Thursday, October 11, 2012




I had never met Varsha Bhosle personally, but we were great admirers and critics of each other’s writings. Between 1999 and end-2001, we used to exchange E-mails often. Then, out virtual world friendship dried up. I used to wonder why she had stopped writing for Rediff. I sent her a couple of E-mails to which I did not get a reply. I did not follow it up.

2. I was shocked to read last week that she had committed suicide in her Mumbai flat by putting a bullet into her head. Some reports had attributed her decision to kill herself to spells of depression caused by loneliness.

3. This is not the first time in my life that I had come across suicides that were difficult to explain and understand. Very often, the suicide is blamed on depression. Possibly, but the depression need not necessarily be due to loneliness.

4. When I was living in Europe in the 1970s, I was very friendly with a young Indian couple. They gave the impression of being very happily married. They had lovely kids. All of them were enjoying their stay in Europe. She was a delightful cook and hostess. I used to eat in their house every Friday. She gave the impression of being a picture of joie de vivre. One day I was shocked to hear that she committed suicide when she was alone in the house by jumping down from the fourth floor. Till today, I have not been able to understand why she had to do it.

5.When I was in service, the wife of a colleague committed suicide with a firearm when she was alone in the house. Another colleague shot himself dead inside his bathroom. In both these cases, I knew they were not happily married and could guess that personal frictions could have contributed to the extreme step to commit suicide.

6. I have seen many other cases of suicide in my life. One thing strikes me about all these cases. A tendency to brood in the case of the persons committing suicide. All of us have our unhappy and depressive moments in our lives. Sometimes, it is due to loneliness, sometimes due to family discord, sometimes due to professional problems.

7. Most of us get over those negative moments very fast. We don’t brood over them. We don’t develop a guilt complex as if something is wrong with us.

8. But some people cannot take their negative moments in their stride. They cannot forget them easily. They have a tendency to brood, when they are alone, about the negative experiences. Nothing undermines your confidence in yourself and your ability to cope with the ups and downs of life more than the tendency to brood.

9.My advice to all people with a tendency to brood is: Please, please, please don’t. When you brood, you develop a guilt complex. When you develop a guilt complex, you lose the will power to live.

10. When you have negative moments or negative experiences in life, tell yourself: So be it, so what. Develop the ability to take life in your stride. All of us have the best of moments and the worst of moments. We should not allow the bad moments to sap our will to live. Nothing saps your will more than the tendency to brood.

11. My advice is: NEVER BROOD. (11-10-12 )

(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:  Twitter @SORBONNE75)




Mere Mortal said...

Suicides can either be in promptu or a result of sustained suffering. Basically, i understand that in-promptu suicides are more seen in emotionally driven people, who either suffer an unexpected event or a happening, and impulsively commit suicide. it is often a personality trait or lack of maturity (teen affairs, etc). By brooding (not negatively) or thinking, most of these events can pass and most are just impulsive reactions.

Others are however are sustained suffering when people do not see a way out, or just have had enough of the situation (financial crisis, bad marriage, etc). Some people have actually reached the end of the cliff and there is no other way visible, or for some its just an escape to get over with the suffering. Most of these individuals are otherwise strong individuals who did fight but give up sooner or later.

Then, there is a problem with the mentality in India or our society. When you try to cry out for help, either you are considered a weak person or the issue is shrugged away. the close ones think it is over reaction and try to push it under the carpet, even in rare cases when individuals have voiced their concerns and depression. Many more though, just pretend to be strong, and then quit.

Paresh said...

I advise people to watch the American comedy sitcoms FRIENDS and FRASIER. In those serials, the protagonists go through so much emotion, pain, disappointment and yet never fail to lighten the mood with a witty dialogue at the end of the scene, and then carry on with their lives afresh. Those two programs have taught me to say, "Who the Hell cares what the Hell is going on!"

everestpeak said...

Dear Raman:

You are on the spot...about brooding...people who brood go thro their unhappy moments again and again....