It’s very rare for a celebrity death to affect me the way Sushant Singh Rajput’s demise has.
In the midst of an ongoing deadly global pandemic, a global uprising in a 400-year-old race war, and countless other atrocities, we’ve witnessed some unfortunate losses of well-known people, worldwide, this year. Timely reminders that life is short and uncertain, and that none of us will ever get a hand on the script of life. To us life will always remain unscripted, and celebrity demises only bring to the forefront the very temporariness of this life.
But for some reason, Sushant’s passing has felt different; almost personal in many ways. I can see, every day in the days since the news first broke, that many of us still remain inconsolable, distraught, and many a time, still in denial.
I really wasn’t planning on writing about how this unfathomable occurring has affected me (and it has!) but Sushant’s death, and the fact that his life ended in such a heartbreaking way, opened up a Pandora’s box of emotions and thoughts in my mind…
Also, writing is often my therapy to deal with grief.
So here we are…
As I type this, my social media feeds are filled with a plethora of “I wish I’d known all this when he was alive!” posts alluding to what a wonderful, positive, intellectual, well-mannered man Sushant was. Many, including myself, are finding out about all the delightful and heartwarming aspects of his life, his work, his thoughts only now.
There are also, as I type along on this hot, sunny Friday evening, a flood of posts begging the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) in India, to delve deeper into the matter – “How can a man who was so full of positivity and had so much love for the world around him take his own life?” is the oft used narrative at the moment. The idea that someone like Sushant would end his own life is unfathomable to so many, including me.
Maybe we will find out the truth in this lifetime. Maybe we won’t.
But what remains is the inevitable truth – the departed do not return to this world. Sushant Singh Rajput will not get to hear how people appreciate his beautiful mind or his love for astronomy. He won’t get to see the gazillion posts discussing how much they’ll miss his smile. He will never get to know how many people have gathered an appreciation for his deep, thoughtful writings and musings.
But he also won’t get to see the manipulative posts from the many who are trying to profit off of his demise; the social media leeches desperate for their fifteen minutes of fame, and the despicable humans sharing photos of his body in the name of journalism. He won’t get to see the very people who thought so little of him during his life, pen down sorrowful poetry for him while calling him a “friend” in his death.
But how strange, I think, that we’re celebrating his life only after his mortal parting from this world? Why is it that all the wondrous facets of his life, and how he lived it, are only being highlighted now, when he’s no longer around to receive those words of praise and love? Why are people so willing to tell tales of his grace and inquisitive mind when there are retweets and likes to be gained from it?
Part of me is infuriated and very disconcerted.
But part of me, in my very limited knowledge of who he was as a person, wants to believe that if Sushant ever got to learn of this reaction, he wouldn’t be surprised. He seemed to be a man who understood the many complexities of human psychology and interactions, and a very complicated, almost infuriating, facet of the human mind is that it only realizes the value of something after it’s gone.
“I wish I’d known all this when he was alive!”
Every single post along these lines has been a sad reminder that, in every waking moment of our lives, we choose to see the bad, the wrong, and the irreparable in others, in ourselves, and in everything around us. We’re so consumed by our need to fix, that we only look for the worst in those we love the most. We’re so overwhelmed by comparison and envy, no thanks to the “look at me, my life is so perfect!” posts on social media, that we resort to ingratitude and worry. We’ve run so far into this unending rat race of life, that we are assured that winning, no matter what the cost, is the only outcome that matters.
But we never, never, never choose to see the beauty in those around us. I daresay we’re almost intimidated by someone of greater intellect, beauty, or knowledge than ourselves, which almost always culminates into feelings of envy or anger. We look to them not to get inspired but to find ways to better them.
We almost never want to listen to someone who shares their problems – a new trend, even among friends, is one where you start telling a tale of your own problems if someone tells you theirs; an almost blatant way of invalidating someone else’s pain and worries (I find it almost laughable at this point because it seems to have become the new normal – “Oh, it’s so sad that you’re suffering from a terrible injury but have I told you about the time fell down when I was twelve and was mildly inconvenienced for two days?”).
With those closest to us, in our very well-intentioned need to find a solution, we almost never listen to the problem. Instead of understanding why someone is upset or crying, we concern ourselves with “How can they be crying?”. We focus on all the ways someone can fail or has failed but we never give them the chance to create their own meaning of success.
Stifled emotions. Hidden dreams. Pleas of personal worries that fall upon deaf ears. Misunderstood tears. Happiness at the thought of someone else’s failure; gloating at the slightest sniff of one’s own success. Our constant obsession with finding faults in others while excusing our own. Not good enough. Not tall enough. Too tall. Not fair enough. Too dark. Not thin enough. Too thin. Too fat. Too loud. Too quiet. Talks funny. Walks funny. All of this said while looking at a random stranger walking past your car. “Oh, have you heard why her marriage broke?”. “Have you heard where he works?”. “Have you seen how she dresses?”. “Have you seen where he lives?”. A series of “Have you heard?” conversations at family gatherings. Friendships based purely on gossip and slander of others. An unending, unhealthy obsession to showcase a perfect life on social media. Picking on others for fun. Shaming someone because you care for them. Pointing out someone else’s failure to feel good about yourself.
If you’ve made it to the end of that list, chances are you’ve been able to tick off more than five points, at the very least, as your own behaviour or that of others. Because it is how we operate; with those we love and those we despise. We look for the worst; the next point of criticism, the next line of verbal attack.
We make these calls, these almost sanctimonious judgments, in fleeting seconds. Literally, in seconds. It’s almost second nature to us.
But how strange that we have to be told to look for the good in those around us. How odd that we need to make a conscious effort to find what’s beautiful and wonderful and breathtaking about the people in our lives. How incredibly sad that it’s easier for us to hate than it is to love – cliched, I know; but the truth, nonetheless.
“I wish I’d known all this when he was alive!”
If a person you love, with all these flaws that you so desperately want gone, were to disappear from the face of the earth in the next second, would you be happy that you no longer have to work on their mistakes? Would you be relieved that you no longer have to be worried about their presence or their very human shortcomings annoying you? Would you pat yourself on the back for “winning”?
And if the person you despise or envy were to pass away tomorrow, would every single one of all your other problems end too? Would you find it in your heart to be happy that they’re gone? (If you do, then I might recommend therapy)? Would the memory of every single horrible word you uttered against them make you proud? Would you still be able to look at yourself in the mirror?
“I wish I’d known all this when he was alive!”
If we were to pause, just for a few moments every day, and remind ourselves that we’re not in a race against time, against our peers, or even against ourselves, then we might start to believe in the almost cliched concept of “Life is now!”. If we started to appreciate the small successes of the ones we love, and reminded them of everything beautiful about them as much as we do the bad, we might just have happier people around us. If our friendships were based on more meaningful talks about life, and not based on conversations of gossip and comparison, we might have less friend breakups. If we looked to those better than us as sources of inspiration, we will be filled with less contempt for ourselves and more captivated with purpose.
We don’t need today’s “I wish I’d known all this when he was alive!” to change to “I wish I’d said all this when he/she was alive!”
We need to let go of our egos and our false sense of pride, and choose to be humble and honest, so that our hearts might be filled with love and our eyes may see the beauty around us.
The way Sushant did.
I’m only learning, much to my utter dismay, how much more there was to him as a person. He could write using both hands. He loved poetry and wrote musings which he shared with his followers. He used to follow back fans, and publicly apologized to one when he accidentally unfollowed her. He chose his scripts not based on box office value but to satiate his creative appetite. He shared his love for space and astronomy with his friends and colleagues. He had a telescope and showed his friends the moon and the stars through it. Two days ago, someone shared a video of him handfeeding a little girl. He loved nature and he loved astrophysics. He had a list of fifty dreams he wanted to achieve in his lifetime that had nothing to do with his career. He had one of the most genuine, heartwarming smiles I’ve seen.
He also brought to life the story of one of my life’s greatest role models – MS Dhoni.
There’s a scene in that movie (Link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lwQKbLX7n4 ) that, over the years, I’ve always watched or thought of every time I’ve felt low. Life advice in cricket analogies. How wonderful! “Keep ducking the bouncers. The scoreboard will keep moving.”, is the line that always sticks in my head.
Sushant’s scoreboard stopped moving, and it was time for him to be inducted into the hall of fame, albeit after an unfair way of getting out. He played the innings of a lifetime in a very short but memorable game. I wish he could’ve stayed not out a bit longer. I wish he could’ve played a few more helicopter shots.
But mostly, I wish we’d all said these wonderful things to him when he was still among us. His loss will be something that will affect me, like millions others, for a long time. But maybe in his passing is a great, profound, heartbreaking lesson for us all – that we, as a collective, have become a venomous, manipulative, vengeful, envious people. There cannot be a greater, more sorrowful albeit significant, wake up call for all of us to let go of the negativity.
In the week that has passed, I didn’t find it in me to go back and see Sushant’s Instagram page post his death. I just couldn’t.
But today, after a process of grieving and accepting, I allowed myself to go through it. I cried. A lot. But I also smiled. A lot.
He was a beautiful man with a beautiful mind.
I end this post with a link to his page. Go through it if you can. https://www.instagram.com/sushantsinghrajput/
And while doing so, if you’re filled with guilt for not having appreciated him better in his life, know that there are still people in your own life who deserve to be appreciated and honoured.
And know that to honour yourself by being kind to yourself is also equally important.
In with the new. Out with old.
Let us love, appreciate, and honour each other more than we ever have…
The blogpost title and lead photo is in honour of Sushant’s love for the moon; a love I deeply share too 🙂