A candle for Jiah
On what would have been her 27th birthday, writes to the late Jiah Khan about the futility of succumbing to a broken heart or a failed relationship
I write this on February 20th, on what would have been your 27th birthday had you lived.
So much has happened since that day two years ago, when in what must have been a very dark hour of your existence, you succumbed to your despair and took your own life, hanging yourself from the ceiling fan of your bedroom.
Other young girls with promise and talent like you have entered the film industry, their films have been appreciated and applauded, their careers have soared and their faces adorn the showbiz pages of the newspapers.
But all this has happened with one significant difference: your death has brought to the surface the extreme vulnerability that these girls are susceptible to — and the pitfalls that accompany a life of showbiz.
Because of your tragic death and the circumstances of it, I would like to believe that many other girls who have entered the movie industry are more aware of the pressures and loneliness that a life in showbiz requires, the daily attrition of emotions and the toll it can take on their self confidence and equanimity.
They know now of the shadows behind the beguiling smiles and the heartaches that are concealed behind those dazzling airbrushed movie stills.
Mercifully, there have been other timely and more positive reminders: recently, one of Bollywood’s most successful actresses Deepika Padukone created headlines when she made public her tryst with clinical depression, bringing that until-now shameful and unclaimed ailment into the spotlight and removing the stigma that had surrounded it till now.
The underlying message of her immensely brave and startling disclosure was that if someone as beautiful and successful as Deepika could suffer from feelings of wretchedness and despair and seek help for it, then millions of other women ought not to feel so wretched and despairing about having such feelings themselves. Depression is not a shameful secret to be borne alone and in shame, but a treatable and quotidian problem of our modern age and lifestyle — something that ought to be regarded with the same approach given to the common cold or flu.
Of course, Padukone’s disclosure, coming as it did two years after you killed yourself over what is said to be a broken heart over a failed and abusive relationship, comes too late for you.
Perhaps had it occurred while you were alive and suffering through your trauma, the signs of your own anguish and distress would have been better recognised for what they were: a cry for help.
But hindsight is a futile exercise, especially when it involves a young life lost tragically in the manner of your departure. Suffice to say that through the example of your tragic death and Deepika’s brave disclosure, other needless tragedies will be averted and individuals who suffer will seek help in time.
Of course, all this is little comfort for your family, Jiah. I see your mother’s worn and grief-lined face as I write this to you. Her life — every second of it — has been an unmitigated nightmare of sadness and hopelessness as she takes on various agencies to get you justice and retribution.
I wonder what you must feel when you witness her trauma and if you wish that instead of embarking on that rash irrevocable act of taking your own life, you had sought advice and help from the correct sources.
They would have told you, of course, that no one human being is worth losing the precious gift of a life over, and that bad days pass and the heart heals with the passage of time.
However, all this is neither here nor there today on what would have been your 27th birthday had you lived.
So for whatever it’s worth, happy birthday, Jiah. May you be at peace finally wherever you are. And may your memory serve as a grim reminder to other young girls about the futility of succumbing to a broken heart. No one and nothing is worth such pain.
With every good wish etc