Then there is a page about slitting your wrists. It says how slitting your wrists is the least effective way to kill yourself. It takes too long and someone always finds you and you wake up in a fucking hospital.
I remember my friend.
It says to slit down your wrist and not across it.
Down the street. Not across the tracks.
It says it is much more harder to sew it up that way.
It says one must take painkillers before doing it to avoid passing out from the pain. It says how being on blood thinners for a week or two will go a long way in helping you bleed quickly to death.
Then there is a picture of a man, lying in the bathtub. With a curvy bloody slit running down the length of his arm. Slimy blood running down the walls of the tub before it reaches the water which is red with blood. A haunted look on the man's face.
This is how salvation is supposed to look like.
We have learnt to keep ourselves so busy that we never stop to realize it. When we are growing up, we are at first forced, then we learn to keep ourselves busy. These things we do, we call them by different names. We call it education. We call it family. We call it work. We call it marriage.
What we don't stop long enough is to realize the truth. The truth that is going to turn your world upside down. The truth that our life is filled with distractions. All those years you spent learning was a distraction. Your work. Your family. Your religion. All distractions. Distractions desperately trying to keep you busy. So that you never wonder about the true meaning of your pathetic life.
Visiting my friend at the general hospital, I am pretending to be the guardian angel of hope. Thats what you are supposed to do when you are visiting a friend who slashed open his veins and was barely found alive by his parents in a pool of his own blood.
You project love.
You project hope.
You try to show him all the good things that he could have. All the distractions he could have. Distractions that make him feel worth living for.
This is what you are supposed to do.
The truth is, deep down, we admire someone who had the guts to slash off their wrists. We admire someone jumped in front a train headed at you at break-your-bones-into-a-thousand-pieces speed. Deep down somewhere, at the most secret and intimate part of our heart, we catch ourselves admiring them. But we don't tell them that. No.
Thats not what we are supposed to say.
So I am sitting there, beside him. Pretending to be brimming with hope. And he is telling me about this place. He is telling me to go there. To tell them that he is the one who sent me there. He is telling me I have to visit this place. He is telling me this place changed his life. He is telling me my salvation awaits at this place.
About a week later, my friend dies from drug overdose.
The truth is most of these “accidents” are actually last second hunches to kill yourself.
But nobody tells you this.
Nobody tells you that they were driving at 120 km/hr and just decided to fall under a heavy truck and get themselves killed. No. If they survive, they say they nodded off. They say they hit a stray dog and lost control. Nobody says that they did it intentionally to kill themselves. They can always claim it was an accident. A human error. Its their insurance. Its the perfect suicide attempt framed as an accident. You win either way. You die, well, you get what you wanted. If you survive, well, people close to you wont treat you like as if you are their little hemorrhoid.
If you try to kill yourself and don't succeed, people behave like you are the shit of the world. You are just way too weak for this world. This is what they convince you. You are possessed by an evil spirit. You are retarded.
Its only a matter of time before you convince yourself to try to kill yourself again.
About one-third of people who attempt suicide will repeat the attempt within 1 year, and about 10% of those who threaten or attempt suicide eventually do kill themselves.
This reminds me of my friend. Just lying there peacefully on his hospital bed. Overdosed from drugs. A smile on his face.
So, I walk into this place. This dingy place. From outside, its just a door at the corner of an old building right in the middle of a fucking busy market. What I find myself in is a long dark corridor. The walls inside are stained with pan. There is garbage everywhere. Whatever this place this, they don't give a shit about cleanliness. The more deeper I walk, the darker the place gets. I make sure I dont step into what looks like puke sprayed across the floor. I am cursing under my breath. What I want is to get out of here and get some fresh air. I am about to turn back when something catches my eye. A flicker of light at the corner of the dark corridor. I strain my eyes and I see an outline of a door. I feel like I am in someone's dream. I expect the door to move away from me as I move towards it. But it stays right there.
I walk to the door and gently push it open. Inside is what looks like an office. But nothing orderly. There is paper everywhere. The furniture looks old with the paint starting to peel off. At what looks like is the reception table is a lady. A lady, wearing a red salwar kameez. At least I would think that its red, because the light is quite dim, and the salwar kameez kind of looks grey. I look up and notice that there is just one bulb burning in the center of the room.
The lady is now looking up at me, frowning. I gather my voice and I tell her that a friend sent me here.
“Who is your friend?”
I tell her his name.
What I dont tell her is that he is dead. That he is wormfood. That he is rotting in a graveyard somewhere.
I am wondering how to tell her that. For all I know, she might be someone close to him. May be thats why he asked me to come here.
The lady is nodding her head thoughtfully. For a moment, I thought I saw her look sad, but then a look of pride comes over her, and she said,
“Yes, I know him well. He needed our help. And he sent you here because he believes you need it too.”
She tells me to come in at 10 in the morning next day. Sharp.
Then it says about killing yourself by impact. It says how throwing yourself in front of a train has a 90% death rate. It says how one must choose a blind spot for the deed as most trains would travel about 1 km before it comes to a stop. So if you take it by surprise, the train can't stop itself in time. It says to go for decapitation. It says to make sure you die or you might end up with severe disfigurement or brain damage.
Then there is a picture of a man lying on a rail track. He is cut in two. His upper torso on on side of the track and his legs on the other side. His stomach and hips are nothing but red pulp that is all around the place.
You are always busy. You are always running from one thing to another. One distraction after another. Its a race to stay distracted.
You make schedules. You plan your day in excruciating detail . You set up goals and pursue them as if your life depended on it. You spend hours on social networking sites. You try to spend hours on telephone conversations. You try to get away on travel, visiting new places, exploring. But you always carry your laptop with you and you are always working.
Even a vacation needs a distraction.
Its dangerous to be idle.
You join classes to learn new hobbies. Classes to learn foreign languages.
You are never satisfied with what you have. It always got to be better and smarter. There is always a better cellphone out there. There is always a better car out there.
Life isn't about living in the present. Life isn't about being happy with what you have. Its about the future. Its about what you dont have. And getting it.
Some people ask me why I do this. Some people ask me how I am so “driven”. I tell them its commitment. I tell them its hard work. It tell them that success depends on your desire. The stronger your desire, the more likely you are to succeed.
What I don't tell them is that when I happen to find myself idle and my mind starts to clear up, I grab my music player, push in the earphones into my ears, and turn the volume up.
What I don't tell them is that I hate those lonely walks in the park, because they can really clear up ones mind.
What I dont tell them is that my nightmare is to be stuck in an elevator without my music player or anybody to talk to. To be stuck without a distraction.
The truth is, when you have stayed distracted as long as I have, you become emotionally dead. You don't remember what happiness felt like. You don't remember what sadness felt like. You don't remember what a heartbreak feels like.
Emotions are to you what a flower show is to a blind man.
When I go to church, I just don't sit there feeling the love of God. No. I am sitting there memorizing verses.
I have finished up till the Book of Esther.
When there is a sermon going on, I am completely transfixed by it. Nothing else matters to me in the world. Its just me and sermon.
Your personal motto should be: One distraction at a time.
Now people make all kind of assumptions. Some people see me every week at the church. Me, just sitting there. My eyes fixated on the open bible in my lap. They assume I am meditating. They assume I am a holy son of God. They assume I am this person who is brimming with whatever God wants his children to be brimming with. They smile at me, assuming. But I never give them a second glance.
You must make this your personal motto: Never get into a human relationship unless its strictly business.
Right now, the phone rings. Its the hospital. My mom is in a very serious condition they say. So I go to visit her.
On my way, what I don't try to think about is the fact that she is the last of what I can call family. And she is dying. On my way, what I don't think about is that she may not even remember me.
I walk into her hospital room. I see her lying there on the bed. Tubes running all over her and their ends disappearing into her. They are keeping her alive.
I sit beside her. She doesn't move. She doesn't turn to look at me.
Its like she is already dead, but her soul is superglued to the tubes.
I look into her old wrinkled face and the vault of memories burst open.
I remember the tough financial times my family had to go through. I remember when I was very young and I went along to buy groceries with my mom, and I made a fuss about this huge chocolate pack I saw at the shop. But she refuses and tries to explain that we were less on money, but I dont listen to that. I cry my eyes out. She finally has to smack me and drag me out of the place. A month later, on pay day, at a time when I had long forgotten about the chocolate, she comes to me and hands me the chocolate pack.
I remember the time when I had walked away from my lunch after making a huge fuss about how I don't like hot water with my food. I remember how stupid I felt about it once the anger had died down. The next day I walk to lunch, prepared to apologize. But then I realized that she has gotten me chilled water today.
Someone had rightly said that small things are the big things in any personal relationship.
I remember the time when I had gone for a late night movie even after my mom severely warned me not to go. Then to make matters worse, I get mugged and beaten up on my way back. Then I go back home prepared to get the whacking of my lifetime. But my mom just takes me in and nurses me back to health.
Hell, say if I were to turn into a psychopathic serial killer in the future with the entire fucking country trying to hunt me down, I can always go to my mom and she will let me hide at her house, and to top it, she will prepare me a sumptuous lunch.
Back then, these things did not mean much to me.
But this is what you do when you come close to losing someone you really love. Suddenly you remember all the small things that they did for you. The times you realized that they actually listened to you. The times you realized that they actually remembered something you said. That they actually cared. No, you dont remember them looking after you for years. No, you dont remember the obvious big sacrifices they did, but only these few precious moments which stand out.
And then once they are gone, these memories will haunt you for the rest of your life.
Right then in that hospital room, sitting beside my dying mother, I felt like something just exploded inside my chest. A sliver of sweat appears on my forehead. My heart is pounding at my ribs. This feeling. They call this an emotion. I clutch at my heart and I stumble out of the room without another glance at my mom.
Walking out, I collapse on a nurse and we both fall on the floor. I try to pick myself up and I catch a glimpse of her face and I find myself staring at her. Suddenly, I feel my heart has stopped beating. Almost as if it has suddenly forgotten how to pump blood. I look at the nurse and the words, “pretty”, “beautiful”, attractive” is flashing through my mind. The last time I felt something similar, I honestly can't remember. I realize I am not breathing and take a gulp of air. She looks at me, a weird look on her face. I gather myself up awkwardly and start walking away.
This is what they do. These emotions. You let them a little space and they take over your whole fucking life. They are like a dead rat stinking up your entire house.
“Are you her son?” she calls out.
I keep walking away. My speed increasing with every step I take.
“She can't talk back to you, but she can hear you. She is in a very serious condition. You sure you dont want to talk to her some more?”
Once again, I feel my heart starting to pound. Now I find myself running. Running, without a backward glance. Running right across the patient rooms, down the stairs, the reception desk, and right outside. I run to my car. I get in. I lock the doors. Finally. Safe.
I grab the puzzle book on my dashboard, and a few seconds later, I am indulged in a puzzle. I can feel my heart slowing down now.
The next day, I walk into that place that my friend told me about. I walk into that room at the end of the dark corridor. The lady comes over to me with a smile, then takes me over through a door behind a book shelf and now I am in this huge room of what looks like a classroom.
Benches arranged in order. A lady stands on the podium looking at us. The lady who accompanied me leaves after a nod at the lady on the podium.
I look around. There are about 15 people sitting scattered in the class. A few in groups and many alone. Withdrawn.
I notice this really beautiful girl sitting closest to the door. Her hair was a mess. She looked like she just ran over here after walking into a room and finding her boyfriend banging her best friend. It looked like she had not eaten for days.
She moves her pupils at me. Now she is looking at me. But nothing else changes. Its just her eyes. As if she is stuck inside this stone of a body and her eyes are her only communication to the outside world.
Then she moves. She lifts her arms and pulls her sweater closer over her bosom. She keeps looking at me. Her gaze turning into a stare.
I look away and look at the lady on the podium. She nodes and shows me to sit in one of the benches.
I walk towards the last bench.
I had no idea where I was. I thought I might as well sit back and observe.
On one of the benches were a bunch of well-dressed guys. Too fashionably dressed. But their faces had a look of despair. They too eyeball me as I walk past them.
On the last bench, there is just one guy sitting at the very end. I sit on the opposite end.
I start to feel uncomfortable. I can almost feel everyone staring at me.
It reminds me of the way seniors look at a junior on his first day at college. The way a cat looks at a rat. Ready to pounce.
I look around and I see people who havn't shaved for months. Few ladies looked as if someone just dragged them away from a funeral and brought them here. The guy sitting next to me, however, looked to be well groomed, wore a t-shirt which had pictures of balloons on them. And he was smiling at me.
The lady on the podium asks me if I am the friend of my friend that she was informed about.
I say yes.
Just then, I feel a hand on my thighs. I feel the hand moving towards my crotch. I turn to my side. Its the guy who was sitting at the other end of the desk. He was now right next to me with his hand steadily moving up towards my crotch. And there is a big, supposedly seductive smile on his face. I freak out and then fall off the bench and on the floor.
While I lie there fuming in rage, the guy just looks at me, confused.
“ Oh, Tom. I dont think hes what you think he is” the lady on the podium says to this guy.
Tom looks at me, kind of disappointed, and says he is sorry and moves himself to the other side of the bench.
Now the lady on the podium is telling everyone that I was sent in by my friend. The strange thing is, everybody seems to know him, because everybody is nodding their heads.
“ He really needed our help...... and we helped him, really well.” she says with a satisfied smile on her face. And everybody else is now nodding and smiling at me.
What I want to tell them is that my friend is fucking death. Whatever they had done clearly didn't help him. What I want to tell them is that he is wormfood.
“How about you tell us something about yourself?”
I stand up awkwardly. I had no idea who or what these people were up to. I had the feeling that this was some kind of support group, but I had no idea of what.
I tell them my name, then I tell them that I work at this office, a call center. The lady had slowly walked down the podium and towards me and stood right in front of me now. A warm smile on her face. Her face nodding as I tell her that I am this executive call center guy who tries to help the people who call in with tech problems, and she interrupts you,
“Is this what keeps you alive?”
“Sorry?” I say.
“Is your work your big distraction?”
I have no idea what she was talking about.
“Your friend didn't tell you much about this place before he died, did he?” she says.
I feel kind of taken aback by her directness. Not an emotion in her face. I tell her, I have no idea about this place.
Now she places her hand over my shoulder and she says,
“He recognized that you needed help, and dont you worry, because we are going to give it you.”
She had this confident warm smile on her face which was starting to make me uncomfortable.
“What I meant was,” she says walking back to the podium, “everyone of us have our lives centered around a certain subject. Our lives revolve around it. This thing can be money, work, family, religion. You were bought up and encouraged to cultivate such a center in your life, in most cases, by your parents. These things try to blind you from the fact that your life is meaningless. That your birth was just a result of chance, and that there is nothing significant about you.”
You just stand there wondering what the hell you have gotten yourself into.
“ But we are going to help you lift off the fog and see what life is really about. We are going to decondition you.”
Now everybody in the room is nodding their heads and saying “yes!!” and I heard someone say, “Amen”. I am hoping this is not some kind of satan-worshipping underground religious sect.
What I would like to do right now is to go the grave, dig up my friend's decaying body, and ask him why the hell he asked me to come here for.
“Your friend was clueless when he came here, but now he has finally received salvation,” she says.
But hes dead, I tell her.
“Salvation! First you get the enlightenment that your life is not what you think it is. The part where we clear your vision and make you see the big picture. Then the second and final stage is that you attain eternal salvation from the world”
“ What do you mean?” I say.
“ It means you deliver yourself from this world which is nothing but a bundle of lies. Lies that your parents taught you when you were young. Lies that the society spoon-fed you. These lies decide whats acceptable in a society and what is not. It does it through different mediums: family values, education, religion, coercive force, punishment. The society molds you from your childhood to become what it wants you to be. Then as a you grow old, the society forces you to chose a lie and surround your life around it.”
For some reason, I am thinking workaholics. Presenteeism. People so obsessed with work that they work even when are they are utterly sick. People, who are obsessed with their family. People obsessed with money. People who are obsessed with material wealth. People who are obsessed with their religion.
“This is society's desperate way to keep you busy. To keep you occupied. Trying to induce a feeling of satisfaction, happiness.”
Then she goes on:
But this isn't it. There are many more addictions out there. Waiting for you to make a choice. Alcohol. Drugs. They call it chemical addiction. Then there are mental addictions. You can spend your entire life obsessing on one fucking idea. The idea that surgery can make you look better. The idea that you are fat.
This lady, who just stands there telling me all this. I dont tell her that I am this person who has nothing that interests me. I have no obsessions. I dont tell her that I am just a dead soul walking on the surface of the earth.
You want people to think that your life is centered around something. Its a sign of sanity. Its impossible to survive without letting your life base itself around something.
Most of the times, people with identical centers or obsessions make the best of friends.
I listen to her and I am thinking about this guy, who would do anything for his friends. His friends were his world. They dictated his feelings.
I remember about this guy whose life was mobile phones and bikes. The day he lost his mobile phone, he totally freaked out, but then a week later, he bought a better, much more supposedly smarter, and costlier phone and that smile is back on his face.
I remember this guy who would sit around reciting versus from the bible and no matter what you tell him, he always has a verse in store that correlates with it. No matter what you tell him, he always has an opinion as to what God would think of it.
Their major distraction. Their lives revolving around it.
You dont talk shit about these things. Believe me.
You cant rationalize with people's core beliefs. Their core support systems. You can't convince a person whose life is centered around money that money is just a means to happiness. You can't convince a person whose life is centered around family that there are more things in life other than just their family.
You aren't even arguing with the same sides of your brain. People get emotional when you try to meddle with the center of their life. They get defensive.
Now she looks at me and says,
“These systems try to desperately give some kind of meaning to your life.”
Sometimes, it seems to us that people are living crazy lives. We think they are nuts because they have based their lives on a different “center” than us. What we dont realize is that whatever they do gives them an illusion of satisfaction. A meaning to their lives. Makes them feel fulfilled.
“What we do here is to decondition you. We are going to help you overcome all that damage that society has done to you. To clear you from all the bias and we just let you see the bare truth. Then in 6 months, you will be ready for your salvation.”
For some reason, when she said “salvation”, it reminded me of my friend.
The major problem with trying to commit suicide is, well, is if you don't actually succeed in dying. We all know someone who tried to commit suicide but was rescued at the last minute only to survive but with permanent physical and psychological damage. And not to forget the part where everybody who knew you, start seeing you in a completely strange light.
You are no longer this cheerful, confident, driven person. They assume you are this weak sickling. They assume you are someone with something very wrong in your head.
If depression is what led you to attempt suicide, then there is nothing much more depressing than a failed suicide attempt.
About one-third of people who attempt suicide will repeat the attempt within 1 year, and about 10% of those who threaten or attempt suicide eventually do kill themselves.
I once again remember my friend.
This is where the suicide framed as accidents triumph.
Your motto should be: Always come up with win-win ideas.
You see the pothole, but you hit it. At more than 100 km/hr, you hit it. These things happen all the time. People will believe you if you tell them that you just didn't see it. At 100 km/hr, you have a fraction of a second to react. Mistakes happen.
Hitting the pothole, your bike flips. You are thrown in the air and you roll to a stop on the road. For 2 seconds, you wait with your eyes shut tight. To hear the crunching of your bones. To hear your soul squeezed out of you as that truck runs over you. But what you hear is a head splitting squeal as the driver floors the brake. You open your eyes. You are still alive.
You wake up in the hospital. Your left leg is in a fucking cast. You have bandages all over your body. But your entire family is around you. All your friends. Everybody is here. They all come visiting. Telling you how unfortunate an incident this was. Consoling you. Cursing the government over the bad shape of the roads.
The trick is not to tell them the truth. The trick is not to tell them that you could have avoided the pothole, but you still hit it. The trick is to shut up.
The truth is, they see you as some kind of hero. Someone who walked away alive from a near-death experience. You are an inspiration to them. Your loved ones are thinking how close they came to losing you. Now they want to cherish every moment with you. If you have a girlfriend, you can talk about all the things you can do once your leg is healed. You have a lot to look up to. The last thing on your mind is to try killing yourself again.
The truth is, the moment you tell them you were actually trying to kill yourself, you turn into a loser.
You probably heard of the saying, “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.”
You just became a quitter. A loser.
Nobody wants to be friends with a loser. Nobody wants to go visit a loser at a hospital. You are the object of shame to your parents. If you have a girlfriend, well, you might never see her again.
In a failed suicide attempt, you just wait long enough to be able to buy sleeping pills over the internet so that you can try overdosing.
Again, I remember my friend.
It was like a drug. The more you do it, the more empty you feel without it. You always have this hope, that if you can get just some more, it will be fine. Just one more puff. Just one more shot.
After attending this weird weekly get-togethers where all the dead people drag themselves here from every corner of the city, you kind of get addicted. You attend this class long enough, and all the happiness, all the hope, its all sucked out of you. Every time you walk out of the class, you are a little bit more dead than you were when you walked into the class.
To be in the class every week became the prime object of my life. Once you learn everything that they teach you here, everything you see in the outside is just a lie. Everybody is just living a big fat lie. We see those magazine cutouts of happy families eating a meal at some fancy restaurant. Standing beside some luxurious car. They have this warm smiles on their faces. Happiness. This is what keeps us going. We are a generation brought up with advertisements bombarding us from everywhere we turn to. We have let our brains become a slave to the advertisements.
We are like zombies on a playground surrounded by cooperations trying to catch our attention, and we just move to the ones with the brightest lights.
We work our ass off, so that we can buy that new I-phone. So that we can buy that new car. So that we can buy that luxurious apartment.
The strange thing is, we dont regret these. We dont feel sorry for ourselves.
The truth is, 19 out of 20 human beings on Earth have no plans for their life. The next big thing in their life is to check out the newest Blackberry, to dump their present girlfriend, so that they can get a new one, go out of the country to some exotic location, to check out the newest car on the market. We are a generation living from one distraction to the next. Believe it or not, this is our life.
Now I come to this get-together, or whatever you want to call it, and they keep telling me that my life is just a bag of lies. Everything I know about life, just a big lie that my parents systematically taught me from your childhood. I can feel my life come crashing down. I feel as though there is nothing left for me to live for.
When you listen to these things, you kind of get the feeling you got when you first came to know of the fact that there is no sex in heaven. In heaven, everyone is your brother or sister. There is no jerking off. All the orgasms you are ever going to get is down here on Earth. And thats it.
It came to a point that the only happiness I got is from attending these meetings. Its the only place where I feel I really belong. Because people come here who are just like me: Hopeless, depressed, suicidal, and some even homicidal.
Here you meet Cindy, who found out that her husband has been cheating on her for years.
Here you meet Ranveer, who lost all his money gambling. He had a family, but they just hate him. And he hasn't seen his kids in over 8 years.
Here you meet Tom, who was forced to leave his house after his family found out that he was gay.
Once in a while, one of the old guys, the people I knew when I first came in here, would disappear and I would never see them again. May be they moved out of the city. May be they just stopped coming. Or may be they killed themselves. It doesn't matter because there are always new faces. Some, much more depressing and fucked up to look at.
Every week when I go to sit with these people, I feel completely at home. I feel my brain overloaded with dopamine. I feel happy when I see these fucked up people. It makes me feel happy that I am not alone. That there are many more out there whose lives are more fucked up than mine. I want to be here. I want to listen to them go on about their pains, their disappointments. I want to hear them cry. This is what I live for. Every day, I am checking my calendar and mentally crossing over the days till the next weekend so that I dont miss the next meeting.
I knew I was slowly turning into this monster getting joy in other people's sorrows. But I can't stop myself now. You can call it my survival instinct acting up. You can call it my addiction. You can call it my big distraction. The truth is, this is what is keeping me alive.
So, one day while I was about to go home after one of these meetings, Steffi, the lady who stands on the podium and talks about all the shit that our life isn't, calls me.
“I got something for you” she says and hands me a package. A brown package. Inside it feels like a book.
I ask her about Tom. I tell her, I haven't seen him for the last 3 weeks. He isn't picking up his cellphone either.
“Oh.. you dont have to worry about him anymore. He has moved on. Hes saved”, she says with a smile.
“I would really like to see him. May be you can give me his address” I say.
“You need to go home and read this. Tom had been here for 8 months. He had his chance. But then he finally needed our help and thats what we do: we help people save themselves. We are better than religion. We dont keep you waiting for salvation. If you can't do it on your own, we help you do it”
I just stand there trying to understand what she just said.
For some reason, what came out of my mouth was: “So, Tom's dead?”
“Saved ,” she corrects and turns around and starts walking away. Then she says without turning back at me, “Hope you remember it has been 6 months since you started attending our meetings”
I remember how she had told me the first time I came here that in 6 months, salvation was going to be mine.
On my way home in the bus, I tear open the package. Inside is a bundle of about 50 pages. The title reads: Manual for the Perfect Suicide.
I flip over the pages. The texts are staring at me.
Methods to Kill Yourself.
Bleeding Yourself to Death.
Slitting your Wrists.
Death by Impaction.
Jumping off Heights.
There are pictures. Diagrams. Charts showing the success rates. Bars showing the amount of pain. The amount of pleasure. Ratings showing how likely you will be dead by trying them. There are step by step instructions on how to go about them.
My fingers shivering, I drop the papers on the empty seat beside me. Because the truth is, I realized that I actually wanted to kill myself. I actually kind of felt relieved that I found this. The truth is, when I first went to the class, I was just curious. I knew this had fucked up my friend to killing himself, but I always told myself that I am stronger than him. I always told myself that none of this is going to affect me. I always told myself that I was attending the meetings because I consciously wanted to, and that I can stop doing it any moment I wanted to. I wasn't addicted. I wasn't depressed. I wasn't suicidal. And no bullshit meeting was going to change that. But here I was looking at the papers and I am thinking, “Hell, lemme try this!”
I flip open a page and its a page about killing yourself by hanging. There is a huge section talking about how you have to knot it the right way, and there are steps along with diagrams to make sure you get it right. It says how you must do as much research as possible.
When you try to hang yourself, things dont go perfectly like you see in those movies or like in those videos you see online. You dont just drop off a stool and die instantly. At least 9 out of 10 times you wont. If your jump was not good enough to snap your neck and give you instant death, you spend about 10 seconds suffocating. But then in the process, you probably compress your carotid artery and lose consciousness. You will be dead in another 10 minutes.
This is followed by a grotesque picture of a corpse, a woman, hanging from a ceiling fan, her bitten tongue protruding out of her mouth. Her face is blue-gray and bloated. Her eyes bulging out.
I look at the face and am thinking, she looks kind of calm. At peace. No longer addicted. The world can no longer distract her.
There is no freedom when you are alive. Death is your ultimate freedom.
I just realized what I am thinking. My thoughts. Whats fucking wrong with me?! I stand up and stomp on the floor, frustrated. People looked at me, distracted from their routines. I catch hold of the seat bar for support as the bus comes to a quick stop. I head towards the door. I leave the papers on the seat. I need to get away from all this. I need to keep my mind clear I tell myself.
I am about to climb down and I catch glimpse of a very young girl looking curiously at the papers and moving closer to them. The next thing I knew, I am shouting, “HEY!!” and I jump right back into the bus. The girl, frightened, moves back from the papers. I run and grab the papers.
“These are too dangerous to be left lying around. I have to burn them” I tell myself. I realize I was kind of creating a big scene. A man was moving towards me, his body stiff. I grab the papers and run at the door and just before it closes, I jump out of the bus.
The rest of the way to my room, I just run. Not because I can't afford a ride, but because I wanted to keep my mind busy. There, running on the footpath and navigating myself through the maze of people walking by kept me busy. It kept me busy as all I could think of was how I was going to make the next 10 feet ahead. Every time I ran across a block or a street, I felt something strange. May be this is what they call happiness. Accomplishments. Little distractions that keep us going.
Our motto should be: Focus on the little distractions. They are what our lives are made of.
What I am going through right now is what you would call withdrawal. This is how you realize how dependent you are on something.
The meetings made me feel more and more hopeless. I knew I would feel more hopeless once I go attend it. But to be there. With all those fucked up people. Pouring out stories of their fucked up life. To know that you are not alone.
If you stop going to work one day and you start to get panicky and get anxious and may be even end up getting depressed, then it is a sure tell sign that you are a workaholic.
I hadn't left my apartment in days. The TV is always blaring with some show in it. Some show with fake laughter in the background. I just sit there sunk in the couch looking through the TV. My beard itching.
Sometimes I am afraid to fall asleep. Afraid that I would wake up in my sleep and slit my wrists off. Afraid that I will go over to the apartment balcony and jump off it.
The only times I left my apartment were when I had to buy something to eat.
Its has been 2 weeks since I went to work. I had lots of missed calls in my cell phone. But my boss no longer calls me. May be hes convinced that I am dead.
I realize I dont have anything to eat. Its 11 pm and I realize I dont have anything to eat. So I walk out of my apartment and towards the supermarket. With my full blown beard, I am guessing nobody will recognize me.
I get a loaf of bread and head on my way back. Heading by a dark alley, I felt a pair of hands grab me into the dark alley. I try to pull away, but then a second pair caught me and pulled me in. I tried to scream, but someone was pushing in pieces of clothes into my mouth. Someone was tying my hands together. Someone pushed me to the ground and, as I struggled, tied my feet too.
The next thing I knew, they threw me into the back of a minivan. The van roared to life and it started moving. As my eyes, got adjusted to the dim roof light, I could see Steffi. Her, in her black dress and a smug look on her face. Around me sitting on either side were burly men. Some I remember seeing at the meetings.
“You must have thought you could just stop coming and we would forget all about you.” she starts saying.
The van jerked as it hit a bump on the road.
“Leave me alone, bitch!” Thats what I wanted to say, but with all the clothes shoved down my throat, I could only make some gagged noises.
“Just like I said on the first day we met, I am going to help you to get salvation. These days, men are just so weak. They always need a little push. I mean, the last time someone actually killed themselves without our help was James, who jumped in front of a train. Still, some believe he was pushed at the last moment to his death. I mean, whats wrong with the world. We tell them all the truth, about how your life is just nothing but a bunch of lies, and they still want to hold on to it.”
Then she is looking at me now. I stare back at her, then at her men. They all just sit there, staring at me. Then she starts talking again,
“Then there was your friend. The manual clearly states how the wrist slitting is the least effective method, but the stupid man still went for it. I mean, how stupid can you get. Its the last thing you ever do in your life, so can't you just go the extra mile. Like say jump off a fucking skyscraper. Jump in front of a train. Or say you blow your fucking head off with a shotgun.”
What I want to do right now is to go find my friend's grave and blow it up with a fucking bomb.
“But your friend was once again lucky that we help the failures. We help them complete their mission. As luck may have it, one of our members worked there as a nurse. So, we got her to inject a fatal dose of a drug. And that took care of him.”
I could feel my pulse racing. Now I understand what she meant by “help”. What she meant was murder. They were going to let us kill ourselves for “salvation”, but if we didn't, they were going to kill us - help us - to get salvation.
The van jerked to a stop.
“Oh, we are here.” she said.
The men grab me and pull me out. I fall out of the van and hit my face flat on the tarred road. Now they are dragging me somewhere by my feet. My face being rubbed against the road. There must have been some sticking up stone stuck in the tar, because I felt something solid catch my nose and tear it and now I can feel warm blood being painted on the road by my nose.
Then they pulled me up and threw me on an elevated concrete structure. My face felt wet and warm. There must be blood all over my face.
I turn my head as much as I can and realize that we were on the bridge. I realized they are planning to throw me into the river.
“Now finish him off!” she says.
One of the men pulled out a swiss knife, flicked it open. The sharp knife shines in the moon light, and then, we heard it.
Someone was coming. A car.
“Hurry up!” the bitch shouted.
But by then, I was squirming. On the edge of the bridge, I was squirming. Then with a last effort as I twisted and turned myself to the end, I rolled off the platform. But before I could fall down into the river and die, someone catches my feet.
“Pull him up!! We need to kill that bastard before we throw him in!” the bitch shouts.
I squirm even more. The hand is slipping hold of me. Then with a final big twist, I was on my way down to the river. Now I dont know why I did that. I didnt know how to swim and with my hands and feet tied together, there was no chance in a million that I was going to survive this. Surely I was headed to my death. Surely the suicide meet had done their job. Again.
I fall head first into the river water. I dont even stop a moment. I just start sinking. The coldness sinks into me. I keep my eyes shut and try to stay as calm as possible. It was just a matter of time before I run out of air and die.
They say your entire life flashes before you when you die. But the only images I see are pictures of dead people. The body remains of someone who jumped in front of a train. The lifeless body hanging from the roof off a rope around the neck. Dried blood on a wrist abused with bloody cuts.
May be I am just very susceptible to suicidal thoughts. Just like some people are more susceptible to depression. These people, no matter what they do, will always be depressed. These people can get depressed about almost anything and everything.
Even if they were to let me live. Even if by some miracle, I get saved, these thoughts will haunt me till I kill myself. I was prone to thoughts of death. I was addicted to thoughts of death.
Then I felt something grab me. I start to struggle and twist. But whatever it was that held me, was strong. It began to pull me away. I realized that it was pulling me upwards to the surface.
Reaching towards the surface, I can see that it is a thin man. He climbs on one of the a pillar of the bridge and stands on the base of a bridge pillar. Then he drags me onto the base. Then coming close to my face he says,
“Are you alright?”
The clothes they had shoved into my mouth was still there and I just struggled on the ground. He realized it and pulled them out. I started to cough. I must have accidentally taken in some water when he had caught me by surprise. Now he was untying me.
“I saw them throwing you down here.”
We were right below the bridge and I had to strain to look up at the bridge.
“I jumped right after they left. A couple of cops on nighttime rounds came by and they left in a hurry.”
Now I was completely untied and was still coughing and rubbing my arms where the ropes had tied me.
“Come, I will take you to my home. You will be safe there till morning.”
Then it says how shooting yourself can be best bet to kill yourself with as much as 90% mortality rate. It says that with bullets capable of traveling at speeds exceeding 975m/s, its over before you know it. But it says that if you dont do it right, you could blow out your fucking eyes, or your face, and survive. Then there is a picture of a man. May be its a woman, I can't make out. Dead. Half his face blown out. Thankfully, the picture is in black and white.
“Nobody can save me from myself” I say and walk away.
While I sit inside my office, I am looking at my computer. Looking at yesterday's business transactions. Judy, my assistant walks in. I keep looking at the monitor. Out of the corner of my eye I see a person dressed in a red dress, but I dont look at Judy. I tell myself she is a distraction. I keep working.
“Sir.” She says.
I keep working.
She is walking closer to me now.
“Sir” she says.
I look up at her.
“How many times have I told you Judy not to disturb me when I am working?!”
“Sorry, sir. I got a call from City Hospital. Its about your mother. Line 2, sir”. With that, she walked out of the office.
I pick up the phone. And on the other side is her. The nurse from the hospital. I know her. Since I had been to the hospital, I have had a hard time focusing. Her voice. Her very hypnotizing voice. I feel like I have already heard it a million times. I feel like I have known her for years.
Then she tells me that my mom is brain dead. Then she pauses. I dont know what they expect. May be they expect me to breakdown. To cry my eyes out. To tell her how much I loved my mom.
The problem when someone you love dies is that it makes you realize something about your life. That no matter how hard you work at something. That no matter how much you love someone. That no matter how much you contribute, one day it is all going to be destroyed. One day, everything you work hard for will mean nothing. One day, everybody you love will die. The fact is, life can't promise you shit.
As you read this, you life support systems kick in. Your thoughts are screaming at you. What about your family, they will always be with you. What about God? God will never forsake you. What about your friends? Friendships never sink. What comes up first depends on what your life is centered on.
Your biggest distraction. Your biggest lie.
Six years ago, when I ran away from the other city after they tried to kill me, I spent my days and nights in fear. For months, I would stay in lodges. I never stayed in the same lodge for more than a week.
When I was in public, I would always hang out with the people who were addicted to something. People who were distracted. I would hang out with people who chain smoked. I would hang out with people at the bar. With people who drank till they dropped on the floor and couldn't walk. I would help them get home. I would hang out with this group from work who smoked pot at their apartment. I would feel safe hanging out with tech-crazy guys. Guys who would buy gadgets after gadgets. I would hang out with guys who went to places of worship every day. People who wouldn't start their work without a silent prayer. I prayed with them.
My best friend was Jason. He was this chronic alcoholic. At work, he would smoke pot. He has dark circles around his eyes now. After hanging with him for 2 months, I knew almost all the brothels in the city.
On Sunday, he would take me to church. Dressed in neat, pressed white shirt and jet black trousers, we would go to church. And sitting there, he would pray his heart out.
And what I saw in him was life.
Now people ask me why I hang out with Jason. The truth is, people like Jason never think about death. They never think about hanging themselves or jumping in front of a train. The truth is, if he ever accidentally stepped into one of those suicide meetings, he will laugh out loud at everyone and walk out of there. For Jason, death would be the last option ever. Life is too fun to end. Too busy. Too distracted.
The truth is, I am afraid to hang out with people without a distraction. These people without a passion. These people who just wake up everyday just because they have to. Who find a job just because they need to feed themselves. These are people who would end up in a suicide meeting and think that is their salvation. These are people with fucked up lives who think, “Wow! Finally it all makes sense!” These are people who might have seen my picture printed on the last page of their suicide book under the title, “ Please report us if you have seen this man.”
I am yet to come across something that is scarier than knowing that an entire organization with members who are prepared to die for the cause are searching to kill you.
The only way you can stop your thoughts from running away is to focus on the present. To focus on what you are doing right now. Not the past. Not the future. But just the present.
I say, get a fucking distraction. I dont care what it is. Dont care what the society says about it. Just get one.
For six years, I had done just that. I chose work as my distraction. After six years of being a workaholic, I have made something of myself. Sitting in this posh office, holding the phone to my ear, with the nurse still waiting for an answer.
Frankly, the last thing I want is something that would bring back my suicidal thoughts. The discipline of six years. I just can't risk it. This is what I have become. A man who is afraid to feel. Afraid to let my mind think.
“Go ahead with the proceedings. I will send my assistant over to take care of all the bills and expenses.” I tell into the phone.
“If you are somewhere far away, we can hold the body in the morgue till you get here.” she suggests.
“No, I wont be coming in. Just my assistant.” I say.
“If thats all, I would like to get back to my work,” I say and put down the receiver without waiting for a response. Then I turn to the monitor and continue checking yesterday's company transactions.
Some people ask me how come I am so “driven”. I tell them its commitment. I tell them its hard work. I tell them success just depends on how strong your desire is and that I just have too strong a desire to succeed.
But the truth is, theres a lot I don't tell them.