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cakes were placed next to him, to sustain him in his journey into the afterlife after his cremation. For two weeks we kept the ghee lamp burning in front of a photograph of him, one that I had taken on his trip to the UK. He looked happy. His smile partly hidden behind his mustache. Every evening we gathered in a circle on the floor to sing in prayer. Hymns that asked the Almighty to bestow peace upon the soul that had arrived at His doorstep took on a new poignancy. “Why?” Why was a question that tormented me day and night. Alone or in conversation, it found its way into my thoughts and words. Why took on innumerable forms. Why did he do it? Why did we not detect the signs? Why did he not tell us of his pain? Why was he so good at deception? Why did he start, and then stop, the antidepressants? My husband and I, both doctors, knew of the possibility of antidepressants causing suicides. Had the antidepressants killed him? Desperate for answers, we asked questions. We tried to reenact the last weeks of his life. To no avail. I searched the Internet. The words swam in front of my eyes, Depression. SSRIs. Antidepressants. Suicide ideation. The word ideation, so positive, so hopeful, mutated to take on a sinister meaning when coupled with suicide. There were anecdotal, scare-mongering sites, like the doctor in the Eastern Arizona Courier who blamed suicides on SSRI drugs, which she compared with LSD. Medical publications were murky. I found it impossible to apply complex statistics from large populations to our individual tragic situation. It would take another decade before the data would show that antidepressant treatment decreases the risk for suicide among depressed patients, although, as with Motabapa, the risk of suicide is still very high within the first few weeks of starting treatment. My children, torn out of their cocoons into adulthood, missed him. My son developed shingles and after extensive investigations, all negative, we concluded it was related to the stress of losing Motabapa. At the funeral, my daughter, in her white salwaar kameez and her unsmiling face, looked far older than nine. Laughter and joy had fled their lives. On the thirteenth day after Motabapa’s death, we held a prayer. His eldest son, his eyes bloodshot but his face stoic, offered spoonfuls of herbs and shred-

ded wood into a small fire while the priest chanted mantras in Sanskrit. We watched the flames flicker and inhaled the smell of incense and camphor. Afterwards we chatted softly, and laughed occasionally. Three months later we moved to the US. The summer went by. Our children started school and made new friends. Over the next few years, I watched, through their written words, my children’s broken hearts begin to heal. My teenage son wrote, “The death of my uncle has taught me a very valuable lesson. Treat every time you meet someone as the last. You are never certain whether you’ll see them again. If I hadn’t learned that early, my life may be different today.” My ten-year old daughter, in an essay on Maya Angelou’s poem “Alone,” wrote, “… when my uncle died I realized how much he meant to me and I felt very alone. I felt alone because memories came back to me, memories of my uncle and I…. My life has a lot of loneliness in it; however, it is spread out over years and years, so it doesn’t seem like a lot. I hope that loneliness and I will never have to meet again.” My children may never fully mend, though they continually heal. The presence of Motabapa’s suicide is a keloid scar, thick and palpable.

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Profile for Apeiron Review

Apeiron Review | Summer 2015  

The summer issue of Apeiron Review, a Philadelphia-based literary magazine, is ready for you and a glass of your favorite beverage. Cool off...

Apeiron Review | Summer 2015  

The summer issue of Apeiron Review, a Philadelphia-based literary magazine, is ready for you and a glass of your favorite beverage. Cool off...