My birth is my fatal accident, remembering Rohith Vemula’s last letter

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: January 21, 2019

His letter is a searing reminder of how little has changed when it comes to offering an unconditional opportunity to bright marginalised students in prejudiced and casteist democracies.


Rohith vemula
 
It has been three years since Rohith passed away after hanging himself in a friend's room.
 
Many say that Rohith Vemula, a Dalit student and a PhD candidate at the University of Hyderabad, was a victim of institutional murder, often inflicted on Dalits and marginalised like him. Many believe that casteism killed the young scholar.
 
He was one of the five PhD students who had been expelled for successfully protesting the high-handedness of the authorities, sleeping out in the open since the night of January 4, 2016, when the doors to their rooms were illegally locked though they had been quietly studying in their rooms following the suspension. SabrangIndia had carried a story on the protest on January 12. His colleagues were in a day-long meeting and it appears that Rohith Vemula hanged himself in another room of his friend-colleague on Sunday evening. The 28-year-old, hailed from Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh.
 
His letter is a searing reminder of how little has changed when it comes to offering an unconditional opportunity to bright marginalised students in prejudiced and casteist democracies.
 
Good morning,
 
I would not be around when you read this letter. Don’t get angry on me. I know some of you truly cared for me, loved me and treated me very well. I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster. I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write.
 
I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan.
 
I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt.
 
The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.
 
I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first time of a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense.
 
Maybe I was wrong, all the while, in understanding world. In understanding love, pain, life, death. There was no urgency. But I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life. All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.
 
I am not hurt at this moment. I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That’s pathetic. And that’s why I am doing this.
 
People may dub me as a coward. And selfish, or stupid once I am gone. I am not bothered about what I am called. I don’t believe in after-death stories, ghosts, or spirits. If there is anything at all I believe, I believe that I can travel to the stars. And know about the other worlds.
 
If you, who is reading this letter can do anything for me, I have to get 7 months of my fellowship, one lakh and seventy five thousand rupees. Please see to it that my family is paid that. I have to give some 40 thousand to Ramji. He never asked them back. But please pay that to him from that.
 
Let my funeral be silent and smooth. Behave like I just appeared and gone. Do not shed tears for me. Know that I am happy dead than being alive.
 
“From shadows to the stars.”
 
Uma anna, sorry for using your room for this thing.
 
To ASA family, sorry for disappointing all of you. You loved me very much. I wish all the very best for the future.
 
For one last time,
 
Jai Bheem
 
I forgot to write the formalities. No one is responsible for my this act of killing myself.
 
No one has instigated me, whether by their acts or by their words to this act.
 
This is my decision and I am the only one responsible for this.
 
Do not trouble my friends and enemies on this after I am gone.
 
Rajeev Ramachandran, a journalist at MediaoneTV, thought of writing to Carl’s wife Ann Druyan seeking her response to the protests following Rohith’s suicide. He posted her response on his Facebook page.
 
In her reply, she said:
 
Dear Rajeev Ramachandran,
Deeply grateful to you for writing to me about Rohit Vemula, whose death and lost promise I mourn.
 
To read his suicide note and to learn the details of his predicament is to get a vivid inkling of the actual cost of bias to our civilization. If we could somehow quantify the totality of lost contributions and innovations as a result of prejudice, I believe we would find it staggering.
 
You tell me, Rajeev: Is it possible that the attention paid to Rohit’s story will lessen its chronic repetition? I am trying to find something hopeful in an otherwise heartbreaking example of needless suffering and squandered potential.
 
Truly,
Ann