Anuradha Vijayakrishnan’s “Suicide Note” [Read the poem here]
(First published in Issue #10 of Cha, this poem was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2010.)
The frog in Anuradha Vijayakrishnan’s “Suicide Note” occupies a staccato moment in time. He is the summation of all sadness, a hinge upon which absence and presence rotate, and beside whom Vijayakrishnan collects a panoply of grief:
To the frog at my doorstep that sang all night
To the cicadas that held unbroken vigil and would not sleep at dawn
To the rain clouds that held back till they burst
Is it possible that, even in clouds, the awe that accompanies such brooding sentience turns suddenly to unease and disillusionment?
Suicide is not the preserve of the cleverest animal, after all. Some breeds of Asian bear, holes drilled to their bladders, are known to mete self-destruction on themselves and their children. Rumours of rats, horses and dolphins in similar predicaments, drift down through medical journals and the lurid press, and scores of dogs, made cynical by their status and comfortable living, have leapt to their deaths from the Overtoun Bridge in Dumbarton. Bright beasts, of course, and humanised by disillusionment, but a similar impulse for voluntary self-destruction has been noted in strains of salmonella, which, witnessing the advance of a superior bacteria, cling to a cell wall and await inhalation by their host, happy in the knowledge that the force and potency of this ire will also obliterate its rival. Pea aphids explode beside a threatening bug, skin macheteing the air, termites cover their enemies with the sticky pith of their mortal bodies and small squadrons of the forelius pusillus ant stroll out to certain war happily as long as, in so doing, they seal their families safely in the nest behind them.
Vijayakrishnan seems at once to know, to harness, and to lose her position as head of the agency of shared grief on this earth, and lose it she must, to make her parting address:
To glow worms that gave me fire for as long
as it was needed
To the drenched clumps of grass that smell of moth wings
and butterfly love
To the golden deer that lingered just beyond
If not quite a happy loss, it is a satisfied and comfortable one. Suicide, decriminalised in England and Wales in 1961, has left a semantic bloodstain on the collective lexicon. The BBC, the Guardian and Observer and the Samaritans, have abandoned use the word ‘commit’ in their references to it (language theorists have suggest we ‘create’, ’induce’ or ‘chose’, for fewer criminal connotations).
Vijayakrishnan’s reader can witness a growing escape in this death, pain now a memory, auto-termination leading calmly to equilibrium and a renewable peace:
To the leftover noisiness of this marvellous day
To the shining lights of the neighbours and their last
To broken glass trails that will show the way to strangers
The poem ends where we began: the frog, now exhausted, and a human life in the balance. It is as if Socrates has sipped of his hemlock, feels it slowly drowning his feet and knows it will head for his heart, but slowly enough to deliver his final dialogue on the immortality of the soul:
To the quiet beating of my amazing heart
To my shaking hands
To blue ink and black and bruises that may or may not heal
Anuradha Vijayakrishnan was born in Cochin, India. She completed her Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering from Calicut University, Kerala and her postgraduate studies in Management from XLRI, Jamshedpur. A trained Carnatic singer, she lives in India/UAE and pursues a full time corporate career while writing both fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared inMagma, Asia Literary Review, Mascara, Indian Literature and Nth Position. Her poem The epiphyte speaks from Magma 44 is due to feature in Magma‘s anthology that commemorates its fifteenth anniversary. In 2007, Vijayakrishnan’s novel Seeing the Girl was long listed for the Man Asian Literary prize.