“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.”
These were the last words of Rohith Vemula, the Dalit PhD scholar who committed suicide last month. His suicide note, where he refused to hold anyone responsible for his death, showed his immense love for science and an aspiration to be a writer, like cosmologist and astrophysicist Carl.
With Rohith mentioning the astronomer in his suicide note, Rajeev Ramachandran, a journalist at MediaoneTV, thought of writing to Carl’s wife Ann Druyan seeking her response to the protests that are currently underway 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 Vimula, 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.
Track the latest developments in the suicide case, and the on-going protests, here.