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Friday, October 9, 2020


It must have come as a shock for suicide itself to be courted by a man who had such a strong sense of joi de vivre , who radiated a playful tenderness and good cheer. But death has a hundred hands and walks by a thousand ways and springs surprises as a matter of course. Who could have thought that Ashwini, our dear friend, the purest gem of 1973 batch of IPS officers, would choose to depart like this , committing suicide by hanging himself at his Shimla home 100 meter sprint champion, dimpled athlete, a man who defied age and kept disabilities at bay, Ashwini may not have held all the four aces of a pack of cards but life certainly seems to have dealt him a good hand. Good looks , great health , a very happy and fulfilling family life, brilliant career, he went on to become the director of the CBI , was the governor of Nagaland for a while and till the time he chose to exit life by way of suicide , he was the vice chancellor of a private university. I was just ticking all the boxes , trying to arrive at a rational motive for the man who chose to take his own life when comes the news that he was ill and unconfirmed reports available with our group suggests he was suffering from clinical depression. That in itself is a hugely depressing thought as he was the bright sunlight which could dispel the deepest gloom. If the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?
The lowest common denominator of those on the wrong side of youth age divide is the paralyzing dread of being betrayed by their own bodies, the fear of being let down by their own minds. Crippling or terminal diseases are like a radioactive presence, unbeknown to us they engulf us in the grey of depression, unwittingly we take Death’s dark-nailed fingers in ours . Depression descends on us like a “bell jar ” . One feels trapped in ones body. The sick man sitting alone in a room has more than the usual chances to disgust himself —this is the problem of the body, not that it is mortal but that in certain conditions it is mortifying.
Depression is for real, it is a reality which overcomes the primal instinct for self preservation , it is an urge that leads a person to execute oneself, the self that has been at the centre of all our thoughts, concerns, longings .There are eternal verities of life revealed to you only when your time comes to be worthy of receiving them . I have been an avid reader of Montaigne and something that I read at the age of 26 yields the full quota of it meaning in the death of my friend. We have forever privileged our minds over the bodies , we tend to deny the stupid interventions of the gross corporeal bodies on our intellectual and spiritual life. In the evenings of our lives when the light and glow of health go down ,'the undiscovered countries of pain, suffering and humiliation that are then disclosed ' overwhelm our hopes and optimism which have themselves lost their youths, the energies to mount a rebellion against pain. In a situation like this Camus , lying majestically on the book shelf as an evidence of ones being educated, and his existential philosophy an occasion for sharpening of wits , becomes a necessary manual to be having at your side. Indeed, “deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy’. To that extent suicide becomes an ordinary act, a quotidian choice, one among many possible choices.
No one can sit on judgement, Ashwini, on why you chose to undertake the celestial journey so soon. It was a choice that you made as a conscious, moral , existential agent but your family members , many friends , batch mates, admirers are devastated by your decision and shall forever mourn their loss. May God grant you eternal peace . Om Shantih.