Of Solitude, Loneliness And Departures
“What can you say about a 34-year-old man who departed at his own appointed hour, of his own volition, of his own means to reach his own ends? That he was handsome and charming. That he was talented and successful. That he was brilliant, an actor adored with a large fan-following, a promising future. That he in his ‘bucket list’ had 50 dreams lined-up which included dabbling with Quantum Physics, visiting the Moon, learning to fly a plane, train for Iron Man Triathlon, play tennis with a champion, space training at NASA, discuss policies with the PM of India and more. And that he was in love and a celebrity!”
Sushant Singh Rajput, reportedly took his own life on June 14, 2020, forenoon, alone in his rented flat on the elitist Carter Road of Bandra, Mumbai; having written the poignant epitaphic last lines of his a few days earlier, as quoted in the poster above, dedicated to his mother whom he lost as an impressionable teenager of 16; consumed by the self-destructive passion of a kamikaze… but, Why…?
The news that arrived like a hammer blow to the brain left me in a sequence of being stunned, remorseful, crestfallen and contemplative beyond reason. As I gathered myself to bring measure to my thoughts, a myriad images confounded in silence rose like genies from an Aladdin’s lamp of bewilderment and disorientation. The question recurred…Why?
Solitude and Loneliness….where does it all begin! And where does it all end!
While in school, I was lost in my world when I was rehearsing for the Declamation Contest with the recitation of William Wordsworth’s ‘Solitary Reaper’:
“Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!”
As the words and their meaning sunk in, in their repetition, ably aided by my British English language teacher (on deputation from the British Overseas Education Service) from Scotland, the scene of the song, who implored me to “feel the pangs of the words in their rhyme and rhythm comparing it favourably with the cuckoo singing in spring or a nightingale delighting weary travelers in Arabia”; it indeed aroused the early emotions associated with solitude and loneliness in an adolescent mind of 16 years: the same age at which Sushant lost his dear mother. He was the only son amongst five siblings.
Albert Einstein said, “Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature.” Perhaps, Sushant realized it too and allowed himself to wait for the morrow, as he built the bricks of his life one by one. But solitude and loneliness is made of sterner stuff that reminds us of its presence like the shadows that trail us. It did so with Shakespeare:
“When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,…” (Shakespeare, Sonnet 29)
Precociously, Alexander Pope at age 12, soliloquized solitude and loneliness too:
“Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground…
…Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.” (Alexander Pope, Ode on Solitude)
Youth has an uncanny identity to solitude and loneliness. Perhaps the tide of sensitivities, emotions and deep feelings turn to the highest-high-tide when youthful monologues of the mind quietly come to terms with one’s being and gets absorbed in symbols of expressions. The poet John Keats, wrote when just 19 years old, by talking, almost paradoxically, of dwelling with solitude:
“O solitude! If I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep, __
Nature’s observatory__whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell…” (Keats, To Solitude)
As I write this, many a words and lines have been spoken and written on Sushant in the last 24 hours of his departure; devastating as it is for most: some in solidarity, some in soliloquy, and many in the repetition of the oft-quoted numbers that identify of the others mired with the same malady, whether here or in the nether world. But let me step aside the statistics with the wand of a Benjamin Disraeli, “There are three types of lies __ lies, damn lies and statistics”. Or better still side with Mark Twain’s passing thought, “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable”; perhaps as pliable as the vagaries of solitude and loneliness. The only thing that matters to me is the dominating question, Why?
How I wish I could question Sushant, perhaps confront him, with my own set of predicaments on solitude and loneliness; ask and seek advice to my own listings on my ‘bucket list’ and solicit answer if it were too late or in a cavalieran belief hold hope for it all to mature with time; like he too believed; or did he not! For, I believe that the best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil. Surely, Sushant too identified with it; if not why the charm, the success, the adulation, the fan-following, the ‘bucket list’, the dreamy wishes of dabbling with Quantum Physics, visiting the Moon, learning to fly a plane, train for Iron Man Triathlon, play tennis with a champion, space training at NASA, discuss policies with the PM of India and more!
Sushant had his vision cut out: like a map that is only to be traced, followed and its coordinates fixed for a definite course to charter in your ordained journey. He had his mind fixed to the star that never changes its position. And yet it did, he did and none had an inkling nor did he share those thoughts and plans, if any, with anyone! But, Why Not?
Our desires and cravings only define us to the limitations of understanding of our own boundaries. The mind’s limitlessness as our scriptures and wisdom provides for, whether we like it or not, are tethered to our stars that gaze down upon us with strings of time in their pliable hands.
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts
His acts being seven ages…” (Shakespeare, As You Like It)
Sushant in his inimitable way, played his part with honour, dignity, poise and share; endearing to all, enticing all to count on him, be cajoled in doing so, rivalled at the scenery around him like a ‘monarch of all I survey’. Until, at the appointed hour of his own choosing, of his own volition, of his own means, he slipped away into his closet of defined quietude… to sail away beyond the horizon, carrying his Ark with him, in one solemn move that defied time and space, that defied human logic, that transcended the bondings of Man, which momentarily stopped the circle of life and let the moving hands of Providence add one more to eternity’s list, albeit the dirty game of statistical reductions and deductions.
What is left are a few memories, some memorabilia, some companions of past, some deserted stages, a ‘bucket list’ of reminiscences, a devastated family and public at large and a trace of time that harks back to a question that will linger in my mind to fade away like the distant horizon smeared into the lapse of a fading dusk.