I am not going to use the actual names in this account for the need of privacy by the related individuals.
T and I knew each other since 2003. On papers, he was my junior, but the rapport and relationship that we shared was much beyond the 'official' paperwork. Both of us loved mimicking people and making impromptu jokes at each other and also others. Of course, all was done in good fun.
About 3 years ago, T was eligible for a promotion. He mentioned to me that it was important to him and only if he got the promotion, could he marry his long time sweetheart. We discussed the chances and the competition and the role. We spent 3 weeks understanding the role and how to go about the interview. Being in the senior role, I had access to the panel of interviewers. Of course I did not tell him the details, but helped him with how to understand certain questions and situations. To cut a story short, T cracked the interview and got promoted. We had a party, and a few months later, I received the invite for his wedding.
All was going well, until one day, he called me while I was on my way to office and asked me to join him for a smoke. I reached soon, and asked him why he sounded a bit distraught. Because with T, there was never a heavy moment. We could poke fun at the worst of situations. He said it was nothing, to which I teased him about being married and struggling to cope.
Approximately a week after that, he called another friend and asked him about insurance policies. He got all the information he wanted, and needless to say, at the end of it, was the butt of our jokes again. This time however, he did not respond too well. We should have guessed it then that there was something wrong, but the thought never crossed our minds. Life went on as usual for a few weeks, and we were up to our normal tricks. A few months later, T asked one of the friends about black magic and voodoo. Soon this was discussed with us, and I asked him what was bothering him. He said something felt wrong, and despite everything seeming normal and good, he was disturbed. I thought he just needed a break from the work, so we decided to take off for the weekend. We went to an adventure camp and got involved in the activities there.
That was the first time I noticed something seriously wrong. At around noon on the first day of the trip, T was sitting in a chair by the lake, with his eyes rolled back. At first I thought he was just playing a prank, so I walked up to him and clapped him on the back. And he just looked at me with a blank face and said 'It is done'. I asked him what was he talking about, and he seemed like he had snapped out of a trance. Of course I did not tell the rest of the group barring one other friend, and we decided to take a short walk in the woods. We tried to get more out of T as we were now getting worried about the whole thing. And all he said was 'I don't know, it seems like someone is up to tricks with me'. Being friends, we got a bit reactive and asked him to tell us everything and we would do everything we could. T assured us he would tell us the whole story the following weekend over a few beers. We agreed and thought it was a good idea.
The Monday after our adventure trip, I was on my way to office, when I received a call informing me that T had committed suicide in his house. This took me by an emotion I don't know how to describe. I turned my car towards his residence and found all the friends and his family (He was married for 6 months at this time). We asked around and got the details of the events which I will not share here as it is inappropriate. We were all pretty shaken up. A month later, I moved out of the city as part of a transfer to another location. All the while we had just one question - what was T going to tell us that following weekend? Did it have anything to do with his death?
I got my answer 3 months post his death. His wife called me and after talking about the next steps for her, she mentioned that T had some property under dispute (I recollected T telling us about some land that his father had purchased in the 80's). And a relative had come visiting with some property papers some time after his death. T's family wanted nothing to do with the property, so they let it go. The family was aware of the property under dispute and they had strong doubts about a member in the extended family practicing black magic. This was done in order to claim the property. It is a known practice in India that people indulge in all sorts of dark arts for property, money and sometimes just plain jealousy. T was at the receiving end of something like this. He was under some kind of 'spell' that caused him to take the extreme step. His family had lost interest in the property as they were too overcome with the grief of their son. We discussed a lot of things including this one time when T was running scared about a missing watch, some clothes and his hair. T sported short hair and trimmed it himself. Just for kicks, he had a basket in which he would collect the cropped hair and make weird jokes about it. That's when we understood that someone actually had stooped as low as they did to get some piece of land that wasn't even rightfully theirs.
Soon after I spoke to his wife, I received a message on my phone. The message was from T (How he managed to do that, I do not have a clue. All I know is there was no way anyone else could have done it because we keep our phones and systems very secure, and even our wives do not have the passwords and security codes to bypass the system). The message said - Sorry buddy. There came a point where I was not in control of what I was doing. Please do not pursue this.
The same message was received by the third friend who was part of our discussion at the adventure camp. I take it as his wish to not pursue it, so we did not mention it again. It has been two years now that this incident happened and we have silently accepted it. Yes, we are enraged at the loss of a good friend and wish we could get some retribution. We also realize that such thoughts are better if they stay as thoughts and don't turn into deeds. However, the one thing I have to ask is - How much value does anything have over a life? Is it worth stooping to such depths just for some piece of land?