By Rimli Bhattacharya
“The story of life is quicker than the blink of eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye” – Jimi Hendrix
Dilated pupils, clenched fists, involuntary tremors. He was at an all time high with his heroine shots, when I first met him.
He was in his casuals and looked no less than a Bollywood actor, a young man of twenty-something.
I give him a name: Rakesh.
I looked down. He had soiled his shorts, too, which he didn’t realize.
It was a sultry Sunday afternoon. I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I was tired when I spoke to him.
“Rakesh, your mother asked me to talk to you. Tell me what’s wrong. You are a research scholar; you are a genius. Be a good man; open up, I am your friend,” I said.
The ghastly silence lasted for ten minutes and to me it was almost a decade, when Rakesh spoke in a hoarse voice, “Bitch, you are one of the mothers my father brings home.”
Swallowing a gradually growing lump in my throat, I said again, “Tell me something about you. Tell me about your parents. Your friends, your university. Let’s be friends, okay? Bitch doesn’t sound good. You are a good man, aren’t you?”
“Really? You slut. So on Sunday afternoons you enjoy company of men, huh!”
He continued. “So listen, bitch, to your heart’s desire, I am the only son. We have a duplex flat. I have my room. I have parents but we don’t talk. We have servants. They talk to each other, they have life, and I don’t. My parents have different rooms and when they meet they fight.”
He paused, took a deep breath, and then blinked. I battled my tears when he spoke again, “I have plenty of mothers. Then the battle starts. I enjoy my mother screaming. I hear my father close the bedroom.”
Pause. He blinks and says, “Bitch, my mouth is dry. I cannot speak.” One of the symptoms of drug usage.
He looks at me and smiles. “Enjoying, huh! But you know, I love my father, he is generous. I need not ask him for money. He gives my share, and sometimes I flick his wallet. My mother, she is an interesting character; she wants me to study. So I did and I went abroad. I loved music; I wanted to be a rock star. And this woman wants me to be a scholar and earn bucks, rubbish. Then why is she so busy? She hardly has time for me. Look I cannot speak anymore. I don’t share chemistry with my parents and I don’t know them. All I know is to heal myself.”
Did I hear healing? This young man appears to be out to destroy himself.
“How did you get them, those drugs? Tell me please, Rakesh, it’s painful; release it, you will heal, trust me.” I almost broke down.
No, this time he broke down. Holding me tightly, he sobbed bitterly, “They are very easy to get, very easy. It’s the only way I can live. I got my first dose from Sofia; she has similar pain. So we are best friends and I love her. I want to marry her. I want to be a song writer, a rock star. I called you a bitch, slut, I am sorry. I don’t want to go abroad. I am tired. I need love, to be loved. I am scared of the house which is empty with roomful of people. The only way I survive is Sofia and these shots.”
He cried, all the while holding me. We spoke. I told him stories to divert and sang a few songs for him. I asked him to meet me each Sunday. I gave him my number and I told him to call me when lonely. He listened. He looked pale and jaded, and then he collapsed. He fell on my lap. All I did was to call his mother. Then their driver came and carried him away. He looked like a corpse, not a human anymore.
He never came, he never called, he never texted. His mother told me that they had sent him to a rehabilitation center in Thailand. I heard he couldn’t deal with the withdrawal symptoms. He asked for Sofia, begged rather. The doctors tried their best. There was a gap of two months when I received a call from his broken mother that he is no more. He hanged himself to death.
So is there a lesson for us adults? Yes, I guess.
Parenting is difficult and that too when there is no harmony between the couple. Rakesh was a victim of troubled childhood. His mother herself confessed. There was no accord at home. He was forced to be a research scholar, while he wanted to be a rock star. So what was wrong in it?
If a couple cannot stay in a healthy relationship, it’s advisable to part ways. It would be better if the parting is amicable, rather than engaging in legal battles and fighting over the custody of the child, whom one pretends to love while one really doesn’t.
Highlighting the importance of divorce and parenting, psychologist Anjala Singh says, “To divorce or not? Is the question adults are often confronted with while going through a rough patch in their marriage. But there’s no looking back, once they decide to walk down that lonely road.” She further adds that children feel trapped when adults fight. That’s why it is important for parents to sit with the children and explain the cause of tension between parents, especially if the tension leads to a divorce.
Rakesh came from an elite family, but took to drugs to combat the malevolent brawl at home. He got no love from his parents. His parents professed that they cared, but they didn’t. The father was too generous with money; the mother pushed him to be a scholar. The father had extra-marital affairs and the mother still clung to the unhappy marriage. The son took to drugs by the time the mother realized the need for help, counseling, and medical intervention.
He could not pursue his passion. He could not get the woman he loved. He thought he was a ‘loser’, which he confessed during our interaction. He could be a victor not a victim. During the session between us, he even sang to me. He did have a good voice. If groomed properly, he could have been a good singer, song writer, and an artist. One need not be a scholar to earn money nor does one have to go abroad to prove one’s worth.
This essay should be an eye opener on parenting and the impact of a broken family on a child. Rakesh took to drugs because he thought it was a means to healing but it took his life. Being a mother is a very difficult job; it is equally tough to be a father. It is better not to go for a child if one is stuck in an unhappy marriage.
Before I narrate the story of another Rakesh, I appeal to each parent not to give the child a broken home. They need love, care, and a happy childhood. When one is able to provide all this, one can claim to be a true parent. If that calls for ending a broken relationship with one’s spouse, it should be done for the sake of the child. The child will understand the new equation, if explained properly. And the child must be allowed to follow his true calling.
Disclaimer: It’s a true story, name changed to protect identity.
Rimli Bhattacharya completed Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology. After obtaining an MBA, she worked in the corporate sector. Rimli is a trained Indian classical dancer, based out of Mumbai, India. She tweets at: @rimli76
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