The neighbors ran hastily towards her house as a loud thud was heard as if a huge block of wood had fallen from a height. Before anyone could regain their senses, Geeta was lying on the hospital bed choked downright and unable to breathe properly. She bled profusely from her nose. A number of attempts were made to recuperate her twisted windpipe but she wasn’t responding to it. The doctor performed CPR on her but she just didn’t move as the bone adjoining neck and spine had broken. The heartbeat was there so she sure was alive. She had been complaining of constant weakness in her joints from last few weeks. Her cousin Nandini, who had recently returned from the US, had been trying to comprehend the situation but she was equally numb with an irresponsive mind. She had a lot to say but chose to keep mum about it. She eagerly waited for the doctor to come out of the emergency ward and had all her guts collected in positive unison. There was a frantic stir in an otherwise mute hospital that night. “What must have happened to her?” murmured those who had not known her!
Geeta was the youngest of 6 siblings, 2 brothers, and 4 sisters, and was the most adored in the family. She was very chirpy, talkative as a child & had an eternal effervescence on her face. Five minutes into a conversation with her and one wouldn’t help but be smitten at her jolly nature. She carried a very affirmative vibe wherever she went. Time passed and all her sisters got married. Geeta grew to be a fun loving, modest and a simple girl but extremely sensitive as well. She looked cute and donned a short haircut, unlike most girls of her age. The brothers shared a very good camaraderie with her and treated her as a daughter until one day they too got married. They had to eventually separate from their parents owing to ‘not so adjusting’ nature of their respective wives and soon got busy with their own subsists. Now it was only Geeta and her parents staying in their desolated big house, which was once home to a happy family. Her parents had very dutifully raised their children and now stood in their phase of redemption in old age. Unfortunately, the sons failed to reciprocate their share of responsibilities and often gave their incessant busy schedules as an excuse for not looking after their parents.
But it did not stop Geeta from being a devoted child as she took care of her parents with all her heart and mind into it. She worked as a teacher in a private school of Dehradun. She defined new norms and was a living example of a great woman and an ardent daughter. Not for once, did she think of her future and what lied ahead. But it sure bothered her parents a lot as she was entering an age to get married. As she was the youngest, so by the time it was her turn, her parents were too drained to run errands and look after a suitable groom for her. Her brothers did not seem too interested in extending a helping hand over this issue and even if they did, it did not materialize. They mostly brought unfitting alliances for their sister, which she did not agree to. The brothers always complained of the male demeanor that Geeta had and the short haircut that she maintained as the reason for not fitting the bill of an ideal girl. These were the attributes they held responsible for the lack of suitable boys for her and hence her delayed matrimony.
After a series of furious fights owing to Geeta’s resolute nature and men’s denial to get married to a ‘manly’ girl, they relieved themselves of their responsibilities on such imprudent grounds and went back to living their lives. The sisters were close to Geeta and wished good for her. They too tried their best in this respect but were bound by their own household responsibilities and family. So their limited efforts did not transpire into anything fruitful for her. Geeta felt strangely abandoned at times but never spoke up for herself as she had an unremitting duty to be by her parents’ side.
Geeta was in her late 30’s and her only motive in life was to give best possible living to her parents, which she did wholeheartedly. Her aged parents were now bedridden and could hardly move. At times, the thought of the parents’ bad health and the consequent results would worry her a lot, but she pulled off every bit of strength and sailed through. It was April and the CBSE board exams were in their last leg, which had her stay at the school till late. Then, one day, it so happened that she came late from the school and was stumped to found her mother lying motionless in the lobby of her house. There was a bucket of water turned upside down with water spilled everywhere. Her mother of 79 years had suffered a heat stroke and had subsequently fainted on the staircase, seriously injuring her elbow.
That shook her. 3 hours later, she sat alone beside the hospital bed where her mother was admitted and felt helpless for the first time. Was she not enough? Was she not capable? Did she fail in her resolute to single-headedly take care of her parents? Or was it that a woman is always considered incomplete without the presence of a man in her life – a father, a brother or a husband? A painful bag of emotions, mostly negative, started hounding her. She got swayed by the hapless swirl of pessimism, which she had never noticed or given importance to, till now in her life. An absence of a companion at such an age and her self-inflicted agony and cursing herself as an irresponsible daughter, the darker side of her life began showing up every now and then.
Geeta entered a phase of despair, much opposed to her own positive self that she was. The body hormones took a steep jump and she experienced her menopause much earlier than expected. It worsened things for her further as the body did not cope well with what mind was going through. She lost her appetite, hardly slept and felt restless all the time. An aching body was now a regular feature. But she still hung around her parents, doing her bit as much as she could. All this while she was alone. No one around her ever felt the need to look into the discomposure she was battling. To them, it has become an unvarying notion of their lives. “Who would look after my parents, if something happens to me?” she often grieved.
She tried gauging any possible hopes in her siblings and relatives but was always turned down. She couldn’t confide in anyone. That burden that she was plowing alone was shared by none. Her relatives often visited but never could look beyond a wilting body and a fading smile. She suffered abysmal depression. Her inability to sleep made her consume sleeping pills, that too without any professional prescription. She had always refrained visiting a doctor for the reasons best known to her. Moreover, no-one really made an effort to force or drag her to take up medical treatment for her ailments anyways, like how a caring family would have done. She hated doctors.
But here she was, lying discreet & frozen in the ICU with an impaired respiratory system. The deep brownish red mark around her neck and blank-protuberant eyes made for an immensely excruciating sight. This also made Nandini think as to how she must have mustered the courage to do this. Yes….! Geeta had committed suicide. She had hung herself from the big broad log-ceiling in her backyard, which she often wavered over in a makeshift swing made by her father in her childhood. Despite umpteen efforts by the doctors, Geeta couldn’t make it. She was declared dead within half an hour of being brought to the hospital. Surprisingly everyone showed up at the cremation!
A distraught Nandini sobbed silently while secretly cursing herself for the obliviousness she had conveniently submitted to all these years. “But I could have remained in touch with her on phone at least, I had an idea what she was going through? I knew her circumstances! How could I be so irrational and self-centred? She was my best companion!” Nandini and Geeta aged almost same and shared a good bond. If it weren’t for Nandini going to US on an official assignment a year back, the situation might have been different. She had once seen Geeta weeping in the kitchen when she visited her family to check on her uncle’s health. But chose to let it go. Why?? Why wasn’t she there for her? Maybe it had made the difference. Maybe there was something her sister wanted to say, discuss, or just cry her heart out about. She did not get married for her own vindicated reasons but did that mean she wanted to be left alone or that she did not crave companionship? But that question doesn’t hold any relevance now. Can she be brought back to life? Can the lost time be redeemed? No! A wave of guilt filled Nandini.
The hardest fact about time is that it never comes back! This story here is not to make Geeta, a Hero. Though her sacrifices on life’s most warranted pleasures cannot be disregarded. It had been extremely courageous of her to do whatever she did in her life. But ending her life did not free her from the responsibilities that she once shouldered independently. Her parents still suffer and this time – without her. What this story aims to bring to the surface is the ‘indifference to depression’? Why there is this sheer thoughtlessness towards Depression? Why is it not considered a medical condition? Only because a depressed person does not suffer a physical pain? Isn’t there something called mental health? Why is it not given as much prominence as any other medical illness? Why is there is such unawareness about it? When will we understand? Will we always wait for people like Geeta to die to take cognizance of this fact? And why we become so apathetic to the needs of our closed ones so conveniently, or anyone else around us for that matter? Why have we become more robotic and less human today?
Surviving depression is probably as tough as battling any other terminal disease. Just that it may not involve a high infusion of chemicals inside one’s body. It gets worse or better depending on the environment a depressed person breathes in and the people he/she is surrounded by. It is so bizarre to acknowledge that something as detrimental as depression can prove to be the easiest problem to cure if only the depressed is upheld by the company of good & supportive people. An ignorant attitude towards human sensitivity tends to only worsen the situations. A little observation, thoughtfulness and a gallant volunteer to speak to people who you think might need a helping hand and assertiveness to discuss their problems, might as well start an upward trend to dealing with depression. This is to request everyone reading this to not to remain ignorant of this phenomenon and spread awareness in whatever way they can. And to be a little more agile to what happens around you and your people.
And to everyone, to whom the thought of attempting suicide has ever knocked – “Please for heaven’s sake, you must realize that it is not easy to have a life that we own. Acknowledging that we do, is the least that can be done to reciprocate the favor to HIM. Life can be untoward at times. At times, it can be as grueling as a scorching iron rod on a fire. But who said life is always hunky dory? It is full of challenges and will always be. Death doesn’t resolve a problem and those who think it does must have a word with Geeta’s parents who are now left to lead an inexplicably painful life by a daughter, who once so beautifully helmed their life in her hands.“