The first argument I ever had with this person who went on to be my best friend and now my husband is – whether suicide is okay.
He argued for the right to kill oneself as being a part of, a sort of sub-sect of the right to live. I was 18 then. I couldn’t grasp what possibly life could become, how intolerable it could be for some people and how some people just live life because its there.
Animals have self-preservation in their instinct. But humans, we are capable of a rational choice. This is not a justification for every child who fails an exam and hangs from the fan. But I am speaking of a calculated choice.
What if something happens in your life, which makes living or continuing to live, meaningless? I know of one such thing in my life. I would not want to live if the thing I dread the most happens as it would have belied everything I stood for and everything my husband stands for and what we i.e. me and him represent.
It would not be out of failure or dejection or depression, so much as it would be out of not wanting to live beyond.
I am not advocating suicide or escape from life. My proposition is simple. I should be able to take a cold, rational choice to end my life. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami keeps coming back to me. Now that I think of it, the female protagonist in the novel, tries hard to live, to justify her living and her life. But she is unable to sustain it. After her boyfriend killed himself, she tries to live life, but cannot. So at some point she ends it.
I, as a living being, breathe. I, unfortunately cannot stop breathing when I feel like and therefore, if I wish to stop living a gruesome intervention is required. Is this the reason people abhor suicide – because it is an external intervention. Is it only the goriness of it all? The means of death are not natural and trouble the minds of those left behind, is that why suicide is shunned? Can the means of doing something justify the desirability or the undesirability of an end?
What if I were to go into a forest and end my life there? (I am vegetarian. So in all probability I would starve to death.) What if my body became one with the earth, then would I be hailed as a saint?
What about soldiers? Don’t they choose to end their lives when they go into a war? Is that not a rational choice? I can fully imagine what the consequence of allowing people legally to end their lives would be in the world today – total anarchy. But it still does not make it an illegitimate demand.
Suppose I am 65 and find out that I have cancer. Well, I am not going into the euthanasia debate. So, if at 65 I find out I have cancer, and I am a doctor lets say. I know death for me is going to be a long painful affair. I am happy with my life and choose it be a peak of my life. I die.
In India, the saints and yogis and all the great spiritual masters have attained high stages of meditation. The ultimate stage is the Samadhi, where the saint or yogi, chooses the time and place of death (in common man terms). They go into a deep trance from which they never come back. Is that suicide? No.
So why, if I should choose to end my life, I shouldn’t be allowed to. The state like in the case of most other subjects has no answer to this. I would probably be shot for asking. That should serve my purpose, but that is not how I would want to go.