Thursday, October 09, 2008

What the eyes don't tell you...

I often wonder when I hear about suicide cases if really no one close to that person could have sensed a break point about to happen. The point where a person cannot cope. A point when he can justify taking his own life and under even more horrifying circumstances also that of others. I hear of murder/suicide cases or read about it in newspapers every now and then and just think about this in passing and move on with every day routine. But when I read this, it just felt so close to home.

Just the name - an Indian name. A south Indian who speaks the same language. Somehow I always thought only complete whackos who grow up in strained families end up doing really horrible acts of violence. To think that someone who grew up in a regular Indian family and had a loving wife and otherwise normal life could do this?! It turned out that this guy was my sister's close friend's cousin. The said friend used to talk to him very often. And she had no idea something so violent was brewing in him. All for the sake of money? Or the perception that one needs a lot of money to even make it worth living?

I happened to read this post earlier today. At that time I didn't think too much about the exercise. But it seems like a good one for kids to go through. And adults too. To clear up the junk in our own heads as to what is really important in life and what is not. What is a need and what is a want. And what needs and wants merit worrying about either having it or not having it.

There is loss of life every second in this world. So in that sense, amongst many many horrible acts of violence you hear about, this is yet another one. But somehow talking about it with my sister who actually knows these people and has talked to the wife of this person many times brings this so close to home. And it makes me wonder how one can look at a person and just never really know what is going on in their head. On the surface this guy's life was going quite well. He was not even bankrupt at that time he decided to end his life. He had had a pretty good life, a wonderful wife and three perfectly healthy happy children. And yet he could not see clearly how privileged he was and could only focus on that point in his life and decided it was not worth continuing on. It is so sad and tragic that I almost wish we could go back in time and save him and his family.

Long ago, I had posted a story of a young newly married woman who committed suicide because she could not cope with the loss of her husband in the Sep 11 crash. Sad and tragic as it is, somehow I am personally even able to understand that. But I just don't get how Karthik Rajaram could do this to himself and to his family all because he lost some money. He was a brilliant person and could have gotten a job with time. And then I realize it has to be a cumulative effect - years of prioritizing winning over playing the game and doing the best. Years of chasing the next goal without pausing to smell the roses. It is not just him, it is the society we live in and the people we associate with too. It is hard to tell another successful Indian neighbor, that you, the success story you are perceived as, has lost a job. They will be sorry for you but you feel right at the end of that sentence, there is pity, the kind of pity you loathe. (I have known people who went through this a few years back. Some of them who took it in stride are now back on track and much more successful than those who did hold on to their jobs then). The kind of look that says,well, I am in a good position myself, but I do feel sorry for you. It is when I hear such stories that I feel disgusted by how we spend so much time inviting people to each other's houses for Navratri or Diwali and exchange gifts and such but how much do we really know people? How much do we really care for each other? Are we really there for each other? Beyond pithy statements and pats on the back. Just my random thoughts in my moment of sadness over this story. When I think of the little seven year old, my heart just bleeds. To have died such a violent death. I hope he killed the mother first so at least she did not have to endure the worst kind of suffering I can imagine - to see her children being killed by their own father.

It scares me to think that being brilliant or being an over achiever or having all the perceived notions of a successful life also doesn't mean that the person is a self assured person. And then I tell myself that I need to remind myself of this when I raise my children. When I feel the peer pressure to put them in more and more classes so they keep up with the next door kids. I need to raise the child as a whole and not a facet of the child that will bring him/her degrees and money. And this is not to say any of this is his parent's fault (from what I heard he lost his mother when he was a little child). It is yet another reminder of how grateful we ought to be for the many blessings we have thus far and a prayer that our children, who in their adult life are likely to bear the burden of a lot of the economic crisis we are in now, will have it in them to face life with grace and courage. Well, a prayer for myself too that I am able to face life's ups and downs with courage.

16 comments:

Suma said...

i read this yesterday in the news and was shocked...and it scares me too how little people value life...

and frankly i'm terrified of the world our children will be growing up in..will tehy be able to handle teh pressure, ..will they be able to know what's enough etc..(it reminds me of the pressure cooker, when its vent is blocked...)

this was a needed post, noon...

Preethi said...

This was so shocking.. like Suma says how can people value life so little?
I had a distant cousin who once committed suicide because he failed his 12th exams (in India). I hardly knew the guy.. but his parents were devastated of course! But later his mom said "Oh I dint know my son was such a coward. Maybe he dint deserve to live after all". I wrote a post about this long back
Misspent Youth

Mystic Margarita said...

It's easy to say that we don't understand why someone, who's apparently priviledged, would want to take his/her life, but the problem is we're judging them from our perspective, when we feel optimistic and content with life overall.

The human brain is a funny thing - sometimes a small trigger will set off a sudden, overpowering depressive phase where one drowns and fails to see any chance of light at the end of the tunnel. That's when people take their lives. I don't condone it, but will not judge such people or call them cowards. What I don't understand is why force the family to be a part of tis morbid decision when they (in all likelihood) didn't have any choice in the matter.

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

I read this news and was so shocked !!
The thing is people judge the book from the covers ... yes, he was perhaps a successful man in the 80's ...90's .. and people had built this expectation from him to be leading some kind of living. So perhaps it was very hard for him to live to their expectation. Whatever it was that led him to take this extreme step, it was a sad thing.

This also brought back some personal memories. Have sent you an email.

Anonymous said...

i am regukar reader who hasnt commented before but enjoy reading your posts. i find this post extremely judgemental. you say he is south indian w/ a supposed loving family, and only whackos do this. so it means south indians dont have the potential to be "whacko" (a term you choose to use for this man, not my choice). so if he was say, american, it would be much easlier to understand?

asaaan said...

I read this a few days ago on yahoo. The names weren't even listed and I didnt know it was an Indian family. I was just shocked that the day killed his kids.. such young lifes.

Such a shocking story..

asaaan said...

Wanted to add this :
One of the saddest stories I read about was when I was in Singapore.. a woman she was Singaporean married to a British guy living in HongKong..she was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer.. She tied a red thread between her wrists, and her 2 beautiful girls wrists(ages 5 and 3) and jumped down from the 30th floor. She planned it all so well, she told her dh she was visiting her family in SIngapore and told her mom to come to Hongkong..

She tied a red thread because the Cantonese believe they will be reborn together in the next life or something..I forgot now.. Its was one of the saddest things I read.

noon said...

Suma - you night owl! You were up late too or what?!
Tell me about it - I shudder to think how much more violent the world is going to get when our children grow up...

Preethi - coming to think of it - I don't value my life too much either. But I value it enough to want to be there for my family. But then this is on a normal day. Like Mystic says who knows how it feels when you are in the depths of despair and can't reason anything well.

Mystic - oh yeah - I can understand how a person can be driven to such madness when they cannot think clearly. That's why I said it has to a cumulative effect...of so many things. And in part it is also the embarrassment of facing a society where when a man (esp a man) loses his job and can't find one for months, it is looked upon with such pity ...for a person who had been successful that can really be absolutely horrifying to face...but really why would he do this to his family too!

noon said...

CA - thanks for your comment and mail. Will reply to your email soon. See my comment to Mystic - yes, the expectation that people have of each other and the feeling of having to face them when he has lost a job - it must have been really devastating for him.

noon said...

Anon - well, it is judgmental - but I didn't say because he is south Indian he cannot be whacko. The south Indian part was to say how it hit close to home. But the judgmental part is there - that I never have come across such a gruesome act from someone who came from a regular close knit Indian family - so I somehow had this mental picture that only people who grow up in abusive situations or those who have had a difficult childhood would do this...and I know now that I was wrong - this can be done even by a normal looking person from a close knit Indian family.

noon said...

Anon - btw, thanks also for reading my posts and for commenting now!


Asaaan - that sounds really awful. It really makes me sad - you know - I can understand how this woman wanted to take her life - but to take her child's life?! I just don't know what that state of mind is like when it is so removed from reality that it is able to justify such cruel acts of violence...it must be such a tormented mind. I wish we as a society could somehow make one another feel more secure and loved and cared for so such things don't happen...I keep thinking how this man (a neighbor remarked that he loved his children very dearly) could do this to his children...just too sad.

Anonymous said...

hi - you are welcome. im glad you did not take offense or atleast made me feel that it was okay to write what i truly write in the comments section as opposed to agree w. you on everything. that is a special quality.

noon said...

Anon - no probs - I don't think bloggers in general mind criticism as long as it is not made in a rude manner.

Addressing all comments here - I thought about this a lot today - I can so totally understand how hard it must have been on this guy and why he wanted to take his life. But what amazes me is that he was so depressed that he could also shoot and kill his entire family. It is not an easy thing to even kill a little fly that comes into your house. To do this - it must have taken some serious mental turmoil. I feel sorry for him. Just wish someone could have seen this coming. That's what I wonder about - how no one could have seen this coming and prevented this...

Artnavy said...

he must have been sooooo miserable to end it all for all of them

the boys may have been looking forward to living

but we will never know that now will we?

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

ya, a terribly shocking incident! Makes me wonder if I have my priorities right...and to take a minute to enjoy and be thankful for life's simple moments...

hashim said...

I can understand the bloger's statement, usually when we hear news of people pulling extremely voilent/weirdo act,it's usually white guys. Just like American associate dowry deaths, corruption, arranged marriages, caste war to India/Indians. Indians associate pyschopathic behaviour from red necks /trailer trash and not from creme de la creme of Indian middle class.