It is 1:30 AM, and the reason why I am still awake and writing this piece is because I cannot hold myself from sharing what I feel after watching the above-mentioned series. I do not want to wake up in the morning and lose the fine trace of thoughts that I have right now, or throw into oblivion the agony that I am feeling at this very instant. Yes it is fiction, and is simply an adaptation of the young adult novel by Jay Asher, but it is what life is. It is what we need to talk about.
The problem is, I cannot say much about the story, else I might risk giving away too many spoilers. Every single detail in this story is important. You might call it a mystery or a thriller, but it is so much more than that. It is not about waiting till the end to solve a murder mystery or to find out the culprit, or actually not about who gets to live or die in the end. We already know who is dead – Hannah Baker, a seventeen-year old girl who has been dead throughout the story, a girl who fought and lost and took her own life, and speaks through the tapes she recorded before doing that – tapes in which she explains why she did what she did, and who and what are the circumstances responsible.
Before you judge this girl and call her a coward, let me tell you that she wasn’t. It is somehow that the world around us, every people we interact with, every word they speak to us – they affect us in some unfathomable way. We want to reach out but we can’t, for fear of being misunderstood, mistreated or being the subject of some rumours. Hannah tried it all, but her fears came true. She tried hard to walk through life with a smile on her face, but she didn’t have people in her life to appreciate that. The point is, as self-sufficient as one can get, humans are social animals. They do need friendship, they do need approval. But even the people you are closest to, for example your parents, cannot look through the layers of your forced smiles and understand that when you say that you are fine, you are actually dying inside. I am in no way justifying a suicide, but just trying to make a valid point that it is never ever unavoidable.
We are afraid to be kind, to tell someone that we love them. We are more comfortable in walking away with a brutal nonchalance after we have hurt someone, almost convinced that they will move on. But the question is, how easy is that? Yes we all are imperfect. Love is imperfect. But piling up excuses on the pretext of imperfection might just make things worse. Things need to get better. Relationships need to get better. It is true that we can never say what drives a person to the brink of insanity, but there are steps that lead to that, and although we may not be able to identify each such step and control them, we might figure out some alternatives to avert the seemingly inevitable.
Unlike some people who think that the series (or the book, which I didn’t read by the way) glamorises or glorifies teen suicide, it is pleasing to see that a majority of the viewers agree that this issue must be addressed. With ever-increasing bullying in schools which are often overlooked as part of peer interactions, and the even more hush-hush occurrences of sexual harassment that are buried down so as not to tarnish certain reputations, it is now essential to acknowledge the repercussions. And this is not only specific to the US, but all over the world. Eventually it all boils down to one thing: listen, reach out, talk, be there. YOU can save a life. Not being okay is okay, but being dead isn’t.
I am sorry to disappoint those who came here to learn more about the story. I cannot afford to give it away, in the same way that you cannot afford to miss this series. 13 episodes, 13 hours. Go for it. It’s worth it. I promise.
Related post: Listen, and save a Life