Mental illness is something that is invariably made fun of in our country. And that reflects in how, casually and unthinkingly, we call someone ‘pagal‘ (mad). As a nation, it’s time that we talk about mental illness, depression and anxiety because according to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) study, nearly 60 million Indians suffer from mental illness of one kind or the other. One thing that a person suffering from depression or any sort of mental disorder needs is a patient hearing, a gentle touch, a warm hug or a shoulder to cry on. And a Bengaluru man, Daniel Sukumar, talks exactly about this in his beautifully-worded poem, for which we have no words.
Although Daniel Sukumar mentions right at the beginning of his poem that it was dedicated ‘To whomsoever is dating or in a relationship with a person with mental illness’, the poem is actually for everyone who comes across those who need help but are unable to ask because they may either suffer from low self-worth, even lower level of confidence or may just be too confused to ask. And sometimes, just being there is enough for them.
At the end of his powerful poem, Sukumar wrote a disclaimer: “People, irrespective of their illness, disabilities and oppression can still be assholes. If you are in an abusive relationship, you need to get out.”
I hope you didn’t pick him
like the puppy you brought home
in 3rd grade or the kitten
you tried hiding from your parents
for 6 months.
I hope you didnt make a cross out of him for you to be his saviour,
I pray that you didn’t take him to be another project that you can fix.
Because your parents didn’t let the puppy in,
the kitten outgrew your secret hiding place and the last time
you tired to fix anything,
you gave up
and left it in a worse condition.
Don’t pick her for her vulnerability,
you have no idea what she does
to get out of bed each day,
you will not believe the hours of sleep
she is running on,
you will dare not do the things she does to put up a smile.
Maybe if you did pick them for that,
Chances are, that they already know.
We are society’s stray for a reason, abandonment is not new to us but still affects us just the same, everytime.
Yes, we know we’ve built our own prisons.
Sometimes we are the prisoners, sometimes we are the guards
but both times we have the keys
and would rather stay in.
If we were in a bunk after a nuclear war,
I would be happy.
Lesser places to be,
fewer people to smile at
and no more sunsets to be sad about. Don’t remind him that.
He might not be the party person you wanted,
she might not be the one to dress up
every Friday but they will,
When they do, know that they love you more than the love they show themselves, when they don’t,
promise to love them the same.
Our minds are landmines of triggers
we don’t know what is buried where.
Words, places, times, colors
and something so little
like an evening drizzle can set them off.
So when you think we are unjustifiably angry, pointlessly dramatic,
know that we are sorry.
We have as much control over these
as a toddler with a mug.
But never, ever push buttons
thinking you know what to expect.
Most times even we don’t.
Do you think we got these scars
by careful planning?
I know all of this is too much to ask,
too much to give
and too much for a daily routine.
But, isn’t that what love is?
When we say the magic word
know that it comes from a place
of so much hate for our self
and yet we chose to love you.
Please be the love that I was not able to show myself,
please be the kindness that world doesn’t show us
and please be the understanding that no one will ever give us.
If it ever comes to a place
where it’s too much for you to take.
Pack your bags, pick up your beds and leave.
But, tell her before you leave.
Tell him, your goodbye.
You see, when a person with mental illness finds love,
he’s always picturing it walking out of the door.
So, this is not the worst that can happen to us,
your absence without a reason is.
But can you stay?”
Here’s Daniel Sukumar’s Facebook post:
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)