Recent headlines about a young Bollywood star who hung herself one fine day in her posh Mumbai home set me to wondering just why a woman so blessed would resort to so irrevocable an act. I dug a little deeper: career and romantic problems, screeched the media, citing the same boring reasons that have led other glamorous stars all over the globe to snuff out their privileged lives.
Well, Jasmine, you certainly looked chic and spunky in those pics the media splashed around — a gorgeous celeb with everything to live for. So what really led you to kill yourself? Were you devastated because another star bagged the role you craved? Frustrated with sparse media and public attention? Or did the knife of shame and despair cut too deep when you discovered your boyfriend was messing around behind your slender back? Did a combination of all these — coupled with secret agonies you’d nursed since you were a little girl — hurl you into the abyss of depression and gradually lead you to tie that noose around your slender neck?
A pity some wise friend did not remind you that all humans without exception suffer, from beggar to queen, and to one degree or another — and that no matter how bad things seem in the moment, that everything passes. Had you allowed your sorrows to pass right through you, instead of sinking under their weight, this same ugly monster of grief might have turned into a glorious angel, sent to help you unfurl the delicate petals of your heart chakra and thereby connect you with the core of this unimaginably mysterious cosmos in threads of shimmering gold.
If by some bizarre twist of fate, you’d happened to confide your sorrows in me, Jasmine, I’d have done my damnedest to knock some sense of proportion into your lovely head. I’d have reminded you that you were in the top bracket of the world’s population, and that your seemingly insurmountable problems stemmed solely from a fragile ego. I’d have coaxed you to lift your pretty head out of the trough of narcissism and consider for a moment the blatant suffering of our world. Even if you had suffered from unrelieved depression — and I’m not dismissing the bleak horrors of that state — there are roads that lead out of endless gloom, especially if you are smart and rich.
Why the term “luxury” problems? Because on this planet you choose to leave so abruptly, millions don’t even have their basics. Just imagine if you’d numbered among the 2.6 billion forced to live on less than a hundred rupees (less than USD $2) a day! Let’s say you were an illiterate slum mother forced to care for a family of five on that tiny amount…not just food, but shelter, education, medicine, and clothes. What would you have done if your little girl got seriously sick? Reduced your daily meals from two to one in order to buy her some medicine?
Did you bother to consider the statistic that seven thousand children under the age of five die from lack of food every single day? Some die as a consequence of famine, flood or other disasters, but most succumb because their fledgling immune systems are powered down by malnutrition, leaving the door wide open for deadly diseases that result from extreme hunger. At this very moment, Jasmine, 925 million people all around the globe are hungry — not for the gourmet cuisine celebrities take for granted, but for basics…a little dhal, a few peanuts, some boiled rice.