It's 9 45 and I am beat. Nivedita is tugging my hair and asking for a story to be read to her. I reach out for a book from the drawer and quickly scan it to see the shortest one possible.
Terrible, but true. Quality time is a fine concept but much of what a working parent ends up spending is low quality time.
Still, Nivedita - at six years of age - thinks her mom rocks. And so she shares with me the little details of her life. Some of which are inane, and some rather startling.
This evening I learnt that V Shreya and Aman Lal 'kissed' each other. "They kissed their desk and chair also." So they were playing a game? "No they kissed like real," I was told. On the cheek.
Where was Heena ma'am of class I B at the time? "She did not see".
The important thing is Nivedita is sharing. I am important enough in her life. But that won't last forever....
Scenario no 2
Nivedita is 17 and in college. She has a boyfriend. The boy makes her life hell. Nivedita ends her life by hanging herself from the ceiling of her bedroom...
Just writing these words sent a horrible chill down my spine. Even though this is not my beloved daughter but a 17 year old girl by the same name. I read this news report two days ago but it refuses to leave my thoughts...
'Cause I was thinking - God forbid - could something like this happen to my child 10 years from now??
Nivedita Hosbetkar, a student of St Andrew's college committed suicide on September 15. This is what her shocked father had to say in his letter to the police:
"I belong to a middle-class family and my wife Stella and I have been very, very close to Nivedita. We have looked after all her needs and we were a close-knit family. To the best of our knowledge, our daughter was a very content and a happy child..."
To the best of my knowledge - such an apt choice of words. There comes a stage when the knowledge parents have about what their kids are upto is extremely limited. Of course, most of the time, things turn out OK. But what happens when there is a real problem - like in this case.
Was Nivedita a very good actor or were her parents just too wrapped up in their own world, their own problems to notice what was going on with her? A little of both, perhaps.
Her best friend, Kareena Machado has given the police graphic details of the physical and mental harassment Nivedita had gone through at the hands of the boyfriend - George Paul.
But to what avail now? What is the duty of a best friend anyways... To turn a blind eye or to inform someone?? And who would that someone be - most friends would shy of telling a parent. Perhaps a counsellor or empathetic professor. Not that most colleges possess such individuals!
This suicide coincided with reports of model and VJ Nafisa Joseph's parents vowing to pursue the case against their daughter's ex-fiance Gautam Khanduja. They still believe he drove their daughter to suicide.
I wonder why it is that women take such extreme steps. Why does love (or failure in it) hurt so much that life itself becomes unbearable? I really can't recall reports of a man doing the same.
Jilted men throw acid at the women who spurned them. At times they do try to end their lives but that's usually after killing the object of their affection.
In fact, as far as I can tell men who commit suicide are generally either bankrupt or deeply in debt. Is money then the one thing men really love the most?
Depression is not a 'bad mood'
I wish Nivedita - who, like Nafisa was obviously suffering from depression - had been recognised as a very sick girl in need of serious medical attention. Not emotional or high strung or suffering from mere teenage angst.
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students in the US and the third-leading cause of death among youth overall (ages 15-24).
In India, suicide is the fourth largest killer among children in the ages of 10-15 and among the 15-19 year-olds where it is third largest killer, the numbers have quadrupled over the last few decades.
In fact, depression is set to become the world's second most widespread affliction by 2010. But do you see any campaigns educating the public about it?
We need a concerted effort -like AIDS awareness. We need more mental health professionals. And above all, we need to spend not just quality time but quantity time with our families, friends and loved ones.
So that if and when we have a problem, someone notices and reaches out - even if we are unable to articulate the need ourselves.
I need to log out and hug Nivedita. You go hug someone you love too!