Monday, July 19, 2010

The Life & Death Of A Model

As life unfolded its quirks, she got used to living on a precipice. She was in and out of relationships. She fell apart from the guys whom she loved. For they ended up giving her more grief than solace. Finally she fell apart from herself. From becoming Miss Mauritius in the early 1990s to the voluptuous Kama-Sutra condom ad during the same decade, she had seen it all. Love and relationships, cocaine and champagne, trust and betrayals. She was settling down in Mumbai - an urban phantasmagoria of maddening frenzy. A city which did and undid her. Bollywood did not beckon her. She continued to struggle past her prime to establish herself. Sometime back she had started an event management company with one of her boyfriends. It did not work out. Then she embarked one on her own. And kept dabbling with fashion choreography. Only about a couple of months ago, she met another guy - much younger by age. She began to send him anonymous bouquet of flowers, while they were texting amorous sms-es. Love and passion got exchanged via BlackBerry and FaceBook. Once, he had even promised her total loyalty, to assuage her from her spiralling bouts of insecutiry. She began to nurture the obsession of matrimony in her mind. Probably as a panacea to all the ills of a failing life. As a therapy to her fractured soul.

He was just in for a fling. Being a serial-dater, he revelled in lavish parties and in the company of the bold and the beautiful. Simultaneously involved with others as well. When she confronted him head-on, he confessed her that he was not ready for any real commitment. What she might have apprehended all along would have been spelt lucidly by him in black and white. A dreaded nightmare came true, shattering all the castles in her mindscape. A bloodied altercation followed that night. He left her flat and drove his car back home, safely. After many hours of trauma and turbulence, she scribbled in her diary, 'Why are you not able to understand me..Will I've to be reborn for you to understand me..You've become dear to me in such a small time..Why can't you even give me a small place in your life..', appending his name in between those broken lines with a final sentence, 'You killed me..', before sedating herself more. Not to take any chances, she opened her gas stove on. She then took a rope and hung herself. When the door was broke open after more than twelve hours, they could immediately find only four of her six pet cats. They other two were found much later - hiding, shivering and scared. Their fond eyes carried away with them, the multiple truths and manifold tales in the life of the dusky exquisite damsel Viveka Babajee, into the eternal highway, which she had always longed for.

Modelling is no easy job. It is a tough career to opt for. The competetion is cut-throat. Slips are too many. And the speed to catch up is dizzying. The fashion industry is a complex labyrinth. Young people with chiselled bodies get caught in the whirlpool of desire to make it real big and earn a good lot of money. And not just the brawn. Even their brains are sharper. They are as clever as any fellow competitor in any other domain of modern existence and its varied markets. Many models in the post-liberalisation scenario are deft in playing the dubious game with mind-blowing ruthlessness and astonishing aplomb. They do not yell as seriously hilarious as Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Tom Cruise did in that memorable Jerry Maguire, but simply hiss into your ears with a spine-chilling sternness : show me the money! Strange but true, the archaic notions of feminism are being forcibly redefined. The fashion industry and modelling world do not simply stereotype women into the dominant narratives as stipulated and fantasised by the Western Anglo-Saxonic White male gaze. They do not dumbly prejudice the younger generation of girls, guys and LGBT to ape the unrealistic physical beauty standards resulting in a skewed relationship with their body images. On the contrary, it has opened up a plethora of multicultural spaces for the Black, the Brown, the Yellow and the Rainbow coloured to create their own stratagems of empowerment. Encompassing all the genders and the transgendered. In fact, this is the only post-modern domain where gender-bender is at its exuberant zenith!

Life is not always beautiful. In the developing Afro-Asian world, the social moorings still play a crucial role in shaping the destiny of individuals. They classify successes and failures in an insidious and topsy-turvy manner, wrecking havoc in the lives of many a sensitive beings. One should be shamelessly thick-skinned and psycho-pathologically tough to survive the prodding and the beating. Being complicit with all the murky games of existence is no easy task. To piece together the splintered self and yet to prance around with a smug smile takes a heavy toll. Body and soul. Some might be able to make it. And some might flounder and fall down on the wayside. It is not because of one's inherent strength or weakness that they happen. The question of Chance versus Necessity haunt and baffle humanity from the times of Plato's dear bete noire Democritus to Jacques Monod. It is easy to pontificate as to why Viveka Babajee should not have committed suicide. There may be dime a dozen reasons and logic as to how she ought to have continued to live like the rest of us. Probably she should have got married to a wacko and lived a dead life. Is it so Herculean to learn a few basic tricks and professionally manage the matrimonial show? I do not intend to be judgemental about her suicide. It's her life. And she has exercised her sacrosanct right to die. It is unfair and tragic. But it is her deliberate choice. So be it.  

Not all suicides are as honourable and heroic as the seppuku or hara-kiri of a Japanese Samurai. In most of the cases, it is the consequence of unbearable pain and anguish, loneliness and misery. To take the ultimate step of annihilating one's own victimised self by physical extermination is excruciating. The theoretical underpinnings of karma and reincarnation, which are common amongst most of the ancient religions, do not endorse the idea of suicide. But the tormented self, who opts for such an extreme step of suicide, might probably be longing to transmigrate into a better soul and body in the forthcoming rebirth. But I wonder if at all any longing would exist at that stage of despondency. Who knows. On this planet Earth, millions of species are born and dead during every second of the maha kaala chakra. Human species is just one of it. Nevertheless, each life of every species is precious and sacred. The mystical experience called death should happen as natural and as celebratory as life. That can be our only prayer. The least that life can expect from any responsible being is that one should not get caught in a vicious trap of one's own making in the name of some so-called love, upstart materialism and half-baked spirituality. Finally ending up vainly in such a futile exit. The suicide of Viveka Babajee disturbs us more than the hundreds of other deaths that we read everyday in the media. Naturally so. Because she is part of our aspirational middle class, with the same value systems, dilemmas and hypocrisies. She is one of us. We share similar dreams and delusions, fantasies and nightmares, successes and failures. More than that, it makes us feel indirectly guilty as well. For we have devoured the erotic images of Viveka Babajee like rodents in lurch. Objectified her body and consumed it hardcore. Her suicide has exposed certain disconcerting fault-lines in our sanctimonious double standards regarding love, sex and marriage. But we would surreptitiously camouflage it in order to go around with our saccharine deceptions. And we shall label it as successful living.  Andy Warhol, the towering figure of the pop-art movement had prognosed in the late 1960s that, in the future, eveyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes! Sadly in the case of Viveka Babajee, it has become posthumous.


  1. It is heart-rending to read your moving blog on the suicide of that beautiful model Viveka Babajee. Your perspective on the futility of suicide and the sacredness of life is enlightening. I am very much touched by your writing.

  2. Have read this post atleast 5 or 6 times, and everytime i read it, i was mesmerised by the blogger's style of writing, depth of knowledge and analysis of the human mind.

    Have been wondering whether the post is a narration of facts which runs like a movie in one's mind OR an insight into the fashion industry OR a feminist's talk on relationships OR a psychoanalyst's interpretation of human psyche OR a philosophical discussion on the compulsions of suicide OR a simple obituary!
    All the aspects have been blended so beautifully and made into a complete picture that one just keeps looking at the picture like a child who is awed by the beauty of nature!

    "She is one of us" -- almost brought me to tears.. May Viveka Babajee's soul rest in peace!

    According to me, this is one of your BEST posts. Hope you keep feeding our minds with such literary delicacies!!

  3. On reading your article, a story comes to my mind. A person was standing on the banks of ganges and looking at the peices of wood coming downstream along the river. That time of the day the river was in flow near him and he was happy looking at those peices. Next day when he again came at the bank of the river, he started weeping. On being asked of the reason, he lamented that the peices of wood are flowing at a distance from him. What difference should the wood make to him. Whether they flow near to him or at a distance should not make any difference to him. But alas! Such is our doing. We start taking pleasures in the things of the world. The pain is only a consequence. Only if we follow what Krishna says viz 'Sam Sukhah Dukhah sva-sthah' i.e equanimity in pleasure and pain and Atma-leen (Sva-sthah) i.e absorbed in the self. The changes occuring in the body, mind, and intellect should not be bothering us as we are different from them. By our very nature we are chetan swaroop (one with the almighty). But identifying with the things of the prakriti we get absorbed in it and start treating the body, manas, buddhi to be our own whereas these things are owned by prakriti.

    This is easier said than done. But once we start on this path, we get protection from powers that be and also we get ample guidance. Only if we are steadfast in our resolve to shun the prakriti and behold the parmatma. After that there is no pain or life or death for the person. Every person is given Vivek (power of discrimination) to put a foot on this path. This Vivek was given to Viveka Babaji also. But she didnot give respect to it. Thinking that suicide will take away the pains is a misnomer. The life is seamless even after this body. The 'I' remains the same. What she has escaped now would again haunt her back more ferociously. So whenever, we are face to face with trouble or pain, whether physical or emotional, we should make eye contact with it and face it with all our might or pray to the God to give us strength but not run away. Certainly not like what Viveka Babaji has done.

  4. I read u'r blog on the life and death of a model. It makes me feel to read it again and again.. Eventhough I don't know anything about her, my heart ached after reading about her suicide. Especially when seeing the line, "you killed me".
    As we know very well that, in Maha kaala chakra, no one can't escpae from death. but some might be able to accept the natural death and celebrate it like all of us. And some might find their own way like Viveka Babajee.

    The beauty and true fact of u'r writing style makes us to feel, understand and accept the true fact of everything.. Especially whatever u said about life and death is very apt. Each and every line was very nice..
    U r correct.."Life is not always beautiful"!

  5. Your narration of the life of the model is deeply moving. The blog makes us ponder over life and its complexities.

    Suicides among all forms of deaths are disturbing - be it of a model or a teenager. Each one may have their own reason - so called flimsy to not so tenous. Yet it is a conscious decision of the individual to meet death guided by either momentary reasons or elaborate deliberations and that is disturbing.

    What pushes an individual to the brink. What were the failed expectations, aspirations that resulted in despondency. Why should they ever be in relation to others.How can we blame anyone for the misery we bring upon ourselves. Where were the support systems-- Questions galore..

    Myriad of emotions flash through in your blog. From "He left her flat and drove his car back home, safely." to writing the harsh realities of fashion industry to expressing ' Is it too Herculean to learn a few basic tricks.." They show the journey of your thought process.

    You've expressed your anguish very aptly of the individuals getting engulfed in the vicious trap of one's own making in the name of so called love, upstart materialism & half baked spirituality. This is the line I liked the best. But how many of us have the exposure, the clarity to know what these are and the support systems to understand and guide in times of crisis..

  6. red earth and pouring rainJuly 23, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    so, sathyu is still sad even after 12 days of mourning of model. that is why i say we should build thatched house in no man's land in Mudumalai biosphere reserve, Ooty where Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Kerala unwillingly meets together. There, Time will be our servant. Success and Failure would be clinging to Earth like dry leaves without any meaning.We will be far away from maddening sight and sound show of urban life and its Expressway.

  7. Satya, i thinks it is time for you to enter the bigger league of writing a novel. Try it. Don't quit blogging but. otherwise so many readers will be dissapointed.

    Devajyoti Ray

  8. dear satyamoorthy
    in the article, i dont like only one phrase "middle class". u may search to change it. Or imagine writing such obituary to anyone from the Minister to Model with the words "aspirational middle class", it fits in . u can shrink the whole world with the word aspirational middle class.

    2. "The suicide of Viveka Babajee disturbs us more than the hundreds of other deaths that we read everyday in the media" in this regard, I think, that u think that u are the world.U know it didnt catch the prime time on the other day in delhi channels. They just docketing the news under the title "Chronicle of the deaths catwalked by models". In India if delhi is not disturbed nothing disturbed & forthwith u cannot use the word everyone. There u can put some other word, like, people in Pune, people lived in her street, her relatives, her 2-3 friends, or me. Since u felt the demise personally, condolences sathya.

  9. I think that he thinks that he is thinking. But I think that he is just not able to.
    What do you think!

  10. Ego plays a role in suicide. A person feels that his concept of HE/SHe cannot face what life has in store the next day.