“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?”
These are not the words of a religious philosopher, but of a father who lost a young, highly educated and loving son in a tragic accident, for which he partly holds himself responsible.
Sarvshreshth Gupta was a young analyst at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco and hailed from Delhi. He was found dead in the parking lot next to his apartment on April 16 in the American city.
What brought Sarvshreshth’s death to international limelight was an essay -- A Son Never Dies -- his father, Sunil Gupta, wrote on him and posted on Medium. He later removed the same but reproduced versions are available on several other websites like Wall Street Oasis.
In the essay, Sunil wrote his son had repeatedly complained about long working hours, high stress at work and even confessed, “This job is not for me. Too much work and too little time.”
What makes the case worse is that Sarvshreshth had quit Goldman Sachs in March, but then rejoined under ‘pressure from his dad’ and again, fell into the hectic schedule which he detested – “hard, continuous work, no breaks, no sleep and no respite”.
“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?” Sunil wrote.
Sarvshreshth studied at the Delhi Public School, RK Puram and went on to graduate from Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania before bagging a job with Goldman Sachs.
“Delhi Public School, RK Puram. Wharton UPenn, Goldman Sachs job at 22. And a tragic end,” tweeted economist and political analyst, Ajit Ranade.
In the heart-breaking essay, Sunil narrates Sarvshreshth’s excellent academic career and his promising achievements. Sunil then goes on to describe how his son started complaining about the hectic job and finally met his end.
Excerpts from the essay:
On the phase when Sarvshreshth had complained and Sunil counseled him
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.
The fateful day
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.
Sunil suggests in the essay that it was a car accident which took his son’s life but the New York Times reported the cause of Sarvshreshth’s death case remains undetermined.
The Independent , however, stressed on the possibility of Sarvshreshth having taken his own life.
“The authorities have said they believe Sarvshreshth Gupta, 22, killed himself after working through the night and struggling to match the demands he felt under.”
The NYT further reported that Sunil said in an email that they won’t respond to the media in the period of grief.
A statement from Goldman Sachs on the incident said, “We are saddened by Sav’s death and feel deeply for his family. We hope that people will respect the family’s expressed desire for privacy during this difficult time.”