Empty Unhappy Youth who Kill Themselves or Kill Others

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For the last two days, my mood has been strangely introspective.  My son’s friend, who was a student with him at the same university, committed suicide.
Thereafter, we also heard news about campus killings in Oregon, America.

Although the real reason can never be known, people deduce all sorts of reasons for a young person’s suicide. One reason given was ‘parental pressure’.  Also, that the day he took his life, he had said to one of the girls in his class, “I feel empty inside.

Parents again. Oh, but isn’t this a question being raised all the time, that ‘parental pressure’, which itself has its roots in ‘societal pressure’, lies heavy on many students’ head when they do not come up to their parents’ expectations?
Most students deal with it, some can’t cope.

My son’s friend is (was) actually the older brother of one of his classmates, with age-gap of only a year, but they all studied together.  Although both brothers are/were academically brilliant, and both got along well, but in a way the younger of the two was doing better. And now that this tragedy happened, people are quick to deduce that the older brother was probably not happy with his academic career, howsoever good it was.

That said, I couldn’t help probing further reasons for this unfortunate incident. Why did he feel ’empty inside’?  He had three loving siblings and had both parents alive. Then where and why was the parental pressure? Is it that the child assumed there is pressure? Is it that the younger sibling was out-performing him and he felt left out?  Probably, day-to-day comments and harmless little nagging within the families is not so harmless after all. A growing child, and a young person being consciously or unconsciously compared to others, loses his self-esteem and self-worth. I feel like hugging his soul. How lonely he must have been during his last hour or so!

loneliness

Photo Credit: animalnewyork.com

Essentially, loneliness is a part of growing up. Late teens to early twenties – this is the phase when children are no more considered children, even if, due to their lack of life experience and not much exposure to the world, most of them continue to be a child at heart.

As they leave their teens behind, they are full of anxiety. Anxiety of behaving sensibly like a new adult, that of being a role model for younger siblings, of performing well as per the societal or parental expectations, of getting admission in best possible courses, of out-performing others so as to secure a great job, of issues related to a girl-friend, of not having a girl-friend while others have; all this while out-doing many others who themselves have similar mind-set.  Each young person trying to excel in this rat race because eventually the fittest will survive.

While I was deeply brooding on all this, I shifted my thoughts to the other news, that of mass killing at the community college at Oregon campus. News about campus carnage in America is no more news for the international community.  This time too, the culprit’s age-group is the same as in most other campus killings, and the victims too are mostly young students or else teachers.

Oregon massacre, as the news slowly reveals, was based on hatred for organised religion, and quite like previous campus killings, this is also related to frustrated youth – an acrimonious revenge of some sort, for it is strange that the shooter was at some stage enrolled in the same college.  So it was about rebellion and about getting noticed. This too is about perceived or real societal pressure to conform (to religion), and it’s about retaliating and giving back pressure to the society. It’s about saying: Look you mean society!! I don’t believe in your dictatorial religious dogmas and pseudo-principles. I shun you. I have the power to kill you all.

As I mentally compare a young man’s self-killing to that of another young man’s mass-killing of others; both have similarities as well as differences.

Suicidal youth are the ones who have lost all hopes from life. Their needs are not being met, they’re crying for help but unable to say it, or else they try to convey but no one pays enough attention to their feelings. Eventually, when they feel life is more unbearable than death would be, that’s when they escape life via one impulsive step. Likewise, the youth who finally resorts to a killing spree, he also conveys or protests spitefully via media and other means, till one day he decides to take some rebellious action. As the Oregon killer said ‘He did not like his lot in life”.

Youth on the verge of a suicide assume they haven’t found their rightful place in the society and can never get it, hence they finish their life.  In comparison, aggressive young men who kill others also feel the same, except that killers try to get their place forcibly, by attempting an act that would leave a larger statement behind. Both seek attention, one does it passively and the other aggressively. A suicidal introvert passively punishes the family and society by withdrawing from it; whereas the shooter does so aggressively by taking lives within unsuspecting campuses.  

Taking one’s life via suicide, or that of many others…these are angry, unhappy, lonely, frustrated youth, not born that way but possibly they had been seeking attention since their early age as is clearly visible from the early life of this campus killer. Their mental tension and loneliness took root in their childhood, that is long before they culminated their anger or anguish in this extreme manner.

This amazes me as a parent, and I wonder at what stage do parents mentally lose contact with their child and why does this happen. Is it from early childhood that some odd behavior goes ignored, or else at the age of 10, 12 or 15?  Possibly more so after they turn 16 or 17, as that’s when they start to go out on their own.  In a nuclear family, which is a norm these days, there’s no support from extended families, hence the pressurized parents are either too engrossed in balancing their career with family life; or busy looking after their younger kids while getting more and more detached from the older kids. The older ones thus grow distant from their families and soon their lonely voices go unheard.

Here the problem is, how much parenting is enough? There are parents who would like to be forever involved in their children’s life, but they face another ‘societal pressure’, one that reminds them that parents should let their kids be; should set them free, let kids grow up on their own. Over-caring parents are considered helicopter parents – over-anxious and too fussy about their grown-up child or new adult.

Well of course, good parents need not be helicopter parents but they should not be so unobtrusive or unavailable that if their child is feeling “empty inside” they don’t even know it.

Likewise, parents of a teen, who is soon going to to evolve into a monster with head full of bloody ideas like mass massacre, are either parents who are themselves party to such vile things or else totally ignorant about it.  Either way, they are not playing any positive role in the lives of humans they gave birth to.

Throughout the life of their child, parents need to constantly sow seeds of ethical, moral and righteous living in their children. There’s no age for that. Parents need to be present in their kids’ lives forever. There’s no age for that.  Parents need of watch out for signs of killer instincts in their growing children and youth. There’s no age for that.

There’s no age to fix things that have gone even slightly wrong. It’s better to mend them in time.

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Copyright © 2015 Alka Girdhar

The Lives of Witches and Bitches

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Photograph by Barbara W. Beacham

The Lives of Witches and Bitches

From her small balcony, the witch watches her world go by.  
Although no one has seen her closely, hers is a youth scarred by years of neglect and ill-health. Frail body, matted hair and dull skin make her look older. Some mornings, one can hear her howling as she sits in her balcony, staring into the vacuum.

Recently, community youngsters reported that she’s now a regular at the local pub. Some nights she gets so tipsy that she laughs boisterously while picking ruckus with all the ‘gentlemen’ there.

What amazes our community is that her pub persona is so unlike her usual weeping self within her quiet house. The new joke around town is: ‘Witch by the day, bitch by the night’.

Little do they know that the duo are identical twins. One, a house-bound agarophobic who cries a lot, and the other a sociopath who laughs unbound.  Two daughters deserted by a mother who was deserted by a gentleman.
(149 words)

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This is my take on flash fiction challenge Mondays Finish The StoryWe are provided with a new photo each week, and the first sentence of the story. 

Copyright ©2015 Written by Alka Girdhar

Luigi – The Bruised Assassin

Here’s my first ever short story for ‘Mondays Finish the Story’.
In this challenge, the first line of the story is given to us and we finish the rest. The inspiration comes from the picture provided.

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The picture for the story by  – Barbara W. Beacham


Luigi – The Bruised Assassin

The family had no idea that little Luigi would grow up to be…a serial killer!  While the news about yet another killing embarrassed the family, they were equivocal in their disbelief.

One jeering aunt remembered how baby Luigi always played by himself, “One-by-one he would take all marbles out of the box, and put them back…”

That reminded Uncle Tom, how at a community fair, young Luigi won an award for eating twelve burgers in a row.

Aunt Alda retorted “But don’t forget he was almost a fanatic! How he broke one glass after the other, just because we laughed at him after his burger binge”

Luigi’s mother was hurt by such talks. She knew her son had intensity about him. But she could rely on him for any repetitive task, though not on her other kids.

“My hardworking sensitive child! Only if his huge family had helped him with anger management”, she defended her son regretfully.

It so happened that when Luigi was ditched by his very close university friend, the tiff ended up violent. One accidental murder then led to many others, till Luigi became a runaway.

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Did I take little Luigi to a dangerous territory? He could very well have grown up to be a teacher, doctor, fire-fighter or a saint.
I wrote another story where Luigi is a fashion model. You can read it here: Luigi – The Alto Achiever

Thanks for reading! Do visit the Home Page of this site

Written by Alka Girdhar. Copyright © 2015 ~ All rights reserved

Wish you a very safe journey, my GPS thief!

Yesterday, you entered the boundary of my house at midnight. You stealthily opened all the doors of my car that was parked on the driveway and took away so many of my favorite things.

Wow!  How cool the whole process!  You could open my car without a key. What fun it must have been to search the car for valuables!!

It seems to me you did not like any of the goodies that were inside the big bag on the back seat. You had carelessly scanned and scattered them on the seat as well as thrown them outside the car. The sun caps, the shopping bag and trolley, water bottles and some documents – all of these were of no interest to you.

But you sure did find some humble luxuries on the front seat and took them home.  My GPS, my favourite music CDs, along with a few sunglasses. Possibly something else too that I’m not aware of.

I will miss my music collection but it is the loss of the GPS that will directly impact my life. May be it won’t.  Actually I did not value my GPS as much as I should have. Still, how did you come to know that I do not treasure it and you decided to take it away?

I now miss its presence in my car, but as long as it was with me, I hardly ever put it on.  Her voice telling me to  “Turn left”, “Turn right at the third intersection“, “Keep going for another 2 km then turn left” kind of irritated me. She used to put me under tension. During my journey I could either listen to her or use my brain. I always chose the latter.

I happen to have a sharp memory. I easily remember names of the streets. I like to find my own way, by hit and trial.  So I did not use my GPS as often as most people do.

And yet, the fact remains that it was mine.  I paid for this intelligent machine.  And you took it away so unashamedly?

Moreover, I did use it under dire circumstances. In any case I always avoid driving very long and unsafe distances, and now with my GPS gone, I will totally stop doing that, till I get another one, if at all.  Which means, much as I say I didn’t like it, it was my friend during my difficult times when I feared getting lost along the way. Hence I will miss its presence.  We can do without our friends who make merry with us but not without those who help us in our hours of need.

All in all, one thing is clear to me.  Even with my minor or major dependency on it, I did not love having a GPS to this extent, that I would have ever dared to venture out in the dark of the night, that too in this current chilly Sydney winter weather only to get a GPS from somebody’s car. But you did exactly that.

How unsafe it must have been for you to enter someone’s territory at midnight, and use unscrupulous means to open the doors before using either car-light or your own search light to scan around!!  You left the doors open and quietly vanished away with your booty. Were you scared of the noise it would make if you close the doors?

My heart feels bad for you as I realize how desperate you must have been and how needy that you had no other way to get these goodies except break open my car.  Therefore, I conclude you needed my GPS much more than I ever did.

And that’s what the police said, “This is a job of someone too needy.
But the cops also reiterated, “They do that all the time, they sell them away.

Indeed if a person decides to sell his/her conscience, then selling a GPS is not such a big issue, isn’t it?  So go ahead.  Let my loss be your big gain.

As for me, it’s not as much about the loss of the GPS, or that of music CDs and the sunglasses as it is about loss of faith in people living around my area; it’s about the loss of feeling of security.  It’s the scare you have caused in my heart that will linger on.  I may overcome it with time as will I forget my GPS.  Hopefully it may also make my family stronger as we further learn to keep our possessions secure and safe.

But I might still not keep my car in my garage every day, as quite a task it is to take it out of the narrow driveway. P1060189Therefore from now on, I will start using a car-cover that I always had but never used. The cover will keep my car dust free.  Good outcome!  It will be difficult for you to take off the car-cover and run away with it.

Also, the police has now updated me that you (and probably your pals) had raided many cars in our area. Which means there will now be increased police vigilance in our suburb. They said they will also get the street lights working. Some good does come out of all bad things.

Life will move on and so will your journey as you either use my GPS in your own car or sell it.  You needed it badly, so you better use it for your good.  But in general, no good ever comes out of eyeing other people’s possessions. No one can ever become a millionaire by stealing.

If you did not have any agenda of becoming rich via my GPS, and if you genuinely needed money for your ailing family, then it’s a matter of immense shame that we have a society where the poor and needy are too embarrassed to ask others for some humble amount of money, and they prefer, rather they are compelled to steal in the middle of night.

But if it is not poverty and rather it was your own addiction to stealing that compelled you to opt for this burglary, then all I can do is pray for you,  “May this GPS open the doors of your conscience!! May it show you a right direction and a ‘right’ way in life!!!”

I can almost hear my GPS speaking to you:  “Move right to go towards the right (eous) path in life. Keep driving forever…and ever…”

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My car was actually broken into at night, two days ago.  

After reading The Daily Prompt Do Not Disturb  I was not sure I was supposed to share this incident here or not.  Sometimes we just feel like sharing. I can make it ‘private’ if and when I feel uncomfortable with it.
Responding to the prompt now, well in general, one should be careful about sharing. When in doubt have no doubt. If there is something you won’t tell to a random stranger, unknown neighbor or your enemy, then do not put it online.
But as it happens, with offline or online theft – ill-intentioned people will find a way. All you can do is be cautious.

Unsafe Off-shores or Destined Deaths?

My mood had been sombre the whole of last week, an under-current of depressive sadness prevailed. Now slowly coming back to normal.

It was after the news that a 41-year-old woman by the name of Prabha Arun Kumar, an Indian National who had been working in Australia for the last three years, was stabbed to death, that too brutally with multiple gashes at the neck. This incident happened in Parramatta suburb of Sydney. Close to my home, Parramatta is my near-regular sojourn so I felt awful.

Even if this tragedy had not struck somebody from my close family or friends yet it felt heavy in my heart. And going by the media news and social media interactions, indeed it was so for all others within the Indian-Australian community as well as for many others within general Australian community. A candle light vigil, a community walk was organised and in another event Sydney Symphony Orchestra paid homage to her.

Prabha was originally from Bangalore, the lovely IT city where I too had an opportunity to live for a few years when I was an Indian resident long ago. She was employed by an IT company in Sydney while her husband and nine-year old daughter lived in India.  She came to Sydney for one year thereafter had spent two more years as her contract extended till April 2015. This April she intended to move back to India as her whole family was there.

Smart intelligent women want to work seriously and fulfil their dreams while supportive families provide their full support. Everything great about it.

But last week, that fateful day, she was coming back from work. It was night time around 9 pm. Getting off the train she was walking towards her home and to do this she was crossing Parramatta Park. While walking she was also talking to her husband in India over the phone. She told him there was a big man chasing her, soon after that they heard her screams. Over the phone, her family in India heard her dying. Her nine-year old daughter, who had not seen her mom for a while will now see only her dead body. Prabha lost her life just a few days before she intended to return back to India as her contract was finishing.

Prabha’s story is probably like that of many others. We read such horror stuff almost every day in the media. But when it directly influences our family, our community or neighbourhood, only then we take it personally. Not just for the sake of humanity or empathy but also simultaneously fearing the fact that even our life safety is perpetually under similar threat.

Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs also highlights that after our basic needs are met, safety is our major concern. Thus ridden by fear after such news about killings, we do not want a repeat of what happened so we look for all sorts of answers in such meaningless murders.

People like me, who are a part of the terrified community start deriving conflicting conclusions. That if this murderer guy did not touch the victim’s material possessions, can we then assume the attack was due to her ethnicity, her Indian looks?  On top of that she is a woman. But the police opine that the motivation doesn’t seem to be racial, and since the attacker didn’t harm her in any other way, so obviously he wasn’t out to exploit her modesty.

If the attack was neither racially motivated nor about exploiting the weaker gender then it was a random attack by a random hooligan who was in a random mood to kill anyone or everyone. Doesn’t make sense though. Specially when Sydney is supposed to be very safe. As per a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Sydney is sixth amongst the world’s top ten safest nations. Melbourne ranks nineth.  But it’s no secret now that Melbourne too has seen attacks and similar life-threats on students.  The Down Under that our Australia is, compared to other nations it’s always been a very peaceful lucky country with such a vibrant multiculturalism. Personally, I too have never experienced any discrimination ever, rather a very high level of acceptance ever since I migrated. But statistics are conflicting.

Also, so much controversy going on about India’s daughter not being safe in India but she is not safe in Australia too. Are Australia’s daughters completely safe in Australia?  I used to be quite fond of going to Parramatta Park but will now be scared to do so, even when I am no more a young girl. But our primary concern is for our children’s safety.

No point over-weighing all possible angles.  Although there is never a murder without a motive, often the real motive of such heinous murders remain unknown. In such cases one can only derive that it was about being at a wrong place at the wrong time.  A fatal combination of many factors. Firstly, she was walking through that lonely park which she normally considered safe enough. On top of that, walking at the night time which again she normally considered safe enough.  Walking alone at night that too being a woman. Now that’s something. Women continue to be an easy target if not protected by father, husband, boy-friend or son. I better stop here or else I will go again to my favorite lecture on feminism.

Till the cops find out, we will look for answers within nature itself. It’s as if Prabha was not meant to go back to her country again. Something called luck or destiny takes a person towards his/her death and as they say, when destiny strikes then there is no escape.

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I seem to be a House Divided as I present multiple perspectives on this news-story current in Australian media. I attributed the incident to our essentially evil human nature which is driven towards crime, sin, racism or gender bias. No human, including migrants and women, can ever be completely safe anywhere in the world, what with hidden hooligans all around us.

Other than our unpredictable human nature, I stoically reasoned such incidents to all powerful non-human Nature, which is destiny or God that overawes each one of us from time to time. Death and birth seem to be merely a predetermined coincidence, a part of the overall scheme of nature. What will be, will be.

Along with my above views I also mentioned a sad ironic fact that crime often gets provoked by the risks that the unsuspecting people take, esp. women, when they dare to venture out alone during dark hours. Am I blaming the victim? Not really. Taking precautions is what I suggest to my own family. Till the world becomes crime-free, that’s the best we can do, isn’t it?

Oh well, I do not seem to have found a solution here but I had my say. As Martin Luther said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”

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