January 17, 2010

I read - over and over - about Asim Butt's suicide today. I never knew him (and now I never will) so what right do I have - I wonder - to be so very curious about him? I dislike my own morbidity even as I read about him (on various people's blogs) and can't seem to help asking the one question that no one seems to be able to answer.


Why would a man with talent (he was an artist), with a cause (a political activist), with a mission (he launched a graffiti campaign against dictatorship, back in the day) and enough courage to fight for what he believed in (instead of spewing out ineffective vitriol like some of do) decide kill himself? Why did he do it? What single straw made him decide his life was no longer worth living? What made him stop fighting and simply - in one final, irrevocable decision - give in to the inevitable?

Like Asim, many of us out there are walking around the peripheries of disillusionment. Life hands out disappointment as if dispensing toffees to hungry children. There seems to be no way to escape unharmed, intact, whole from the experience of living. And the scars, we treat them like wounds of war. Some of us hide them, others nurture them. Either way, we put them up in a special place where can gaze upon them from time to time and remember the experiences that put them there.

But in moments like these I truly wonder what it's all about.

Why are we fighting? Why would we not, like he seems to have done, look at life in the eye - smile - and escape it's dreary reality. I know we don't know what comes after death. But to tell you the truth we don't really know what comes next in life either. What makes us think reality is better than the alternative? Is the simple fact that we 'live' enough to convince us that despite all the pain, life is better than what comes after?

Is taking your own life a symbol of defeat? Or, like Nietzsche says, is it the only 'real' choice a person has in this world. It somewhat unnerves me that I'm thinking all of this through. More, it unnerves me that I mourn a choice made by someone who I never knew. But I do. And even as I do I seek to understand it. For Asim, it seems that to live, or not to live, THAT was the question.

His answer, is evident.

Now the question is: what is mine?


Khizzy said...

what unnerves me is that you've managed to put all my thoughts of the past few days into a coherent post.


Anonymous said...

We studied from the same art school, he was my senior. I didn't know him personally but I too keep questioning myself what choice would I have made.

He was my neighbour and I only found out after he died. He leaves behind a very very heartbroken grand mother.

owais said...

I just came to know about Asim Butt through your post. When I goggled up, I found that he indeed was a beautiful artist and his death is a terrific loss for the society. May his soul rest in peace….:(

But the same question: Why?

jammie said...

i think there are some people who feel too deeply- for whom (like it can for others) cynicism, idealism dont provide the necessary escapes from what is popularly the morbid reality of the times. I think for anyone who feels that deeply about the world, surviving it is hard. Harder than actually admitting defeat. If in fact that is what he thought his suicide signifies. Maybe to him, as an artist it was a statement, maybe to him, it was making a point a statement to make people think- I dont know. I am also thinking aloud trying to make sense of what seems superficially like such a waste of a talented thinking individual- the kind we desperately need in the world today.

I knew him as a student- and as my sisters friend but I know his mom well and my heart aches for what she is going through. I think no matter how hard it would get on earth, in real life, anyone would be tempted to give it another shot if they could only glimpse what their mom goes through at their defeat.

this was my two-bit.

OnLY OnE..! said...

that was such a deep post about suicide. I think you penned down something most of us wonder A LOT of times!

I hope his family gets peace.
And through this post I got to know about a great someone. So thanks, he will definitely be missed in his community.

M. said...

Xeb, apparently Asim Butt in his undergraduate days led a one man campaign of sorts to change the 'universal education' degree at lums to the 'social sciences' degree.

how many people do we all know with that degree?

i don't know what else to say that already hasn't been said.

Xeb said...

M: Asim Butt was at LUMS? I thought he was an indus grad. And I'm an SS major from lums....

M. said...

He was.

Anonymous said...

Asim attended Lums, UCLA for graduate studies and later pursued arts at Indus. I think Why is the question we all wish we could get an answer to but you should know that he suffered from Bipolar and we should spread awareness of his disease so we can help others.