To be very honest, I was surprised by the very name of this novel i.e. “The Story of a Suicide” by Sriram Ayer. The name generated curiosity in me to know the story further. And once I started reading this novel, I was glued to it till I finished. Sriram brings to us story of four youths Sam, Charu, Hari and Mani, whose lives get intertwined. One of them attempts to commit suicide, but gets saved by the timely intervention of another friend, and another character finally commits suicide and bids adieu to this world. One character is self-obsessed, at times turns insensitive towards others. Written in an extremely simple manner and language, it becomes very easy to infer every word and message of the novel. Sriram is able to bring to us these four characters in a very much believable manner. He has kept the theme very contemporary, and even added all the social media ingredients – be it facebook, whats app, smart phones, cyber crime etc. Each chapter’s title is bird’s eye view of the chapter. It is a very easy read and one would be able to relate to what is written and also how the story has been conveyed.
Creator and Author: Sriram Ayer
Content Developer – “How Do I?’ & Copy Editor: Mansi S Mehta
Director – Promo Video: Surya Balakrishnan
Singer and Composer – Music Video: Vedanth
Lyricist- Music Video: Tanya Dutt
Director- Music Video: Hema Priyadarshini
Voice Over – Audio Book: Uday Danda
Campaign Manager: Kirti Jayakumar
Copy Editor: Sitara
Campaigner: Mukesh Ravichandran
Technology Consultant: Raghavasimha D
Link to the Novel: http://www.storyofasuicide.com/
Total Number of Chapters: Thirty One (with an average of 9-13 pages per chapter)
The book begins with a suicide note leaving us in suspense that who actually is attempting to commit suicide. Then all the four characters are introduced one by one, whose paths are destined to cross one another in the College Campus of KIT, Chennai. Hari, who is immensely loved by his parents Mr. Narendar Hegde and Mrs. Malini Hegde and elder sister Anju. Hari is supposed to join KIT for his M. Sc. Development Studies (integrated). He realizes that his sexual preference is toward men and he is a gay. Sambamurthy, who prefers to be addressed as Sam is passionate about technology. He intends to develop new applications. Through the initial chapters itself, he appears to be a bit arrogant, who is unable to handle any form of rejection in the right stride. He breaks up with his girl friend Priya. He is also going to join KIT for his B. Tech studies. Hari and Sam become the room mates in the hostel. Mani, a bonded labourer from childhood who had to suffer a lot due to poverty and came a long way by hard work and mother’s support, is introduced as the character who attempted suicide, but his very good friend Charu with the help of Sam and other students save him. Mani does feel apologetic of his attempt to commit suicide. Charu is shown to be a very carefree girl, with unpredictable moods, very blunt (curt at times) and independent too.
The story moves further. Slowly their lives get intertwined. How does Sam deal with her break up with Priya ? Does Sam develop some feelings for Charu ? How does Charu deal with Sam ? How does Mani deal with his life post suicide attempt ? Is Hari able to befriend Mani, Charu and Sam ? What sort of relationship develops between them ? How does Hari’s parents deal with the fact that he is a gay ? All the four characters have their own stories, what are those stories ?
Apart from the characters mentioned above, other characters viz. Aditya as Sam’s friend and Alex as a young professor of KIT and a good friend of Charu also are there. It is to be read that how they become the part of the whole story.
There are lots of messages conveyed through this novel. When one reads further, we can realize that every action of ours has its own consequences. We have the freedom to design our choices, we can be impulsive, but everything has its own reflex actions. We cannot get away from the consequences of our actions.
The novel covers, how a child when sexually abused by relatives develops a personality who grows to be an adult with fear, insecurity, mistrust in the subconscious mind. This also covers that how important it is for parents not to ignore but to listen to the fears of the child, when they express. The thought of committing suicide may occur frequently, but one cannot just end life. Everything can be mended, if we stay alive. One must learn to accept rejections too in life. One doesn’t have any right to fiddle with somebody else’s life. The anger buried deep down might make one vulnerable and desperate. The novel also warns one not to judge others for the choices made by them, it could be a person’s sexual preference, it could be a girl’s bold exterior face, it could be somebody’s attention seeking syndrome etc. The novel also talks about how a non-conformist to the societal norms feel out of place, or end up feeling like an outcaste in this world. When we say that we love someone, how can we end up developing hatred towards the same person or become obsessive (I choose not to address this as possessiveness, but obsessive) when we face the non-reciprocation of love or rejection of our love from the other party or observe non-commitment / lack of passion in the other person. When I form and break relationships at the spur of a moment, I need to look within. If a female wants to rule or make her presence felt in male-dominated society, one needs to check, what all means I choose to do the same. Is flirting or involving in multiple non-committal relationship give power to one’s self, a question to be pondered upon.
The biggest lesson is nothing or nobody or no incident on this earth shall make me feel powerless, helpless to an extent that I decide to die.
Generally people say that those who commit suicides are cowards or escapists. Some even say that they are unable to face the harsh realities of life and so only it becomes more convenient for them to put an end to everything by committing suicide. But somehow, I have looked at it in a different way. It takes tremendous amount of courage to end one’s life. We human beings get threatened with the very thought of succumbing to critical illness, the thought of death sends shivers down the spine. The same human being takes a decision one fine moment to end his / her all ordeals, and go away from all his / her loved ones to a different world. One needs courage for the same, isn’t it? I wonder, what mental state the person might be in: Are they totally fed up of life? Do they feel absolutely lonely in this world? Do they think that nobody can understand them ? Do they feel that they are complete disgrace to their friends / family? Do they feel unloved, unwanted by the world? Did they stop dreaming ? Did they start feeling that their lives would never be better ? Are they tired after putting up a brave front for a pretty long time before the world ? Have they stretched themselves beyond their optimum self and now totally broken ? Have they got saturated as far as their capacity for tolerating mistrust, failure, rejections etc. are concerned? It is difficult to even guess, what could be in their minds which lead them to take such a difficult step of committing suicide in life, but I feel, It could be a combination of all these.
I don’t want to really quote the statistical figures, but it is alarming that about 800000 people commit suicide worldwide every year, of these 135000 (17%) are residents of India (Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_India). This figure is probably increasing by every passing year, and youths are the ones who are mostly ending their lives. Isn’t it scary to understand this ?
The million dollar question is how to reduce this suicide rate? I feel, we shy away from accepting the basic fact if we are feeling mentally low, depressed, distressed, rejected, unloved, unwanted. We keep our vulnerabilities to ourselves. It is very important to be conscious of our mental condition. And if we sense even to the remotest that our loved ones are suffering mentally, are we ready to give them unconditional support, without judging them to pull them out from this valley of depression ? May be our one call, one message, one visit, a sentence of ours can turn them away from this deadly decision of ending their lives.
Please click here to know the source of this Video
Coming back to the novel ‘The Story of a Suicide’, I would like to convey that I could relate with almost all the four characters. They are either within me or around me. Still, to pick up one, I could relate with Charu’s character. Some excerpts which I have derived out from the novel, mostly revolving around Charu’s thoughts or conversations in this novel are:
When Caeser meets Draupadi (a session during Comparative Literature), Draupadi’s dialogue with Caeser: “You know, history has often described me as strong, ambitious, cunning, selfish, confident, brave and even manipulative, but no one has talked about my loneliness, my insecurities, my pains, my disappointments. I also wished for a life of happiness, of being loved, a life free of loneliness. Being lonely is cruel. I have even considered suicide few times.”
I could connect with this statement mostly because, as a fiercely independent woman, many times, society or loved ones treat us in this fashion that we are having the potential to deal with everything, somewhere one is taken for granted. But the truth is that I also feel to be loved.
Charu to Sam : “Sam, women have to negotiate a male dominated world, so to get ahead we paint a mirage and make men believe that they are always in charge. Like Draupadi said, you men are fools, so easy to please”.
This sounded as a hardcore feminist attitude which need to be checked. Is there some sense of competition with the other gender. Females and males complete one another, why to compete?
One more conversation between Mani and Hari is noteworthy:
“Much of our problems can be negated by killing our impulsive and reflexive responses. Aren’t our responses mostly to fight? Inflicting pain on ourselves with the hope that our pain will hurt the other is plain stupid. People just don’t care. We know this, probably that’s why it hurts us so much,” Mani said.
One needs to check the impulses and reflexive responses, it would certainly help to keep a check on unwarranted actions too.
Overall, I felt, this novel is very much worth reading. The biggest strength of this novel is its simplicity. Illustrations throughout the novel are so much linked to the theme. Every Chapter has links to articles on ‘How do I ….’, wonderfully conveyed. This can be read at http://www.storyofasuicide.com/
The Story of a Suicide, a novel by Sriram Ayer, explores the intricacies of complexities in relationships, love, passion, betrayal, revenge, homosexual relationships. Written in a very simple language, it is developed very logically. Smooth transitions between various events and chapters are there. Happy reading!!!
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
Please click here to know the source of this Video