The Story of a Suicide – Book Review
Book: The Story of A Suicide
Author: Sriram Ayer
(Photo Credit – StoryofASuicide website)
Even if there are a million reasons to die, one single reason to live is sufficient to keep someone alive. If someone sees a flicker of hope in the future, then they can find the courage to fight the current circumstances. But what if someone sees a bleak future, a future with no hope?
Hope is what keeps us alive. Doesn’t it?
We get this human life after 8.4 million births in other forms or so I have heard. One of my favourite hymns has a line which points to how precious human life is. So what makes someone give it up?
Why do some people give up on themselves or on life?
These are the questions that went on my mind while reading the novel “The Story of A Suicide” by Sriram Ayer.
If someone asks me to describe the book, I would simply say UNPUTDOWNABLE! I finished reading the book in one day. I had to get up in between to fulfil my worldly responsibilities and duties else I would have finished it in one go. It was fast paced and gripping!
Talking about the cover and visuals, the book had terrific water color illustrations by Ghana which added to the whole story!
The plot revolves around four adolescent characters Hari, Charu, Sam and Mani. Every one of them has a distinct personality and is fighting their own demons – whether it is the burden of coming from a dysfunctional family or being physically and sexually abused or coming from an impoverished background. It starts with a suicide attempt and ends with a suicide.
There is a lot of passion and aggression depicted in the characters too which appears apt for today’s youngsters – the Internet generation. They are also so engrossed in the virtual world that they are oblivious to the real world. And when these two worlds collide everything goes haywire.
I literally wanted to slap Sam when he was repeatedly Tweeting about every minute detail of his life until his character transformed into a cyber-bully cum stalker cum possessive boyfriend. By then his character had gone from grey to deep black. I would have loved to see him pay for his deeds!
I felt sorry for Hari and Mani. They got entangled in a web that wasn’t meant for them. Charu seemed mentally ill. Mood swings is one thing but she was too inconsistent in her words and actions. She did have some really good points on how the world at large treats women but it was not a balanced point of view.
The main issue I had with this book was that there were characters that were introduced but vanished without much impact. I wanted to know more about Priya, Alex, Aditya etc. They helped the story progress but were lost somewhere in the plot.
The ending actually broke my heart. I am all about facing the reality but in novels, I want the characters to be redeemed.
The story did stay on my mind for a long time after I finished reading it. I had so many questions.
What if Hari had talked to his sister about his plight? What if Charu had not posted her thoughts on Facebook? What would have happened if Sam resisted the temptation of revenge?
On another note, I am glad that Indian authors are writing boldly about the challenges the youngsters face these days. This is the age when they are yet to define themselves. They are exploring their sexuality, considering career options and learning to survive in this world. The LGBT community faces the biggest hurdle of all, to accept themselves and their sexual preferences. Then there is the challenge of making the society accept them.
And suicide is actually a very touchy subject. Every one claims to be against it but hundreds of people end their lives every week. We have always known that life is tough so why does it become unbearable for some? Well the answer is – it doesn’t.
It takes repeated blows to someone over a long period of time, building the pressure bit by bit until one day they crack. And death seems like an escape, perhaps the ONLY ONE.
I have been through some tough times in my life too, like everyone else. And I would be lying if I say that I did not consider death as a solution in desperate times. But what stopped me was the love and affection of my near and dear ones. A caring hand on my head, a shoulder to cry on and ears to listen to my woes were usually enough for me to stand up to fight again.
There is one other thing which was weird but worked well for me.
Growing up I was told that death is not an end. There is another world where we enter when we leave our human body. And if we have not faced the outcomes of our good and bad deeds, we come back to face it with the additional bad karma of destroying the gift of human life. I strongly believe in karma. So this thought made me determined to face and finish it all in this life itself and move forward instead of getting stuck in this cycle again and again.
So whenever I see someone in depression or talking as if they have no hope in life, I try my best to given them hope. A glimmer of hope can keep one alive. But if I cannot, I try to convince them that death is not the end. It is a mere temporary escape and they are better off staying here and fighting for themselves.
Some of my humble suggestions on facing life bravely:
- Talk to someone you trust. Do not stay aloof!
- If the situation entails facing consequences of your own actions, then accept your mistakes and try to make it right. But if you are facing something without any mistake of your own, take the challenge of proving yourself innocent. Giving up should not even be an option.
- Talk to a psychologist. They are better equipped to help you in dealing with depression, anxiety, guilt, fear etc.
- Do something that brings you joy on a daily basis. Eat your favourite meal, go out to your favourite spot, dress in your nicest clothes or take a trip you have always dreamt of. Anything that can make you feel even 0.01 % better.
- Help others. It is astonishing how bringing light to someone else’s world can light up yours! When you listen to the stories of others you will realize that you are not alone, everyone is struggling for survival.
- Exercise! It has been scientifically proven that exercise helps release endorphins which are basically feel-good hormones and help reduce stress. I can personally vouch for this one. I like brisk walking and dancing!
- Meditation is the solution for everything these days. I can see you rolling your eyes but it works. It helps clear the mind of clutter and lets you see the situation in a different light. There are plenty of other benefits but you need to meditate to feel the difference it brings to your life.
- Watch some videos that make you smile, or even better, laugh. It will lift up your spirits.
- Remind yourself repeatedly that life was good at some point in life. And since happy times did not last, neither will sad times!
- Last but not the least, no one learns or grows when they are happy. It is only when we are challenged, defeated, oppressed that our true strength comes forth. Sometimes we can astound ourselves with our own power! So stay strong and know that you have the opportunity to learn and grow by overcoming this hurdle.
I am so glad a book has started this phenomenon where we are taking about depression, suicide, anxiety and sexuality openly. It was a good read and the conversations that are starting after this book will help bring the much needed change!
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