A Bunny, A Ba, And The Boy Next Door

The Book of Bunny Suicides: Little Fluffy White Rabbits That Just Don’t Want To Live Any More, by Andy Riley (2003), is an excellent example of dark humor that strikes just the right combination of pathos and innovation. Although there exists both written and oral records in history suggesting that suicide has been in man’s behavior repertoire from primitive times on, the word ‘suicide’ did not exist until the seventeenth century; instead the phenomenon went by more descriptive appellations reflected in Latin phrases, such as vim sibi inferre (to cause violence to oneself), sibi mortem consciscere (to procure one's own death), and sua manu cadere (to fall by one's own hand) and in Early English phrases such as self-murder, self-destruction, and self-killer—all phrases emphasizing suicide’s association with the act of murder.

According to Suicide Basics:

Near the end of the nineteenth century, Émile Durkheim's Suicide (1897) established the field of sociology by offering the first comprehensive theory of suicide. Durkheim's theory postulated that two basic social forces exist and interact within any society—regulation and integration. Societies that were chaotic and confused produced "anomic" suicides; societies characterized by excessive constraints were likely to develop "fatalistic" suicides; societies in which the individual felt alienated and separate would have "egoistic" suicides; and in societies in which there was overidentification with the values or causes of a person's group, the suicides would be "altruistic." Durkheim's theory stimulated a continuing array of sociological statistical investigations. It has been modified in innumerable ways, none of which seriously challenged his basic underlying theory. In both the Old and New Testaments suicide is mentioned in a forthright manner, neither condemning nor condoning the act of suicide, if one were to go by the relevant passages: Samson brought the temple of the Philistines down upon himself in order to kill his captors (Judg. 16:28–31); Saul, facing capture, disgrace, and torture in a defeat by the Philistines, fell on his own sword (1 Sam, 31:1–6); and Abimelech, not wanting the disgrace of being killed by a woman, killed himself (Judg. 9:54); Ahitophel chose to hang himself after he supported Absolam's unsuccessful revolt against King David (2 Samuel 17:23); Judas Iscariot simply "went and hanged himself" (Colt, 1991 p.153). Islam condemns suicide with great severity, calling suicide a rejection of the Divine Will, which is expressed in many different ways and to which humans must submit themselves at all times. {It's only politeness that makes this last statement sound like anybody has any real say in the matter since willingly or unwillingly, sooner or later, they all come to realize it is God's Will}. {Since the main underlying causes behind suicide have been effectively identified as far back as 1897 and they all appear to be readily manageable, there appears to be no reason for suicide (of any kind) to be prevalent in today's societies, yet it continues to plague them; or did I just forget what planet I am on?} In an attempt to prevent suicidal passengers from leaping onto train tracks, the East Japan Railway Company installed a large, stainless steel mirror in one of its Tokyo subway stations. The purpose of this innovative method of prevention is to make people see their reflection in the mirror and think twice about their suicidal behavior.

While Mirrors are a modern attempt to make those bent on suicide reflect deeply before proceeding, the Ancients were known to try Persuasive Poetry as a deterrent. Ba is the Ancient Egyptian word for Soul, and a relatively well-known ancient poem by an unnamed writer known only as 'The Eloquent Peasant' is said to have been commissioned by King Meri-ka-re to write a poem in order to dissuade people from committing suicide. The manuscript The Dispute Between a Man and His Ba, dated between 2000 and 1740 BC , appeared on papyrus in hieroglyphics (a sample of which is shown here) and it relates a conflict between a Man, who wants to commit suicide to escape a society that had fallen to ruin, and his Ba because his soul threatened to leave him should he commit suicide. His Ba informs him that to die without any hope of Resurrection and to be consigned to a life in pergatory would be worse than the most unbearable living conditions, and the man finally convinces his Ba not to leave him.

You might be wondering 'What does she mean by this suicide mish-MASH?'--well, Steve, it was only a matter of time before I got around to you.

M.A.S.H. was a popular tv series in the 70's and the lyrics to the M.A.S.H. theme song, Suicide is Painless (Mash Theme Song) by Mike Altman and Johnny Mandel go something like this:

Through early morning fog I see Visions of the things to be The pains that are withheld for me, I realize and I can see... (chorus) That suicide is painless, It brings on many changes And I can take or leave it if I please... And you can do the same thing if you please.

August 2, 1981 (July 29, 1981?) was heralded around the globe as the day of the 'Fairy Tale Wedding' between Lady Diana and the Prince of Wales. And while all the televisions were tuned in to watch the spectacle and the pageantry of the Princess that finally (as it turned out many years later almost) got her Prince and watch the Parade, the Carriage Ride and gaze in wonder upon the Bridal Dress and feel priviledged to see the Church Ceremony; somewhere in a little hamlet across 'the pond' in New York City, a quiet middle class neighborhood was roused from slumber by the wails of a little boy bemoaning the loss of his Big Brother.

Not nearly as rare a spectacle as the Royal Wedding since little boys often lose their Big Brothers, but the day Steve was discovered having committed suicide the entire neighborhood block woke up dead that morning.

Surah 16 Nahl (Bees)
أَمْواتٌ غَيْرُ أَحْيَاء وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ أَيَّانَ يُبْعَثُونَ 16:21
16:21 (created beings) They are Dead, not Living, and they sense not when they will be Raised.

Painless? Perhaps barely a footnote in the annals of History unless you get clued in to the background story, maybe true-- maybe a fairy tale, or perhaps life on another planet.

Because, you see, on the planet Earth the story of the girl and the Boy Next Door typically goes something like this:

He is erudite and handsome and worldly and she is a little shy, pretty and urbane. They walk home from school together as children, and share their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and inside jokes about the other kids. One day they grow up and realize they are so close knit they seem to be opposite sides of the same cloth and they seal the deal with a little garden wedding of their own and live happily ever after.

Screeech---here is the same story about the Boy Next Door in the alternate Universe where I am from:

Yes, he is handsome and fully aware of his beckoning good looks, but nothing about him conveys that he has every right to be conceited; not his deliberate leisurely gait, his always crisp and clean yet understated attire or his quiet tone of voice when speaking to his mother. He keeps to himself and is rarely seen hanging around the neighborhood since he is a young man at the first light of manhood, about 20 years of age or so; he always has some place to go, exciting people to see, something worthwhile to do. He is the first born son to an elegant English woman and a connected Italian-American man.

The girl next door is barely coping with her teenage angst, she is under some sort of informal house arrest because her father woke up one morning in a cold sweat having dreamt that a man had kidnapped her--his younger daughter. Why that would be a problem is beyond her since she has 5 other siblings and she is only a middle child; but she keeps busy by cracking jokes with her mother at the kitchen table, watching back-to-back Star Trek episodes and keeping her nose in a book, since her siblings relentlessly taunt her about her awkward looks. She gets the biggest room in the converted attic which happens to have the best greenbelt view of all the rooms and looks out onto the main street.

On the eve of August 2, 1981 she is having trouble falling asleep and while she is typically an even-tempered, even mellow, and emotionally a generally happy kind of girl, she is flooded with sadness. Tears well up in her eyes and she can't figure out why, nothing in the day could have triggered it. Her days were all pretty much the same: wake up, go to school, study really hard, cheer on the home team, practice with the other majorettes, or take in a few laps with the track team and then the usual routine at home (see above). She's tired and wants to sleep but she moves to the window and looks out. She finds herself standing there, looking, looking, looking for what?--everyone is asleep.

Nothing is moving in the street, the stultifying summer air doesn't even rustle the leaves. It's nearly 2 am and she is agitated, anxious, confused and most of all sad. Then she sees his car inching around the corner and realizes why--it's Steve, the Boy Next Door and he is coming home for the night. His car is moving at a very slow rate, turning the corner for home with the same lassitude as someone moving through the bog; it must have taken Steve an agonizing number of minutes just to round that corner for home and his was the house on the corner.

She sees him pull into his garage and when he gets out, he's all just shadow and he quietly goes into his house. She is having trouble breathing and the blood runs cold in her veins and her head hurts, she thinks she should ease up on the soda pop; but nothing breaks her vigil. She waits.

He is a quiet man from a quiet family, she knows she can't hear anything inside the house; but she sees (her house is two doors down and her line of sight is blocked by a neighbor's house--so how is it possible she thinks she sees what's going on in their home?). 
His father is there, Steve is upset but he doesn't disrespect him; somehow she knows it's not about curfew at his age. She hovers. Steve is despondent; tonight Steve broke up with his girlfriend not because he didn't love her but because tonight Steve was being 'invited' into the family business. She wants to get out of the house and do something but doesn't know what to do (imagine her banging down some mafioso's door during the wee hours of the morning)--everybody will think she is crazy!

Once the father and son thing is over, his father retires to bed and Steve lingers in the living room. He waits--she thinks, an hour maybe 2, she is still up. 
She didn't know Steve liked Chemistry. He takes a chemistry textbook with him and goes and sits in his car. 
He reads. She thinks she is overreacting and lies back down in bed but still no sleep. She has a waking dream that she is floating above the city and she is very sad and knows now why she is crying--Steve would rather die than join the family business. 
Sometime between 4 am and 6 am, Steve decided to close all the doors to the garage and stay in the car and set the engine to run idle while he quietly leafed through a chemistry textbook; a final consideration to allow his mother the sliver of a thought that it may have been an accident (he didn't leave a note...maybe he just fell asleep while reading in the car?)

وَيَوْمَ نَبْعَثُ مِن كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ شَهِيدًا ثُمَّ لاَ يُؤْذَنُ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ وَلاَ هُمْ يُسْتَعْتَبُونَ 16:84
16:84 And one day We Shall Raise from every Community/People/Nation a Witness/Martyr** and then the disbelievers will have no leave, nor will they be able to make amends.

 وَيَوْمَ نَبْعَثُ فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْهِم مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَجِئْنَا بِكَ شَهِيدًا عَلَى هَـؤُلاء
وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ تِبْيَانًا لِّكُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً وَبُشْرَى لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ 16:8
16:89 And one day We Shall Raise from every Community/People/Nation a Witness/Martyr** from their midst (among them) and We will make you witness over them (the Witnesses); and We Revealed the Scripture to you Expounding (Making Clear) every matter and a Guidance and a Mercy and a Blessing (Glad Tiding) to the Believers (Faithful).

Which part of my life is worth repeating? Maybe the part where we get to find out who bears the brunt of the bigger joke, me or Michael (pbuh)?

Because, You See, Michael, that 'man' that my father thought absconded with me in his dream way back in the 80's, he had described him to me and the rest of our family when he woke up that morning. I will not give up the details of your physical description (my dad took them to his grave and I am pretty sure i did too), but he basically looked just like the Michael who insisted we have lunch together in 1992--that's why I refused vehemently, but since it was Imperitive--what else could I do? (I suppose if one must be kidnapped what better Guardian/Kidnapper than Michael) 

The same Michael that ordered way too much food for two people and proceeded not to eat any of it, because He had been Asked to give me some News. You never spelled out exactly what it was, only that it wasn't Good--I wondered whether the entire charade was just a play for Time and that you were sullen for no other reason than that you just don't eat.

So, will You be the One to tell me the Joke is on me, or do I get to have the last laugh? (I couldn't make this stuff up even if I tried).

**It appears that a noncontrovertible prerequisite to holding this office (of Witness/Martyr) is to Never have anyone's blood on your hands (anything to the contrary and know that someone is lying to you sister/brother)

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