TO THINK TOO long about someone’s suicide feels like trespass. To imagine the moment’s tableau with any kind of colour (caps returned to their bottles, tightened) or to dwell on the arrangements made ($30,000 a year left for the Jack Russell) feels like taking a torchlight to the final darkness, the last silence of the mind. Kate killed herself when I was thirteen. Now, thirteen years later, I find I am beginning to question the details. I can’t help but unpick her resolve. Was a life without her guru too unbearable? Did he advise her to do it? I almost have to coax these questions out of hiding. Asking them feels defiant, rebellious – they ring like insults. My natural state is an old loyalty. Respect as reflex.
Kate was the second wife of my parents’ spiritual teacher. She was forty-one when she killed herself; she did it only days after her husband died of cancer. Vijay was seventy-five by then. He had implied over the course of his life as a yoga teacher and spiritual guru that he could cure cancer. I’m told his death certificate reads heart attack instead. Most stories about Vijay are often, in reality, rumours in triplicate, different retellings of the same event. His death was no different. The third account: he died of complications from an old spider bite. This is what his community of followers were told when we first heard he died.
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