On a “suicide mission”

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Arshid Malik

It was a moonless night. I was supposed to be tucked away underneath a blanket on that cold winter evening, reading a book or writing something – perhaps that is what my parents thought – while in all actuality I had only been pacing the room like an impatient intruder. I hadn’t slept for the preceding three nights and the white of my eyes had turned blood red due to fatigue. All I had been doing was staring in the darkness – I hated light – while my mind stood stupefied, every now and then wondering about the stupid conjectures that had dotted my entire existence. I was a low-life, downtrodden and riddled with egotism. All I could see was me, no matter where I looked. My life was like a cage made of mirrors, mirrors that mocked me, mirrors that ridiculed me and mirrors that showed me what I wanted to see, a disgusting me. Yes, I would mainly describe the feeling as disgusting – this feeling that rose in my gut like a sea-monster and then sank back into the darkest depths of me, only to rise again. I was thoughtfully disturbed. I was behaviorally bewitched. I was potentially petrified.

While I chugged at the last packet of smokes I was left with, I grabbed a razor from my shaving kit and slit both my wrists. Blood, red, started oozing out, weaving its own path around my hands, and eventually disappearing into the thick red woolen carpet. The carpet provided it a refuge, hiding it away from sight. There was no pain, yes no pain at all. Half an hour had passed and the blood had clogged, blocking the slits on my wrists. I was thirsty for some more, so I picked up the razor again and inflicted some deep cuts on my forearms, and blood gushed out as if it had waited this moment of liberation ever since I was born. Some veins had been slit, so the flow of blood was strong. My mind was an absolute blankwhile my heart sank into unbridled sadness. I was smoking the last cigarette that was left when someone knocked on the door. It was my father, I realized after he called out my name. I wouldn’t reply. The knocking took an agitating turn and then it stopped suddenly. I could hear the door to the verandah that laces my room creak open. My father was at the window asking me what I was doing, telling me dinner was served and I should come downstairs to have my meals. I had not eaten for days and my parents had assumed it was another one of my bouts of depression. My father sensed something and without any warning he kicked the low window open as one of the latches landed near my feet. He climbed in and switched on the light. I was an abominable sight yet my father took me in his arms, asking me why I had hurt myself. I wouldn’t talk. Soon my whole family was surrounding me, the girls and womenfolk weeping. My father called for an ambulance but since strict curfew had been imposed, the hospital people said they could not send in an ambulance. Eventually my father persuaded one of our neigbours to take us to the hospital in his auto rickshaw. On the way to the hospital emergency room we were stopped time and time again, with troopers asking all sorts of questions. How had I been injured? Was I a militant or something? My father managed to convince the patrolling troopers that I had met with an accident. At every stop we were forced to make, troopers gathered around the rickshaw wondering why my arms were wrapped in bed sheets soaked in blood. We arrived at the hospital and I was rushed into the emergency theatre. I was alone in there, except for two medics who were attending to me. As soon as the surgeons pierced my skin with needles and started tying knots I felt pain, immense pain. I shouted at them. I used some foul language but the medics were all too seasoned to react to my obscenities. After an hour or so, I was out of the theater and back on the auto rickshaw, writhing in pain. The chilly wind hit me straight in the face as did the fact that I had attempted suicide and failed.

Why? I fail to comprehend why I wanted to take my life. Why was I so eager to die? I had very loving and caring parents yet several (thirteen to be exact) episodes of unaccomplished suicides marked my life as a young man. For all I can tell, I was disappointed with myself. I was disappointed because people were being murdered in cold blood across the length and breadth of the Valley and I wanted to do something to stop this dance macabre but could not. I was dejected because my identity, a privy, had been desecrated. I was sad because my people were suffering immensely only because they sought justice. I was distraught because I knew some realities about my people and my land which were better not spoken of. I was disoriented because what I had known to be true was only a disapproving lie. Yet I was not sure whether it was this all that my mind would reason out or was I, as per the diagnosis of an intern at the Psychiatric Diseases Hospital, Srinagar, a “pervert”. Yes, that was exactly the diagnosis of this young and distinguished psychiatrist at the Hospital I was a “pervert”. On learning about this linear medical judgment, say diagnosis, I was sure that the doctor was himself caught up in a mindless jingo of self-unwary carnal impositions and characteristics.

Well, betwixt the thirteen episodes of attempted suicides I was put under critical psychiatric treatment and believe me I would not even bother to take the drugs that had been prescribed. I eventually chanced upon a wonderful psychotherapist who would see me twice a week. He was more of a buddy than a doctor and while I was with him we would debate about the “possible ridicule” that traditional psychiatry happened to be. Thereupon, I started treating myself. I was well aware of self-help techniques with a lot of literary thought and history in the back of my head. I developed an exquisite technique of healing myself at home. The technique was based on comprehension of the “fact” that mental states only differ from person to person and this difference jumps out on a convoluted radius, thus sanity and insanity are not two sides of the same coin but the coin itself.

Anyways, my idea of sharing this experience of mine, attempting suicide like it was the fastest gig I could pull, is meant to make a point. Disease, especially psychiatric, is a luxury few (perhaps the elite) can afford. All of us who are always struggling to make a livingand going under are attempting a feat of luxury that is reasonably not suited to us. We are a section of the population which needs to breather hard all the time and attempt to live. When it comes to death, it befalls us when we are least expecting it – you do not even have to try.And me, living over the graves of mortified memories, I am happy to be alive today. Today, I understand that dejection is only an attempt at elevation. We, the common people, are born to suffer and in this suffering rests the peace of our mind and that is the reason that despite all odds, the common people of Kashmir are yet so resilient that they sometimes even befool death when it comes knocking on their doors.

This is a long story cut very short and I will attempt to write more elaborately in the upcoming issues about the genesis of the very thought of committing suicide, which I presume, may help people understand why they seemingly drown when they should actually be sailing above.

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