Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Death Becomes Him

On Monday we added another name to the already alarmingly long list of young people we’ve lost. I don’t know if the number is par, but personally, it seems that too many recent graduates or students of my alma mater are meeting their demise.

The latest, Shastri Sooknanan, decided that there was no longer a reason to continue his existence on earth and proceeded to swing himself from the rafters of his home. I didn’t know him personally, but even those who did couldn’t come up with a reason that would explain this seemingly inexplicable event. Being in the midst of severe tribulations, I can understand how easy it is to hide things. Not one of my friends has a clue as to what is transpiring in my deeply personal life. None of them know how close I, too, have come to being the subject of a story similar to Shastri’s.

I ponder as to the reasons and chillingly, I even admire his courage. I could never go through the process of actually attaching a rope, pulling a chair and following through with the actual act. Perhaps it is a reflection of a sickening mind, but I don’t blame him for the action that he took. I don’t view him as a coward nor do I think he may have been unjustified. We simply do not know the circumstances. We can only guess as to the exact event that broke his back and made him systematically plot to carry through with this mere minutes after his sisters were the last people to leave the house that fateful Monday morn.

What I do know is that he spent seven years at Presentation College and another five years attaining his medical degree. And after twelve years of intense studying, it took only two weeks in the workplace before something triggered him to complete an act so reviled by others that the Bible itself ensures its punishment as condemnation to an eternity with the Angel of Darkness himself.

Perhaps it is a failure of the system not to recognize and offer assistance to those amongst us who are truly in need of counseling, even when we ourselves recognize the need for it and are actually crying reddened tears for it. More so, it is an indictment on ourselves as humans that he didn’t, as far as we know, find a single individual whom he could have turned to confide in. A person whom he knew genuinely cared for his story and was willing to listen to him. And perhaps more than that, just a single true friend who would not glibly dismiss his sentiments as insignificant in the wider scheme of things.

We all have our stories, our secrets and our pains. Every so often we need a person in our lives to share, confide in and acquire advice. Whatever drove Shastri to the deep end, never to be rescued should not be allowed to repeat itself. But that statement rings hollow when I know that the only outcome of this would be a memorial service with a high-faluted dean, who pretends to care for the well being her students, addressing the rest of us as though she knows our stories and cares for the well being of our existences.

While some of our worlds come crashing down worse than America in Die Hard 4, no one seems to have an answer as to why so many choose to end it rather than fight it. Perhaps, it’s because all the fighting was done already. The challenges became insurmountable and the fight no longer held up. And boxed in, with no one and no where to turn to, the only reasonable decision seems to be ending it all.

The lamentations will continue for a few weeks, months perhaps, but in time to come, there will be a repeat because we would have failed to learn from our pasts. The fragile souls on the edge would have taken the leap into the unknown, in the fleeting possibility that they may, in fact, be finally saved from the machinations of a world designed to extricate from them only the darkest and most sorrowful aspects of their existences.

Judgments will flow from the experts and non-experts alike. They will be crucified, even in death and remembered, not for the great lives that they lived, but for the death that they chose. In the end, it is perhaps best not to glorify death. It is sick to be obsessed with it, as it is sick to be obsessed with anything I suppose. But unlike most other things, death is irreversible. A mark left forever in the sands of time that will demarcate the cessation of your time on earth. And for those who leave their footprints on their own terms, rather than on the terms of nature, accidents or God himself, the living is forever indebted to them for the actions that they failed to take to save a life.

Rest In Peace:

Shastri Sooknanan (Class of 2001)
Dewan Suren Ramberran (Class of 2003)
Garnet Lalla Maharaj (Class of 2001)
Gerard Bertrand (Class of 2002)

“Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.”
- Shakespeare

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