Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Story of a Suicide- A novel by Sriram Ayer

A book with hand-drawn illustrations that dares to break the stereotypes is a fresh new chapter for bored readers like me, who were tired of the run-of-the-mill heterosexual love stories. I am not a fan of romance but ofttimes, I take a peep into a book that talks of love, that is fresh like the blossoming buds of spring or the dewy mist on the grass after a rainy day.
The first chapter is a chilling account of what a person goes through before deciding to retort to the inevitable. Most suicide notes read exactly like the letter that the person who had decided to give up on life wrote to his loved ones. Only if we were to lend an ear to such voices when they stifle and struggle to tell us their story, many untimely suicides could have been avoided. The writer has wisely created an air of suspicion by crafting the letter carefully. I thought that this was clearly a case of a heterosexual romantic relationship having gone wrong.  
The author has taken careful caution to describe situations and people by using images, sights and sounds that transport you to the world which is being described in the book. Only a clever observer can use noises and mental pictures intelligently to tell a story. 
In chapter 5, Hari narrating his ordeal about how he was first molested by his uncle was a saddening tale, and many abuse victims as we see on social media have bravely dared to speak of the mishaps they had to encounter as kids. In chapter 6, Mr.Narender Hegde reminds us of many of our possessive worried parents who were afraid to let us go from the comfort and security of our homes, the first time we decided to step out to build  a career. 

"Why is being chaste the corner stone of a woman's character? And why does that rule never apply to a man?"
This question is relevant in a society like ours, which always puts the burden of chastity and purity on the woman, while a man is let loose like a wild bull. Chapter 9 raises another important question about what pleasure do people get when they watch reality tv programmes. Is it right to devour on the private lives of people all for the sake of entertainment? Privacy should be declared as a basic human right and anyone playing with it should be duly punished for their misdeed.
In chapters 13 and 15, the writer has left no stone unturned by describing exactly what male privilege means in a misogynistic society like ours, where an intimate physical encounter is a goal that a man scores and can boast of in front of his friends. Another example of the fearless liberty that men in our world enjoy was shown by the author in chapter 15 where Sam tries to belittle humanities and shows lack of conviction for Charu's character, just because she was spending the night at Alex's place.  

Chapter 17 was my favourite because its states the facts clearly. Although the post was out-rightly angry, it dared to call a spade a spade. The tone of the post could have been more civilized, as trivializing human beings to private parts is not the solution to the problems created by a male dominant society. Some men grabbed the opportunity to use offensive language and give it back to her, by taking her post personally. Usually when a woman crosses the barriers set by the society and dares to use unparliamentary language like Charu did, it does hurt the fragile male egos. 

Chapters 11 and 18 confused me and I felt that an animation series was twined with the plots of the protagonists of the story, that was showing promise. The loud images befuddle a reader who by now is eagerly waiting to see how the story will shape up. 

Chapter 21 echoes the sentiments of a gay person who is struggling to come out of the closet, and their fears about losing their partners to other people, much like heterosexual people. The negative emotions of anger, fear and jealousy are intricately worded in this chapter.

Chapter 22  reminded me of the verses from the Bible which talks of love as a selfless emotion. It's a virtue that can never be owned or procured, and it's always important to let yourself with the flow of the emotion. It was reassuring that the author decided to allow the gay character in the story to describe love that gives us an honest perspective about what homosexual people think about that human emotion. Definitely, it is not just carnal pleasure all the time for them, an ugly picture that the dominance of heterosexuality has painted in our minds. 

From chapter 23, the writer talks about the perils of hacking and online stalking, bringing out in the open the panic and anxiety that a victim of online harassment feels. 
From then the plot thickens and throws surprises at you revealing the gory details of a conflict between the good and the evil. Read till the last page to find out how it all ends with no one taking the piece of cake. I was shattered and felt dismal but I guess this is how the story had to end. 

It was a well written book with honest views about the problems plaguing the modern society and the solutions that lie at an arm's distance, only if we care to ask for help.
Every character was a winner especially that of Charu's since she embodies the suppressed sentiments of a modern Indian woman who is caught between the devil and the deep sea. Her constant competition with a male dominated world is a gentle reminder for all the girls to come out of their comfort zones and fight for their rights. Through her character we learn that a confident woman can be a threat to patriarchy and why unfettered conviction is the only armor that will help a woman to win her battles against a failing misogynistic society.

A few days ago I woke up to the news of two suicides near my place. One was a twenty five year old mother of two and the other one was a nineteen year old young boy. 
The twenty five year old was working as a full-time maid at our neighbour's house. She had kept her identity a secret from her bosses and had come all the way from Assam to earn her bread and butter. Her whereabouts were revealed to her employer on the day that she took her life. She had conducted herself in such a way that her relationship status remained a secret and no one knew of her family and past until the cops decided to investigate.
The nineteen year old boy was a spurned lover who was smitten by an African girl who visited his mobile phone repairing shop often. He couldn't handle the rejection and decided to sacrifice his life for her. Our neighbours said that he was a bright boy with stardust in his eyes. 

I believe life is precious and doesn't deserve to be taken away by us for anyone or any reason under the sun. Yes each one of us have a different story of struggle, so we are no one to judge the other person. But we should never give up if the boat of our life is stuck in the whirlwinds of depression and should make an honest attempt at seeking emotional help from friends and family, and professional help from psychologists. 
If we are struggling to forget a person, then joining a hobby like dance, music, cooking or arts will be of great help. It'll allow us to make new friends and accustom our self with a new recreational activity.
Taking a holiday is also a helpful therapy when you are heavy-hearted.
If you are having a tough time overcoming a situation then having a chat with a friend or family member will aid you in coming out of the desperate situation.
Always make it a point to confide in a person when you are disconsolate. Have a few honest 3 am friends is better than having a facebook friend list consisting of thousands of friends. A person who will hear you patiently is a faithful friend as opposed to a person who will hit "like" on a joyful picture of yours on facebook.

We should always carefully look for signs of self-doubt in children which swiftly turns to depression and will affect the growth of their personality. If they are staying aloof, and do not mingle well with their peer group, these maybe warning signs. Anju and her parents overlooked the signs of loneliness in Hari. Had anyone lent a listening ear to him as a child, he might have not become a victim of perplexity and depression. His father was busy travelling and pursuing his career while his mother was herself a sufferer of loneliness. Children of such parents often fall prey to unhappiness and many become victims of abuse, because their parents are not with them to protect them. 

We must not shy away from seeking professional counselling in person or on phone, not giving importance to societal norms, if we ever experience depression. Most helplines will protect your identity and would never advertise your personal details. For it is better to explore options that will pull you out of the pit of desperation as opposed to brushing your problems under the carpet.

No person or emotion is more important than your life. When you ever become victimized by low spirits, remember life's simplest pleasures can be yours if you stretch out your hand to grab them. 
The watermelon sun and the silvery moon will be waiting to smile at you, if you are willing to greet them everyday.
Let go all the people who are not willing to hold you hand and walk with you. And always be on the look out for people who will stand by your side through the thick and thin.


You can read the Story of a Suicide by Sriram Ayer here.


Watch the video of The Story of a Suicide below.




1 comment:

जितेन्द्र माथुर said...

That's an extra-ordinary review of an extra-ordinary book. Hats off to the reviewer. And I endorse the viewpoint in toto that privacy should be considered a basic human right.