In the dead of the night, in a dark, desperate hour, a woman sat brooding. Should she or shouldn’t she? She asked herself…This wouldn’t be the first time nor the last that the thought of jumping to her death has crossed a mother’s mind, to end it all, the pain, the shame, the guilt, the harassment – everything that had been plaguing her. And it wouldn’t be the last time that the memory of a touch, of a tiny palm clutching on to hers, a soft face pressed against hers, the sound of a little voice or the silhouette of a sleeping child next to her at night would bring a mother back from the brink and urge her to live on, to continue, to compromise, to concede that life may not be perfect, but an impulsive decision on her part would change the life of her child forever.
But, then again, there are mothers who don’t wait to ponder or wait to look back. There are mothers who give up their right to fight and give up on life. They give in to their pain and end their lives, an act that some may have contemplated for a long time and some who just give in to a momentary lapse of reason. Their reasons being varied, and often stranger than fiction, they don’t even have a moment to think about the children they leave behind; children left to fend for themselves, motherless (and often father less) in an otherwise cruel world. And as we have in the past, so we continue to condemn, investigate and analyse the triggers that may have led to the suicides. The law of the land continues to set examples, as it has in the past and continues to punish the abettors while pleading helplessness at addressing the issues that led to the unfortunate act to begin with. And the same question, once again, prevails on our minds, ‘what about her children?’
Every time a mother ends her life, our thoughts, among other things, turn to her children, the helplessness that surrounds them, the part in them that dies with their mother. What would have gone so wrong that she did not want to continue living? Was there no hope left in her to continue? Was living on for her children’s’ sake not an option anymore? Weren’t the little faces in her thoughts? What would happen to them now? Would they ever rest easy henceforth? Would they ever believe that life could be happy again and not as cruel? But the questions remain unanswered.
Almost twenty years ago, when a distant aunt of mine had ended her life leaving her twelve-year-old daughter behind, I had found myself asking the same questions. Whatever had plagued her – and had pained her – were mostly personal issues and had ended with her, but for her daughter this was life’s cruelest joke. Life had taken away her mother from her, the person she had loved the most and perhaps, depended on the most. Fortunately, life did not continue to be as harsh as her ‘new’ mother proved to be a good mother. But this distant cousin of mine never seemed the same anymore, a part of her had died with her mother. Her loss was so deep, that even after a year, I remember her telling me that she did not sleep well and was not sure when tragedy would strike next to snatch away someone dear to her. And all I had felt was a surging anger, for my aunt who had escaped from her miserable life without thinking about the daughter she had brought into this world and had loved for twelve years. She had chosen to desert her daughter and run away from her miseries.
The bizarre suicide cases of Nidhi Gupta followed by Deepti Chauhan, shocked us and raised several difficult questions again. Nidhi Gupta, a Chartered Accountant by profession, jumped to her death from the nineteenth storey of her apartment a little over a month ago, but not before she had flung her two children, Gaurav, six years old and Mahika, three years old, from the nineteenth floor refuge area. The three of them succumbed to multiple injuries. And Deepti Chauhan, last Saturday blindfolded her six-year-old son, Siddhesh, on the pretext of playing blind man’s bluff and pushed him off from the seventh floor terrace of her building and then followed him. She had evidently been contemplating on how to end her life for a while, to put an end to the harassment that she faced from her relatives and had evidently spent eight hours the previous day on a train with her mobile switched off.
This was unfortunately not the first time that a parent has decided to end the life of his or her children and then follow them in death. This is not the first time that children have died because their parents did not have the courage to continue struggling or continue to fight. Children have been poisoned, flung in front of trains or pushed over the top before the parents have followed. Despite my best efforts, what I simply can’t fathom is what is it that leads parents to kill the very children that they have brought into this world? How can a mother who has played an integral role in propagating this miracle called life seek the end the very essence she has brought forth? Does she think that she has the right to take life just because she gave birth to her children? Or is it a deep sense of insecurity as to what might happen to the children after she is no more that leads her to putting an end to the innocent? Why is it so difficult for the parent to choose life for the sake of his or her children instead of choosing death for them too?
Over time I have come to believe that suicide is no more than a way to escape ones miseries. When one believes that he or she cannot fight any longer, when one feels that there is no hope left, one selfishly chooses death over life. There are no doubt many who would disagree with this posture, those with a prolonged terminal medical condition perhaps being a case in point. However, what I can’t accept is that for some this may be in their minds the only way to teach a lesson to those that have hurt them for so long, a justified way to show them (and the world) how deeply they have been hurt, often forgetting that those who stay behind – their children – have nothing more than a painful memory and a sense of emptiness to turn to and live with for the rest of their lives. Whatever be the reason as to why people choose death over life, whoever be the trigger, this is an impulsive and selfish act of cowardice which defies logic.
Why not give life a second chance? Why not live for the sake of your children? Why rob the pleasure of life from those who have just begun to live? Why not live and let them live, too? How about choosing life, mother?