone loses their minds". The truth is, most people who are on the verge of the edge of hope in life tend to cover up their darkness with as much light as possible. Both for the sake of keeping it hidden, and for the sake of not hurting unnecessary bystanders and passers-by. Its the ones who everyone think look the happiest, sunniest and most cheerful, that walk the tightrope of tension, standing on the edge of the terrace or roof, looking down day after day at the inconsequential pitter patter of life oblivious to their existence, when no one else is looking or around.

People question the motives of the suicidee, contemplating what catastrophic event could have lead to such a hasty, drastic decision. But the truth is, when you're already on the edge of the cliff, it doesn't take much more than a rough breeze to push you down the vortex of death. By the time you're up there gasping for air, looking at the emptiness surrounding you, the wide chasm of darkness that lies in front of you looks very inviting. The promise of a new, unsure darkness can be a very viable alternative to the familiar blinding light. Some of us are able to find a thread of hope, an anchor to hold onto life and build up from then on, and some of us choose to dive headfirst into the swelling unknown. This may be blasphemous to say/write/think, but we'll never truly know who made the right choice until the end result for both is finally revealed in its entirety, when the curtain of death covers both in its call.

The most disturbing/disgusting comments are those that talk about how much of a "disgrace" for the family it is. When they question how she could kill herself when she had 'everything that a child could want'. Maybe they're nervous as fellow parents trying to cover up the holes in their own families and parenting styles, but it was so fricking obvious that she did NOT have 'everything a child could want'. At least not THIS particular "child".
What right do we have to judge the life trials of the dead? What justification do we have for criticising the choices of a person dead and gone? So what if he or she killed him/herself. I know, especially from a Christian viewpoint, that it kind of limits the choice of afterlife destinations. But why do we wonder so negatively about the person ESPECIALLY when we didn't give a damn about him/her when they were alive. Well, atleast not enough of a damn to notice that the person was on the verge of taking their life.

The living have no control over the dead. And so they try to cope with the memory of the person left behind.

Tarnish not, the faint memoir,
Blacken not, the fair portrait,
For in the end, all is the same,
Life is lived, and Dead is Death.


Anonymous said...

Gripping! I used to feel that people who commit suicide are kinda selfish, in that they care not about the pain and suffering they leave behind for the ones who loved them. Yet on the other hand, I pity them for the desperation they would've felt to find no other way out but to take one's own life.
When things like this happen, as much as we want to put the blame on someone, whether living or dead, it really is too little and too late, and your last lines sums that up perfectly for me.

Aduhi Chawngthu said...

This post reminds me of the friend I lost two years ago, although it was not suicide. She died on Palm Sunday, and strangely I saw her on my dreams last night, and the song "if i die young" was playing in the background.

lalG said...

I'm not surprised any more when I hear sad incidents such as suicides. I know very well how it feels to get hurt, and totally lonely with no one or nothing to fall back on. You cant trust anyone not even your family. That's sadly the case of our support system as of now.(Isua ka neih avang chauh hian ka hahdam thin.isua neilo tan phei chuan a hrehawmin a hahthlak leh zual ang.) If only she had someone to talk to..someone who would have understood...

zakk sangkima said...

Thats some deep stuff bro. reminds me of my 2 best buddies John and Salim who have sadly passed away. Sorry for your loss.