It’s been a month since my friend killed herself. I thought I would be over it by now. But I saw her last night beside me in the tuk I came home in. It wasn’t a ghost, more of a wishful thought or a celestial aura. And the best part? We were laughing. We were laughing about all the things that went right and all the things that went wrong. We laughed at our circumstances and we laughed at our history. We went to school together, we met when we were only ten. And this week, I turned 25. Fifteen years of being in each other’s lives, and she didn’t even stick around to say “Happy Birthday” to me or to herself. She would have been 25 too, in two months had she stuck around. Idiot, I always think. But who the idiot is, I don’t know sometimes. Is it she? Or is it me? Or is it us as a collective? We grew up together and shared everything, from dreams to secrets. But it doesn’t seem to mean anything now because a crucial part of these dreams and secrets got lost in the way. She lost her way. And with her, we lost ours.
We are in shambles. In pieces, trying to be normal but failing miserably. We talk normally, we go to work as usual and we do the same things we did before. But there is a huge part of us that’s missing. Like an extra organ that we didn’t think we’d miss so much after donating it. I know it’s selfish to want someone. Strictly speaking, it goes against the philosophy of life I believe in. Our faith teaches us that this is but a cycle, and we are born again and again in an endless loop of pain and pleasure until we perceive the truth about everything, and our pain and pleasure cease to exist alongside our very conscious.
What a fairy tale.
If we could come and go as we please in life, this would be very easy. You walk in through an opening that is between your mother’s legs, screaming and withering in pain, drenched in her blood, gasping for breath and life, trying to adapt to this vast open space that is beyond your mother’s womb and you stop. All the possibilities of being a human burst into being and you make the only sound that you can muster, and cry. And your mother cries with you out of pain and happiness. It is the sound of hope. I heard her mother cry when I went to her house and that cry in itself was the very sound that shattered the earth beneath me. It is the sound of a mother who has lost her child. It is unlike any sound that I have heard before, and I pray that I will never hear it again. It is a sound that rips through your soul and tears a hole in your heart and drains the happiness out of you, like a dementor’s kiss. I was afraid to step inside her house. I stayed away for the first day, trying to cope with what I have (or have not) done. I’m guilty. I wish I saved you when I had the chance. But now it is too late. All we are left with are our memories and photographs, and a string of WhatsApp texts that I scan every day hoping to find some clue that this is going to happen and whether I could have stopped it.
I’ve tried to look at it in a Buddhist perspective and forgive myself, our friends, her and the perpetrator. We are taught to not spew hatred to anyone, even to the very person that charges at us to kill us. Mettā, it is called. It’s love and kindness to anyone and everyone, regardless of the circumstances. But forgive me if I fail, I’m only human. I’m starting to hate. And hate is such a harsh word, I try not to use it or think about it. I hate the person she loved enough to leave us. I hate her. I hate myself for not being there for her. I hate our friends for letting this happen. I hate her family and her colleagues and her university friends and her boarding aunty and everyone she ever met for not stopping her doing this to herself, and us. I hate everyone.
Her death became a nationwide sensation for people to talk about. It was all over social media, and I hated every single person who spoke about her like they knew her. How dare they speak of her like that? They don’t know her. How dare they speak her name like they knew her? How dare they share a picture like they knew her like we did? They didn’t care about her, neither did they care a fraction about how we would feel when they did that. They peered into her life, speculated her decisions and wondered about her circumstances as though they knew better than her. How dare they invade her life like that? I am angry with every single one of them who spoke to me at her funeral and nodded their condolences. Teachers, university friends, and our schoolmates, everyone. I thought everyone looked at us like we did this because we’re her close friends and friends ought to have seen this coming.
“She didn’t have good friends,”
“What a stupid girl. Educated but no brains.”
“How could she do this to her parents? Selfish stupid girl, she deserved it,”
It’s easy for everyone who didn’t know her to say that. It’s easy for them to point at a picture of a girl who lost her head -pun intended- and say what they thought of her. But it really wasn’t easy for the person who lived her life, who walked in her shoes and who woke up in her body. It wasn’t easy for her to deal with whatever she was going through, but everyone seems to be a “know-it-all” when it came to her life and her decisions. Everyone except her.
Every day after her death, we hear new updates from various sources. Some true, some horrible, and some outright absurd. Each new update shamelessly brandished in our faces, as to how little we knew of her. She collected her daily receipts and pasted them in her diary. Grocery bills and leaflets from University. We didn’t know that part of her life. We knew what she wanted us to know. She has also kept daily diaries. Diaries through which we combed to find some sort of clue to help us see what we missed of this person’s whose life we seemingly did not know some parts about.
She has won the scholarship in America that she so badly wanted. The letter had arrived a few days ago and I’m dying all over again. How could she? How dare she? How dare she do this to us? How dare she leave us. I’m in rage. I’m scared of death and dying, and the wreckage that it leaves behind. I’m annoyed and angry at people for leaving us abruptly. It’s not fair. But life was never fair, says a small voice inside tells me. The person who made her feel like “now is enough”, is out there living his life happily, away from all the misery that she left. He is living his life as though she never existed. And that is not fair. But then again, such is life.
I want to send her a message saying I hate her for what she did. I wish she can see the effects of what she did and I hope she is feeling sorry. Maybe she is at peace. I hope she is. I want her to be in peace. Today I will allow myself to be a sorry train wreck -pun intended again- and I will get over this. I will pray for her soul this weekend, but for now, I will wallow in hatred and anger and let my mind be distracted by movies and sex. Tomorrow, I will speak to her at the edge of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree and tell her that I am sorry and that I hope she is at peace, at least now. I don’t believe that people who take their own lives are sinners who will not be granted life in human form again. I don’t think that’s true. It’s just a way of making us not do it. I believe she is in a different place, away from the type of misery that she went through here. And I hope she is at peace, and that maybe, just maybe, we may cross paths again, as we have done in so many of our past lives too.
With love, from the other side.