Sunday, August 14, 2016

The story of suicide: From the end to the start.

The coming of age novel The Story of A Suicide by Sriram Ayer speaks about the sensitive time that is youth. the story revolves around four key characters Hari,Sam,Mani and Charu. The story-line is enthralling which keeps you hooked. I devoured this book in one sitting. I liked the clever idea of the author to start the opening chapter with a suicide letter. It has an instant impact and stuns the reader immediately. The theme is relevant. The characters are neatly sketched and are very relatable. The parallelism of the four character's journey results in a curious page turning read. 

In the chapter 'I am gay' we are introduced to the first character Hari. Hari is gay but hasn't come out of the closet yet. we see that Hari lives in a  close knit happy family. Hari kept his visit to the national seminar on rights of sexual minorities a secret from his family. his hurried and nervous exit from the seminar throws a light  on the state of homosexuals in our society. Being insecure about our true self and try to hide it from the society especially from our family in order not to upset them or be ridiculed for not being 'normal' is a cruel reality we need to confront as a society. In the chapter 'I love you' Hari's traumatic past experience is revealed. 

In the chapter 'Do you even care' we meet Sam. Sam is a rich and hansome tech geek who is obsessed with posting every little updates of his life on twitter. His relationships often suffer because of his careless attitude. His complicated relationship with charu and how he deals with rejection, jealousy is perfectly depicted in the story. his pot smoking sessions and manipulation by Aditya brings new twist in the tale.  

In the chapter 'Take care of my son' we get familiar with Mani's backstory. Mani's character bears a striking resemblance to Raju Rastogi (sharman joshi's character) from 3 idiots. He comes from a poor family who used to be a child laborer. He was raised by his mother alone. His academic excellence attracted attention of authorities who funded his education. so clearly a lot of hopes and expectations were riding on his shoulders. eventually he is disappointed by his failure in academics and can't cope up with pressure anymore. he tries to commit suicide but fortunately is saved by Alex and others in nick of time.

In the same chapter we are introduced to Charu, a character who is feminist, headstrong woman with enchanting beauty who won't bow before anyone and fights back when tough times befalls her. When her privacy is violated as her illicit pictures are taken without her knowledge and she is blackmailed, her emotional break down and trauma feels so real that makes you want to give her a hug and tell her 'everything is gonna be alright'. you think Charu is over but she quickly comes to senses and gets a hold of reality. 

The real gem of this book, however, are the secondary characters: 
Hari's Father Mr. Narendar Hegde who is proud of his son's achievements but just can't accept the fact that his son is gay. 
Anjali, The extremely supportive elder sister of Hari and 'Monica' of the Hegde family. she is caring and totally a  'I'll be there for you' type friend to Hari. 
Alex, a professor at KIT Madras who has a unique and interesting style of teaching. He proves himself a savior by saving Mani's life and then lending helping hand to Charu. He is one of those people who do as they preach.
Aditya is a extremely manipulative boy and a drug addict. He is the 'friend' who our parents warn us to stay away from.

 The novel is not just another finding hope story and seeing the sliver lining. The novel touches subjects that are sensitive and not often talked about like depression, sexuality, bullying, abuse,peer pressure etc but nevertheless demands attention. while books around these topics can tend to get indulgent or preachy, Sriram Ayer handles the sensitive subjects with poignancy and grace. It can be a challenging read for some but a must.   
 Sriram Ayer has put in efforts to make every exchange between characters authentic. they use urban lingos which teens nowadays use. the raw honesty with which the characters interact and speak their mind makes it a refreshing read. All the characters are going through some kind of insecurities and deal with it differently which makes the readers get a well-rounded sense of their motivations. The novel has enough heart to make you sincerely care about the characters. It delivers constant punches of unpredictable twists and intrigue.
for example, when charu saw her photo in the phone and broke down. call me pessimistic or what, I thought 'oh no, she's going to commit suicide' but I was pleasantly surprised when she did not and instead sought help from Alex.   
At its heart the story is about catastrophe, survival and self discovery. It is extremely important that all teenagers and adults read this book. All in all, The Story of A Suicide is thought-provoking, troubling and captivating.

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