Her body, covered in a white cloth, was lying on the floor of the lobby. The cold air from a ceiling fan, which moved noisily and at a very slow speed, was hitting the corner of the sheet near her head. In almost every two minutes, it would remove the sheet off her head, revealing the plump, but now pale, face of Sana Batool (name changed).
I was returning home after a beautiful day spent with my friends at the university. Henna (name changed), one of my best friends, dropped me off at my place and left for her home as usual. After a gap of about half an hour, I got a phone call. The voice on the other end was choking. “Where is your friend Henna? Has she committed suicide?” my cousin asked me. First, I thought he was just playing a prank, but I sensed the tension in his stammer immediately.
Before hanging up, I remember telling him that Henna was not a puny girl who would kill herself even if she had a thousand reasons to do it. It so happened that I was reminded of a quote by Cesare Pavese, which says, “No one ever lacks a good reason for suicide.” Without losing a second, I called up on Henna’s cellphone. As the bad luck would have it, the phone was not connecting for some strange reasons. I tried another friend but she too didn’t answer.
One of the biggest drawbacks of being young probably is that sometimes passing things seem somehow permanent. If there is an issue in your life, you feel that it is going to bleed you all the time. For a moment, I thought that my friend had perhaps become a victim of the same tragedy. Because when you hit the rock bottom and fail to find even a tiny flicker of hope, you resort to such unfortunate acts.
As I was restlessly moving in my room, thinking of ways to reach Henna, my phone buzzed. Shazia, another friend, was calling from Henna’s home. With a husky voice, she told me that Henna’s younger sister had died and that I should reach there immediately. “Sana has committed suicide by strangling herself to death,” Shazia added with a broken voice.
As much as it relieved me that my friend was alive, the death of her sister, whom she loved more than anything, was equally agonizing. At the main gate of Henna’s house, I saw few men, in their forties, whispering to each other. I could sense from their sordid faces what was happening inside the house. I could hear shrieks of wailing relatives from outside the main gate. The closer I got to the house the screams were getting louder.
Inside the lobby, her parents, relatives and neighbors had crouched around her body. Her mother was beating her chest while her cousins tried to console her. In her screams, one could sense her loss. Cursing her fate, she would shout how Sana, a student of 10th standard, had returned from school, taken a shower, changed into a trouser and a tee and asked her to keep her meals ready. “Who is going to ask for meals now,” she screamed before turning numb.
In one of the corners of the whitewashed lobby, Henna stared with teary eyes at her younger sister. She wasn’t screaming as if she had lost the power to speak. I couldn’t find a word that could give her any solace so I just sat there with my arm around her neck.
Her mother kept shouting for minutes that the food was getting colder, but Sana didn’t reply. Thinking that she might be still using the restroom, her mother drew her attention to other household chores. Worried why she was not coming downstairs, her mother opened her door only to find something that would dig a permanent hole in her chest.
Sana was lying dead on the floor with a dupatta wrapped around her slender neck. Her mother raised an alarm and Sana was taken to a nearby hospital where she was declared dead on admission.
What forced her to take this extreme step has been a mystery, even after three years of that tragic incident. Some say she was bullied by her classmates for being taller than them, while others have different stories. She had got good grades in her last examination, her parents were loving and caring, and she was always cheerful.
What drove her towards this radical step is still a puzzle. Yes, life is not always a bed of roses and there are trials and tribulations, but is ending life the only option?
After all, this isn’t heaven so we should understand that everyone has to face an ugly situation, at least, once in his or her lifetime. That is how life is meant to be. It can’t be sunny always; it needs to rain too. It is a nature’s way to maintain balance.
Even if we try to go into religious scriptures, none of them would encourage it. In Islam, for example, committing suicide is one the biggest sins. The logic is simple: learn to fight back and don’t lose heart, as nothing is permanent in this world.
Today, when I think about that day, I feel that we should learn to forgive people, no matter how bad they have been with you. We will never know what the person sitting next to us is going through. So instead of judging them, offer to help and talk…
May be you can save a person from falling into the same tragedy that devoured Sana. If you are going through a bad phase in your life, don’t think it is permanent. It will pass just like the last dark night did.
If you are feeling lonely, call a friend or anybody you can think of. But never end your life, if not for your sake, do it for the sake of your mother who is waiting for you at the dinner table.