The wind played a soulful symphony as it tousled his hair. Black, wavy, it glistened furiously under the moonlight. Suvo was surprised at how stunningly beautiful the city looked from the terrace of his building, where he had spent some of the most eventful years of his life. The street lights that looked like gems strewn on an inky carpet, were winking mischievously at him. The roads looked like a crazy zigzag… the sounds of lives in motion – a distant echo… the worn out mountains in the horizon – mute spectators to life and death, happiness and sorrow – it all seemed so surreal. All he could hear was the sound of his laboured breathing, sweat trickling lazily down his forehead despite the chill. He had to use all his will-power to curb the urge to wipe it off, but didn’t. Tonight of all nights he should be above such frivolities.
The last six months had been the happiest in Suvo’s life. Not that he had been unhappy before. At 38, he had everything a man could ever ask for – successful, rich, devilishly attractive, happily single and never short of women ready to mingle. After a wild night of partying to celebrate his promotion as Vice President of his company, he stumbled upon a realization that took him by surprise. Suvo Sarkar had finally achieved all that he had ever wanted and oddly that did not fill him with elation but a strange sense of emptiness. Why? Is it because I have nothing left to pursue anymore?
When he presented the Board of Directors his letter of resignation, they were shocked. When he told them that he wanted to live a life as if he’s never going to die – they were convinced that he had gone bonkers. Are you okay? I think you need counseling; do you want me to fix up an appointment for you?
Suvo had read somewhere that eternity is a succession of moments in time. He wanted to dedicate the next few months in quest of those special moments. Suvo Sarkar wanted to get drunk on life. And he did and how – sailed for weeks on the coasts of Greece, skied down the Alps, spent a month in a remote monastery in Leh, trekked to Mansarovar Lake. And in his grand pursuit of the extraordinary, he discovered the ordinary – the joy of finding a tea stall in the middle of nowhere, sighing as the hot sweet beverage warmed his insides, the feel of icy cold rain on his face, chants that filled him with unbearable melancholy, ripples in a crystal clear lake that made his heart sing with joy, making friends with a complete stranger, sitting all night just talking to her….. All these years of climbing the ladder of success, consumed with an overwhelming desire to succeed, Suvo had missed out on all these little moments that make life big.
How uplifting it was to live without the burden of a future. For the first time in his life, Suvo felt alive.
And now he was back home to fulfill a promise that he had made to himself six months back. It was late evening, Suvo was smoking his favourite cigar when he was jolted out of his reverie by the shrill sound of the door bell. With his eyebrows crinkled with annoyance he opened the door only to face his best friend Smita. “Funny! You get back home and don’t even bother to give me a call? Or is it that his highness has decided to drag and drop our relationship to the recycle bin just like the rest of his life!”
Suvo chuckled. “Sweetheart…do you always have to sound dramatic?“
“You expect me to sound breathy and husky when I tell you that you have been behaving like a selfish asshole lately? One fine day you decide that you have achieved it all and go gallivanting around the world without even a thought to your loved ones! Who gave you the right to give up on a future that has so much to offer! What about your social responsibilities, your spiritual fulfillment – you have not even gone down the road. Isn’t it ironic that a man sets out to discover the world and refuses to explore his own life? You Mr Sarkar are such a loser.”
“Don’t you give me all this hogwash about my responsibilities! I have always depended on myself to keep me happy and fulfilled. Your loved ones die, relationships come with an expiry date…When it is only me who I can completely depend on, why should I be answerable to anyone but myself! And just because I want to lead and end my life the way I want to, I qualify to be a loser? Aren’t you funny Smita?”
“Ha! With no job and a bank balance that is heading southwards, of course you should brace yourself for The End…”
“No Smita..I am not bracing myself for the The End...I am embracing it…”
“What exactly do you mean by that?” Smita was looking really alarmed now.
“Bye, Smita it’s getting really late now and I need to rest.”
Suvo could feel the bile rising up his throat, singeing his insides, his legs shaking in anxiety. This is not how he had envisioned it – his death was supposed to be a celebration of a destiny he had carved for himself. The dying sun in a sudden burst of creativity had covered the sky with stunning hues of molten orange. Flocks of birds were flying back to their nests. Did they ever stop to admire this beautiful sight? Had these birds become immune to this breathtakingly beautiful spectacle of the setting sun! What is life – a madness? What is life – an illusion, a shadow, a story? Was I dead long before I decide to live? No! Smita was wrong…I did explore my life these last few months and unearthed the truths that had to be discovered.
I did not wait for death to choose me… I am proud that it will be me who will decide…
When Suvo eased off the ledge, looking heavenwards with his arms outstretched, his entire life played like a film in a hurry to finish, in front of his eyes. Sitting on the kitchen slab watching his Mom bake cookies, his first sighting of the sea, when his dad pushed him at the deep end of the swimming pool to make him learn to swim, his first kiss, how he had cried when his girlfriend ditched him for the basket ball star, the grim promise he had made to himself to be second to none...His Mom’s death, how angry he was when his Dad chose to settle with his wife’s best friend…Tonight, on his last day of his life, Suvo was ready to forgive and forget.
He had now clenched his fists, bracing himself for the blinding pain. But wait! Instead of his body crashing into the pavement, he felt weightless like a floating feather. Suvo opened his eyes only to look into the kindest pair of eyes, the giant wings flapping in slow motion. He let out a whoop of delight. Strangely no one heard it – not Mrs Mehra who was busy watching her favourite soap on TV, nor Mr Khan who was hunched over his laptop… nor Smita who had secretly loved him for years. It was a young couple on their way back from work who discovered the dead body. They couldn’t take their eyes off that face, so calm and serene. Tucked in his pocket was his suicide note
“ I have lived a very eventful and happy life. I've travelled the world, lived in different countries, made more money than ever thought possible, and enjoyed spending as much of it as I could on things that gave me joy and satisfaction. I believe in the philosophy that my life belongs to me and only me, and I have the right to choose to die as much as I have the right to live."
A man lives as if he’s never going to die and then dies having never really lived – The Dalai Lama
In remembrance of the couple in Goa who chose death happily....