'I would not be around when you read this letter. Don’t get angry on me. I know some of you truly cared for me, loved me and treated me very well. I have no complaints on anyone. It was always with myself I had problems. I feel a growing gap between my soul and my body. And I have become a monster. I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write. 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.'
In the last words he penned down before hanging himself from a fan in a hostel room at the Hyderabad Central University campus, research scholar Rohith Vemula expressed a yearning to become a writer like Carl Sagan, the hugely popular American astronomer and cosmologist.
Vemula's note was not only heartbreaking because it was a reflection of the immense promise he held, but it was also a window to his struggles growing up.
"My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past....I am not hurt at this moment. I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That’s pathetic. And that’s why I am doing this," he wrote.
When Rajeev Ramachandran, Coordinating Editor at MediaoneTV, wrote to Ann Druyan, the wife of Sagan, telling her of Vemula's suicide note that mentioned her husband, this is what she wrote back.
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.
(1984: Cosmologist and author Carl Sagan and his wife author Ann Druyan pose in the Turnbull Conference Center on the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida in 1984. Photo by Mickey Adair/Getty Images)
Here's his Facebook post.
Druyan was the co-writer of the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos, hosted by Sagan. She was married to Sagan for 15 years before his death in 1996. She is the producer of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a science documentary television series.