My brother Sushil battled mental health issues most of his life and passed away recently and unexpectedly. This is his story, his eulogy.
The World Health Organisation states that people with severe mental disorders on average die 10-25 year earlier, often due to preventable chronic physical illnesses and suicide. More needs to be done to monitor, support and intervene with those that need it most – some of the most vulnerable and invisible people in society.
My brother
I’m sorry I was not there for you
My shame forevermore
For alone you fell into darkness
Your last moments
In a cage
Trapped by your minds creations
Voices that could not be silenced
Though sometimes faded
Remained split
And hidden and trampled in their midst
A small but not so innocent boy
Who never got that chance
To grow up
To grow old
To grow wise
To experience everything that is life
That unadulterated joy.

My brother
Your body so cruelly and savagely
Added to your anguish
Locked into grotesque pose
Attacked itself
Every step
Every shuffle
A reminder
Another harsh unfair
Sharp pain to endure

My brother
Do you remember happier times?
Sweet moments
Where you let in those who loved you?
Where pain and humiliation were forgotten?
Where you forgave yourself for what you had said and done?
Where anger and frustration
When it seized you
Was not your fault
You were not in control
You were along for the ride
With your life marked by such cruel tragedy
Surrounded by never ending sadness
A longing for normality
You displayed such strength and resolve to carry on
You persevered
You fought on.

My brother
Fate left you
One weapon
With which to yield
With which
To make a mark
With humour
To compensate
To hit bullseye
To show your defiance
To show you were alive
That you were here
A sentient being
With pride intact
To a system
That did not seek to understand
That simply
Did not care.

My brother
Did you see the beacon
Your sister had lit for you
Our cherished one
Who went two years ago
To light a path
For you to join her, mum and dad
Our dear departed family
Their love and compassion
Was so strong
And you for them
The bonds were unbreakable
Your grief insurmountable
And now the anguish of separation is naught
For the ones that loved you the most
Now beckon you
Now speak to you
With tenderness and compassion
With eyes moist, tears and joy
They sit with you
They embrace you
Their son
Her brother
Holding hands
Firmly grasped
Never letting go.

My brother
Do you remember your family?
Aunties and uncles?
Your cousins?
Your friends?
Those who reached out to you in the wilderness?
Sometimes quizzically
Cooking endless supplies of curry
That had to be just right
Not too hot
Not too spicy
Copious amounts of roti
Yes more roti
More roti!
Sharing your cooking wisdom
Hard won sitting on the couch
Amazing imagination
Pure fiction
Barking orders
Mirth in your eyes
Simple pleasures
Small, sweet
Grasped moments
Of escape
Pushing limits
Rejoicing life.

My brother
Do you remember
Those who cared
And strangers ambling by
Caught in your net
Who sat
Who shared a Costa coffee,
And in the stillness smoked
Modern day philosophers
Brothers and sisters in arms
Who took time
To talk, to reflect, to dissect
To solve the country’s woes
To be crass
To talk real truth
Of what is inside
To conjure stories from nothingness
To laugh aloud
To feel human
To fill that ache
That void
That loneliness
To mute your many voices
To remember that precious irony
Called life.

My brother
Do you remember when we were young?
Can you part the mists of time?
To when life was simple?
Our house full of laughter
Of so much warmth and love
Of sunshine
And you – a maelstrom
In the centre of it all
Teasing, using that sharp mind
Pushing playfully at the limits
Stepping beyond
Damn the consequences
Feeling a mother’s wrath
A sharp stinging slap
False anger
A smile quickly escaping her mask
Point won
Easing the path of those that followed
Thanks bro.

My brother
Our eccentric dresser
Our fashionista
Gold jewellery your currency
Funny man full of wit and pathos
Laughing your crazy, infectious laugh
Music your lifeblood
Crooning along to Elvis
Rolling your cigarettes with precision
Small pleasures inhaled
A man
Larger than life
Moments that linger
To touch oh so weary hearts.

My brother
So much time has past
so much is faded and forgotten
Childhood a distant memory
Embers spent
Growing cold
And as ashes gently fall
So too does sleep beckon
So rest in peace now
Dear brother
Go gently and rest in peace
Let go of all that troubled you
Turmoils finally soothed
Your journey now
At an end
To a far better resting place you go
A place that is without cages
Are free.
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