Ever received an early morning call that shook you?
I recollect two. One was when my mother called to say Dad had stopped breathing.
I received the other from the father of a dear friend two decades ago. He began with an apology because he called at half past six. I assured him it was okay.
I knew something was amiss. He began by saying he needed my help. He had found a handwritten note written by his son with a date on it. The date mentioned was just a few days away. Uncle had an uneasy feeling that it had to do with his son contemplating ending his life. His son had lately not been himself, he confided.
He asked me if I had any clue.
A fortnight before the call, my friend visited Delhi and stayed with me for a week. My mind raced back to our time together and some of our conversations. He arrived with a specific agenda. There were three things he needed to do:
- Visit his alma mater
- Travel to Agra to experience the Taj Mahal
- Meet Khushwant Singh
He fulfilled each of these on his own. He only sought my help to find out the contact details of Khushwant Singh.
We had a good time while he was here. I did not sense anything serious except that he was trying to cope with life, just out of a broken relationship.
Nothing unusual about that. We have either been there or know those who have.
I told Uncle I could not think of anything specific that could throw light on what I had just learned.
‘Can you do anything to change his mind if he is considering such a drastic step?’ Uncle probed.
I promised him I would speak to his son the same day and do my best. Uncle requested me not to reveal to my friend that his father had called me. Or anything about the note or the date.
I assured him I won’t. But I wondered how I could help if two of the most crucial leads had to be kept out of my conversation with my friend. But what had to be done had to be done.
Uncle had called early in the morning because his son was asleep. He could not risk his son getting to know that he called me.
I thanked Uncle for trusting me and reassured him I’d do my best without revealing that I spoke with him.
After the call, I was disturbed. What should I say to my friend? How do I find out if he was considering any drastic step? And if he was, how to change his mind? I had to think and act fast without reneging on my promise to Uncle.
Would he like any of them to be sad or disturbed? I knew the answer when I posed this question. My friend is known for his abundant affection towards his near ones. His family is very dear to him as he is to them. He heard me out but didn’t say much. I wished him good night and promised to speak soon.
I sent a silent prayer after the call. I sincerely hoped he processed what I said and gave it a serious thought.
God is great. Nothing untoward happened. But it could have ended badly.
Sometimes life puts you in a spot. You make your own choice. A choice that can make or break you. And your dear ones. At such times, you may not be best placed to decide. You are too involved to think clearly. Or wisely. You seek an escape route from your suffering. You feel it’s better to end than suffer.
At such times, you’ve got to pause thinking about yourself. And think about how your decision will affect your loved ones. Your actions could devastate your family. That’s when you may change your mind. And think straight.
Your choices and actions don’t just affect you. They profoundly impact and influence your loved ones. If you love them, you won’t want them to suffer. Think of them before you choose/act.
Shit happens. You lose your zest for life. But the show must go on.