A Gentle Hand Reaches Out to Those Considering Suicide
by Bharti Bansal
Listen to Editor in Chief Gabriel Nathan read this post aloud:
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I know we do not talk much. I mean, we do not even know each other and perhaps you might be thinking, why am I suddenly trying to initiate a conversation with you? Don’t we all need a reason to talk? A friendship would suffice and we aren’t even friends. So, let me start with a question, “Will you be my friend?”
Perhaps, now that you are thinking about this question, let me continue by asking you another question:
Have you ever looked at the mirror enough that doubts start seeping into the cracks of your skin and you finally ask, “Who am I?”
The kind of creases that you judge the space between your brows, where you look at your lips long enough, and feel those eyes looking back at you with so much hate that you can’t help but look the other way? The voices inside your head tell you all the lies; lies that settle deep into your consciousness like the process of sedimentation. Lies about how you aren’t enough, a failure, and a loser who doesn’t deserve to live this life because, if it was granted to someone else, they would have done a better job with that life than you. Do you remember the time you were a kid and your teacher made you stand in lines, and you, confused, looked around until someone announced, “Kids you will be called according to your roll-numbers. You will be vaccinated and then you can leave.”
You suddenly felt your heart racing at such a speed that the teacher’s voice faded amidst the chaotic heartbeats. Your mother was at home, and you wanted to hug her, tell her how scared you were, but then, when your turn came, you stood there with trembling hands and legs, tears in your eyes as the needle pierced your skin and you shouted, crying, and you ran away. Did you realise that was actually your first win with life? Your first encounter with what seemed to be a really big problem for a five-year-old kid?
I mean, do you actually see the first time you sowed the seeds of courage in you was when you didn’t know the meaning of this word? The voices made you the king of your world, the queen of your fantasyland, the only hero of your life. You wanted to be Spiderman, Batman, or any other heroes your mother told you about in her bedtime stories.
My mother told me about the kabuliwala (street-seller) who would sell chickpeas and sweets to a little girl. The girl loved him. As years passed by, the girl grew up but could never forget him. She worked hard and one day met the old kabuliwala sitting by the side of road. Beaten with life, his old senile age was showing all those years of toil he had done. He was sad, his empty eyes made the girl very confused. She thought, “How can a man, who used to be so happy, have such emptiness in his eyes?” She went there until this kabuliwala looked at her and recognized her immediately and told her his misery. Bounded by those childhood days, the girl helped him marry his daughters. This was my first lesson, first moral I remembered years later. I wanted to be that girl, but as life took charge, and dreams broke down faster than the piece of glass, I became a seller of art, a kabuliwala myself. I sang loudly about my pain, like a dying bird, and people watched in awe, praising me for the art that was a drowning girl’s last attempt at saving herself. I became the kabuliwala and sold my sadness for a dime. I had become unimportant, I was not special anymore, just like thousands of kabuliwalas out there on the road shouting to be heard. You see, dear friend, this world may make you believe that you are invisible, that you may pass through the walls too, and none would doubt a bit that you created that ripple of wave in universal fabric. But truth be told, there are no ghosts out, no poltergeists, just us, you and me, the kabuliwalas wanting to sell their chickpeas and find a place they can leave their burden they carry on their shoulders, and breathe. All we want is to breathe freely. Freedom in its true essence is only about air. And today when you feel like ending things, I know it stems deep down from the utmost will to breathe. You might ask; how do I know this?
Dear friend, poverty of friendships hit my heart so forcefully that all I could do was write some verses for the world to know that I needed friends.
Anything close to a lifesaving conversation.
Now, if I have held your interest, you might just want to know; what did this girl, this kabuliwala, do? She nearly tried to end her life. She had become nonexistent, her breaths were heavy with guilt, loneliness. A girl who once was the apple of everyone’s eyes now was just a remote memory in people’s mind. She fell deep into the abyss of depression because there was no one who wanted to stay by her side, or hold her hand, and so her dreams flew far away, and all the eyelashes flew back to heaven, the wishes fell like waterfalls, until what remained was the clear water of the same consciousness telling her how she wasn’t worth this life.
She was a loser.
She wasn’t the school topper anymore. She wasn’t the best friend of anyone. She would walk on the top floor of her hostel and think about jumping off till her dying breaths could fetch her some love. We all want to be loved but she hated herself. And her hatred and want to kill herself perhaps had a clinical term for it. The doctors told the family she was suffering from depression. 50 percent, he surmised. Isn’t it funny that our sadness can be quantified? She failed all the Rorschach tests because just like her colourless life, things were no fairytale, just some kidney shaped beans, no butterflies, just some wounded animal shouting in pain.
She went deeper into the alleys of depression, convincing herself that darkness was her true home, that harming herself was the sole way of atoning for sins that she didn’t commit. She was not just a kabuliwala, she was what was sold. She was her pain, the sole reason for her grief. So she did what she wanted to do for a long time. She thought to kill herself on a Tuesday morning in her hostel room. As her hands trembled with fear, and all the voices in her head asked her to have all the thirty pills lying on her bedside, a feeble voice of her soul said, “don’t.”
Dear friend, don’t.
Because you still have that voice inside you that asks you to give yourself another chance. Don’t, even if you can’t hear it amidst all the chaos inside your mind, let me be that voice. Don’t because if I can give myself a chance, then you deserve all the second and third and fourth and millionth chances. Not because you need them but because you have earned these chances.
Do you remember that butterfly with tattered wings you held in your hands and kept it in the corner, safe from the world, or the nights when you looked at the stars and thought about dedicating one to someone you love the most, or eating that apple pie your sister made, which didn’t taste good but you wanted to save her from hurt?
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Do you remember how you used to motivate that classmate of yours who had social anxiety or saved that cat when its head got stuck in a box?
You saved moments, people, things and everything even if it didn’t possess a heartbeat. How you slept with your doll, combed its hair, dressed it up with new clothes and cried when it was given away. How you kept the plectrum your best friend gave you all these years, because it reminded you of his love. Love is not too much to ask for.
Dear friend—have you decided yet if I can call you that? Are you my friend, yet?
Do you remember your first love?
The girl or boy you saw in your class and how desperately you wanted to talk to them? You would look them in the eyes and those few seconds of eye contact would make you believe in God, miracles. You wished, prayed, hoped to get married to them until the first time you went to college, your heart skipped a beat once again, hoping to be kept in the same group your crush was in.
I mean, I did.
How you sat near their bench, remembered the colour of their eyes, the way they smiled, how their nostrils flared, how they used hands too much while talking, how they always kept their head down. You were so caught up in how much you loved them, but did you forget that someone looks at you the same way? Someone hopes to be in the same lab of college as you, someone remembers the way you dressed for the fresher’s party. Someone wants to sit at the same dinner table in your college canteen as you and wishes to have just one conversation with you. Someone feels their heart skip a beat when you laugh while looking at your mobile phone, probably watching a funny cat video.
I know the voices in your head tell you otherwise, but did you forget that you still have to go on that trip to Kasol you planned with your friends, to get high for the first time, to visit the mountains you haven’t climbed and the beach you haven’t seen yet. You are yet to fall in love and, trust me, when you do, you will not know how it happened. All you would remember is the first time your heart beat so slow that you could feel peace dawning upon you like the first rays of sun.
Why am I telling you this? Because maybe the voices tell you, the same as they did to me, to kill yourself. Maybe they tell you that the world would be a better place without you. Maybe they are so loud that all the I-love-you’s don’t matter to you now.
So listen to me. Listen when I say this: you are yet to
learn how to drive,
ride a horse,
click a picture with wild yaks,
make that first app,
go to the mountains and
see the waterfall,
lay supine in a forest,
drink water from the Zanskar lake in Ladakh.
Hell the trip to Ladakh is still pending. Everything is pending. Everything is a dream.
I know you feel like the dreams have left you, and that the only purpose you have striven so hard to fulfil now seems like a faraway nothing, but believe me, your birth was no accident or tragedy. Your birth was a mathematician’s solved equation. The universe spent the exact amount of energy it needed to create you, to maintain the balance of this point blank space. You were created because that’s how the universe would expand. Without you, it would collapse into singularity and it would have to start again.
Don’t you want to feel the hands of your newborn in your hand?
Feel a stickshift move effortlessly into first as you gently push down the clutch?
Buy your first car, earn that first paycheck and dump it into that first bank account?Life is waiting to happen to you like a magic.
Stay, dear friend. Stay.
Stay because, without you, I couldn’t write this letter. Without you, I would curse myself for not talking to you. Without you, your friend will think for years to come how they couldn’t save you. Without you, that classmate you didn’t talk to will think about those few seconds of eye contact and blame himself for not smiling.
Without you, this world wouldn’t be the same. Because there would be none trying to launch an app like you did, to open a startup like you wanted to do.
Stay because I once wanted to kill myself and, when I didn’t, I was rewarded with one more reason to live, I fell in love. And you will, too.
Stay because you are yet to witness a miracle, the kind which makes you say, “I am so thankful I didn’t end my life.” Stay. Stay. Stay. Because your staying would mean a chance at a friendship I so want to have. With you.
Will you be my friend?
EDITOR IN CHIEF / EDITOR: Gabriel Nathan | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | PUBLISHER: Bud Clayman
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