05 September 2008

Too much to bear

Above: the view outside my kitchen window.

The morning of September 1st was cloudy and grey. A typical monsoon morning. It had rained heavily during the night.

I was sitting working at the computer when I heard loud crying coming from behind the house: a child and some women. I looked outside my kitchen window which looks onto a small community of modest housing where many labourers live. These are people who work as maids and drivers in the neighbourhood or at the marble works next door or as manual labourers. This community is made up of a few rows of small concrete houses with corrugated irons roofs squeezed between the main road and the road I live on. When I looked outside my kitchen window, I saw a group of people huddled in front of a corner house, crying. I didn’t know what was going on but I understood that something terrible had happened. I thought of the woman who comes to clean my place who has been sick for the past month and hoped that there wasn’t some sort of epidemic running through the community.

Later on I went up to the roof to put out the laundry to dry. I looked over behind the house and saw a man lying on the ground, in the narrow lane between two rows of houses. I knew I was looking at a corpse. His arms were lying unnaturally straight along his sides and his legs were also ramrod straight. His head was cocked to one side. Then I noticed the end of a sari tied around his neck.

His neighbours were busy emptying his small house which measured maybe 2.5 by 4 metres, like the other houses in this community. They brought out a small wooden table, a reed mat which had probably been his bed and a few plastic water jugs (these houses have no running water, only a common well). A man emerged with the other end of the sari and casually threw it on the body. Another carried out a bundle of clothes and a blanket which was used to cover the body. A few men arrived with a stretcher and carried him away.

I wondered what led him to take this extreme step. Illness? Debt? Despair? A few days later, I read in the paper that Bangalore has the highest suicide rate in India. 25,000 people take their lives every year in this city. On the day following the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, the morning paper announced that four persons had taken their lives that day. The man who lived behind my house was not one of them but maybe his story was similar.

The Hindu, 5 September 2008. Bangalore: Four persons ended their lives in separate incidents by hanging themselves in the city on Wednesday, when Vinayaka Chaturthi was celebrated.

Gali Venkatappa (45), a bar bender, committed suicide at his residence in Uttarahalli. The police said he was suffering from stomach ache for many years. Unable to bear the pain, he took the extreme step.

In another incident, a 17-year-old girl ended her life at her residence. She was identified as Sridevi, a resident of Gowdayyana Palya. As an assistant, she had worked for a few telefilm production companies. She had a quarrel with her parents on Wednesday. When her parents went to a temple to offer puja, she hanged herself, said the police.

Another 17-year-old-girl and a first PU student committed suicide in the limits of Mahadevapura police station. The police gave name of the girl as Pavitra Murugesh who was studying in a college in Prakashnagar.

A 26-year-old woman ended her life in Krishnananda Nagar. Rajamani, wife of an autorickshaw driver, was a native of Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu. Four years ago, she moved into the city with her husband Mariyappan. On Wednesday night, she took the extreme step, the police said. Based on the complaint lodged by her father Rama Gounder, the sleuths of Nandini Layout station have arrested Mariyappan on charge of dowry harassment.


Tracy said...

That is just so sad. I knew that it happened quite frequently...that is so close to home for you though. I am sorry to hear this sad news~

Jen Kumar said...

Of course in matter of time and space, these simple reasons are stated. I wonder how many of these suicides are actually the culmination of years of sufferings from mental illness, alcoholism or other related problems that are more taboos topics [in India.]

Manny said...

India has been ruled by one singe feudal family. the Nehry Indira Dynasty. Today we have Eva Peron of India (Sonia) keeping the power for her two children as an entitlement. Nehruvian socialism continues to keep 600 million in abject poverty. They have ruled India 85% of the time since India's independence. Indians are traditionally capitalists. But these foreign ideas of Karl Marx has made Indians ashamed of wealth creation and this Left govt has been obsessing with poverty distribution instead of wealth creation. In spite of this, many Indians with their ccapitalstic drive have managed to create wealth for the nation. We need to get rid of this feudal family oof politics first before poverty can be eradicated