Yesterday I read a very sad piece of news. In fact I am a fanatic reader of news regarding crimes, suicides, tortures, extortions, abductions for ransoms, impersonations etc. because in them I find the underbelly of the society we live in, you can say a truer picture of the world and its inhabitants. To supplement it and to complete the picture, I am equally a passionate watcher of animal life videos in Discovery, Animal planet and Nat Geo channels. Yesterday’s news item ran like this. A woman of 36 in Mumbai, residing on the 9th floor of an apartment took the lift with her two children, a son (10) and a daughter (3) and went up to the top floor (18th). There she pushed both the children off first and herself jumped off at the last and all three died as they fell on the ground. The news rattled me and I felt deeply for her. What was the cause of her action, none knows so far. But I am almost sure that it was related to domestic quarrels or abuses. She was a lecturer teaching Chartered Accountancy. The Police photo of the school bag, tiffin box and water bottle of the school going son left on a balcony of the top floor of the apartment from which they jumped off was so vivid, pathetic and shocking that the memory never leaves from my mind.

Not a day passes in which I have not been able to read such sad news. Crime news fascinate me because real men and women are involved in them as victims and oppressors.

From my personal experience I am frequently tempted to draw a conclusion that it is the women who are responsible for all domestic violence, tortures etc. But as if to prove that I am very much wrong there, I am flaunted such pieces of saddest news daily where women are the victims too. So no easy generalizations, holding one sex responsible for the hell that human situation has become, merit truth. Both are probably equally responsible. Men and women enter into relationship for making their passage through life an easier one with hope of full companionship and cooperation both in times of joy and sorrows, trials and tribulations. But something goes wrong and soon both turn against each other. Instead of protecting the other from outside aggressions and dangers one’s own spouse turns the aggressor, the tormentor and in some cases the killer.

I am still haunted, even if six long years have gone by since then, by the photo of a woman hanging by a saree from the ceiling of the house she lived in. She was killed by her own husband, who was a truck driver and after a long period of absence had returned to her just the night before. To show that it was a case of suicide he himself hung her from the ceiling after killing her by asphysiating. The poignancy of the scene, to me was here that the woman had put on a white cotton thread, which is called Sudasa Brata(the auspicious thread) around her arm just above her elbow only on her last day on the earth, that all married women of Orissa, a land where 300 million people live besides myself, celebrate for the welfare of their husbands. The woman must have been happy and pleased to find her husband return to her on a very auspicious day so that her celebration of the day for him should not have gone unnoticed and unappreciated. But little did she know that no such loving thoughts were there in his mind. He killed her, hung her and fled with their only child, a daughter of 3. I often wonder what happened to that child with such a father on the run! That picture of the woman hanging with that Sudasa Brata on her arm will never go out of my mind.

Why do men and women abuse each other? What are the impendiments in love ? Birds and animals love their mates and raise their
little ones so devotedly, why can’t we ? Even when abused, why do men and women commit suicide ? I don’t think any other man is
so abused by his own spouse and children as I am. My whole body is filled up with bruises and wounds inflicted by them. I am being abetted to take poison myself, subjected to unimaginable tortures; but no thought of suicide ever crosses my mind. On the contrary, while their torturing frenzy is at the highest, an irresistible giggle or laughter takes me over and a saying commonly attributed to Buddha comes to my mind. “ When you realize the perfectness of everything that is, you simply tilt your head back at the sky and laugh. ” What more perfect absurdity can there be than your own spouse and children abusing you, when their comfortable life style is financed, supported and helped in every possible way by you. They themselves earn nothing but spend everything that you only earn! So at this perfect absurdity I laugh and dispel any idea of suicide. Of course, it is another matter that I get a lot more kicks and blows and bruises for this unaccountable, and for them unacceptable, laughter.

Probably there lies one of my best shock absorbers to think this world as absurd and perfect at the same time. In logic a thing cannot be both, they are bound to be mutually exclusive. But in life they can and do co-exist side by side. It only requires a little bit of practice to see both in life in abundance and see the humor and the pathos underlying most life situations. Another one is that niggling idea running always at the back of my mind that “this one too shall pass”. Any experience, good or bad, must pass leaving place for subsequent experiences. I have a third and very sturdy shock absorber too. But better than myself I would let its author speak it in his own inimitable words. “You are not in this movie, unless you choose to perceive yourself to be. You are, in fact, watching it. And the seemingly unrelenting circumstances that have you in their grasp are, in fact, illusory devices that you have created to instill certain levels of awareness and understanding. Each blow to your pride, each disappointing outcome, is no more than an instrument of your own will, a symbolic prop with which you, as the consummate playwright, sought to mirror yourself.” It is by Rasha. Last but not the least one of my most dependable and never failing shock absorbers is a passage that was first shared with me by my friend Julia who to me is a living embodiment of the message too. I cannot improve on it, so I quote her in full here.

“Forgiveness offers everything I want… What could I want forgiveness cannot give? Do I want peace? Forgiveness offers it. Do I want happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world? Do I want care and safety, and the warmth of sure protection always? Do I want a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that never can be hurt, a deep abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect it can never be upset? :-)) All this forgiveness offers me, and more. It sparkles on my eyes as I awake, and gives me joy with which to meet the day. It soothes my forehead while I sleep, and rests upon my eyelids so I see no dreams of fear and evil, malice and attack. And when I wake again, it offers me another day of happiness and peace. All this forgiveness offers me, and more. 🙂 Forgiveness recognizes that what I thought my brother did to me has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin. And in that view are all my sins forgiven. I who would not forgive must judge, for I must justify my failure to forgive. Forgiveness is always a gift I am giving to myself, not the person I think I’m forgiving. I’m the one who receives the benefits, in both practical and metaphysical terms. Yes, I’m also acting as a reminder of the truth to the other person. All thought has effects on some level, and it’s good for the other person too. Not that the other person is really there. We’re talking about a seemingly split-off aspect of my own”.

Alas, that woman who jumped off from the 18th floor of that apartment yesterday along with her son and daughter didn’t have any such robust shock absorbers built into her. I wish all my readers to occasionally check on their shock absorbers because they can only save them should such crises ever occur in their lives. And mind it, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.