"A Son Never Dies" by Sunil Gupta - Moving Letter from a Father of an Ibanking Analyst

Mod Note (Andy): Make sure to see the comment below by user @DickFuld


This letter was cited in the DealBook here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/02/business/dealboo... - Unfortunately the letter was removed so I'm quoting it below

Long read but definitely worth the time.

"A Son Never Dies
By Sunil Gupta
The End
April 18th 2015
San Francisco International Airport

The 16 hour flight across continents, seas, mountains and finally over the Pacific Ocean, landed at San Francisco airport, on a sunny spring day, a day anybody would give his last penny to enjoy, in the glorious Californian spring.
I moved hurriedly towards the arrival lobby, anxious, nervous and full of apprehension, 'tell me it is not serious,' I asked, shaking my son-in-law vigorously from his shoulders and looking straight into his eyes. "It is serious," he paused, 'We have lost him.'
The world swirled, my heart thumped and I thought, I am going to die. I screamed in utter disbelief, 'My Son, dead?' My wife, just behind me, clutched me from behind, as if we have not heard it correctly, there must be some mistake, it cannot be about us, but in a fraction of a second, reality hit us hard, we both burst into tears and slumped on the floor.
Our world had changed forever with a void which will never be filled in our lifetime, we shall never be the same family and this pain thrust upon us in a moment will ease only with our last breaths.
The Beginning
May 19th, 1992
New Delhi
The labor pains lasted nearly twenty four hours, and with no result in sight, the gynaecologist, who was my school mate, came out and asked me to sign permission to do a caesarean operation. A while later, the paediatrician brought in a breathing lump into the room, still smeared in the mother's blood, and thrust him into my hands, ' hold your son', he said. I took a step back,' doctor, at least wash him first', I said.
So came into this world, my son, the symbol of my male chauvinism, the manifestation of my alter ego. My joy was boundless.
Life seemed like a dream. Good corporate job in a leading newspaper, decent bungalow in an upmarket south Delhi colony, cars & above all, a sweet, chubby doll, my nine year old daughter. Life was too perfect. It appeared, life had no more to give and I had nothing more to seek.
The "brat" was, dusky with long thick eyelashes that could cause envy to any beauty pageant queen, anywhere in the world. The eyebrows were arched and winged, the nose aquiline, a poignant reminder of his father's arrogance.
The child would not sleep at night, and would emit the choicest of noises. I would walk for hours within the house with him in my arms, trying to get him to sleep. Finally, we found a way out. The four of us would go out for a drive, and his sister would put a pillow in her young lap and would try to make him sleep, like an experienced granny would have done. It worked, most of the time.
My wife and I would take turns at night to prepare his milk feed. If the process took an extra minute, (which it sometimes did, considering our sleepy state) or if we overheated the milk, only to try and cool it down by holding the bottle under running water, the child would holler no end, making us feel panicky and guilty.
Our blissful existence lasted exactly four months. It was too good to last. My company, by sinister and malicious design, usurped all positions and I was left with no job, no security, not much savings, a vulnerable family, and my four month old son to hold.
The next three months were the hardest. With no work to do, nowhere to go, I sat at home with my son in my lap and waited for things to happen. The family ration was going down, frugal meals were sustaining us. The euphoria of our son's arrival was subsiding fast. I was so shocked and hurt by the treatment meted out to me by my employers/partners that I had lost the courage or determination to fight back to mainstream life.
Along with me, two of my close associates too were victims of maltreatment. They resorted to alcohol and went deep into depression and despondency. Consequently, they left for their heavenly abodes, leaving their young, unattended families to the vagaries of nature and society.
I decided to fight on. My son, being the youngest and most vulnerable, became my inspiration, motivation and my driving force. I would go to a nearby gym in the morning, take regular walks in the park...sometimes when it seemed impossible, I would sit in my car, windows up, air conditioner switched off and howl at the top of my voice, sweating and shivering, asking for an answer to my life. The pain, anguish and desperation, at times, drove me to think about ending my life.
To get the kitchen fire going, I started a small manufacturing unit. Professional experience and training helped me meet my family's financial requirements. My vanity, my ego, my self-esteem had taken a blow, but my spirit, my doggedness was intact.
As my son started the second year of life, we enrolled him in the neighbourhood school. I got myself involved in his pranks, his joys and his well-being. I would give him a bath each day, sit and read out to him. My irregular and unorganized professional life had a silver lining I had abundant time for my son, and during those days, he developed a fondness for printed words, which was to last till the very end.
As he grew up and was enrolled in a formal, elite school, my task was to drop him and pick him from the bus stop. While we waited for the bus to arrive, I would read out from general knowledge books and encyclopaedias to him. These were great moments of togetherness. My son would, at times, chastise me, for coming to pick him in the afternoon,' papa, do not come in the afternoon, everyone will think you do not have a job'.
During the afternoons, we would read together, the books I bought from all over. Togetherness, being close to him, admonishing him, loving him, were the precious moments, which to an extent, nullified the loss of my corporate life.
Our evenings were special. We would go to the neighbourhood parks and play, on the swings, in the grounds, running and jumping. From the beginning, I inculcated in him the spirit of competition, of winning, of teamwork and above all the need for physical fitness and sound mental and physical health.
Our family's first out of station holiday was to pristine, quaint and silver beached Goa. While my daughter had experienced air travel before, for my son, it was a novel experience.
The lush property, the peaceful serene beaches, the cool winds of January, but, above all, the warmth of the family togetherness, made a memorable holiday. Blessed are those, who get such quality, blissful, family times together. And blessed were surely we. My son was initially afraid of the waves and their roaring intensity. But gradually, he befriended the Arabian sea, ran along the beaches, saw the dancing dolphins, went deep into the sea on water scooters and had his first taste of coconut water.
Those who have not cherished will never fathom the depth of the pleasures of a complete family. My son had a pivotal role to play in giving me that feeling of fulfilment. All good things have to come to an end, so did our holidays. We returned, tanned, satiated and blessed.
As my life went back to a corporate job, I was less at home and more at work. However, hardly a day would pass, (when I was not traveling,) without me reading out to him at night, and then we would embrace sleep, embracing each other. His gentle breathing, his soft flesh, his still baby body odour was my elixir. On Saturday evenings, the family would surely go out. 'Open Oven', was our favourite joint at that stage. Cream rolls, muffins and soups were the coveted delicacies.
My son was growing up, and he was gradually acquiring the qualities I desired in my son. He was a keen reader and I would get him books, from all over. Whether I travelled to the USA, the UK, South Africa or to Kerala, Gujarat, Mumbai, I would get books on history, science, local folkways, and culture. I got him biographies, collections of short stories, fictions and books on general awareness. I would mark pages with dates, as assignments for him. He would read them all. On my return, we would briefly discuss them. Those were our 'personal connect' sessions. He was obedient and sincere. He always wanted to prove, ' papa, I love you '.
Our playtimes were great fun and mutually satisfying. On the terrace of our house we played cricket in the mornings on Saturdays and Sundays. These editions of "sleeping suit" cricket were enjoyable and were followed up by visit to nearby kiosks for my son's favourite cookies, 'Little Hearts'. We would than sit in a park, on swings or benches and enjoy our feast. No seven course meal in the most expensive Ritz anywhere in this world can give more value for money. During the week, we waited for these mornings, simple but most enjoyable and delectable.
As my son got into his preteens, I started taking him to our sports club, the Siri Fort Club. There I introduced him to Squash, Lawn Tennis, Table Tennis, and Jogging. I was so ambitious and enthusiastic that I wanted my son to learn all these games, my effort to ensure that he did not feel inadequate at any point in life. He did become the proverbial,' jack of all trades'. We played together, and at times, I would lose to him, so that he gained self-confidence. This ruse did not last long, he started protesting gently, 'papa please do not loose purposely, let me win on my own'. That was my son, out to win on his merit, the way his father secretly desired.
His swimming lessons were a fiasco. His ears would trouble him, and he started avoiding swimming. He did make attempts periodically, to take swimming lessons, but ultimately abandoned them.
From his early years my son was unlike me in many respects. This gave me mixed feelings. While he was much higher in intellect, was meditative and patient, he lacked my dynamism, my ability to reach out to people, my confidence (at times bordering to over confidence) and my ability to connect with strangers. I observed these differences and brushed them aside, convincing myself that the positive qualities he had were more important to live and succeed in life, considering mine to be superficial and superfluous.
What a lack of foresight on my part, how myopic and unpardonable, it would ultimately prove to our family, I had no inkling. It is often said that, "Hindsight is an exact science." An important adage that I realise is true today. At that stage I overlooked the most important aspect of his personality that would finally give me pain and anguish for the rest of my existence.
I was preparing him for big time life, to win all wars and battles, but forgot to nail the hoof of his horse, ' but for the want of a shoe nail....'
My son had the privilege of going to the best public school in the national capital. He became an ace debater, an incisive writer with a natural flair for poetry, and finally the vice head boy of the elite institution. It was as if he wanted to prove to one and all, that the personality problems of his early teens were an aberration that needed immediate correction. His later teen years were full of confidence, success and satisfaction. He excelled in academics, represented his school as a member of the debating team in national and international forums, and was the cynosure of the school faculty...our young strapping teenage son.
The family holidays, in those years, to Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and Goa, were enjoyable and entertaining family get-togethers. We ran on the beaches, we loitered in the shopping malls, went to game parks, and jumped into the Pacific Ocean at Great Barrier Reef, Australia. He developed a dry sense of humour, and his off-the-cuff remarks, were moments of great joy, for the family. He would raise his eyebrows and protest in miffed voices, to my casual and humorous conversations with stewards, taxi drivers, janitors or shopping assistants.
His best comments were, however, reserved for my sense of direction. Often, we would walk around strange cities, looking for milestones, going to and fro. I would, in my indomitable style, refuse to consult a road map, or even ask for directions and we would end up going round in circles. He coined a term for me,' disoriented compass', and told everyone, not to follow papa, but rather follow him. He thereafter, armed himself with guide books and road maps and became our road guide.
An average, middle-class, Indian citizen, could ask for what more? A great family- of wife, daughter and son, all healthy and able. Children going to the best schools, doing exceedingly well in their academic and co-curricular activities, a good position in one of the world's best and the biggest American multi-national companies, financial security and perfect bonhomie amongst all four.
Life was a song, a dream, a contentment, that made me smug and arrogant. Who could now come between us and eternal bliss? Destiny was to answer this question, later.
When my son cleared his High school examinations with aplomb, we went to his national award winning Principal, to take her guidance on what career options to choose for him.' Do not send him to a factory of human talent', she said. 'He is so gifted and exceptional, send him to an Ivy League University in the Unites States of America', she continued.
Now looking back we can sigh with regret and guilt. His life's die was cast, his destiny, his fate was beckoning him, from where he would never return to us.
This is the irony of life. One of life's biggest paradoxes. When you think you have won it all, you have all the happiness, your heart is contented, you overlook nature's uncanny way of telling you, that, 'in today's happiness are embedded the seeds of your tomorrow's misery.'
Triumph and Foreboding
Fall 2010
Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
I remember very distinctly, it was the summer of 2010 in India. Around midnight, our son barged into our room, waving his fist in the air, 'Got it, ya, got it. I have been offered a seat at Wharton'.
We were speechless at first, than we got off our bed, tears rolling down our cheeks, hugged our son first and then each other. It was a dream come true, for me, who had always wished and dreamed that one day my son would study at an Ivy league college. The dreams were being realized one by one. Our daughter was already an engineer and pursuing a management degree from a prestigious university in California, married to a post-graduate from the very prestigious Ivy League, Stanford University.
Our joy knew no bounds. It seemed, at that point of time, as if we had been specially chosen by the supernatural power for his benevolence. Chosen we were, surely, but not for benevolence. How, deceptive some happiness can be, was to be revealed later.
The extended family, all over was informed. My communication to each one of them had pride, satisfaction, happiness and arrogance. ' Why not', I thought,' who can boast of such a feat.'
My son had taken me to the pinnacle of my success and joy.
Preparations began in the right earnest. My wife started making lists of major and sundry items, which her darling child would need in sub-zero temperatures, more than ten thousand miles away. The culture was different, people were strangers, the journey was arduous and above all, the cuisine was unpalatable. The young man was inundated with countless list of do's and don'ts.
We told him, to enjoy the next three months in India, as, his career path was well defined and struggles that many youngsters face at this juncture of life, were not for him.
But it was not to be. Suddenly from nowhere he developed a crippling pain in his lower back.
Was the supernatural sending some ominous signals? Was it a silent message from up above, to hold on? Was it harbinger of things that would ultimately cause immeasurable pain and endless anguish?
We did not want to know at that point. We were on a crest and nothing could bring us to a trough. Superstition was not acceptable. Nothing could go wrong with our family. It was just one of those things. 'Oh! It is nothing, but a muscular spasm', we convinced ourselves.
What if we had listened to the silent voice? What if I had listened to the whispered advice from my wife?' How do you expect him to travel, live and study with such debilitating pain?' I was relentless, ' Oh! Come on. It is a man's world. He needs to toughen up.'
Life will never be able to answer this question, 'if and only if, we had allowed him to drop a semester... Would it have changed the course of events?' Can we rewrite our destiny? Can we alter the course that the supernatural has determined for us?
Well, logic and rationality prevailed and our son, with acute back ache, cushion at his back, painkillers in his pockets, stars in his eyes, took off for a new, promising and proud life. We both saw him off, with pride and optimism. 'I am on top of the world,' I thought.
How wrong I could be. Time was to reveal later.
Our son arrived at Pennsylvania, and was received by his sister and brother- in- law, who had flown down from the west coast to help him settle at Wharton. His woollens, his comforters, his gadgets and every minute thing that the eighteen year old would require, was provided for, by an indulgent sister and brother-in-law. He was trained to be tough and overcome challenges. My son, in no time, settled down to the gruesome schedule. He was on a mission, a task, an assignment. He was there to make his father proud.
Now, he too was a young man, rearing to go and to prove to one and all, that now we had two men in our family.
However, it was here that he faced certain challenges for which I had not prepared him. My strengths, which I thought, were not of much help in academic circles, and were missing in him, started creating mental agony and pain for the young man.
He lacked the confidence to reach out, to befriend, to make small talk, to convert small opportunities into big wins. He was too simple, played by the book, was reticent and shy, and, in common parlance, was not street smart. He would never confide on these issues, with me.
He would often complain to his mother, 'Mama, I am not able to integrate with other students.' We would patiently counsel him, ask him to attend weekend parties or go out on weekends to nearby scenic locations. He would try hard but was not comfortable. His backache also hindered his sports activities, running or gym workouts, thereby, pushing him further to seclusion and isolation.
His academics continued to be excellent. Food was a perennial problem but he would manage Indian cuisine from food carts, outside his campus.
We were realizing that his supposedly 'best days' in college were turning out to be a nightmare. Decent, determined and dogged that he was, he continued to slog it out.
His best breaks were either to his sister on the west coast or back home with us during his vacations.
In India, his homecomings were like a celebration for us. His mother would cook his favourite food and the entire menu for his five-week stay would be carefully planned out.
We would go to his favourite restaurant in the evening. He would order the same thing with the same emphasis, 'exotica, cheese garlic bread'. In the end, always, we would leave the last morsel for each other. ' I am full', we would tell each other, knowing very well, we were not, but desired that the other should have one last piece. Laughingly, one more serving would be ordered, to disappear soon enough from the table,...so much for being full.
During the four years that my son was at Wharton, he visited us thrice. One summer he had to go to Germany, for his internship at Deutsche Bank. During his visits to India, we would plan outings to hill stations, bird sanctuaries, world famous mausoleum et al.
Those were great, memorable sojourns through trains, and on roads. The warmth of our son being with us on a holiday provided us security, confidence, immense pleasure and bliss. We would eat, play and walk to our hearts content. The only despondency at such times would be that, these holidays would come to an end, and he would have to fly back to his college.
During his stay at home, my son and I would take long walks in the evenings, discussing his courses, his life, my work, family matters and other issues. I would always feel proud and internally fulfilled, my young, strapping son walking by my side, shoulder to shoulder, at times running, trying to outdo each other. Oh! What a life that was... Oh! What can I not give to get it back?
The super billionaires might be having so many other ways or things or gizmos or possessions that can fetch them happiness in so many ways. But unadulterated, pure, pleasure at no cost, I have cherished and enjoyed. The only pain being, that now, it is in the past. We live in the present, we live for the future, but I will live now, only in the past, and that is the misfortune, which I will live with, forever.
Our days at home, during his vacations, would be filled with unending games of chess. We would sit on the floor, in front of each other, and days would melt into nights and nights would again become days, the games of chess would never end. A proper account was maintained, of games won or lost, ridiculing each other, casting aspersions on each other's intelligence, playing as friends or brothers, the father-son line getting obliterated in joyous guffaws.
The physical presence of my son, in front of my eyes, was more enjoyable than any intricate game of chess. Fleetingly, I would cast an eye on my son, while he was busy contemplating his next move on the chess board, and would feel happy and satisfied that my son was right there with me.
How much can a father and a son, speak to each other? What could be the common points for discussions over five weeks? How do I ensure that he spends maximum time with me? The humble game of chess provided the answers. The game gave me the opportunity to stay in close proximity to him, see him intently, smell him, laugh and talk with him and above all, play pranks on each other.
Simple, innocent, inexpensive moments which were invaluable, intense and inaccessible to everyone.
But is it true, that things and moments that give us extreme happiness and joy are short lived?
When he reached his final semester, and we sent the last instalment of his fees, he called us up, 'both of you go and take a dip in the holy Ganges,' he said. He continued, 'you have spent a lot on me in Indian currency, now I will earn in American Dollars, and return it all to you'. We would laugh and tell him, 'you please save your money for your life and marriage, we are fine.'
During his three visits to India, while, completing his college, he visited our school, at Bikaner, twice. He would proudly walk around the campus, play Lawn Tennis, have lively discussions with young students, and would share his experiences, his successes, and his apprehensions. He would interact with the school associates, and I would proudly admire the way he conversed, the knowledge he demonstrated and the depth he possessed in his thinking.
My wife, though reluctant to visit Bikaner often, proudly accompanied her son on both the occasions. For a mother, it was a joy par excellence, to bask in the glory of her young son. Our son would often say, half in jest, 'if I do not manage a decent job, I at least have our school to fall back upon'.
He graduated in May 2014 from Wharton. As luck would have it, we could not attend his graduation ceremony, for some inconsequential reasons. He also did not encourage us too much to come.
In May, 2014, my wife reached Pleasanton, California, as our daughter was to give us the priceless gift of our first grandchild. Our son, was already there, enjoying the "golden period" of any young man's life. He was a graduate from an elite college and had a job under his belt, for he had been offered a position in the Investment Banking division of the hallowed, Goldman Sachs, in San Francisco.
Could there have been higher pinnacles of happiness and success than this? Was I beginning to consider myself as God? Had I won it all? Who was between me and ultimate salvation on this earth?
Well, surely destiny was laughing at me. My pride, my arrogance, my ' I told you so' attitude was to get the jolt from which I would never recover.
The Golden Summer
June, 2014
Pleasanton, California
I landed at the SFO airport in hot summer sun, in mid-June.
Our daughter was expecting her baby in the last week of June. My son and wife were already there. Our daughter's house was perfectly located amidst mountains on one side and downtown Pleasanton, on the other. The city of Dublin, was just across the Bart station. I liked the picturesque setting immediately. Behind her home was a creek and parks, with jogging tracks, bike lanes and steep but inviting mountains.
My son and I went for our first evening power walk. He, with alacrity, showed me the beautiful parks, jogging tracks and mountain range. All along, on day one, he tutored me on the traffic and road culture of the city. He cautioned me when to cross, when to stop, when to press the pedestrian crossing button and when not to cut corners while crossing streets.
To keep his high spirits going, I purposely refrained from reminding him that I had worked with Coca Cola India for five years, and visited the head office in Atlanta numerous times.
We walked and jogged, challenging each other's stamina, and watched in admiration the scenic beauty. What an evening, my first in the USA, with him, was. We had so much to catch up on; he had so much to tell me. I could feel a sense of confidence and satisfaction on his face, a confidence which comes, when you are no longer borrowing money from your father, but in fact, are in a position to spend on him.
He wanted to buy me jogging shoes, branded track suits, up-market shirts and an iPhone. I politely reminded him,' but your first salary is yet to be credited to your account.' He quipped, 'Oh! Do not worry about that, I am just making a list of purchases I have to make for you, mama, sister and brother-in-law, so that I can plan my expenses'. So much for a green-horn Investment banker, in the making.
Our days started with cycling to the gym, a good four miles away. While bicycling in the bike lane, if either was in front and would turn back to look how the other person was doing, the person following, would call, 'I am fine, do not look back, you might trip your balance'. We pumped iron together, me, an enthusiastic teacher and him, an avid learner. He knew and realized that good health is the first stepping stone to doing the hard work at the workplace. The meticulous person that he was, he learned each exercise minutely, the stance and the inclination of the exercise benches, the weights to be carried, the number of repetitions and the schedule of training.
In the early summer evenings, when it was still bright sunlight, we would go for cycling. We would pedal down to the Pleasanton Bart station, take the elevators with our cycles, cross the overhead bridge and reach Dublin downtown. We would cycle for hours, our favourite location was the bike track, by the side of the mountains.
The companionship, the joy, the fun was inexplicable. My young son and I, cycling together, admiring nature, inhaling the fresh, pure air.
Occasionally, we would stop for a beverage, at Starbucks. Our other favourite was, fruit yoghurt from Dublin's Safeway. Life was on a roll, life was on a high, nothing could be better.
But could it be worse?
In the evenings, we would have our games of chess. He got his brother-in-law, interested in the game too. So we were now three, and by rotation, the winners continued to play. As the day of my daughter to give us, our first grandchild drew closer, we stopped going out to restaurants, and would rather stay at home and be ensconced in the living room with our chess board.
During the day, my son and I, walked down to the nearby Stoneridge Mall, ate titbits, made purchases, or just sat in the lobby and felt the presence of each other.
Finally, the superpower gave me another gift. A fairy, a bonny baby, was born into our home. Life was moving towards completion. Joy was abundant and near the brim. My son was thrilled to become a maternal uncle. Now, the entire house revolved around the baby. She became the centre of attraction, the cynosure of everyone's eyes.
My holidays came to an end. I had to get back to work in India. My son came to the airport to see me off. We hugged each other, he touched my feet, in the great Indian tradition and I boarded my flight.
The Last Goodbye
September, 2014
Pleasanton, USA
I came back to US, to be with my family again. My dear son was now a proud member of Goldman Sachs. Immediately, I rushed to see him in San Francisco.
I vividly remember him walking towards me, outside his majestic office. It is difficult to narrate the barge of emotions that swept my heart, as he approached me. I hugged him strongly, did not let him go for few minutes, he touched my feet and tears rolled down our cheeks.
What can I do to get back that moment again in this life? Why does life give such precious and memorable moments, which cannot even be retained in your heart?
It is unfair, unjust and unfathomable.
We both went for a coffee, and pizza. There was so much to hear from him. His experiences, his associates, his feelings and job satisfaction. Obviously, he was happy and excited. During the flow of intense conversation, we ate garlic bread assuming it to be the main course pizza. We laughed heartily at our stupidity when the waiter brought a sumptuous pizza after we had pigged out on the complementary garlic bread. It was great fun. After, the meal, my son offered to pay the check. My chest swelled with pride. Emotions were uncontrollable. Eyes were moist with love, pride and happiness.
Now that he was working he could come to Pleasanton only on weekends. Even when he came, he was tired, and sleepy. 'Papa, I do not get enough sleep. I work twenty hours at a stretch.' During certain weeks, he was working on weekends too.
I protested. 'Son you will ruin your health,' I complained. He would say, 'Come on Papa, I am young and strong. Investment banking is hard work.'
I could not say anything beyond this, but obviously, my wife and I were not pleased with the scheme of things.
Autumn was not turning out to be as good as summer. He had less time, was mentally and physically fatigued and above all, without sleep. However, we made the best of the time available to us. We did go for our walks, a little cycling, and occasionally to the gym.
On my last day, he could not come to see me, he was busy. So I went to meet him in SF, we drank coffee and with a heavy heart bid adieu. I still remember him, waving to me as I went down to the underground Bart station.
An image... that is all I am left with.
Nothing can give me peace now, no one can return my moments of bliss, nowhere can I find peace, never will I be that spirited again.
Is there really an order in the nature of things? Surely there must be. How else can we explain day and night, change of seasons, growing up.
So where does the order go when nature has to play its game of keeping balance of life on this planet? Can we have spring before winters or summer after autumn? So, why to disturb the order of age? Why is the supernatural so whimsical? Why so heartless? Why irrational?
I know, no one will ever answer my questions.
Beginning of the End
Spring, 2015
San Francisco
The New Year began modestly and silently. It gave no indication that it was carrying in its womb, a catastrophe, a calamity, which no parent can envisage in their life time.
The granddaughter was growing well, daughter was fine at her job, and her husband's company was doing well too. Our school at Bikaner , Rajasthan, was consolidating its position.
My heartthrob, my son was settling down well in his job. His phone calls, were far and few, he was extremely busy, but mails and messages were keeping the life line working.
From mid-January, he started complaining.' This job is not for me. Too much work and too little time. I want to come back home.'
As probably, any parent would react, we counselled him to keep going, as such difficult phases were inevitable in a high pressure new job. 'Sonny, all are of your age, young and ambitious, keep going,' I would say.
Gradually, his complaints, his discomfort with his job increased in intensity and frequency. Our mails, our messages our phone calls continued to empathize with him, but we did not give him an open mandate to quit, as he probably, wanted.
In third week of March 2015, he submitted his resignation, without consulting us, and called us. My first sentence to him was, ' Sonny I did not want you to quit, but now since, you have done so, we are with you. Come back home'. He sounded sad and disturbed, 'Papa, it will take some time to exit. HR will close in some time.' I asked, 'what you want to do now?' 'Well, I will rejuvenate myself, eat home cooked food, walk and go to gym, and finally work with and expand our school,' he replied.
Not something I wanted him to do, at this stage of his career. I desired, that he should complete his one year at Goldman Sachs, learn something about corporate life and then decide.
Destiny was marking its time for the family. We had no clue that we were going to be hit by a tsunami, which would uproot our lives, never to be rooted again. By a quirk of fate, he was asked by his company, to reconsider his resignation and under pressure from me, he rejoined.
Now, I, who had nurtured him, carved him, possessed him, took the fatal decision for him. Why did I ask him to continue? Why didn't I ask him to come back? What if I had not forced him to continue? What if his company had not given him the window to reconsider his resignation?
These painful questions will never be answered. There is no power in this universe which can undo the tragedy that hit us.
Poor son, he re-joined and did his best to come to terms with hard, continuous work, no breaks, no sleep and no respite.
April, 16, 2015, 3.10 pm, India time. That is,+ 12.30 hours, California time. He calls us and says, 'it is too much. I have not slept for two days, have a client meeting tomorrow morning, have to complete a presentation, my VP is annoyed and I am working alone in my office.'
I got furious. 'Take fifteen days leave and come home', I said. He quipped 'they will not allow'. I said, 'tell them to consider this as your resignation letter.'
Finally, he agreed to complete his work in about an hour, go to his apartment which was half a mile from his office block and return in the morning.
The dawn never came in our lives, my sonny boy, never reached his apartment.
A monster, a devil in his giant motor vehicle, sniffed the life out of him.
My son, whose bones, blood and flesh were my very own, was victim of a cruel, momentary lapse of an individual, who too, is surely somebody's son.
The San Fransisco police may finally trace him, the law may give him the severest of punishments, but, who will give me my son back?
My wife and I, our daughter and son-in-law, are now living vegetables. His love, his liveliness, his companionship are all in the distant past, never to return.
Who will play chess with me? Who will go out for cycling and to the gym, with me? What will give me the confidence that I have a highly educated and capable son walking on this earth? Who will give the warmth of a son to my wife? For whom will she cook? For whom will she select a bride? In whom will our daughter find a companion, a friend and a support? He had promised our daughter that in two years he would take them all to Disneyland. And now?
Everyone is telling us, keep faith in God, be strong, time will heal.
Well they do not, perhaps cannot, comprehend that it is not a soul we have lost, but a living entity, whose physical presence we require every moment.
My wife is steadfast, confident and sure that our son will come back in the family. Early next year, she says, the laws of nature will take a turn for our good.
So my son, continue your walk for a while without me, since I cannot catch up with your young strong legs, I am waiting for you to come back, hug me, buy my things and have our games of chess.
Next summer will be ours.
Nature will change for our good."

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Comments (65)

Jun 3, 2015

So sad. Especially for the father.

Work and grades are important but life is not about work and grades.

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Jun 2, 2015

Tragic.

Relevant thread on banking hours: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/banking-life...

Jun 2, 2015

Absolutely crushing. Gonna give my dad a call soon.

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Jun 2, 2015

This is the side of investment banking nobody ever talks about. It's awful that it takes tragedy, loss and death for us to hear these words.

Hopefully they won't go to waste.

Jun 2, 2015

A truly heart-wrenching read.

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Jun 2, 2015

Loss makes you think about what's truly important in your life.

Best Response
Jun 2, 2015

Brutal.

Great read.

For those youngsters out there: You need to set boundaries and live your own life. You do not live to fulfill the dreams of your parents. Live your own life on your terms. Ultimately, your parents will respect you more for that than doing exactly what they command all the time. Also, while we like to joke about the best analysts are those that eat double decker shit sandwiches with a smile.....that's not really true either. If you are truly getting crushed, please reach out to your bosses to ask for prioritization and ask your peers and bosses for help. Do not sit quietly in agony.

Trust me, the world will move on if that PowerPoint isn't perfect.

It's unlikely that the job was the ultimate demise for these people who recently died. However, it is very likely that the type of person who has been pressured to be the best in everything their entire lives and who feel little control or ownership over their own outcomes are likely to crack under the pressure eventually. Unfortunately, people who never say 'enough is enough' are the most likely to enter investment banking. The weighty expectations crush many people.

It is much better to set boundaries and give little no's along the way. Take control of your destiny. Those that own their destiny are much more comfortable with the inevitable trials and tribulations along the way.

Please, live your own life or risk dying for someone else's dreams.

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Jun 2, 2015
DickFuld:

Brutal.

Great read.

For those youngsters out there: You need to set boundaries and live your own life. You do not live to fulfill the dreams of your parents. Live your own life on your terms. Ultimately, your parents will respect you more for that than doing exactly what they command all the time. Also, while we like to joke about the best analysts are those that eat double decker shit sandwiches with a smile.....that's not really true either. If you are truly getting crushed, please reach out to your bosses to ask for prioritization and ask your peers and bosses for help. Do not sit quietly in agony.

Trust me, the world will move on if that PowerPoint isn't perfect.

It's unlikely that the job was the ultimate demise for these people who recently died. However, it is very likely that the type of person who has been pressured to be the best in everything their entire lives and who feel little control or ownership over their own outcomes are likely to crack under the pressure eventually. Unfortunately, people who never say 'enough is enough' are the most likely to enter investment banking. The weighty expectations crush many people.

It is much better to set boundaries and give little no's along the way. Take control of your destiny. Those that own their destiny are much more comfortable with the inevitable trials and tribulations along the way.

Please, live your own life or risk dying for someone else's dreams.

Good stuff. +1

It's really just a sad situation overall. Heart wrenching as a parent and just sad that a kid who had so much going for him thought that was a solution, let alone the only and final solution. I completely agree the job wasn't the only reason and there must have been other underlying reasons, but the pressure that was put on this kid in addition to the grind was obviously too much.

Anyone who's reading this who thinks they're in that bad of a situation-if that's as a high schooler who's trying to didn't get into Harvard (and got a B jr year of hs or didn't get in), a Wharton kid who didn't get into GS TMT, a 29 yr old who's having a rough go at Moelis, or any other situation: it's not worth it. Nothing is. Take a step back. I'll repeat, take a step back from your current situation and analyze your situation with regard to the overall universe. Realize how good of a position you've put yourself in and the opportunities that you have in life and keep going even if it's not Harvard/GS TMT/KKR or whatever route. You will always have great opportunities. Stop measuring yourselves against anyone else's metrics of success and keep going. And talk to your parents. They will understand.

And if you ever, ever get to the point where you're seriously contemplating suicide, for the love of god (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster), talk to a professional. Talk to your parents (I repeat, they will understand, you can talk to them and please do) friends, other family, a mentor, whatever and then talk to a pro. Please.

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Jun 2, 2015

While it was easy to tell that the father cared, it was also easy to see the burden of expectations he placed on his son in his essay. His guilt inducing expectations on his son were as obvious to see as pimples on a 14 year old.

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Jun 3, 2015
DickFuld:

While it was easy to tell that the father cared, it was also easy to see the burden of expectations he placed on his son in his essay. His guilt inducing expectations on his son were as obvious to see as pimples on a 14 year old.

This, too many parents are living vicariously through their children. Just because you were never a D1 athlete or in the Ivy League doesn't mean you should work your child like a mule to shield your insecurity.

"The dreams were being realized one by one. Our daughter was already an engineer and pursuing a management degree from a prestigious university in California, married to a post-graduate from the very prestigious Ivy League, Stanford University."

Really? It sounds like you want the HYP diploma on your wall more than you want a real relationship with your children. I didn't even know it was possible in English to use the word "prestigious" twice in one sentence.

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Jun 2, 2015

As an Asian this hits a little to close to home. Haven't cried like this in a while.

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Jun 2, 2015

This is fucked up on more levels than imagineable. My condolences to the family who have had to go through such a tragedy. Seems like this kid's entire existence was based around his father's expectations, and society's standards. People seriously need to LIVE. They need to experience things that would give you more joy than any "prestigious" position at some top bank that mirrors more of a bangladeshi sweatshop than what it's cracked up to be.

By the looks of this essay, this kid never really experienced much, he just went through the motions to try, and live up to the expectations of those around him. Truly sad to see, RIP.

I think- therefore I fuck

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Jun 3, 2015

The guy actually quit and the staffer still wouldn't lay off him. What kind of a firm is that?

"I am working alone in my office."

This also bothered me. There is supposed to be camaraderie to get one through this. Was he really the only one working that late ie, he is getting smashed while his group is not?

I don't know why exactly but this story bothers me a lot more than the BAML intern or guy from Moelis. I think it's the fact that he actually did reach out and still didn't get the help he needed. I have been in a bad mental place before and it is very, very difficult to admit that you need help. 99% of people when they get to this point go into a hole in their mind and will not open up to anyone. He did all the right things. Admit that he needs help. Try to remove himself from the situation. Still it had to end this way. Very sad.

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Jun 3, 2015

Did he intentionally step in front of the motorcycle or was it accidental? It's not clear to me

Also the father seems kind of selfish. I doubt he really gave a shit about his son's well being. He valued his son for boosting his own self esteem which is pathetic. Almost every line in the essay is about jobs and things.

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Jun 3, 2015

All of this leaves me both sad and extremely annoyed about stuff that is pathologically wrong with the world.

(Also I think this was a fall of some sort. FWIW I have never heard of a motorcycle killing a pedestrian.)

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Oct 4, 2015

Motorcycles have killed many pedestrians - what rock have you been living under your whole life. Do a Google search on this because "Tis better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it up and remove all doubt". I will save you the effort - it's Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens who said that.

As for the family of this young eager beaver always a pleaser, please accept my heartfelt condolences. This is beautifully written and from the deepest vessels of your hearts no question. Sometimes it is hard for outsiders to see the difference and often fine lines btwn what is truly love and what is self serving - especially in American culture since we are saturated and surrounded by greed and narcissism all day long. When a parent wants the very best for their child it is not because of self fulfillment it is because of the deepest kind of love, protection and gratitude for being so blessed with the gift of parental nurturing. To provide everything as this family could possibly have done for their son was not to fulfill their own dreams or ego but to give back the love as best they humanly can to a child who's presence in this world gave them such emotional and spiritual fulfillment. It is a big part of Asian society that doesn't exist on that level here in American culture. So more than anything, the lack of understanding is mostly a result of pure ignorance and cultural differences.
That said, working on Wall Street is an American phenomena - in that the competitive level of pressure doesn't exist anywhere else in the Corporate world period. The best analogy is that it has become the equivalent to an extreme sport which requires the mind, body and endurance of an athlete. The management prides itself on being tough to the point of grueling and evil passing on the lineage of the same or worse brutality that they endured themselves. The psychological undertones of pervasive hostility and arrogance should clearly be studied by the great behavioral scientists of the world today - but if not, they will absolutely be dissected by future scholars of psychiatry.

Look at some of the biggest names in the industry today: they are super rich billionaires riddled with cancer and heart disease. Is that what anyone wants for their children to aspire to? They can keep all the money they want but they can never ever buy back their health, their relationships, their spirit or their youth. It is gone forever and that is one darn hell of a price to pay. Put, health, happiness and loving relationships first - always - because this way you are guaranteed to be the richest people on the planet. You'll have something that no billionaire boys club can ever buy!

Jun 5, 2015

.

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Jun 3, 2015
Money_All_Day:

I don't understand the connection between him getting killed and his job. It sounds like he either a) committed suicide b) got killed by a hit and run. This kid sounds pretty logical and was fine with resigning a second time and was already planning on leaving. I doubt he would just choose to kill himself. Also, if he did choose to kill himself the car that hit him would be more likely to stop since it wasn't the motorists fault. It sounds like b) a hit and run. But with this hit and run why is the father spewing about Goldman and his sons terrible hours. If it truly was a hit and run, Goldman has nothing to do with this. Instead the father chooses to drag them into it. Maybe setting this up for a nice lawsuit? Who knows... need more details.

If he wasn't so sleep deprived, he'd probably notice an incoming motorcycle...

Jun 5, 2015

.

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  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Oct 4, 2015
opsdude1:

Money_All_Day: I don't understand the connection between him getting killed and his job. It sounds like he either a) committed suicide b) got killed by a hit and run. This kid sounds pretty logical and was fine with resigning a second time and was already planning on leaving. I doubt he would just choose to kill himself. Also, if he did choose to kill himself the car that hit him would be more likely to stop since it wasn't the motorists fault. It sounds like b) a hit and run. But with this hit and run why is the father spewing about Goldman and his sons terrible hours. If it truly was a hit and run, Goldman has nothing to do with this. Instead the father chooses to drag them into it. Maybe setting this up for a nice lawsuit? Who knows... need more details.

If he wasn't so sleep deprived, he'd probably notice an incoming motorcycle...

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Jun 3, 2015

Another pushy parent. It's a very tragic story. From the essay, it seems like his dad put too much pressure on him. Just because of the prestige if the Goldman Sachs. May his soul rest in peace.

Jun 3, 2015

"The dreams were being realized one by one. Our daughter was already an engineer and pursuing a management degree from a prestigious university in California, married to a post-graduate from the very prestigious Ivy League, Stanford University."

He was a graduate from an elite college and had a job under his belt, for he had been offered a position in the Investment Banking division of the hallowed, Goldman Sachs, in San Francisco.
Could there have been higher pinnacles of happiness and success than this

"Prestigious" (2x), "Elite", "Hallowed", "the pinnacle of happiness". Seriously dude. Is this Brady's dad?

P.s. Stanford is not an Ivy League university pops.

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  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Oct 4, 2015

The English in this should be taken with a bit of recognition that he is Indian and Indians use words much more extravagantly than is. For instance calling his son "heartthrob".

Jun 3, 2015

"Could there have been higher pinnacles of happiness and success than this? Was I beginning to consider myself as God? Had I won it all? Who was between me and ultimate salvation on this earth?"

While I agree that some of the aforementioned comments that suggested the father was selfish/arrogant...I can see your point. However, he's a foreigner (although his writing is quite good) and I think he's just melting away as he writes. I mean, I think honestly, every parents dream is to see their child succeed, where they could not - to provide their kids an education and lifestyle that would surpass their own, and thus, enable more happiness. Perhaps his writing style did come across as self-praising, but I think he truly did have the best intentions for his son. Lastly, I think he's just expressing his gratitude to the whatever superhuman force was helping him realize his dreams, which were to see his children grow up, become successful, and most of all, have a brighter/bigger future than he had.

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Jun 3, 2015

Unfortunately, "prestige" & ego are much too important to some people (whatever the culture).. and that leads to some strange stuff like mental/physical abuse of family members, crushing a kid's real dreams - all so some parents can feel that their head is held high in whatever they assume to be their community. Meanwhile, the "community" keeps coming up with higher and higher thresholds for them to meet - its like a drug, you end up one-up-ing yourself every time until something breaks.

I feel horrible for the family but a motorist running this guy down is not the employers fault. That said, the practice of working people for 20 hours a day is simply bad management and no amount of yelling and screaming (by the seniors at the juniors) is going to hide it.

Jun 3, 2015

Addressing a few things here:

1) This dad lost his child and he is merely grieving in a way that he knows how. He's foreign, and I think he has surprisingly great control of the language given its not his native one.

2) He told his son to come home the second time around because he realized the job was getting to his son. There may have been expectations placed on his son throughout life, but it was only to have a better life than what he experienced.

3) If you read Andrew Ross Sorkin's incredibly fair and well written article on DB, you'll realize that GS gave him a counselor when he came back, reduced his workload and gave him a choice in the first place. That's what this ultimately comes down to, right? Speculation aside (because cause of death is still very unclear), assuming he did commit suicide and jump, no one forced anything upon the kid. He made the choice to come back and (again, assuming he jumped) made the choice to end his life. An incredibly unfortunate product of a complicated situation. There's no one thing or person to blame here, just tragic.

Jun 3, 2015
Classica:

Addressing a few things here:

1) This dad lost his child and he is merely grieving in a way that he knows how. He's foreign, and I think he has surprisingly great control of the language given its not his native one.

2) He told his son to come home the second time around because he realized the job was getting to his son. There may have been expectations placed on his son throughout life, but it was only to have a better life than what he experienced.

3) If you read Andrew Ross Sorkin's incredibly fair and well written article on DB, you'll realize that GS gave him a counselor when he came back, reduced his workload and gave him a choice in the first place. That's what this ultimately comes down to, right? Speculation aside (because cause of death is still very unclear), assuming he did commit suicide and jump, no one forced anything upon the kid. He made the choice to come back and (again, assuming he jumped) made the choice to end his life. An incredibly unfortunate product of a complicated situation. There's no one thing or person to blame here, just tragic.

Unless you experienced what he was going through, you have no clue. You are an "incoming analyst", so when you've been at your desk for the 3rd night in a row, at 3 AM, think back to what you said.

Jun 4, 2015

Know exactly what he's going through buddy. Profile hasn't been updated in a year and a half. If only you knew how moronic your comment on my experience truly is.

Jun 3, 2015

Those criticizing the father's focus on "prestige" need to remember that he is Indian. That's just how South Asian societies work.

Those criticizing the son need to remember that his parents probably took out loans to pay for his Wharton education. Given the currency exchange rate, that's a shit ton of money. No way he would be able to pay off the loan by working in India.

Also, I think when Mr. Gupta wrote this post, he thought (or was told) that the death was accidental. He probably deleted the post when he realized that this was probably a suicide.

    • 1
Jun 4, 2015

I heard on a freakonomics podcast that the decision for suicide is never well thought out. It usually occurs in like a three second time span when the person just loses himself.
I think many on this board who worked in investment banking might've jokingly had suicidal thoughts for pulling all-nighters.

Jun 4, 2015
PA:

<

p>I heard on a freakonomics podcast that the decision for suicide is never well thought out. It usually occurs in like a three second time span when the person just loses himself.

Of course, the final pull of the trigger or the stepping over the edge oftentimes comes from a moment that makes you snap. But the realization that there is no other way out besides taking your own life? That comes on slowly and suddenly. It comes from days and weeks and months of feeling utterly hopeless. Rarely does something suddenly happen in a lapse of judgement.

This story hits very close to home, not only because I hear echoes of my own parents in Mr. Gupta's letter, but because there was a point in time where I very nearly committed suicide due to work stress. No, it's not just because of working long hours with high pressure from bosses. It's all the other things - feeling like a slob because there's not much time to work out, not able to spend time with my family when I visited home for Xmas break (because I was working on pitchbooks the entire time), having to tell my boyfriend, "I'm sorry, I can only spare 15 minutes with you even though we haven't seen each other in person for a year", missing a dance rehearsal and getting subsequently booted from the performance, missing the birth of my friend's first kid, fighting through debilitating medical problems, getting pigeonholed into an area that I had no interest in working in (IT integration.......)

All very small things in the grand scheme of life, but fighting against a million tiny raindrops is the equivalent of a hurricane. Sometimes it really is too much. Work stress just adds to that storm and is sometimes the straw that breaks the camel's back.

My condolences to the entire family, and I'm just horrified and saddened that it had to end this way.

    • 3
Jun 4, 2015

I feel very sorry for his loss and my deepest condolences reach out for Sunil and his family. I could relate very closely with the essay as I am almost about the same age/ upbringing as Sarvashrestha, with similar dreams and aspirations.
I have not stopped thinking about this tragic incident ever since I read about it in the paper this morning. Its very hard for a parent to deal with his child's death and his questions, obviously, will go unanswered. But somehow, Sarvashrestha's death has raised questions on Investment Banking as a career option. To me, it appears to be a mere coincidence that he passed away while having a job as an Investment Banker at Goldman Sachs.
The newspaper article also mentioned that Sarv was always the "Go-to Associate" which goes on to show that he spent endless hours at work and had no social life. Its saddens me to think about his mental state, the pent- up frustration and never- ending expectations. But it was just work after all and he should have done more for his own well- being in a foreign country rather than pleasing his employers or colleagues..
Being from New Delhi, working in a corporate culture, Sarvashrestha almost seems like a distant friend! But saying 'no' at work is the biggest take away from this essay. A good work-life balance must be maintained because health is definitely wealth!
May his soul rest in peace.

    • 2
Jun 4, 2015

I quite disagree with these "pushy parent" comments. The father sounds like a nice guy who just wanted the best for his son. My view is that the culture of the particular desk should bear the main part of the blame.

In many banking teams there is quite intense pressure to really kill yourself at work and it is a matter of statistics before you start getting cases like this, also to remember another case in London in another well-known US bank...

there is nothing in being an investment banking analyst that makes it worth losing your life, let alone mental and physical health - especially in a country like US where you can make it big in just about any sector

Jun 5, 2015
ericafor:

I quite disagree with these "pushy parent" comments. The father sounds like a nice guy who just wanted the best for his son.

"Wanting the best" in many East/South Asian cultures can often translate to guilt-tripping, being pushy, narcissistic tendencies, and a downplaying of mental health issues. I'm not saying the father was in the wrong, especially if it is ingrained in his culture and he doesn't understand how it comes off. Regardless, this kind of parenting still deeply hurts the child on a psychological level. [Some good books for reference: Toxic Parents (Forward & Buck), Will I Ever Be Good Enough (McBride).]

I remember the first time I encountered depression in college. Like, the "don't leave your room for a week and starve yourself because you don't think life is worth it and hey that bottle of pills looks appealing right now" depression. I called my parents. They told me that being "depressed" was a selfish act because it reflected poorly on my family, and don't I dare think of killing myself because then think of all the hurt it would cause other people, and why can't you just snap out of it. Asian culture still fails to see that mental health issues are not something you can just consciously conquer without help. Some people don't even acknowledge such a thing as "work stress". When I told my parents that work was causing medical issues, they told me to stop being dramatic and sleep more.

Not saying every parent is like this, but it is frightening how many parents think they are just "wanting the best" for their kid (via prestige, high salary, etc.) but really causing guilt and frustration.

    • 1
Jun 5, 2015
chicandtoughness:

ericafor: I quite disagree with these "pushy parent" comments. The father sounds like a nice guy who just wanted the best for his son.

"Wanting the best" in many East/South Asian cultures can often translate to guilt-tripping, being pushy, narcissistic tendencies, and a downplaying of mental health issues. I'm not saying the father was in the wrong, especially if it is ingrained in his culture and he doesn't understand how it comes off. Regardless, this kind of parenting still deeply hurts the child on a psychological level. [Some good books for reference: Toxic Parents (Forward & Buck), Will I Ever Be Good Enough (McBride).]

I remember the first time I encountered depression in college. Like, the "don't leave your room for a week and starve yourself because you don't think life is worth it and hey that bottle of pills looks appealing right now" depression. I called my parents. They told me that being "depressed" was a selfish act because it reflected poorly on my family, and don't I dare think of killing myself because then think of all the hurt it would cause other people, and why can't you just snap out of it. Asian culture still fails to see that mental health issues are not something you can just consciously conquer without help. Some people don't even acknowledge such a thing as "work stress". When I told my parents that work was causing medical issues, they told me to stop being dramatic and sleep more.

Not saying every parent is like this, but it is frightening how many parents think they are just "wanting the best" for their kid (via prestige, high salary, etc.) but really causing guilt and frustration.

this is sad but unfortunately true for many people/kids.. this "what will people think/say?" mentality causes so many problems .. per these parents' versions of social acceptance/standing I have always wondered why kids should worry about people who seem to have nothing better to do but pass judgement on other people's kids

Jun 4, 2015

What a terrible tragedy on many levels.

Jun 5, 2015

Hi
As a father of a son who is an IITian and IIM A and who got into India's Top Investment Banker in Mumbai, the real life narration is chillingly familiar.

They pay people the salary of 4 people and get them to work for 2 people and make you a slave. They do this because they want confidentiality. So that the world of banking and its secret agenda and functioning is known to few people who can be expected to keep quiet on account of the ridiculously high salaries they get. There are labour laws for blue collar people but there are no laws for these high end workers who slave, slave and slave and never get to live life, only make tons of money so that they can be the envy of people.

They tell you plainly at the very first day of your job that you can forget of ever having a personal life.

My son too made that similar call that if we did not have any financial objectives, he would like to quit this life of excess of every kind. We too faced the dilemma because he had what the society found enviable. But then common sense prevailed (mostly because we were into spiritual practice) and we said we stood by his decision. He quit and he told us they said it was not something they saw everyday. That they were used to the firing end and not the quitting end.

I am thankful of that day when we overcame our greed for social prestige and let him live his life the way he wanted. All of us need balance of life more than money. We cannot eat, live or display money. But we can live life.

Someone ought to pass laws against the inhumane conditions of these banks. They have bought slaves with the money they throw and these slaves will not raise the voice against the most powerful banks of the world.

    • 3
Jun 5, 2015

First of all, my condolences, Being from the same state, and an IB aspirant, this hit really hard.

Though I agree with a lot that has been said above about, saying no, enough is enough, living someone else's dreams etc, maybe due to cultural differences, there are some points that are being missed. I think you all have a general idea about Asian culture, so I'll just focus on 2.

  1. What a lot of commenters here need to understand is that, (being Indian) Indian parents take great pride in their children's achievements, that happiness is does not even come close to how they feel when they achieve something themselves. I dont really think of his dad as an arrogant dick(maybe a little, but nowhere near as much as some of you guys think), he is simply trying to show that he wanted best for his son, was really really proud of him. There's a hint of regret wanting the best for him, because then this might not have happened.
    He has probably cursed out himself for this, believe me.

Also, any PR management would be the last thing on his mind while writing this letter. So, hints of all the things other than grief and anger that you guys have pointed is just pure emotion.

I have seen people lead very, very happy lives fulfilling the dreams of their parents and then moving on to whatever is it that they want. It is very widespread and it is actually perceived as something very very very positive. Also, IB is known for its exit ops, and no 21-22 year old person knows what exactly he wants. It sets up a very good base. THIS i dont think i need to explain.

In all fairness, there is pressure to to be successful in any prestigious profession or any business. But the operating word is 'Any'. I gave up chartered accountancy to study economics, a friend of mine gave up on studying MBBS from a top college to pursue his passion for film making. If any of these concerns are voiced out, parents generally are very receptive and understanding.

2.As far as causes for death is concerned, Its pretty unclear but, i do not think he would have commit suicide, the first thing that comes to mind with suicide is our family, and how would they feel if we actually do it, and that totally overpowers the feeling you get when you lose yourself in the spur of moment. As it has been stated earlier, that he did do all the right things, voiced out his concerns and that too, to his family etc and it has been stated that he might have quit. I am about the same age as him and have spent ~3 years in chronic depression and have considered suicide seriously, so I'm speaking from experience.

I will probably have to create a new id because of this, but this had a really big impact on me. I just thought i needed to voice this out.

Let me live so when I die the reaper cries..

    • 1
Jun 5, 2015
abhiminhas:

2.As far as causes for death is concerned, Its pretty unclear but, i do not think he would have commit suicide, the first thing that comes to mind with suicide is our family, and how would they feel if we actually do it, and that totally overpowers the feeling you get when you lose yourself in the spur of moment.

This too is a vast over-generalization. Yes, I realize that in the theme of Asian culture, this is exactly what a filial child should do - think about the impact it would have on our parents, our family, our loved ones. One of my relatives had the same experience: he was about to jump off a bridge but then realized his parents were too poor to pay for his burial, so he didn't do it.

The Asian-American mindset is going further away from this, though. The ideas of individualism and NOT living as an extension of our parents is growing stronger. For someone who is really, truly, on the brink of suicide.... you JUST DON'T CARE. Think about it. You've gotten so deep in the hole that you don't see ANY other way out except to kill yourself. The world isn't worth living in anymore - nothing is worth staying alive one more minute. If you've reached that mentality, the thought of pleasing your parents isn't necessarily the one thread that will keep you alive. I have been to that edge and back, and trust me, it was not my sense of love towards my family that brought me back to sanity.

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Jun 5, 2015

He supposedly quit his job again. There's no point in suicide if he already quit his job. Logic?
If he did already quit his job the first time, he understood that there are a lot of opportunities in the world and that was not the end. His father only urged him to finish his year there, which is pretty logical.(if you would read the other article, it is stated that he had a very good reputation, he was the "go to" analyst, so I'm assuming that a significant amount of time had passed and his term was about to come to an end. So, it was not about "pleasing" his parents.

He does not seems like a loser who would give up on life (based on this article) to me. It seemed like he was voicing out his problems and was trying to make things work.

the "poor" reference is not really relevant, since i explicitly mentioned how they would 'feel'. I think its pretty clear that they are a relatively well off family. I do agree with pleasing your parents bit, but its that sense of responsibility mixed with guilt that you feel (i did) that all the shit you have gone through, and they have gone through with you would not be worth it if you just stop living.
I was trying to relate it to my experiences (the family bit), but if you disagree, sure. But it worked for me. I have never really been able to pen down my proper thoughts regarding suicide, but the Gist of it definitely is suicide is very cowardly and loser like thing to do and we are anything but that.

Let me live so when I die the reaper cries..

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Jun 5, 2015
abhiminhas:

He supposedly quit his job again. There's no point in suicide if he already quit his job. Logic?

You're basing all your assumptions on 1) post-mortem news articles by the media, and 2) the emotionally-wrought outburst from a grieving father.

There is no evidence that his job was the sole reason behind his unhappiness. So much of his story we'll never know. He could have had emotional problems. Girlfriend problems. Health problems. We don't know! And finally - LOGIC often does not play into the decision to commit suicide. (It's also worth mentioning that suicidal people oftentime like to "put their things in order" - quitting jobs, writing notes to be read upon death, giving away possessions. We don't know if that was part of his plan, or if it really WAS suicide, but just another tidbit to add.)

abhiminhas:

the "poor" reference is not really relevant, since i explicitly mentioned how they would 'feel'. I think its pretty clear that they are a relatively well off family. I do agree with pleasing your parents bit, but its that sense of responsibility mixed with guilt that you feel (i did) that all the shit you have gone through, and they have gone through with you would not be worth it if you just stop living.

An example from my personal life does not need to directly parallel that of this case, but okay. I'll humor you. My relative chose not to end his life because he knew that his dying would be a burden - both financially and emotionally - on his parents. Responsibility comes in many shades; being a filial child usually means respecting your parents' needs both financially and otherwise, so he knew that if he threw himself off a bridge, it would bring shame to his family who had already struggled so much to give him a good life.

abhiminhas:

I was trying to relate it to my experiences (the family bit), but if you disagree, sure. But it worked for me. I have never really been able to pen down my proper thoughts regarding suicide, but the Gist of it definitely is suicide is very cowardly and loser like thing to do and we are anything but that.

First off, I do not disagree that it worked for you. I'm sure many people were able to climb out of the hole through your mindset and I am very glad you're still alive and able to indulge in WSO. I am saying, however, that you can't take your individualized tactic and apply it to every suicidal case. ESPECIALLY extreme cases where the person is so far gone that they don't give a rat's ass what anyone else thinks, fuzzy feelings of family love or not.

When someone has gotten to the point where suicide is THE ONLY OPTION OUT, they don't fucking care whether it comes off as "cowardly" or "loser-like". If you have the clarity to consider appearances, family obligations, and how it comes across, then you are not hopelessly suicidal - you are in a bad place and can climb out with help. That's where you were - you were contemplating it, you were feeling down, but you still had the logical sense to climb out. Congratulations, and I'm not being sarcastic. It's a hard road back and clearly you made it.

But for people who honestly, truly, believe suicide is the only answer, they are so deep into the hole mentally that they need extreme help to come back. It's the equivalent of telling Mr. Hyde, "Hey wait, stop, think about your reputation as Dr. Jekyll, what would your patients think? What about your social respect?" It's oftentimes not something you can logically control with your mind. It is driven by raw emotion, and under times of duress the feelings of hopelessness will override any sort of respect, duty, love, or logic.

These kinds of naive comments are exactly the reason why mental health issues are such a taboo topic; trying to play it off as "think of your loved ones!" is psychologically damaging. An adolescent or young adult is already struggling through a difficult developmental phase of life (individualism vs. social construct). To tell them to base their actions and mindset based on OTHERS (yes, even if it is family) is unhealthy.

Sorry for long post. Currently a mental health clinician in the making.

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Jun 5, 2015

+1 for you; -1 for the other guy.

Jun 5, 2015

Hey, +1
You clearly have more sense than me as far as this is concerned, and I do agree with you, applying my experiences in other cases was pretty stupid. But I wasn't suggesting basing actions on others or 'think about your family' . Yeap it's pretty unhealthy. My argument was-shit you have gone through, what they have gone through was rather secondary but like you said, in an extreme case, it becomes rather irrelevant.
Cheers

Let me live so when I die the reaper cries..

Jun 5, 2015

No hard feelings, dude. We're all individuals who cope with and handle things in our own way. It's just important to realize that due to this individuality, it's hard to apply any sort of one-size-fits-all solution to overworked analysts, both on the blame side and the solutions side :(

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Oct 10, 2015

This is an incredibly well thought-out and insightful post. Thank you for this.

Jun 5, 2015
abhiminhas:

.... i do not think he would have commit suicide, the first thing that comes to mind with suicide is our family, and how would they feel if we actually do it ...

I doubt if this is true... now I am no expert ... but if this really happened I doubt if anyone coming from a "normal" background would ever end up doing this... my theory is that people contemplate it when they do not see any way out - just misery and drudgery all the way for ever...

Jun 6, 2015

.

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Jun 6, 2015

Dear Mr Gupta
Deepest condolence for you and your family . None of the condolences will be able to heal your bruise I know . I know what you are going through , I had tears in my eyes as I read your essay ,it was overwhelming . The scar of this bruise can't fade with time but the irony of life is that we are all mere puppets in the hands of destiny . I will chant for you so that you get the strength to endure this phase of life . Would suggest that you to start chanting too . Get connected to BSG Delhi (Bharat Soka Gakkai).Chanting can bring some peace and happiness in the rest of your life .Be rest assured that the departed soul will be in peace when you are in peace .
Heart felt prayers for you .

Jun 6, 2015

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

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Jun 7, 2015

Gupta's death is indeed a tragedy, no doubt about it, especially for someone so accomplished and at the age of 22-23. However I bet he's on a H1B Visa (born in India, high school in India, parents in India and only came to the U.S. for college) and I really want to hear from the Indians on this board on why are they so obsessed about migrating to the U.S? Look if he was on a H1B, then the only reason he cannot quit his job or take a leave of absence is that he would lose his H1B status and will have to return to India immediately. Once you stop working (or getting paid) on a H1B, you're out, simple as that. Certainly there are other cultural aspects, family and personal pride involved with his decision to return to work, but I dare say the chance to migrate to the U.S. Is a consideration at the back of his mind. Reading the father's letter further confirms that he is very proud of his kids being successful in the USA, and they are living his dream of migrating to the USA.
So do share with us, why the obsession about migrating to the U.S. particularly for native Indians?

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Jun 10, 2015

Seriously? You can't imagine why people want to migrate to the US? Migrating to the US is the dream of the vast majority of the non-western world.

Economic benefits such as a merit based economy and social welfare. Political benefits with free speech and religion. Health benefits with cleaner environment, less crime, better hospitals. I could go on and on, simply put, the United States is the destination for anyone who dreams of a better life.

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Jun 12, 2015

I get that, but if one is at the crossroads between suicide and not living in the US, we have to wonder if life does not exist outside the US. People are surviving ok in other developed cities in Asia.

By the way, Gupta's death has been ruled a suicide with surveillance video to boot.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-09/...

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Oct 3, 2015

Whoah! That sounds "raysiss," given that the culture was founded by white Europeans. We all know how evil honkies are...right?

These banking scenarios sounds like Jimmy Piersall's story in the movie FEAR STRIKES OUT (or the childhoods of Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods, etc.). That is, males endlessly trying to please perfectionist fathers.

Some parents will never "get" their kids. If those kids don't have other supporters/friends they will often literally die trying to please emotionally clueless parents.

No job is worth hyper-stress. The problem is that when kids don't get enough love and guidance they think money and status will fill the hole in their soul. They will try to find SOMETHING to earn their parents' love...a love that should have been unconditional.

You don't need a ton of money to live well. For example, it used to cost beaucoup bucks to buy a stereo amp, pre-amp, tuner, phonograph, tape-recorder plus LPs and cassettes. Now you can get most songs free or on-the-cheap carrying around 10,000+ on an iPod. You can get DVDs from libraries and on online. And so on. The point is you don't need to kill yourself to make $250,000 in order to live a good life.

Enough IS enough. Finding that balance is the hard part.

Most rich folks with multiple houses around the world don't have time to enjoy them..or share them with friends (who often have little free time, too). They think they'll live forever and "really" start living when they retire. Good luck with that. Try backpacking around Europe, staying in hostels, when you're 75.

Donald Trump inherited money, yet seems to like what he does. Zuckerberg and Gates were lucky, too, but also seem to like what THEY do. That is, they have jobs that have innate meaning for them. I suspect they'd still do what they do if they weren't rich.

Heaven help those who work like dogs at jobs they hate. There won't be enough compensation in the world to make up for what they'll lose. Plus stress will shorten their lives.

Moderation! Money, love, sleep, hobbies, friends, vacations, exercise, communication, compassion, education, meaningful work, family, faith, and more are all important. Balancing them is an art.

Jun 8, 2015

Such a sad story. As far as the debate in the comments here:

True success is knowing that all of your knowledge about a certain industry, company, college, etc. did NOT come from your parents but was actually developed on your own. Sure, your parents can help you but they shouldn't have some sort of sick obsession with the prestige of your school or the company you work for. I feel like parents who take an approach similar to the father who wrote this letter push their kids so much to the point where they actually resent working and stop being motivated. They begin to become confused with the idea of who they're actually working for.

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Jun 8, 2015

As a western catholic who was raised with guilt and have been living in Asia for the past 11+ years. I think some of you miss the point on placing the blame. This poor father had to bury his son. He wanted what was best for him and maybe you can agree or disagree on his motives, but being a father I can not imagine the anguish that this man had to go though. He will question his decisions and choices the rest of his life. Everything he sees and does will remind him of his boy and I wish that upon no one. I for one have taken a message from this tragedy. I want my kids to find their own success, whatever that may be and not let me or society define it.

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Jun 10, 2015

Hello guys, I am an Indian (coming to US next year). Here are my perspectives:

1) FIRST - His father was being a TYPICAL Indian father. He was NOT being arrogant, selfish according to Indian mentality. Objectively speaking, of course he was. HOWEVER, being India (who lived in India, New Delhi to boot) he could even realize it.

This point is really difficult to explain to Americans. Such "counselling" IS EXPECTED from parents, by Indian society. Otherwise, you, as a father, is regarded as a FAILURE. And the harsh judgement you feel from your neighbors and locality is very REAL. Prestige, Money and Elitism are the 3 pillars in Indian society. (which sounds like WSO)

Thousands of very intelligent Indian youngsters commit suicide each year for failing to meet their parent's expectation.

Getting into good universities, getting a job in American MNCs (or at least, British) and marrying a person with good credentials (love is not a necessity) is extremely important. The person you are marrying must be fair skinned if you want to score additional brownie points from the society.

2) SECOND - His father IS NOT planning to sue Goldman Sachs. An Indian Hindu parent WILL NEVER unethically cash in on his son's death, NEVER. (Not refering to anything against Indian Christians and Muslims.)

3) THIRD - His father really CARED for him, dearly. Refer to point 1 again.

4) FOURTH - The father brought Goldman Sachs into the story, because it is indeed a part of this tragic read. Indians strongly believe in FATE, especially when things go very bad wrong, when the end result is an untimely death. Understanding this point is important to aprreciate why his father wrote it in this way.

5) FIFTH - I strongly belive in the possibility of suicide. It's a classic escape route for Indian youngsters caught up in such a situation. He was bringing shame to his family. Returning from USA, defeated is the ultimate failure and shame for the Indian upper middle class. He knew this in his heart. Commiting suicide while making it look like an accident will provide relief from shame to his family, after he's gone. We will never know what exactly happened.

This was a grim read.

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  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Oct 3, 2015

So brown people get BROWNie points for marrying the "fair skinned"?

I thought India was a spiritual place. Now I learn it has castes, money-grubbers, status-seekers, kvetching parents, etc.

Who knew!

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Oct 4, 2015

I'm familiar with Indian thinking and completely agree with your analysis. Let's go one step further now: The worship of narrowly defined material success as a core value is a deadly error, for Indians or anyone else. That needs to be changed. Do you think it's possible?

My daughter had a similar distress working in advertising. mY reaction was: You do not have to do this. It's a big world out there. She now is a cook - and leads a happy life. Never mind the snobs who comment on "That's what you graduated on Dean's List for?"

Jun 10, 2015
  • I meant "could not even realize it" at the end of 1st para.
Jun 23, 2015

Not a lot of people have had the honor to die as a GS employee though.

Memory since 1999.

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Jun 23, 2015

Sorry for your loss. Although I have to admit that, the high expectation of Asian parents is a big issue... and the complaints from them are also HUGE...

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Oct 4, 2015
Oct 6, 2015
  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Oct 9, 2015