Dear Jiah We are Sorry

A year ago when Bal Thackeray passed away and Bombay was submerged in what I call a “forced mourning” and the man awarded with a national guard of honor I learnt an important lesson. No matter what you do when you die people forget all your ills! I guess it is said that it is bad to badmouth a dead person when they can no longer come back and defend it! So what if they are single-handedly responsible in destroying a city’s cultural fabric, waging war on religious minorities and encouraging caste and religion based politics!

Sadly though when a 25-year-old young girl decides to end her life we call her a coward, a fool for having fallen in love and given up her life! Makes me wonder what kind of a world are we living in? Can’t we have some sympathy for the young girl and for a minute judge the world we live in rather than judging Jiah’s lifestyle choices? I feel sick that at 25 Jiah felt like she had no choices and nowhere to go. I have certainly felt that way a few times, how did I survive those times – my support system in family & friends helped me see through the rough times. I think we are increasingly losing the sense of community that we once had. Nobody has time to sit and talk unless they get something in return and qualities such as sarcasm & cut-throat competition are being passed on as virtues. Whereas empathy and sensitivity are being viewed as human weakness.

Jiah’s mother recently released a letter she found in her daughter’s closet and when I read it my heart went out to her and I felt like the world around Jiah had failed and not she. Have we not created a world that judges an individual based on either the success of their professional or personal life. And how does one even define that success? Walking out of an abusive relationship unscarred sounds like success to me but in the wider culture sticking in an abusive marriage is considered success!

Apart from Jiah, who made it to page 1 there was a 16-year-old teenager who committed suicide because she failed her SSC exams – she made it to page 4 of mid-day. I think it is not their personal qualities or the lack thereof that led to their tragic deaths I think it is our society’s failure. I think we killed Jiah and the 16-year-old and yet we have the gall to blame them and judge them. We would have given them the national guard, however, if they had killed a few minorities and died of natural causes at 90!