Sweet-talking Skies

I came to know this noon, from an update from a friend, that Sushant Singh Rajput had died.

Many have been expressing their heartfelt sorrow. It has been a real loss for many. Me, I don’t follow Hindi cinema too well. I have watched only one of Sushant’s films. But I liked him. I identified him with the character, – since I knew little else about him, I think I projected the character on to him.

He died by suicide. He took his own life, we have all been told.

I think I don’t like that phrase, ‘took his own life.’ His life was his. He didn’t ‘take it away’ from anyone else. He just did what he needed to do with it.

There is a popular way of demonizing people who kill themselves. They are always painted as selfish, uncaring people who are took weak and self-centered to keep on living, like the rest of us bold folk do. They are blamed of being escapist and shallow. Some religions, including mine, systematically brands suicide as a ‘great sin.’ Sushant was an actor. Millions of people knew him. His death is being talked about a lot more.

I am reminded of the death of Marilyn Monroe. I can’t think of her without thinking of Elton John’s song. How it still rains the same way all these years after.

How many people I knew have died like that? Vincent did the same thing. Robin Williams did the same thing.

Deciding to stop. Making up my mind to step out of the door. Closing the story, here.

Is it merely a matter of sorrow or sadness, I wonder. I remember, when Robin died, the papers criticized him for being selfish, for abandoning his fans who had looked to him for uplifting and comfort for years. I was angry. These people knew nothing of what they spoke about. A man like Robin Williams… I guess it fit the pattern, after all.

And when no hope was left in sight on that starry, starry night,
You took your life, as lovers often do…
But I could’ve told you Vincent,
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you
.

It’s a song by Don McLean.

Now, of course, everyone is going to be sensitive for a few days, or at least, they will pretend. Even pretended sympathy can help, if they are a good pretender. Many are. Most never have to stand in the face of the occasion to prove it. All that is known to us.

But is it just grief or sadness? I went to look at Sushant’s Instagram, and here are some of the last posts he had made.

Many have seen these by now. The final post he made was melancholy, but it was no cry for help. Many people post content like that every day. Maybe his mind was fingering sadness, we can say now, with hindsight. But the other posts?

I don’t see grief there. All I see is someone spending time with his thoughts. Thinking. And, true, someone’s grief need not leave prints on their social media. But what someone has on their social media is not so arbitrary, too. Why would a man, who was living a life of spiritual inquiry, wondering, and meditation, decide to take his own life?

Is it a question of grief, or a question of judgement? – I don’t know the answer, but I know I have the question.

The whisperings of that faraway sky indeed seem very close at times, you know? It feels as if you could really put it all away and go. It’s been too long you’ve been here. You just want to go… home.

“When will I leave this thirsting desert and go to your green lands?”

That’s another song, by Rajanikanta Sen.

You lie and wonder for long, how to take that leave. Princes, too, have walked out into the night, never coming back. Is that what you do?

Young men before have disappeared from the world, into the wild. “Society, hope you are not lonely without me.”

A voice joins these voices, in my mind. Subinoy Roy sings, “Here I sit waiting, longing to hear your voice, awaiting the hour when I go out in the world and fulfill my blessed life.” But, that is Rabindranath. He is a class apart. We are not there, not yet.

We get tired. We grow old, we grow old.

You cannot always reason people out of depression, my good people. You can’t give them a cure, always. Most of the times you can, with many, many people you can. But you are wrong if you think you can mass-solve it like that. Some will always look into the fire. Some will always sit in the dark, quietly hand in hand with gentle death.

It’s not all clinical. It isn’t a pretty poem, but it won’t be a posh pet philanthropy project.

I don’t want to romanticize suicide, depression, but you cannot have it packageable. Try to help people you care about, but when you hear someone has gone, let them be gone gracefully. They don’t need your pity anymore.

The world didn’t give them the company they looked for. There they go, kites on the wind. Run, boy… run.

Aye zindagi,
Hamen sohbaton ka nasha hai,
Yeh sohbatein yaaron ki…
Aye zindagi, hame hosh ki na tu dava de
Dua de, dua de

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