Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

Picture taken from internet

Picture taken from internet

At a time when Indian men are making headlines for all the wrong reasons, this story comes as a breath of fresh air – reinforcing the fact that there are more good men in this world than bad. This story is about four men, who went out of their way to make a difference in a woman’s life.

This story takes off when a few months back my close friend from South Point School, Joydeep Sengupta, who works at CESC and lives in Kolkata, was running his last check on Facebook before he retired to bed. A status update drew his attention.

Joydeep Sengupta didn't have Samrajni's address. He just knew he had to stop her.

Joydeep Sengupta didn’t have Samrajni’s address. He just knew he had to stop her from committing suicide

From here I am penning the story in Joydeep’s own words:

“Her message on FB said she wanted to end her life that night”

10.30pm

I had joined a group of like-minded people on FB. Few I knew in this group, most I didn’t and some I had met at a get-together organised by the group. Now the status that was in front of me was written by a lady named Samrajni Sengupta, who belonged to the same group. The update on her Timeline said she wanted to end her life that night because she didn’t find life worth living. I was in shock. I had met her just once at the get-together and knew from a common friend that she was having some issues in her marriage. Beyond that I didn’t know anything.

Within seconds other people had seen the message too and we started talking in the group wall, although there was no way of reaching out to her because she had logged out.

“I didn’t know where she lived but I left home to find her”

11pm

Once I recovered from my shock, I decided that I could not sit back at home and do nothing about it. I had to try and stop her. People in our group could tell vaguely that she lived in Garia, located in the southern fringes of Kolkata, but beyond that no information was available. Another member of our group, Sourav Sarkar, who works as a crew member in Air India International and lives in Behala like me, wanted to join me too. We managed to hail a cab and left for Garia.

Sourav Sarkar joined Joydeep in his mission to find Samrajni

Sourav Sarkar joined Joydeep in his mission to find Samrajni

“We wandered aimlessly on the streets as the minutes ticked by

12am

Let alone an address, we didn’t even know a proper landmark near her house. We just had the belief that we had to stop her, somehow. Standing in the middle of the road in the middle of the night, we were not willing to give up hope. Nor were at least 30 people from our group, not only from Kolkata, but even the US and other parts of India, who were all logged in and were desperately trying to use their networks to find someone, who could give her address. Finally, Somnath Chowdhury, a law graduate, who lives in Baranagar, and belongs to our group, said that one day he was travelling with Samrajni in the bus and she pointed at an apartment building and told him it was her home. He vaguely remembered where it was and could guide us.

“Monali Sengupta woke up her husband and told him to help us out

1am

While Somnath was on the phone describing landmarks to us and we were trying to follow his directions, the exasperation was building up. We were really worried that we might have lost all the time in our search and wouldn’t be successful in our mission. On top of that there was nobody on the road to ask for directions and all the gates of the apartment buildings were locked.

Meanwhile, Monali Sengupta, mother of a one-year-old, who lives in the same area, was awake and was just browsing through FB when she chanced upon our exchanges on the wall. She didn’t know any of us, just saw a connection through a common friend, but she woke up her husband Sayan Sengupta and told him to call me. My number was on the wall by then. She felt that since her husband knew the area well, he might be able to help in the search. At 1am Sayan came down from his apartment and joined us but we failed to find the building despite his help and Somnath’s directions.

Sayan Sengupta did not know any of them but joined them in the search

Sayan Sengupta did not know any of them but joined them in the search

“Somnath travelled an hour to join us”

2am

After trying so hard I wasn’t ready to live with the fact that I wasn’t successful in reaching Samrajni. Both Saurav and Somnath agreed with me. That is why Somnath decided to come down from Baranagar – which is located in north Kolkata and is more than an hour’s journey from Garia – to join us. He was sure if he was in the area he would be able to recognize the apartment building.

“At 2am Sayan took two unknown men home”

2.30am

Sayan didn’t want us to stand on the road and wait for Somnath, so he took us home. The fact that he did not know us at all, and that it was 2am, did not make any difference to him or his wife Monali. Sitting in their house, we all hoped and prayed together that we would be able to save Samrajni.

“We jumped over the wall of the apartment building to reach the watchman’s room”

3.30am

Somnath came and he managed to point out the building to us. We had no option but to jump over the wall in order to reach the watchman’s room. We woke him up and asked him if Samrajni Sengupta lived in the building. Initially he wasn’t sure who we were, but sensing our urgency and proper intent said he would take us to her apartment.

Somnath Chowdhury travelled for an hour in the middle of the night to ensure Samrajni was safe

Somnath Chowdhury travelled for an hour in the middle of the night to ensure Samrajni was safe

“We were not sure if we were too late”

4am

Samrajni’s father opened the door and was shocked to see the three of us – Saurav, Somnath and I standing there. We told him to call Samrajni without asking any further questions. He said she was sleeping with her door closed. I felt a knot in my stomach and a cold sweat. Were we too late? He knocked on her door and our heart was racing. She finally opened. We were almost jumping with joy seeing her alive. When we told her why we had come she just couldn’t believe it.

SAMRAJNI SENGUPTA tells her story:

“These guys came as messiahs and taught me to think anew”

I was in severe depression due to the situation I was in and had developed a suicidal tendency. I started feeling that if I ended my life all my problems would come to an end. After writing on FB that I would end my life that night I had started making the preparations for doing so. My mother, who had been keeping a close watch on me, sensed my intent and insisted on sleeping with me that night. I remember I kept crying and my mother consoled me and tried to put sense into my head. She stroked my forehead till I fell asleep at around 4am. Then father woke us up.

I was so groggy I couldn’t understand why Joydeep, Sourav and Somnath had come. When they told me I felt like they had come like a new morning in my life. I had reached the lowest point of my self confidence and felt the world was full of horrible people and bad things kept happening to me all the time. Their efforts and those of all the people, who stayed glued to FB to make sure that I was safe, made me believe that there is good in this world.

I am a 38-year-old divorcee with a 12-year-old son, who studies in a good boarding school in Kolkata. I did not take any alimony from my husband because it hurt my pride. I met this other gentleman on Facebook, who is in his early 50s and he wanted to marry me. We had a registration marriage and soon he took me to Dubai, where he works and lives, on a resident visa. There my nightmare started. He lived in a 10X10 single room, expected me to do all the housework and he turned into a pervert and sadist the moment he came home from work. He beat me up at the slightest opportunity. Once he even broke my arm and took me to a doctor a month later when I was screaming in pain. He constantly threatened to kill me and if I raised my voice, his brutality increased. I didn’t know anyone in Dubai and I couldn’t figure out where I could go for help. I just wanted to escape from his clutches. So when he agreed to buy me tickets to see my parents I found my escape. When I did not return he kept calling me and harassing me over the phone and he even told my parents that they were actually doing “business” through me.

I was also facing acute financial woes and did not have enough money to file a divorce suit against him. I thought death would rescue me from this mess.

But these guys came as messiahs and taught me to think anew. I have never thought of suicide after that night. I know no matter what, I will have to live for my son. Now I know these wonderful people are there to support me if I need them. I am not alone in my fight anymore.

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Bengali actress Koneenica Banerjee

Bengali actress Koneenica Banerjee

When I was working as an entertainment journalist in Kolkata I was always fascinated by Bengali actress Koneenica Banerjee’s in-your-face honesty when she talked about the perils women face in filmdom. Koneenica never had any qualms about admitting that she got “casting couch” propositions every other day and because she turned them down she often didn’t get roles.

The girl – who shot to fame with the role of Pakhi in the superhit Bengali serial Ek Akasher Niche went on to do memorable roles in a number of Bengali films and serials – also decided to try her luck in Mumbai. With an impressive CV she was brimming with confidence that her work would speak for her. On the contrary while standing at the endless queues at the auditions everyday she realized Mumbai was a different ballgame altogether.

Bollywood actress Jiah Khan committed suicide on June 3, 2013 by hanging herself

Bollywood actress Jiah Khan committed suicide on June 3, 2013 by hanging herself

When I asked her about what she thought of the suicide of Jiah Khan, Koneenica told me over phone from Kolkata, “I know what she felt because I have gone through the exact situation. I am no one to judge why she did this but if media reports are to be believed Jiah Khan was depressed about lack of roles and at the same time a letter written by her talks about the pain she felt for the demise of her relationship with her boyfriend. I have faced rejection day in and day out and I plunged into depression after my break-up. When I finally came back to Kolkata from Mumbai I couldn’t go out or speak to people for months.”

Here is what Koneenica told me: 

“In Bollywood if you sleep with 10,000 men it does not ensure you a role”

If you are an aspiring actress every man in the industry – from the spot boy to the top producer – wants to sleep with you with the promise of a role. But even after that there is no guarantee that the role will come. Most often it doesn’t.

I am an actress and not a prostitute”

It is true that nobody rapes you in the film industry and it is your choice if you want to warm up anyone’s bed. But now more than a choice it has become something like a norm. But what I find ridiculous is if women are with men they are quickly branded as “bad women” and talked about while men get away with the light tag of “industry playboy”.

I have chosen not to bow down to this norm and have suffered immensely. But I have ensured a peaceful night’s sleep that way although I have been called a “jobless actress” many times.

 “One influential man with connections in the film industry asked me if I was a virgin”

One powerful man even asked me that why am I behaving like a virgin in a place like the film industry. I told him on his face that I just didn’t like him so I refused to be with him. I was laughing to myself in my heart because I knew about his waning influence in the film industry although he tried hard to convince me that he had the real passport to my fame in Mumbai. I know there are plenty of women who still believe him.

Koneenica at a recent photoshoot. (Photograph taken from her Facebook page)

Koneenica at a recent photoshoot. (Photograph taken from her Facebook page)

If Hrithik comes up with a proposition I will definitely consider it”

I don’t want to project myself as a Sati Savitri (pure chaste woman). But the thought of being with ugly, pot bellied men, with no knack for a conversation is truly repulsive. It is repulsive to think that I will be with these men to get a role, and as I said earlier, a role that does not come with a “guarantee card”. But if someone like Hrithik Roshan or Brad Pitt tells me the same in return for a role it is definitely worth considering.

“During my almost 4 years stay in Mumbai I went for more than 800 auditions”

While in Mumbai I did one telefilm, one reality show called Sarkaar Ki Duniya and a few ad films but I must say every audition was a harrowing experience. I had to stand in long queues all through the day and then people handling the auditions often had no respect for us and misbehaved. As the days passed by I realized that when they were looking for a new face acting prowess was the last thing on their mind. But after an audition sometimes it happened that they pulled a chair for me and offered me water and spoke respectfully. I think that was my moment of truth and I would cherish those moments. Of course, the role always went to someone with good connections. Chances were no one standing in that long queue got the role.

“Being alone in Mumbai is the toughest thing”

After a day like this where you are pushed and shoved at every audition when I came back to an empty home I felt the walls came to gobble me up. Then money was a major issue. I had to count every penny and spend carefully. Something I was not used to doing in my fairly cushy home in Bhowanipore in Kolkata. Also it is very hard to find real friends in Mumbai who would care for you without a motive.

When I used to have differences with my ex-boyfriend he would often tell me I had gone mad but I never told him anything of that sort in return. I knew he lived alone and it was extremely upsetting to go back to an empty home and keep questioning your own sanity and credibility.

“Sometimes I have been mentally tortured”

This has happened in Kolkata even when directors have misbehaved with me on the sets and told me I am not good enough. They have compared me with other actresses and told me they were better.

But thankfully I have had directors who have told me that they are my fan. I choose to cherish those words and ignore the rest.

“My family saved me from the brink”

By God’s grace I have a family who were always with me even when I was alone in Mumbai. I could pick up the phone and talk anytime to my mother, sister, uncle or father. I think this connection helped me immensely. I always knew that whatever happened I could go back to Kolkata, to my home, and I would not be judged by my family.

With time your perspective of life changes. When I was going through these phases I started questioning myself if I am the one who is running against the tide? I read up books, I did meditation and reiki and realized that at the end of the day I have to be at peace with myself. Now that I am back in Kolkata I am also thankful to have some true friends.

I have never contemplated suicide”

After being constantly rejected in the film industry and having a break-up with my boyfriend my confidence reached the nadir. But I always believe in re-incarnation and my soul is the only connection with God and I have no right to harm this soul. Now that I am in a better place mentally I know I have to stay mentally and physically fit for my own good.

“If my life is a book I want to read till the end”

Every experience, be it bad or good, teaches you something and enriches you. I think my experiences make me the person I am. I don’t believe in giving up and I have to read the book till the end to know how it all ended. I want to know what the future finally has in store for me.

(Koneenica has recently worked in two Bengali films Kapurush O Mahapurush and Ganesh Talkies.)