Mom

Mom

My dearest Partha,

I have seen you grow from a cute toddler to a 16-year-old strapping young man. You have always been a cheerful, and happy boy. Papa and I have adored you since the moment we laid our eyes on you.

But since last month, things have changed somehow. You seem different. 

Yesterday, at the dinner table, you did not even notice that I had made your favorite dish, lasagna. You were so lost in your thoughts that you left most of it on your plate.

I miss how you would barge into the kitchen, perch yourself on the kitchen counter and tell me all about your friends – their crushes and quarrels, their fights and feelings. The last thing you told me was about how your best friend, Tamanna, had asked you to meet her after classes. I remember how excited you were and how you sprayed yourself with papa’s perfume before leaving. I even wondered if Tamanna was going to be your girlfriend! 

It’s been a month since that day. You have been listless and uninterested in life. But, this morning when you came out of your room, for some reason all your agitation seems to have left you. You seemed to be in a much calmer frame of mind. I peeked into your room and saw that very unusually, you had made your bed.

I noticed that you have handed over ‘Momo’ your puppy to your friends. I remember how much you had quarreled to keep it with you when all of you decided to adopt it together. Why did you change your mind?

I would have preferred to talk to you, not to send this impersonal email. But your mood swings have confused me. Most of the time, I am afraid to talk to you. I won’t know if you are going to snarl at me, ignore me, or just look at me with irritation.

That’s why I am e-mailing you. 

I am coming to the point. Are you into drugs? Have you quarreled with a best friend? Have you done poorly in the exams? Whatever it is that seems to be making you unhappy, don’t forget that papa and I are there for you. We will support you, have your back, look out for you, and love you. All the time. Whatever you do. However old you are. 

*************

PARTHA

Tamanna is my best friend since childhood and I was developing special feelings for her. So, when she said that she wanted to meet me after classes, I was very excited thinking she too reciprocated my love. 

But she broke my heart when she told me about herself and Amar. 

It’s been a month of agony after that. Not only am I dejected by this, but I also burn up with jealousy whenever I see them together. I resent it when I watch them exchanging shy glances, sharing food at lunchtime, and being next to each other on the pretext of doing projects.

But I am going to put a stop to this torture. I have been at peace after deciding that I was going to take my own life. Last night I e-mailed Tamanna, explaining my feelings to her. I have requested her to consider giving Amar up and start dating me.

I haven’t told her but I have decided to take my life if she refuses. I can’t go on with these feelings of anguish and torment. I have procured a whole bottle of sleeping pills and I am ready.

Hey, there is an e-mail. With a thumping heart, I open Tamanna’s mail and read it fast.

She has declined my love. Says she has only looked at me as a friend and she can never think of me as a ‘boyfriend’. My heart fills with misery. My future looks bleak. 

When she gets the news that I died because of her refusal then she will understand my love. Then she will pity me. My eyes are overflowing with tears. 

I am about to log off when I see another e-mail, this time from my mom. Mom? Why is she emailing me? I open it and read.

************

I have been shut in my room for the last few hours. I sit with conflicting feelings overpowering me. I am torn between despair and hopefulness. I wonder how I never thought of what my parents would feel if I took my life. I had been so focused on Tamanna and so selfish in my sadness that I never even considered their feelings. I am their only kid and they have showered me with all their love and affection. How can I even think of leaving them to a bleak future without me? I shudder to think of the effect of my actions on their life. I am sure they would beat themselves up thinking they had done something wrong! They would agonize thinking that they were somehow responsible for my cowardly decision!

No. I won’t do it. My parents don’t deserve it.

I flush the bottle of pills.

I go into the kitchen and hoist myself up onto the platform. I ignore the surprised look on my mom’s face and start “Amma, you know what this Arpit did?…..

****

Author note:

I have been a volunteer at a suicide intervention NGO. One weekend, we had a lecture by an eminent psychiatrist on the topic of how to recognize whether someone is planning to take their own life.

All the points the mom had mentioned in her email are the most common changes that a person contemplating suicide will exhibit. Giving away their pets, putting their lives in order, suddenly deciding to make a will, even unusually making their own beds should all raise an alert, especially if it follows a period of gloom and sadness.

When I saw the prompt for the Qunitale32, this was the ‘change’ that came to my mind.

The psychiatrist had concluded her lecture with, “If people around are alert and notice these telltale changes, so many unnecessary deaths can be avoided. Especially suicides by young adults”.

By writing this story I am hoping more and more people become aware of these changes and quietly somewhere someone’s destiny is changed.

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