54-2019 When a mother almost killed her own son ………

When a mother almost killed her own son …….

It is not known to many that the legendary Indian mathematician Ramanujan attempted suicide in 1918, by jumping before a train. Ramanujan was under mental depression, brought about by the harsh weather he was not accustomed to, strict and inappropriate dietary habits, very demanding and stressful research activity, poor health conditions, war related miseries, and above all, separation from his newly married wife Janaki. Luckily, he was saved just in time, because the driver slammed the brakes in time.

There is a saas-bahu twist to Ramanujan’s tale. When he returned to India in 1919, he was miffed at Janaki, his wife. Ramanujan rebuked her, “I wrote so many letters, at times once every week, but you chose not to reply even once”. Mystified, sobbing Janaki told him that she was writing letters frequently even when none were received from Ramanujan. She was handing over letters to her mother-in-law for posting, as she had no money for even postage. Both of them then realised the dirty game played by the mother-in-law in hiding letters from each other. Many years later, Dr S Chandrasekar recounted his conversation with Janaki Ammal, who apprehended that longing for loving words from his wife perhaps was one of the contributory factors for Ramanujan’s depression, which led to him to the attempted suicide. The selfish mother never thought of the consequences of her foolish and cruel act.

This episode has a sad and cruel climax. Just a few months later, the mother had to see with her own eyes, the painful death of her own son. The mother could not even repent the injustice she had done to her own son, and ask his forgiveness.

See Remembering Ramanujan