I was seventeen when I wrote my first poem “A Suicide Note”. In that sad way that one leaves behind bits of themselves in the whirlwind of moving houses or cities, it got forgotten, not unfastened from my wardrobe door. Like memories, possessions too get caught in the haze of transitions.
Still, I remember most of it exactly as it was first written-
You call this suicide?
You may call it self-murder or perhaps an act of cowardice
Whatever you choose to call it, it has freed me from the bondage of life
I was like a prisoner trapped in this house of flesh
I flee from this world of sorrow, pain and hardship
A spirit free to wander
Do not cry for me, do not mourn for me
Rather rejoice with me
For I am now at liberty.
Teenage years are supposedly The Wonder Years, at the time, I somewhat romanticised the ifs and whys of suicide.
Back then, I didn’t have a personal computer and would give my short stories to my mother to type for me, then store the neatly typed sheets in a flat file. She didn’t look closely at the content of my handwritten poem when she placed it in her handbag before leaving hurriedly for work one morning, and chose her words carefully when she returned home in the evening.
“Well-written poem” she smiled, handing me the crisp, printed A4 sheet “but I hope you are not planning to commit suicide?”. I wasn’t, my pen had simply captured my musings.
One day, my aunty stumbled upon this poem, “Liberty? What sort of liberty is that?” She wondered laughing. To her, suicide was akin to a pyrrhic victory, one had escaped from their earthly battles only to find themselves facing judgement in the Celestial Court of the Afterlife.
Recently during office banter, a colleague concluded that a person who commits suicide is a coward. I refused to accept that that one word was sufficient to describe the feelings of hopelessness that make death seem far more appealing than life.
He argued that regardless of the situation, one had to keep trying.
I was asked to think of any situation in my life that would prompt me to want to end it. I thought carefully, finally I told him that nothing came to mind because truthfully, my life seemed fine and dandy at that moment.
Morbid as it sounds, I am currently in that blissful state between tragedies, because the way I see it, the scenes in our lives are either comic or tragic. While the two do not necessarily follow each other side-by-side, one manages to place its feet squarely in the footprints of the other.
Well, I respected his resolute stance, I understood that it came from a place of unwavering hope. Or did it come from a place of unscathed comfort? Perhaps he hadn’t ever been pushed to that dense place of nothingness and simply couldn’t comprehend how death could be the preferred option.
Hope is a powerful thing, but is optimism sometimes taken for granted?
One can only feel the oversized fufu lump straining the gullet when it passes through their own lips. Mindfully, I’m learning to abstain from the absolute judgement of journeys that I haven’t travelled. My own feet are not blistered from walking the suicidal mile.
Yet, I understand quite acutely the dark hole that is hopelessness and how it can taunt a person as it obliterates their sun. I know the fear that things may never get better is only too real, I don’t believe that needing that fear to end is unbrave.