A page-turner, an irresistible book, undoubtedly, makes a great read. But there are very few books having incidents or experiences narrated with such power that you are bound to stop reading for a moment, mulling over the sentences you just read. The Story of a Suicide by Sriram Ayer is one of such books.
At the first glance, I took it to be a book about some teenage love story. But as I proceeded further, the book unveiled different shades; of life and society.
The Story Itself
The Story of a Suicide is the saga of four youngsters, Hari, Sam, Mani and Charu, whose lives intersect each other as they happen to study in an institution, KIT. Each of them has a different socio-economical background, but somewhere, at some point, the reader can identify their convergence. They all have a dream of their own. Sam or Sambamurthy wants to be a tech-wizard by inventing something as unique as J.A.R.V.I.S (Yes, you got it right, our very own Edwin Jarvis from IronMan), Hari wants to forget the scars left on his mind by the repugnant incidents of his childhood, Mani wants to fulfil his mother’s dreams and Charu, she wants to become free, of the shackles the society puts on a woman.
And, while chasing their dreams, knowingly or unknowingly, they face challenges. Challenges put before them by life and society. Their young minds sometimes feel indecisive, sometimes they struggle with their own minds, sometimes they draw conclusions too early, become restless, angry, and evidently, ends up doing something undesirable.
But, isn’t it the responsibility of the society to understand their dreams and fears? Isn’t it the duty of the parents to be supportive of their children when they are in distress? Most importantly, isn’t it a crime to shove a person further down when he is standing near a deep, dark abyss of abuse and frustration?
The book raises such questions. It points to the various challenges of life and the ways with which one can fight against them. We find the ways through the voice of Charu, a free-spirited, independent girl with much sagacity. Her character is very real. She fights against all odds, but she also cries and gets afraid, just like any other girl of her age. We find the green eyes of envy turning crude and cruel in Sam. He, in spite of his talents, fails to use them for something good enough. Mani, a victim himself, couldn’t identify the pain of another victim and rather inflicts pain on him. Hari, a devastated, deserted soul, seeks peace and love and, finally his search ends in a tragic manner.
The four pivotal characters are very well portrayed. Readers can identify themselves with their pain, joy, frustration and happiness easily. Even the minor characters are nicely built. I found myself silently praying for Hari as the little kid when he tries to survive from his abuser by hiding in the bathroom! I wanted to kill “Him” as “He” most horrifically sexually abused the little kid. I admired Alex Sir for his wonderful ways of interacting with his students. I pitied Mr Hegde when he failed to fathom the feelings of his child.
My Understanding of the Issues and Possible Solutions
Whether we want to agree with the fact or not, our society is a narrow-minded one. It has a typical mindset and, it seldom wants to come out of it and think otherwise. That is possibly the reason why women are infantilized, looked after as some inferior beings than men. Charu is the voice against these. She doesn’t feel ashamed to post a status on Facebook addressing the phallic pride. She wants to be herself. I find an indomitable, wise and friendly soul in her.
Homosexuality. Another issue our society always flinches to talk about. That a person doesn’t share the same attitude towards sex as mine, doesn’t make her/him a social outcast or abnormal. It’s a way of life and, everyone has their own choice. It’s a reality; change your outlook, change your mind and, accept it. Support your loved ones and respect their choice. Trust me, they need it. Otherwise, the stories of suicides would never cease to exist.
There is a myth about child abuse in India, that, there are a negligible number of cases. The fact is, it’s increasing, alarmingly, affecting children from all levels of the society.
Parents play the most important role in preventing child abuse. They should trust and understand their children, their discomfort or uneasiness to any particular individual. Most of the times, it’s a familiar and trusted person taking chances.
Technology, gadgets, devices, social media- all these have become a part and parcel of our life. These are modern tools and like any other tool, its impact largely depends on the intention of the user. We should not become an addict. That can keep us safe in quite a few ways.
“A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.” – Franz Kafka
The Story of a Suicide did that for me. It made me think, wonder and ponder over life and its challenges. Sriram Ayer has raised his voice to bring a change in the society and, we should lend out a hand to join him. I recommend this book to every reader of my blog and beyond. The visual effects, that is, the illustrations by Ghana have definitely added more to the book. All the images used here are from the book.