the right thing ….

In  every day vagaries of life, I still think about her.

A friend I knew committed suicide. I know it has been years now but to put her memory to rest, I know I have to write about her.

Sometimes in the beginning of that year someone failed her trust. We all face all kinds of failures – big or small – in our life, but for her it was so despairingly grotesque and so helplessly unbearable that she just turned her back to life.

She was nice and gentle and had a lovable personality. What I liked most about her was that she had a very soft voice. Talking to her was always a pleasure. She always made you feel like wrapped in her warmth and glowing! Our knowing each other period was short but it was an instant bonding. For a person like me who always takes slow and hesitant steps towards new friendships – unless there is some chemistry involved – this bonding was unbelievable.

Around Christmas time, that year she told me she had gift wrapped almost a hundred gifts – big and small. Ironically, out of those hundred people not a single being could save her from that lonely death.

On a misty Florida morning she calmly told me her husband had left her for another woman.  I was speechless for a moment. Didn’t know what to say.

Then I hugged her and she started crying. That became even harder for me, but then I got some courage and told her that I was sorry to learn that. It must hurt a lot but think it this way  that if he did this to you now, there is no guarantee that tomorrow he would not leave that woman for another woman?  Problem lies with him, not you so be sorry for him, not yourself.  If you think this is  the end of the world I would say –  it is not.

Then I told her that if and when she needed me, she knew where to find me.  After all she had shared her pain with me , I had a responsibility now to see if she needed something, some encouragement, some moral support. Then I asked her if she had any children. She said she married late and at forty two there was no hope she would ever have any. Then she assured me that after she had sorted things out , she would go back to her parents in Alaska.  Parents! ah, the greatest gift of God to mankind!

I met her again after a couple of days. She looked calm and serene in her white dress. Her hair was bleached. I told her she was looking lovely with her new hair do. She smiled and said she  was a lot in the sun and her hair got bleached, better thank Florida Sunshine !  We both laughed. I was relieved to see her laughing.  Then she hugged me and told me that she was going.  I didn’t ask where was she going because in our last conversation she had mentioned going to her parents.  She said she was in a hurry because she had to see some people and saying goodbye, she left.

Next day I called her. I wanted to invite her to dinner before she left but no one picked up the phone. I called again after an hour , no answering.  I thought she probably had left for her parents place.

A few days later someone at work said ‘did you know that Avon lady? I said yes. What about her? She looked  at me with sad eyes and sighed – poor soul must have been so heart broken after what her husband did to her! She killed herself.

That was a Hiroshima to me. I could not believe my ears. Just one thought flashed in my mind.  When she was telling me about her husband, I was thinking to offer her to move in our house .. at least for as long as she needed to sort things out. But during that depressing talk and her crying, I didn’t. Maybe if she had moved in with any of her friends, this might not have happened.

A long time ago in my Psychology class  we were talking why some people seek the answer in killing instead of reasoning. Ms. Buksh, our  Philosophy and Psychology professor, concluded her lecture  saying that people kill themselves when they are in a state of sheer desperation. Usually their failures are not their faults alone. It is the people around them who knowingly or unknowingly push them over the edge. And in such cases, humanity, in all its fairness grieves over its failures. Ms Buksh was right!

She was a nice person who touched my heart briefly and made me wonder about so many aspects of life.  we  were new to this country at that time with children  at a very young age, trying to put some solid ground under our feet. It was specially difficult for me because a spoiled rotten person like me was suddenly inundated with all kinds of responsibilities. But at that moment when she was standing there against the Sun, trying to hold back her tears and telling that she didn’t know where to go, what to do. How to think straight – everything that was bothering me ever since I came here, made sense.  I wanted her pain to go away, all the same.  What would she do all by herself was a potent question, pointing to wards so many directions.

Sometimes when I get sleepless nights, my mind wanders. I think about all those people who at one point or the other touched my life. My relatives,friends,acquaintances, people in the street, a lone figure standing at the corner of a street, a homeless, carrying his home in a bag over his shoulder, braving the Florida heat and humidity, while air conditioned cars speed by. I try to grapple with thoughts of why things happen the way they happen. Most nights I think about her too because I see her standing there, at the end of a long line, waiting for her turn to to go somewhere ; and I always telling her that she didn’t do the right thing. She chose the easy way out. There is always pleasure in a struggle in the end.

I hope she is at peace, where ever she is.

March, 19, 2013

2:37 PM

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