Life is For the Living


Since 2010, the world is abuzz with the rise in suicide by gay teens, one of them especially because he was outed to his peers in the most compromising of ways.  I’m not surprised, even I gotta admit I had flirted with the idea a couple of times when the bullying had been particularly bad, or if I had yet another religious discussion with my family. Hardly something I could avoid, I was meant to be in school and my family was fanatical in their religious beliefs. My only options were live as I was where I was, conform to the norm, or what? run away? live on my own?? Sri Lanka isn’t one of those places you can be independent as a teen.

I was never one of those people who did a good job at lying, I’m not one those people who suddenly discovered they were gay; I was gay from as early as my toddler days, it was boys always and I have absolutely no doubt about it! So then, how do you lie about something that is such a huge part of your psyche, and keep it up all soo well? I was failing miserably right throughout my attempts.

Sometimes life got tough or even unbearable and I would just reach this point and think, why do I have to go through this hurt? Why do I have to tolerate this pain and disappointment from the world around me? People keep saying it gets better, but it looks to me like it’s just getting worse and then there would be that thought; Why bother with all this, it could end in a matter of seconds, if only I could end it all.

I guess it’s just not the gay’s and lesbians that feel the need to consider Suicide, everyone has their own problems whether they are 6 or 62. Last year around January, when I started work at my new office, two of the guys were talking about how a friend of theirs had committed suicide. I didn’t even think twice to pay attention; people die, people always and most often die, it was just a fact of life I’ve grown accustom to, even if it was a young person. I had come to a place where life and death evoked an ignorant and indifferent reaction. It disgusted me when a weekend later, I found out this was someone I had known relatively well a few years back, but sync’ed out of interaction as social circles changed.

It was no big secret in Colombo my friend Ashan had committed suicide, i was just the dumb fuck that didn’t know it was him. In a strange twist of fate, I think i was one of the last few people to talk to him, albeit on facebook a day before he took his life. He’d commented on something i posted and I messaged him saying ‘hey, long time no see…’, we chatted random nonsense, about where we were in life at the moment, and that was that, conversation just went offline. I don’t even think we were friends in the true’st sense.. he was more of a comfortable and endearing acquaintance. He was a nice boy, someone his parents and friends could be proud of knowing… gone before we even knew what was going on..

No goodbye, no ‘hey, i’m going through something’, no way of seeing his beautiful face and that pretty smile that never carried to his eyes. Not knowing that something was wrong with one of the nicest boys I ever knew, although it was random and very brief our interactions. I used to drop Ashan home sometimes, I would run into him or he’d pop up in conversation because of the many mutual friends we shared. He was sweet, funny, entertaining and yet something was just not right. You’d see it in those awkward moments of silence, when you can’t ad-lib life. A brief flash of reality that let the real Ashan out of the bag. But i was not even a friend, i never bothered more than knowing it was there. But here i was, the acquaintance with a grave full of guilt and despair over a life that was lost too early because I didn’t know him well enough. It was a terrible feeling to have, this grief of knowing someone is alive one day, and dead a few days later. To be only left with memories of fleeting hello’s and stolen moments of interaction. What was worse was the guilt, of knowing i was one of the last people to talk to him, and wondering if i could have said something to change his mind. Well, I guess we’ll never know now…

I had heard Ashan has suffered some heavy losses even before he hit his teens, I even heard his living environment wasn’t the most ideal of situations. Recently I went to visit a friend who lived a few no’s down from him and Ashan’s seemed like a nice big house; I guess it wasn’t the home he needed. And finally I had heard the truth behind his tragic and too-early demise a few months ago, and I just loathed myself for not knowing him enough to hear it and tell him life goes on.

But coming back to me, Sure i flirted with the question as well, but the answer I chose was always a resounding No. I can’t explain the exact how’s and why’s but something in me never let myself be a victim of the darkness I felt around me. I had pockets of tiny light, little gifts of hope in my God and my faith in him (no matter what anyone told me), I had friends who were loving and supportive when I couldn’t get it from my family and I had me, when all else fades, I had me… my own light brighter than the rest. A spark in me that refused to settle, refused to die, refused to be dimmed. If all of life failed me, I knew I was worth depending and holding out on. If life was going to fight me for it, I was adamant that I would give it a fight worth remembering. And i’m so happy i did… Life does get better, it got shitty before it got better, but it did get better after all.

So Ashan, life is too long to let someone live without you. I hate knowing you won’t answer my facebook messages, and my phone calls. I barely knew you, but I liked the little i knew about you, and if i could make a judgement call based on what i know, you were an awesome dude, and I wished I had the chance to get to know you better.

For anyone and everyone who I’ve never personally known who is reading this… know that you matter to the people you least expect to make an impact on, and that life has its shitty moments that make you think suicide is actually an option to consider and equally or greater moments of epic happiness and good things. I gotto admit suicide seems like a good option sometimes, and it might seem like a damn good choice in certain cases, but if you can find the strength and the courage to say you’ll give one more day a try, five more minutes a chance, 10 more seconds to smile and have a little more faith in what your life holds for you, you’ll be happy you did. And chances are, you won’t be leaving behind people who were very sad you are gone. I for one, would be one of those people.. =)

So Tyler Clementi, and all the other suicides that have happened, so sad you had to go… but know that the It gets better project, and this post would never be around if it weren’t for your suicide; so something good did come of it, just wish it didn’t have to be at your expense. It’s sadness that you are not in this world, finding love, sexing the hell out of your other horny university college mates, but now someone else has that chance.

Rainy Days

 

Here I am, surrounded by the dull grey of the current weather, my sombre thoughts making me wish I could just crawl back to bed. I don’t know what it is about the rainy season but it makes me lovelorn and depressive. It makes me steel grey like the skies outside surrounded by cold loneliness, assaulted by precious silver tears as heavy as boulders that fall like the rain. I want it to to stop, but part of me likes it, makes me feel like I deserve it.

I wear two rings on my hand that finally felt like they belonged there. They’re both made of silver, one smooth and rounded and a perfect fit for my finger, one a bit larger and patterned. The smooth rounded one was a gift from someone I loved, a love that I still find hard to put away from my thoughts. I always thought that this love would put a ring on the very finger it rests on, not the one I wear now, alone.

I remember lying in his arms, talking  about finally seeing ourselves as one, one day wearing matching bands of precious metal. I told him that they had to be silver though. I always thought gold was a bit tacky, and that what we had was very different. He said okay. One day he’ll propose to me, he’ll give me a silver ring, and we’ll be together forever.

Those were from a happier time, where our love was just a matter of our own. Then things happened that made the matter something not of our own. We could have done things differently, stuck it out through the tough times, but I was made to choose between family, faith and love and for a kid, I was too young to know they were one in the same and that I chose wrong. We parted ways, never to see each other, never speak of what we had. But he was true to his word, he gave me a silver ring, a parting gift of sorts; a smooth and rounded ring, very simillar to a wedding band, cut with a cross that almost splits it in two. He was very thoughtful that way, giving me a bittersweet reminder of what my so called God did to us.

I kept the ring locked away for a few years too saddened to wear it, faced by the horrific reminder of my choices. I was ashamed of what I had done, and what that ring symbolized. Everytime my hand would come across it my little box of treasures, I’d sigh a sad sigh and slip it on for a few seconds wondering how things could’ve been different, how I could’ve been different, and everytime I did slip it on, I became a little different. Bit by bit, I became stronger, I became more confident, more assured and more determined to never have to make decisions I will regret, make decisions that will never hurt the ones I love, the ones I will love. The day I came out, I put the ring on and forever since then, it has been on my hand, a symbol of strength and love. And a little later on, I learnt that faith, family and love were the same thing, and what I once thought was a terrible symbol of what I lost became an affirmation of all the good I have gained.

Till last sunday, I would slip the ring on everytime I left the house, taking it off when I had some work that might damage or dirty it, or when I got back home. I wore the ring on my left ring finger, where it would be if I was still with him. People would joke or ask me why I had it and what it was, and I would tell them simply that it was a gift from my first love, and still is. It was my sunshine in a grey world, a reminder of the good times, the sunny smiles, the warm good things in my life, wishing that maybe one day, that it would be replaced by a real wedding band. But on sunday, I lost the ring. I remember it being on my finger, and with the whirl of activity that was my last sunday. I lost it. Gone. From memory and reality. I tried to find it for the past few days, but everytime I try and fail, it makes me feel worse.

I feel like the green lantern without his ring. Clichéd I know but simply put, it is what it is. The ring was what protected me from my own warring thoughts, my own self depreciation, the acid green envy when I met couples in love or childhood sweethearts. It was the secret ingredient to the elixir that was my happiness. And now, here I am, surrounded by weather far worse than my feelings of forlorn and greydom. And with Sad love songs.

Rainy days, rainy days,

now that you’ve gone far away,

my raindrops fallin’ down my eyes,

you know i’ll never be okay..

Thoughts fade away, fade away,

don’t you know i’m missing you,

here it slowly falls again,

every day and night,

as I open my eyes…