Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy 18th Birthday, Abhi

Today is the occasion of my oldest son's birthday. He would have been 18, and it brings me much sadness that I cannot enjoy this milestone with him. Some of you may know that last year, Abhi took his own life. I'm not sure if I've come to terms with this yet. Or if I ever will. It is such a tragic waste.

This photo was taken not long before his passing, and it was a very happy family day. In the photo are my daughter, Champaka (now 20) and Abhi. The photo was taken in Lorne, a small sea-side town south-west of Melbourne, after we'd driven to Stephenson's Falls in the Otway Ranges. The scenery and setting is very similar to that in Old Joy. My mother, my partner, our youngest son and I were all together on a rare trip out of the city.

Abhi didn't live with me (his mother and I split when he was very young), but visited regularly. This visit was in October, and on the previous visit we went on a day ride on my motorbike together. I've since found online writings where he said he really enjoyed these activities, which gratifies me a somewhat.

Abhi was a really gentle soul. He was intelligent, creative, funny, considerate, modest and not afraid to be different. He was just finding his own power, and unfortunately he misused that power. He couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, not realising that he would soon be in a place where he could change things for the better.

I recently came into possession of some of Abhi's school work. In Year 10, he produced a short film he called Simple Actions. I'm told he got top marks in his class for it. By chance, Blogger have just added new functionality to enable the uploading of video clips (as opposed to embedding YouTube clips), and I am pleased to publish Abhi's work below. His film uses Moby's Porcelain, which we coincidentally selected as part of a tribute CD at his funeral.

Simple Actions - a short movie by Abhimanyu Martin (2005)

These are some more of Abhi's computer-generated artworks. One is a portrait of his good friend, Bianca, another a self-portrait - he took a photo of himself, traced it then manipulated it using a graphics editor. The other is a fictional heavy metal band tour poster he made as part of a school SAC. He described to me with some pride what the different aspects of the illustration represent (such as parts of a guitar and keyboard), but I can't remember all the details.

Abhi was born on the last day of winter; both he and I were born on the 31st, but of different months. His sister and mother were both born on the 3rd of different months. Both Champaka and Abhi were born in August, so their birthdays were 28 days apart. I'm a numerate person, so while I'm not sure of the significance of these numbers, they resonate for me.

Abhi didn't feel he had very good social skills, and I suspect he felt this most at school. He wasn't interested in conforming or being part of the group, gravitating more towards the more thoughtful and intelligent kids. He had a very good way with children and was very patient with them. He enjoyed teaching things to his younger brother, Alexander, and playing with him. When he accompanied me on the motorbike for group rides, he'd be the only youngster but was very comfortable in the company of adults, occasionally cracking intelligent jokes. We live near the bay and he would enjoy accompanying us for long walks along the water.

Abhi is named after the son of Arjuna, and these are both characters in India's famous epic story Mahabharata. Abhimanyu was a heroic young fighter who died in the battle of Kurukshetra. According to legend, he was only sixteen years of age, and could only be killed when six great warriors broke the strict rules of engagement by ganging up on him.

In the year prior to his death, Abhi made a special point of embracing me when he came to our place, and especially when I dropped him at his mother's, when he would also say "I love you." At first it surprised me, as I didn't expect this show of affection from a seventeen year old boy for his father. I now think it was his way of saying goodbye to me, and that he was planning to leave this world. I miss him terribly.

In memory of Abhi Martin
31.08.89 - 14.12.06


Marina said...

My thoughts are with today Paul, this is a beautiful way to remember your exceptionally talented son. That short video was excellent.

Kamikaze Camel said...

That's awfully tragic. As someone who has known people who have taken their own lives (thankfully no family members though) I can imagine what you're going through, but can't at the same time. Must be incredibly hard.

Hope you can get through this day, not just this year but for the many years to come.

Suicide is always tragic.

Geist said...

Abhi's film is touching, and instantly made me identify with the story told by the visuals/soundtrack.
all the best, Paul.
per aspera ad astra.

Paula said...

Paul - thank you for sharing these very personal feelings with your loyal following of film go-ers and bloggers. The death of anyone at a young age is an absolute tragedy; moreso when it is your very own child - someone who you have watched develop, have had hopes for (as in hoping that they will be fulfilled and happy), and have deeply loved. The best that I can do is wish you the very best. I know from personal experience (over a 30-year period now, following the death of my much loved sister in still "unexplained" (if they can ever be explained) circumstances), that anniversaries of the death, birthdays, family gatherings etc. bring it all back. Indeed, not a day seems to go past that I don't still think of Wendy - however, I wouldn't wish it any other way. Perhaps these people were only "meant" to be with us for a short time, I don't know; however, the pain for those left continues. Take care, Paula. (NB. I'll look out for you at Cinematheque.)

Paul Martin said...

Thanks everyone for your comments, and to those who left none, but perhaps felt my grief.

I do believe in fate, and that things are meant to be.

I also believe that cinema and life are inexplicably intertwined. The films that move me the most are those that connect me to real life experience.

Paula, you'll recognise me by the black and blue motorcycle gear I wear.

Chris T said...

hi paul,

have not dropped in for a while,

speak to you soon

for want of more eloquence, sorry

send Zoe thoughts too

(catch you on a future Wednesday)

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Abhi seems like a very sweet and talented person. Paul this was a terrible tragedy, you have my sincere sympathy.

Paul Martin said...

Good to hear from you, Chris. FYI, there's a Godard/Resnais double this week at Melbourne Cinémathèque, followed by three weeks of Czech cinema. It all looks quite interesting.

Goran, he was a sweet and gentle kid. The world needs more like him. Thanks for your words of support.

Anonymous said...

I know it is late..Happy 18th Birthday Abhi.

Anonymous said...

Paul, that was a sad and touching post, thank you for your honesty and reflection and for sharing with us Abhi's lovely short. Those such as myself who have been rocked by the death of a loved one in similar circumstances truly appreciate this post.
-luke buckmaster

Anonymous said...

You're a little different for me but I respect and LOVE this tribute to your son. My son died 1/2/07 at the age of 16 and now this world is the the coldest and emptiest world I've ever known. Take care. My e-mail address is in case you want to know more. If not, that's okay to. take care.