Last week, an IITian committed suicide. People who commit suicide do it when they feel there's no future. But wait, isn't IIT the one place where a bright and shining future is a foregone conclusion? It just doesn't add up, does it? Why would a young, hardworking, bright student who has the world ahead of him do something like this? But the answer is this-in our constant reverence for the great institution (and I do believe IITs are great), we forget the dark side. And the dark side is that the IITs are afflicted by the quintessential Indian phenomenon of academic pressure, probably the highest in the world.
I can rant about the educational system and how it requires serious fixing, or I can address the immediate-try my best to prevent such suicides. For this column I have chosen the latter, and I do so with a personal story.
News of a suicide always brings back one particular childhood memory. I was 14 years old when I first seriously contemplated suicide. I had done badly in chemistry in the Class X half yearly exam. I was an IIT aspirant, and 68% was nowhere near what an IIT candidate should be getting. I don't know what had made me screw up the exam, but I did know this, I was going to kill myself. The only debate was about method.
Ironically, chemistry offered a way. I had read about copper sulphate, and that it was both cheap and poisonous. Copper sulphate was available at the kirana store. I had it all worked out.
My rationale for killing myself was simple-nobody loved me, my chemistry score was awful, I had no future and what difference would it make to the world if I was not there. I bought the copper sulphate for two rupees-probably the cheapest exit strategy in the world.
I didn't do it for two reasons. One, I had a casual chat with the aunty next door about copper sulphate, and my knowledgeable aunty knew about a woman who had died that way. She said it was the most painful death possible, all your veins burst and you suffer for hours. This tale made my insides shudder. Second, on the day I was to do it, I noticed a street dog outside my house being teased by the neighbourhood kids as he hunted for scraps of food. Nobody loved him. It would make no difference to the world if the dog wasn't there. And I was pretty sure that its chemistry score would be awful. Yet, the dog wasn't trotting off to the kirana store. He was only interested in figuring out a strategy for his next meal. And when he was full, he merely curled up in a corner with one eye open, clearly content and not giving a damn about the world. If he wasn't planning to die anytime soon what the hell was I ranting about? I threw the copper sulphate
in the bin. It was the best two bucks I ever wasted.
So why did I tell you this story? Because sometimes the pressure gets too much; like it did for the IITian who couldn't take it no more. On the day he took that dreadful decision, his family and friends were shattered, and India lost a wonderful, bright child. And as the silly but true copper sulphate story tells you-it could happen to any of us or those around us. So please be on the lookout, if you see a distressed young soul, lend a supportive, non-judgmental ear. When I look back, I thank that aunt and that dog for unwittingly saving my life. If God wanted us to take our own life, he would have provided a power off button. He didn't, so have faith and let his plan for you unfold. Because no matter how tough life gets and how much it hurts, if street dogs don't give up, there is no reason why we, the smart species, should. Makes sense right?
An Amazing post ......
Hope it helpss people to gain back their strength when they are totally shattered.....When we say nobody cares for us......how easily we genralize one person's thinking towards us ....to everyone and we comfortably belive no one needs us ....forgeting about are family and friends for whom we really matter.......
And we forget that when we don't care for our ownselves....then why do we expect people to care for us???? and we get ready to take our lives.......No matter if someone doesn't care for us ....we have to learn to take care and love ourselves...!!!!!
The day we start doing that our majority of the problems will be solved.........But Self Love has to be rightly distinguished from Self obsession where we fulfill our desires at the cost of others.....!!
See it made me write so much .....
From India, Delhi
Lovely Post! Though I do not agree with Chetan Bhagat most of the time, this post really makes a difference!
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