Working in the book industry for nearly twelve years I have had the opportunity to come across several scripts, plots, yet to be published books and of course e-Books. You may call me an old school but I do not like to read e-books much, somehow I love to feel the edges of a paper quietly folding from one to another.
And now I have to read this e-Book? I grumbled to myself but luckily I was scheduled for a real long train ride to be precise thirty hours. With nothing much to do, I settled to read “The Story of a Suicide” by Sriram Aiyer. Reading on a moving train had its own challenge firstly I hoped to have a power outlet to charge up my laptop and secondly I had to depend on my net connection to give me brief roaming connectivity during stoppages at train stations.
No sooner did I settle in my birth I realised that the lone power point in my section was already occupied by two mobile phone chargers eager to extract every ounce of juice thus charging was not an option and I had to solely depend on my fully charged laptop not to give up midway.
While the train was still waiting for its departure at Howrah station I managed to read the first chapter. “Boring”, “confusing”, “plotless” were my initial thoughts. Almost immediately I shut my screen and started at the ceiling of my compartment. Now I had the option to keep watching the same ceiling for the next thirty hours or at least read some authors effort to pen down a “novel”.
Reluctantly I move on to the next chapter and get introduced to some of the characters who at a later stage will become one of the protagonists. Still, the final picture was not complete, but at least we get to know about someone. We get to meet “Hari” who was going through a dilemma on his own and a basic identity crisis.
By now the train had already departed and with no network connectivity, I was left helpless. It was time for dinner I guess, munching on the almost dried up roti and potato fries I keep thinking about the characters that have been introduced. All the other co-passengers have rolled on their bed sheets and prepared themselves for a quick night. With no other option, I settle in the lower birth.
The train makes an unscheduled stop at some station and my WiFi dongle picks up a faint signal, quickly I turn back my laptop on and managed to simultaneously open the next few chapters in different tabs so in the event there is no signal I should still be able to read the novel.
In the third chapter we get to see the second protagonist “Sam”, a brash middle-class boy who I felt was not in sync with his traditional identity and wanted to put on a façade. The story still did not come together often confusing me with the multiple characters. Again I wanted to just leave this in between but with no other option I carried on.
The person on the top most birth enquired if he would switch off the lights since I did not require lights to read on my laptop thus signalled him to go ahead and switch off.
We get to see a different side of Sam, a tech wizard, and a social media junkie somewhat my kind. It was easy for me to finally relate to him. His romance with “Priya” made me initially think her of another important character in this whirlwind but alas I was mistaken.
Things are slowly getting interesting and so are the co-passengers. A middle-aged gentleman gets up on the next station, he is carrying more food than luggage, so much so that he seems to be grumbling and I am sure he must be cursing his wife who must have packed all these for him. Reluctantly he hangs them on the hook and calls home to confirm that he has safely boarded the train. Just as I was about to plug in my laptop charger I see him already plug his mobile.
In following next chapter we get to know Hari a little more and get introduced to “HIM”. Slowly a Pandora ’s Box is being opened and how the life of Hari and Sam are interconnected is getting clearer. The character HIM is a painful chapter in Hari’s life which made me shudder and re-read the chapter once more just to comprehend what Hari has been through.
The TTE (Train Ticket Examiner) breaks the intense moment when he switches on the light to check tickets. I pass on my mobile to show him the e-ticket, he in return asks for an ID proof as I was about to take out my wallet which had my driving licence he informs me it’s not required. Confused I get back to my reading.
The air conditioning was getting colder by the minute and I wrapped around the blanket which surely had some bugs and gave me quite a few welcoming notes.
The next chapters take us to the college where the first two protagonists were supposed to attend and it is here we get to meet the other two of the puzzle “Charu” and “Mani”. Mani’s introduction to the story was like a bang, almost immediately moving the reader from the comfort zone to a flurry of activity.
The novel is now poised to take all the characters to the centre stage and now do we finally get to see how they are intertwined. Love and jealousy of a college romance to identifying one’s true character we get a different side of the story. On one hand, we had Charu a very outspoken modern girl trying to challenge every cliché the society can put on a new age girl to Mani a village boy just recovering from an almost tragic consequence and with a bruised past. Hari on the other hand slowly opens up to his new found friend and Sam take a flight of his own fantasy and infatuation to a different level.
Even though I wanted to continue but I was real sleepy, reluctantly I went to sleep and all night long I dreamt of the characters that I was introduced to. The dreams that the individuals saw suddenly were characters a part of my rapid eye movement moment only to be woken up by that “Chai, garam chai”. It was morning and I was just dreaming.
Eager to finish off where I had left last night I managed to drench the marie into a cup of elaichi chai and set off for the day’s journey ahead. And for the record, I did brush my teeth before having that cup of tea.
The college life full of romance can sometimes become a tragic consequence and this is where we get to know. Sometimes it becomes difficult for a man to accept a new age woman who may not be always what he expects him to be.
The uniqueness of this novel is that till now there are two soft plots slowly merging without the knowledge of the reader. Two young men slowly identifying themselves and opening up to each other and the other that of a boy and a girl confused in their affection.
It was long train journey something which I was undertaking after a real long time and I desperately needed to stretch my legs. Standing at the door of my compartment I watch the passengers at the station and imagine putting them as different characters of the novel. In the crowd, I was trying to put a face to Hari, Charu, Mani and Sam.
The train leaves the station and the characters at the station vanish away from my sight. The sound of the iron wheels rolling across the metal bridge makes me ponder as to who that I know off would be the four?
The chapter Trojan introduces us to “Jarvis” which is not a character in this story but a curtail factor into what was about to unfold. A man’s imagination and jealousy can lead to such a dramatic turn of events is something unfathomable. The novel was reaching its tragic end but tragic for whom was something still unclear. Amongst all of these was another question struggling my mind will the battery in my laptop last till the end chapter?
My train was scheduled to reach my destination at an odd hour of 2.30 AM thus sleeping was not an option and the best way to remain awake would be to keep reading.
The tragic end was like the first chapter of the novel and something that the name suggests The Story of a Suicide ends where it all began with a life unable to bear the consequences of some actions. I am not going to divulge the reasons or to give my personal opinion but rather leave the reader to decide for them.
As I finish reading the last chapter I get an alert on my laptop giving me a final warning that my laptop was about to give up on the last bit of battery power that it still had. My destination was almost reached so I pack up and leave with a mind full of thoughts which I just wrote here in this blog…
For me, the story was like from something which I initially could not relate to and got confused with the various characters and their dreams but later as it progressed it gripped me completely and drove me to finish reading till the last word. Even so that I read some chapter a couple of times just to comprehend the gravity of the situation that the characters were into. I loved the way how four different stories slowly merged and how each one of them had a different story to tell yet getting all merged to a common tragic end. As mentioned in the beginning I usually don’t like reading e-books but this was something way out of the common league it was something that I surely would recommend to my friends and colleagues and yes lastly would love to see this novel be transformed into a movie script.
If you wish to read the novel then you can read it at http://www.storyofasuicide.com/.