Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A tale of two Niveditas

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!


  1. "You go hug someone you love too!"

    Hard to find parents who say that. I see this bf-gf business everywhere. Girls who are nicey-nicey in school become slutty in college.The transformation is unbelievable. These girls smoke,drink and everything. They hang out with guys(not even nice ones) and want to be hep and all.

    "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?"- No, but it affects them most.Women like money most and men like women most. When men don't get women, they keep trying, and when women don't get money, they keep trying. Simple,eh?

    And yes, teenagers do face a lot of depression and pressure and sadness is equivalent to anger and rashness in that silly age. That's why they suicide and all.

  2. i guess its all got to do with maturity of the person. some believe that getting dumped by u r bf is the worst thing that could happen to them. but then 99% of the teenage relationships dunt really last that long do they?

  3. "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?"

    Why young men or women end their lives and for what reasons - this is a complex subject. I'm sure that loss of love is equally as painful for men as it is for women.
    Suicide rate amongst men has seen a sharp rise since the 1960s; this generally coincides with the rise of women's liberation movements etc. In the 'west' I think you'll find many more suicide cases amongst 20-something men as compared to women. Often, the only thing that prevents suicide is if there are other things in their life which makes them feel good about themselves; for example, if their careers are going well and they earn respect for what they acheive in life, then 'perhaps' they'd be able to handle a breakdown of a loving relationship better, and not resort to such drastic actions. Its when a person feel so completely worthless that being dead appears more desirable than staying alive; such feelings can't emerge overnight, and no single event or person can make us feel that low. It has to be a combination of things, over a period of time, which eventually drives people towards it.

  4. Hey,
    I agree with Nitin that it doesn't matter whether its a man or a woman... the pain hurts equally. And in any case, suicide of any form signifies a weakness in mind, and short-sightedness... so if there are lesser men committing suicide due to failed relationships, its good for them, and something worth emulating for women :) Though I still think that there would be enough guys out there with such weakness of mind too...

  5. Depression - which is what generally leads to suicide - is not about weakness of mind or immaturity. Just like diabetes or asthma is a medical condition, depression requires treatment.

    Yes, certain attitudes towards life that we develop may predispose you to depression when adverse events occur. But there are also genetic factors. And women are more prone to it.

    A depressed person has a chemical imbalance in their brain and that's what leads to thoughts of worthlesseness and hopelessness. It's a vicious cycle and needs to be broken with medication + psychotherapy under a trained professional

  6. i think the way the media glorifies love and couples and the whole valentines celebrations blah blah youngsters start thinking that if we are not in love we are missing something really exicting.

    not to mention that rite from birth the media bombards ppl with those stupid advertisements for fairness creams, cellphones that make you cool, perfumes that make you stud blah blah nobody really bothers to think that relationships are all about compatibilty rather than being cool. i guess your daughter picked up the bfgf thing from radio and htought that colleges were meant for that. she is what 5-6? but its sad that even 16 year old feel so! and well this is this continues for the rest of life!

    St andrews may not want ot be the brainest college in mumbai but surely they want to be the "coolest college" in bombay. hence the whole gfs bfs bike cigs discs pubs etc comes in.

    now should the bf be punished in such a case? i think NO!! why did she tolerate such nonsense in the first place! she could have jsut broken it up or even worse went on to date his best friend. but the thing is that women tend to be more emotional than men and men take to take advantage of this manyatimes.

    what were her friends doing? just accompaying her to pubs and dics? why didnt they tell her to ditch this idiot?

    i think depression is a mental state. you can do some research on the net on quality sites like BBC. I mean technically speaking even love is a diesease could the mental state in love is quite similar to those of mental disorders.

    the fact of hte matter is that like the western countries ppl are getting more and more in their shells. you may talk a lot with ppl but still you may not disclose what kidn of person you really are! so these friends of her may accompany her to barista and drink "caffe laatte" or whatever is cool and talk about superficial stuff like whos hot and whos not , but deeply all of them know that they are just kidding themselves and eventually they are all alone!


  7. It's easy to generalise that only girls commit suicide. The famous historical example of Devdas may put it more aptly. Boys may not take such a drastic step, but they hang onto the depression over longer periods. Girls react more violently initially, but cope over the long term (like Paro who find a better man). But men (like Devdas) try to cling on to booze and sometimes other things (like clinging onto Chardramukhi). And over long time they degenerate into living corpses, killing not just themselves but even their family and friends. Anyways these are extremes..... Personally i have tried writing a blog,drinking and
    meditation to tide over these..hmm

  8. I think it is more the age factor than being a man or a woman. 15-18 is definitely very tender for both men and women and love seems to be the most important thing in world at that stage. The moment you find that it is not working-some take the extreme step where as many think of taking but do not have the guts-depending on the mental strength.

    I have seen more girls ditch guys saying that their parents are against it and cooly get engaged to guy in the U.S. and give her lover the invitation card saying that they can still be friends.

  9. What about the girl in Kandivali who it seems is trying to frame someone she like by accusing him of rape?
    I think people like her also need help for misusing something as scary as rape. For that allegation could hamper his life and scar her mentally.

  10. its very easy to just sit and judge ppl who commit suicide---the entire pt is that we cant even begin to understand the pain that these ppl feel

  11. its very easy to just sit and judge ppl who commit suicide---the entire pt is that we cant even begin to understand the pain that these ppl feel

  12. Sometimes even best friends don't find it convenient to intervene one's life. As I see it, once a person starts complaining about things, even if they make sense, the best friends are those who happily ignore unlike these and follow the dictum - 'Live and let live'. Today counsel is sometimes regarded as invasion of privacy and if specially from friends counsel is not heeded properly. For example, I too have a friend who has been told that smoking will prove pernicious to his health conditions but I can't keep telling him everytime he has a cigarette lit because I know he'll refuse to listen. I am not sure whether informing this to his parents is a correct step to take or not because I feel have no right over his life and whether even after informing them the situation would be any better than it is now. This might be case with Nivedita too. Also her friend would have not been aware of the fact that she had undergone situations so torturous that they would ultimately culminate in her suicide. In most cases suicide does come as a surprise.

  13. I don't agree with Rashmi on the point that more women commit suicide than men. In fact, men are more likely to commit suicide than men. Women find it easier to share their grief and sorrow with their peer group. But I totally agree with you on the issue that depression if a killer lurking in the shadows. It's not an epidemic yet. But considering the way all support systems in the society are breaking up, it would not be too far when more and more people would end their lives. Somehow I feel the current generation is a tinpot one. Big on ambition and low on patience. Evrything is "I win or it's the end of evrything" syndrome. One reason could be people are failing to see beyond themselves. There is too much of I.

  14. The first thing comes to mind is: Is SUICIDE feminine... or Mr. God (mind it, he is a male) has very conveniently thrusted 'depression' as a sole responsibility of the better half of the society. Its so funny that the not so better half of the society makes the better one do the worst duties....

    I need to go and hug my 'better' half to make myself feel better.

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