I read about Varsha Bhosle's tragic end in the papers yesterday. About a decade ago, I used to follow her columns online and was transfixed by her passions and her writing style. While I did not nod agreement with what she wrote, I thought she was brilliant. I was very disappointed when I began to less and less of her columns, and wished that she took pen to paper again if only to be a counterpoint to some of the journalism of the day.
What a terrible and tragic end is the first thought that comes to mind... a life is wasted, but then I remember the crushing pain of depression that I have observed amongst close friends and family who suffer through it. It is a pain that is a part of you, something that cannot be transcended by pills or cutting off a body part. It is literally a suffering inside your very soul. Relief comes only in the idea of being able to escape this soul, escape to another dimension or living in an alternate reality. I cannot fully understand the courage or the despair it takes to turn the switch off, but I hope to be able to accept my own ignorance about what goes on in another's life and head, at least enough not to be judgmental about the decision taken by her.
Someone that I usually respect for their informed opinions, wrote about the daughter not honoring all that her mother stood for...perhaps they meant the mother's fortitude or courage or joidevivre or whatever makes Asha Bhosle tick. That statement made me very angry. It is cruel and unusual punishment to make the suffering daughter responsible for the mother's honor and position in society.
It makes me sad that a means to end life was available to Varsha so easily considering that she had made an attempt to end her life before (per press reports anyway). What makes me sadder still is that no one famous or no one with name recognition, especially amongst her family has made any attempt to humanize or de-stigmatize mental illness in all the years they have known of her suffering. One word or a series of words from them or their famous friends will do so much to make the cultural and social sting of the words "mental illness" less deadly within Indian society. Perhaps then more people will seek treatment.
In her grief, Asha Bhosle (and all the people who love her and her daughter) can seek comfort in bringing light to the lives of so many suffering fellow Indians by taking away the stinging stigma of mental illness. By words, just by words, it costs nothing. Something can be done even if pockets are sewn up tight.