“The man who kills a man kills a man. The man who kills himself kills all the men. As far as he is concerned, he wipes out the world.”- GK Chesterton.
Sushant Singh Rajput (21st of January, 1986- 14th of June, 2020) passed away at the age of thirty-four on Sunday. A young man, from small town and big dreams, from Patna to Mumbai, made it big in a short span of time. The police, the media as of now are calling it suicide, resulting from a case of depression. His friends call this improbable. There are reports on how he was under duress and was seeking medical help for depression for last few months. Reports are that he had reached out to his father couple of days back requesting his visit.
The dreams of the young, and the fragility of youth. His bucket-list of fifty wishes allegedly posted on his Instragam- from a wish to visit to NASA to the CERN lab. A prodigious child, an engineer with science and sensitivity held within the same soul. What brought about such a sudden, sad decision is not known, and when a life is lost it is best not to cloud the memories with cold conjectures and wild guesses.
The world of showbiz is cruel, full of uncertainty and can be crushing to an outsider who struggled and made his place in a judgemental society of nepotism and big families and big names. A middle-class upbringing, an Engineering graduate with a sensitive heart is not a good recipe. One may argue that an engineering degree and a national Olympiad championship should mean a better grip of the things. It might not, I would say.
Science trains the brain to expect certain results even to emotional questions. Emotion does not act that way. Emotions are untrained animals. Good might not beget good, love might not beget love. That is the way emotional world works- irrational, illogical. A brain with scientific bend is often incapable of explaining things to the heart. Ways of the heart are often inexplicable, the make-believe world of art is always fragile.
Your movie did well, will the next one do as well; your last book was bestseller, will the next one hold? The fears are constant and plays on one’s mind. In classical Roman thought, all great works of art should be credited to talent not to the person. It sought to separate person from his art which was wonderful in a way. It isolated the person from the artist and kept him or her safe from the success and failure of his enterprise.
Without this isolation, when a person begins to merge his or own personality, one imposes the fallibility of artistic pursuit. The impact of this becomes more critical and often fatal when one is haunted by the long spells of physical isolation, with fear looming if the world outside would be as welcoming when we step out once this pandemic is over.
The big cities are breeders of dark demons of loneliness, with long address-books in the phone and not one number to call in the middle of the night. What is it which drives any man, let alone a man of talent like Sushant Singh Rajput to death? We might never know. Is it because we live in a world today, which rushes around us so fast that everything is hazy, rendering everything which is a part of life and life itself of little or no value?
It is less about lack of courage, more about lack of love towards life itself. It is about the worthlessness of life that comes at us, nibbling away at our fortitude, bit by bit, like hungry rodent biting away the flesh of a dying warrior too tired of the lost battle to ward it off. David Hume in his “Essays on Suicide and the immortality of the Soul” says – “No man ever threw away life while was worth keeping”.
Life is never easy. It is not meant to be. The moment one is out of the womb, the struggle begins and the pain mounts. We need to constantly strive to give meaning to this pain. Is it about fooling ourselves with delusions of assigning grand meanings to our existence? I do not know. I would think that it is only a way to live, to discover a cause larger than ourselves. It helps.
This is what Art brings to us, this is what religion brings to us, and this is why philosophy placates us when everything seems meaningless and futile and purposeless. Albert Camus wrote that the literal meaning of life is whatever you’re doing that prevents you from killing yourself. That meaning is the cause, the larger purpose which renders meaning to a rather meaningless meander of ours on this planet.
In older scheme of things, when sleeping late would immediately send alarms to the neighbour, this sense of meaning was easier to find in people around us. We meant something to them. Now with the big city living where decades in the same society still leave people with a sense of anonymity even with their next-door neighbors, that purpose becomes even more important.
We are social animals. Even our names are our names because that is how the world around us knows us. We need to find meaning, make our existence meaningful for others so that our existence remains meaningful to us. That and a sense of fight, never to give up. This sense of fight, unyielding soul will make us strong enough to say, with courage, which as Nietzsche wrote: Is the best slayer- courage which attacks: Which slays even death itself, for it says, ‘Was it life? Well then, Once more!”.
What more can once speak of when mourning a young life lost so early, except to grieve silently and sternly. The art of eulogy in today’s world has lost itself. It is mixed up in a cynical sensationalism, connections and conjectures. But when such a young life is lost, it is inhuman, to attempt to find reasons, to judge the departed, to expose the ugly innards of death.
A song unsung, a story untold, a canvas left blank- It is such a heart shattering thing to talk about, to write about. These are the kind of deaths which would break even death’s heart. In his famous book “The Book Thief”, Markus Zusak personifies Death and the words Death utters at the time he comes to pick the soul of little boy, Rudy, would be true for Sushant Singh Rajput too, I suppose.
Death says,“I carried Rudy softly through the broken street…with him I tried a little harder. I watched the contents of his soul for a moment and saw a black-painted boy calling the name Jesse Owens as he ran through an imaginary tape. I saw him hip-deep in some icy water, chasing a book, and I saw a boy lying in bed, imagining how a kiss would taste from his glorious next-door neighbor. He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It is his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.“