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Loneliness can kill

Ayinoor Vasu

A man who fought for justice is arrested and thrown into solitary confinement for seven years. There are many others also accused of the same crime along with him and given the same punishment. A few of these others die in jail out of grief caused by loneliness. They were tortured in the jail for being Naxalites. It is not the torture that kills them, however. What kills them is their impossibility to communicate their sorrows to someone who cares to listen. A few others of the same group are driven mad by loneliness. By their being not able to communicate their feelings to someone who cares to listen.  But our hero survives. He survives because he makes a friend in the solitary confinement. A squirrel. A squirrel that comes near the window of his cell becomes his friend. He started by sharing his food with the little creature. While the squirrel ate the food, he spoke to it. Eventually the squirrel became a listener. Became a friend.

The man is Ayinoor Vasu, a human rights activist and a trade unionist from Kerala.

When all others who were arrested along with him went mad or died in the jail, Vasu’s survival astonished the jailers. They started observing him surreptitiously in order to unearth his secret. The consequence of that surveillance was that the innocent squirrel was killed by the police.

The squirrel and the police is a different story that is worth a detailed study especially in India where innocence dies every moment these days. And not in prisons.

My theme here is loneliness. Loneliness can kill.

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, psychology professor, says that loneliness is a big killer. It carries the same health risk as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to her.

We all need love. We need to love and be loved. We need to hug and be hugged. People who are incapable of loving and being loved often embrace religious asceticism and many of them wreak havoc on others with the poison of their impotence to love and be loved. They make a virtue of their celibacy. If only they possessed the virtue of love and compassion!

Can the ocean understand the angst of the land without embracing the shore?

Julianne Holt-Lunstad

PS. I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z 

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  1. A heart wrenching ending to the tale. Police brutality plumbing new depths.

  2. The squirrel is killed. How vile to do so......they serving punishment was not enough? What's background of the is ayinoor vasu now?

    You ended it with a wonderful's true loneliness kills but some people choose to be in solitude ...alone and loneliness different concepts i suppose...great msg on love

    Dropping by from a to z

    1. Killing the squirrel was to inflict psychological pressure on Vasu, a vile tactic.

      Vasu continues to fight for justice and human rights.

  3. The story of the squirrel being killed to inflict psycological pressure on Ayinoor Vasu, is the depth of police barabrity.

    "Can the ocean understand the angst of the land without embracing the shore?" This was so beautiful yet heartbreaking, Sir. Loneliness is the epidemic we are soon going to face, considering our addictions to the digital world

    1. I live in a state where the children go abroad and parents live alone in big houses. But at least these parents have each other for company. However, loneliness is an increasing problem now. Sometimes that's caused by over-reliance on digital technology.

  4. Your post is so true... the killing of the squirrel is sad. Your last line is so beautiful. Loneliness can be devastating, indeed! Only a strong person can rise above it.

  5. Hari OM is interesting in comments that it is considered that loneliness can comed as a result of this digital age, while the recent epidemic has proven that it is the very digital connections that acts as The Squirrel for us all. I still remain isolated (and that is what is actually meant - alone-ness must not be conflated with loneliness) due to the health situation, but with all my warm and wonderful internet connections, not for one moment have I felt loneliness. The digital age can and does lend itself to societal avoidance for some (particuarly teenagers, is the trope) - but again that is not loneliness...

    But I digress; the point of your post holds. Those who endure the full force of total isolation will surely be mentally affected. One cannot actually die from the condition of being alone, however, mentally, the will to survive is reduced as who or what is there to live for? Then there is the physical effect of reduced appetite and lowering of immunity to infection, as well as other possibly physiological reactions to the confinement that prisoners in particular have to endure. Then there is the flattening, the stomping of the ego that these police officers inflicted by removing the one connection your 'hero' had; bitter indeed.

    What we all require, as you end, is that capital 'ell' L=Love! YAM xx

    1. Thank you for the detailed response. Loneliness is very different from solitude, no doubt. I tell my students that one is a choice while the other is an imposition. I too live in partial solitude: I hardly spend time with people of my village. But i have my wife for company. Then there are students at school. But the partial solitude is my choice.

      Digital world has become a kind of escape for too many now.

  6. I am appalled at this atrocity. To what extent can our 'guardians' go to break us! I am angry, very angry.

    1. This is happening every single day, Sonia. We don't get to know about much of it, that's all.

  7. Just before reading your post, I read Swarnali Nath's post that talked about Lykke, a Danish term to put in use for making life easy and happy to live. Lykke is based on a handful of key terms concerning life, one of them being togetherness. And when I read this post, I felt it was a great coincidence.
    Loliness is a curse.
    During COVID my better half was alone at France. Along with my children I was at Mumbai as my elder one was preparing for his medical entrance. While COVID postponed my relocation of by good six months, my better half endured the first and the strictest lockdown in France alone. He was new to the country and had just a handful of people from his company on his dial pad. Though we would talk over video calls twice a day it never sufficed. Maintaining the sanity while being alone and facing the uncertain times was the worst anyone could have. Thankfully those days are over and gone. But the scary memories still sends shiver down my spine.

    1. I too read Swarnali's post on Lykke. Togetherness makes a world of difference in our life. Even 26 years after marriage, I would find it impossible to be separated from my wife. So I can understand your anguish.

  8. Until we collectively end our barbaric behavior towards one another, there will continue to be these stories of atrocities we must mourn. But it indeed is a good reminder that loneliness is devasting, and hopefully inspires each one of us to reach out to others.

    1. Barbarity will continue until some evolutionary mutation takes place, I think. Have we come any far from the days of the savage except in science and technology? Our hearts remain as savage as in those ancient days!

  9. It is an unbearable pain, our society go through. Towns and villages became an abode of elders after their kids move to cities/oversea. Most of the time, they need someone to talk to them.


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