VG Siddhartha chose death over life, the easier of the two difficult options

Since early Tuesday morning, when news of VG Siddhartha having taken that walk on the Netravati river bridge broke, I have been thinking what would have been his state of mind at that point in time. It must have been the most lonely few steps he must have taken in his 59 years. His mind would have been muddled, his knees feeling like jelly, wobbly, his stomach churning as if his insides were burning. 

On that rainy evening in Mangaluru, the man who told you a lot can happen over coffee, smelt the coffee. His Cafe Coffee Day usually draws a heart on the froth of the beverage. Siddhartha’s heart told him to call it quits. 
His driver told the police that he was talking to someone on his mobile phone when he got off the car. Who was it, we do not know but it was certainly someone who failed to assess Siddhartha’s extremely disturbed thoughts and even if he or she did, could not manage to change Siddhartha’s mind. 

Siddhartha is a powerful name. It was Lord Buddha’s name before he achieved enlightenment. But did this modern-day Siddhartha follow in the Lord’s footsteps? To my mind, he chose the easier of the two difficult options. He chose death over life.

Life ain’t easy. It can be cruel. As any one of us who has ever contemplated death would tell you. As anyone of us who has looked at a high-rise building, a ceiling fan, rat poison, a river, a running train would tell you. As anyone of us who has thought THIS life isn’t worth it, would tell you. 

Put yourself in Siddhartha’s shoes, someone who ensured employment for thousands, created a brand yet got sucked into a vortex of debts, dealings with shady money from investors with political background. To stay alive was to go through the ignominy of kangaroo courts on social media, digital lynch mobs baying for his blood and dealing with the agencies in the country. 

That evening, as it rained, it did not seem worth it to Siddhartha. The swollen Netravati beckoned

Trust me, anyone of us could be a Siddhartha. A few entrepreneurs have come out to say doing business in India isn’t easy and there are times when you feel like ending it all. Having reported extensively on agricultural woes in south India, I have often attempted to understand why a farmer chooses to embrace the noose or a pesticide bottle to end his life. 

It all boils down to the inability to summon the courage to face the world. For each one of us, be it an entrepreneur, farmer or anyone else. It isn’t easy facing the local moneylender, the taxman, the faceless social media, the government, friends who overnight turn foes, foes who decide the right time to strike is when you are down. You recoil with horror as lies get amplified, the surround sound going all out to make the person at the centre of it all, seem like a very different organism. So different that you wonder if you recognise the person you see in the mirror.  

Depression is hell. The emotion of feeling worthless is killing. Crying alone is anguish to the power of N. The letter written on Siddhartha’s letterhead on 27 July speaks about how he had not told anyone in his family about the problems he was up against.

That was a mistake. A deadly mistake in the real sense of the word. Everyone of us should keep our families, close friends and loved ones, by our side. People who genuinely care for your well-being, `genuinely’ being the operative word. Siddhartha needed help desperately. He needed professional help from a psychologist. Unfortunately, he did not reach out to one. He continued to wear an `All is well’ mask.

My friend Pattabhi Vemulapati sends me inspirational quotes every morning over Whatsapp. Yesterday, he wrote “95 per cent of your emotions are determined by the way you talk to yourself”. How true. 

The world is harsh, there isn’t even a point telling the world not to be. So look at the positive. Embrace anyone who gives you positive energy. Family, friends, even strangers. Hold on to them. Because you never know, your life may depend on them. Literally. 

Because in his death, Siddhartha or anyone else we have known who committed suicide, has only left his loved ones in trauma. 

But how many of us who are debating whether or not to jump off the cliff, are sure society will give us a second chance in life. More often that not, the world loves to see people going down. Especially people who have been seen as achievers. There is a vicarious pleasure in believing he or she had feet of clay. We live in our bubbles of lies fed to us, believing in them and converting more people to the lies we propagate. In fact, even after he is gone, there are elements who write as if he deserved it. 

Till that is the dominant emotion, Netravati will beckon. In fact, I think Siddhartha being the stock market expert he was, decided that `Stop Loss’ had been triggered. And logged out. 

Om Shanti. Rest in Peace.

3 replies »

  1. One thing that needs to be told and understood is that THERE IS ALWAYS A SOLUTION TO EVERY QUESTION.Just sit and discuss it with your loved ones


  2. Hi Sudhir,
    Very nice piece. Such a tragedy, not so much about the perils of doing business in India as in that we have lost the ability to face difficulties of life. You have hit the nail on its head: social factors have robbed our fortitude. We measure ourselves with others’ parameters, and no one has taught us to be the real Siddhartha, the one who can remain unshaken in both good and bad times…. We’ll have lots of discussion about this, but very few will think or talk about the inner strength and positive support we don’t get in facing life’s challenges. Thanks for reflecting on this in such a nice way.
    Kanti Kumar


  3. Well written. Longer than your usual posts. The empathy for the departed one comes through in your piece well. For such a successful public figure, I have not seen any obituary or interview of someone who knows him well. i have not read or seen any interview of his family member or close business associate or a childhood friend.


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