I have been thinking railway tracks.
That’s too messy. And what an annoying pain in the backside, not only for the family, but also the general public.
Surely, I will mention that my loving family must not be harassed for my actions. You needn’t worry.
There is an uncanny humour in discussing suicide with your father. It is especially remarkable since he is the one seeking the alternatives. The threats my Dad makes are more like an inquiry into the measure of our love. I do not give him that pleasure; I better let this remain an ordinary discussion, like the one you have at a grocery store debating purchases.
Post-mortem, putting together your pieces, funeral expenses, and a ghastly sight you will leave for the living. Have you considered drowning?
Drowning doesn’t make the cut! I know how to swim. In fact, I have saved a couple of lives too.
Oh then a river won’t do. You may need an ocean. Again, it is too much work. What about a drug overdose?
Hmm…pills sound better. But still wouldn’t be fool proof, would it?
Well, I can’t say. Your meds may do the trick, but what if you don’t die? You will end up being much more burdensome than you already think you are.
That is true. You all have been so loving but I don’t deserve it. You are in danger because of me.
Dad, let us think about dying some other day. Living is difficult, but death is terribly inconvenient.
My father has had schizophrenia for over 25 years. His diet comprises of low-sugar food (he is also diabetic) and an assortment of pills that help him sleep with less anxiety. He cannot sleep without them now. He engages in conversations although the range of discussion or insight is not what it used to be. He has moments where he exudes charm and intelligence of old with an innocent heart on display.
My father does not have friends, but lately he has become uncharacteristically expressive in his love for us. My mother and her folks were kept in the dark regarding his ‘problem’ before their marriage, and it is a guilt that still pains my father more than anyone else. My mother has been a pillar of support for the family and provided for our well-being, even when my father lost his job, with my brother and me still in school. My parents are beyond 60 and have never been fitness icons; the stress of the past is reflecting in my mother’s poor health. Over the past few years, the sons have taken over the caretakers’ reins.
The death threats are in semi-jest. Death is a tempting exit from all his fears. But he is as scared of death as any other man, even though the world he experiences is a predatory world – one where he is the premier prey. Everyone is out to harm him (and his family), rob them of their happiness and dignity. In his world, he keeps his enemies closest. The chief enemies/predators are intelligence agencies, the police, watchmen, and regular people in khakis (the last category he just finds suspicious and unnerving). They want him for grave crimes he thinks he has committed, from which he is hiding each day. They may not be friends the way we define them, but they have become an integral part of the world he lives in. Their existence and the dangers they pose are more real to him than most others matters. I can only hope that someday, he will find friends in his enemies. Someday, he will be open to the possibilities that he is really not a criminal.
My father doesn’t realize that intentionally missing medication and skipping the daily walk to keep diabetes at bay is more frightening, more dangerous than the concocted, coagulated realities that plague him. I have made a lot of strides in understanding him and his world, but I fail as much as I succeed.
My dad gets the best and the worst out of me. Sometimes, he scares me.
I love him, and it is a daily struggle coated with levity and guilt.