On Wednesday, all the front pages carried a story of the murder-suicide of a family of four at Bhakti Park in Wadala. Apparently, there was a dispute regarding the apartment, and the debt-ridden father killed his wife, his two sons and then himsel
When I came home that evening, my children pulled me into their room and excitedly showed me this news item. The elder boy, Jason had been in the same class as my son.
For the last three days, I have been trying to understand how it must be for a 13-years old to be told that one of his friends, someone he has been studying with for the last few years, has suffered a violent death and is no more. I don’t remember having had to face something like this during my years in school and this is not a situation that our teachers or schools are geared to handle or have prescribed textbook or guidebook answers for.
The kids in his class were devastated as was the teacher. The next day a counselor came to “calm their minds” and many of the kids were encouraged to speak about their relationship with Jason. My son told me that the first day felt like a surreal dream and the fact of Jason’s death hit him only the next day when the counselor came to class. We sat down with him to make him understand the situation and to tell him that what had occurred was an anomaly and that taking one’s life or another’s is clearly not the solution to any problem. We need him to understand that this is not normal and we have tried to discuss with both my kids the possible reasons for this incident.
It’s difficult to get inside the minds of 13-year olds, especially boys, to know what exactly is going on there. How much do they understand of death! How much does it sink in that they are never going to see that friend again…ever!
You wonder what kind of scars such events will leave on young, impressionable minds. A friend is killed by his own father in a suicide pact…this cannot be an easy fact to digest.
We brought this up again when some friends of mine came over for dinner, to make the kids understand what could drive someone to such extreme steps. Mumbai is not an easy city to be in, and when you don’t earn enough to pay for the place you live in, it can take its toll. And yet, of all the millions who have to worry about their next meal, it is just a small fraction that even thinks of taking its own or others’ lives. Perhaps there has to be some pre-existing emotional or psychological issue that drives someone to such an extreme step. I hope my children and the others in his class understand that this is not normal behavior, but an anomaly that should never be emulated. And I assume that all parents will take the time out to suitably counsel their children.
Many of the kids have put up a class photo on their Facebook profiles that has Jason sitting bang in the center. My daughter wants to turn detective and find the killer, convinced it was a murder and not suicide…she can’t understand why parents would ever think of killing their own children. A couple of the kids still cry everyday in school. Exams have started. Syllabuses have to be completed. And the rituals of daily life help divert their minds from darker thoughts…hopefully.