Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mukesh- Hidden Chapter In An Open Book

He was full of life with an ever flashing smile all over his face; his short stature was just a mirage when looked at in the context of his overall personality- he was much taller than what he otherwise looked. His overall demeanour was so comforting that his very presence used to make other person forget the pain he/she was under at that particular point in time.
On a personal front, he was no less than an alchemist and could do anything he wanted to be a successful person. He was just like an open book. His circle of influence included people from all walks of life – colony bullies, college leaders, contractors, football players , historysheeters but then I was lucky enough to be his closest pal along with Rakesh. More than anything, he was sort of a mentor for me- always advising me about the things I should do or not do. He stood by me whenever I needed him and would graciously lend his ears to me. He made Renu-my younger sister, his sister as well and told her to tie Rakhi on him. When visiting my house, it never bothered him if I am home or not; after all he could connect to my entire family- he was a member of our family.
It was the summers of 92 when I met him through a common acquaintance. We were freshly out of class 12 and were digging the foundation to build our respective careers. Initially, the interaction remained cold and couldn’t scale heights to excite me enough to call him my friend- so he was just an acquaintance. But then this situation was not something casted in stone & iron and soon Mukesh reached a place that only belonged to him- he became my closest friend and confidante. He used to live in my neighbourhood and that also played its own part in furthering our bond of friendship.
It was that time only, when another bond was taking its shape- my friendship with Rakesh. As the paths were common and so were our goals , we three became closest of pals. We could spend hours talking and discussing every available topic in the world of politics/sports/business etc. We were friends in the true sense- always agreeing to disagree, used to fight for our respective values and beliefs and would do everything to hold on to our positions never fighting even once- our bonding was just like earth’s crust- so many layers, so much heat, so many volcanic eruptions yet always growing in strength with every passing moment. So much so that at one point of time we were pursuing same course- Chartered Accountancy.
Rakesh realised early enough that CA is not his cup of tea and dropped off; but we both continued to pursue it. Life was going pretty cool. However, with every passing year the career building pressure began to grow bigger and bigger. A stray mistake on Rakesh’s part made him start a job and with his sheer hard work Rakesh began to climb up the ladder. I could also clear my CA Intermediate well in time but then as luck would have it, I got stuck with one group of CA Finals which I would go on to clear later. Mukesh on his part could clear one group of CA intermediate and was slowly and steadily getting edgy about not being able to clear the other group.
In the meantime, I got myself involved with a stock broking firm and Mukesh shifted into their new house, 10 kilometres away. Rakesh’s job first took him to Kanpur followed by Ludhiana. This self created turmoil in our lives didn’t affect our relationship at all but the time that we used to spend together was on the wane and the downhill journey continued until we got that shocker of a news on 11th Sep 2001 at around 7.30 pm. His brother called me up to enquire about Mukesh as he was untraceable after he left home to meet me. I told him to wait for some more time. But when he didn’t get in by 9 pm, we began to get anxious. Rakesh and I began searching for him, we went to police stations, checked with railway authorities and hospitals making enquiries to allay our worst fears.
But Mukesh remained untraceable for next 11 days until the afternoon of 22nd September when his brother called me up to give me the worst news- his decomposed body was found in sugarcane fields near a school. A steel glass and a bottle of liquid pesticide was lying near his body. Apparently that was what helped him take his own life by his own hands. His lively face was still same with just one change- it had turned black. His black Reebok shoes were on his feet and helped us lift his body.
A neatly folded piece of paper hidden in a polythene bag was found placed inside his shoes. Such was his thought process that even when he was about to take his life, his mind was aware that the message needs to get home and that is why he chose to use a polythene bag to hid his suicide note. I only wonder why his mind didn’t tell him not to take his life. Had he been alive today, life for him would have been great as he had everything in the world that helps one achieve success.
What he lacked was not the lack of conviction in his abilities but his fear of a crumbling support system. His fears, howsoever unjustified are a lesson in itself- if someone has a belief and faith in you, do whatever it takes to keep that faith alive and kicking. Societal norms of success and failure cannot change but what is capable of change is the way how we perceive them individually.
Last but not the least is a need to hear and act on those subtle hints that any person with suicidal tendencies give to his/her closed ones. Mukesh too did that but we could not hear them and paid a very heavy price for that- I and Rakesh lost our dearest friend. A mother lost her child, a father lost his hope, brothers lost their comrade in arms and a sister (Renu) lost her Mukesh bhaiya... she remembers him every year on Rakhi day as he was the only one to bring a box full of Cadbury’s chocolates.
While I am writing this at my workplace, I cannot stop my tears from flowing down and am doing my best to hide them from fellow colleagues. No matter what, tears or no tears Mukesh will never come back.....But then all we can try for is to have no more Mukeshs take their own lives. Doing that requires no extra effort- just few words of comfort and a real care can undo the damage to one’s confidence and bring back that zeal to live life.
I know Mukesh will never come back but his friendship will always stay with me. He took his life but he will never be able to take away the moments that we shared together. I will never say that Mukesh was coward as to take one’s own life is no job of a coward- you got to be too brave to do that. But had he chosen to use his bravery in the arena of life, story would been very different. One pain that I will always have in my heart is my utter failure to locate and read that hidden chapter of an open book that Mukesh was... perhaps he wrote that chapter later but then too I should have known about it.


simplypallu said...

(Shudder!!) That was very, very sad. To know a person like that and to lose him... to be unable to help... it's heart-breaking. And I agree, the act of suicide is not cowardice... it takes whole lot of courage too. Can anyone imagine how unbearable it must be for a person, when he/she contemplates suicide? Uff! Well, hope you get over this sadness some day and remember only the good times / lessons you learned from his life.

Alok Bhatt said...

I only remember my good days with him now......he was a friend par excellence and that friend will stay with me forever....

Bhavana said...

I can't believe I am reading this post...it strikes home in a very personal way. I am sorry for you and for his family. Yes, you said it right--there are subtle hints one gives but I have found most people are incapable of listening deeply. In fact I am busy writing a post titled "How to Listen" for another website. I hope you have healed now. Thanks for sharing such a painful incident...

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