Sunday, 7 August 2016

The Story Of A Suicide | Sriram Ayer | Saga Of A Killer Among Us | Book Review | Opinion

We live, We die, End of story.

But sometimes the story ends abruptly, way before it should have, when someone decides to commit suicide.

Book Review

The dreaded S word. There are many points and counterpoints regarding this volatile topic but instead of pontificating about it from a high pedestal, how about giving it a friendly look in the simplest way possible?

This is exactly what 'The Story Of A Suicide' attempts. This novel by Sriram Ayer approaches this not as a cataclysmic event that needs to be treated with either kid gloves or a national breaking news level cacophony, rather as a personal event that everybody can relate to.


Hari, Sam, Mani and Charu are the four protagonists whom the story revolves around. One of them commits suicide because of the violent web of relationships tangled in jealousy, revenge, misunderstanding and heightened emotions that grip them all.

Hari is a childhood sexual abuse survivor, Mani belongs to an economically impoverished background and both of them are grappling wit their sexual identity. Sam belongs to a privileged background, is a self - avowed tech geek and imprisoned by his hormonal desires towards Charu who is a ultra progressive, free-as-a-bird, care-a-damn girl with an agenda to set things right in the world but without any specific plan to do so. All of them bump into each other at prestigious KIT college and a cosmic plan seems to have been put into motion. Friendship, Infatuation, Confusion, Love, Misunderstanding, Jealousy, Revenge, Lust, Fear and more collide till they are all at their breaking points. Finally, someone breaks. But Who? And most importantly, could it have been avoided?

Book Review Blogger


Since the story is truly addictive, I would loathe to give out any major story twist so that other readers can derive their pleasure of having read a beautiful story to its end on their own. But I would definitely like to put forth a glimpse of some of the issues that have been raised in this journey :-
  • Indian Culture - A potent glimpse at how we as a society, as a family, burden our youngsters with our expectations, chalk out their future for them and sweep under the carpet anything that makes us uncomfortable or threatens our 'values'.
  • Twisted 'Isms'- The concept of feminism has been twisted, turned, abused and so has been the concept of masculinity. The equation of power between the genders is completely topsy-turvy and it is interesting to see the characters (especially Charu and Sam grapple through it)
  • Fear of Social Rejection - After all, we need acceptance. The fear of being labelled something unsavory in front of our peers makes us keep our deepest nightmares to ourselves which often leads to drastic consequences. This is especially true for the teenagers and college goers because this is the time when our hormones play havoc and our emotions are heightened. 
  • Social Media - A story so deep rooted in the youngsters' worlds has to keep technology in starring role and The Story of A Suicide does it marvelously with topics of hacking, cyber stalking/ bullying and online violence playing the most crucial role in pushing forward the story.
  • Suicide as a weapon - It is not only the harried characters who think of suicide as a means of being free or getting away from the unbearable situations, quite a few supporting characters in the story bring it up as a means of fighting the 'guilt' or 'shame' of having failed in the eyes of society (as a parent/as a son/as a gender and so on) which makes this part the most relatable for me. 
Suicide Fiction

When I was 10 years old, we had a new family move into our apartment block in Patna. They had a 25 year old son who always lived indoors, had no job, went nowhere, just sat at the window of his room and stared outside. A few weeks down the line, we started hearing loud noises of altercation from the flat. It came to fore that the son was a drug addict who had swindled all his tuition fees into drugs, got into a bad spot with some loan sharks and his family had to shift cities to keep themselves safe. He was a genius but alas, without any idea of how to navigate social realities and preferred to remain in his world of drug-induced haze. His mother would thus keep up nights howling in pain cursing him and herself, crying out loud 'Oh I should commit suicide, why am I even alive, I have failed as a mother'. It sort of became a cruel joke in the neighborhood and people loved copying her painful cries at parties. As a kid of course I had no idea what all this meant. But today I do. 

It is actually commonplace to hear such cries in our neighborhoods. 
Parents feel like they failed in raising a good child = want to commit suicide, 
kids get less marks in school = suicide, 
son marries out of caste = conservative parents threaten to commit suicide, 
daughter has pre-marital relations = society shames whole family into suicide, 
girl gets raped = 'better she commit suicide than live with this shame',
morphed images/videos get leaked = 'why live in such shame,what will society say,commit suicide'

Oh by the way, the genius yet drug addled young man from our neighborhood? He did commit suicide a year later after which his parents moved out never to be heard from again. They were the butt of jokes anyway. I guess at some point down the line they must have failed completely useless and I won't be surprised if they decided to commit suicide too. This is why when in this novel, Hari's father mentions suicide as a means of him getting rid of 'shame', I immediately thought of this incidence from my childhood. And this is the victory of  'The Story of a Suicide'.

Suicide Fiction Book Review


It starts off as a simple story of youngsters, their lives, their dreams, hopes, ambitions, confusions, struggles, all explained in our everyday language, making it extremely easy to relate to, while the specter of suicide hangs above. As we move on through the character's lives, we can all reminisce of our own college days as we all know someone like Mani, Hari, Sam or Charu. I sure know all of them. Behind all our faces, we have another face, a mask that keeps our secrets and these characters all have their secrets too which only we, the readers know. I feel that some topics could have been explained better, such as the burden of our education system which forces Mani to do something drastic. A large part of story is devoted to topics of sexuality, especially homosexuality, which is definitely a burning point when it comes to both our youngsters' fixation as well as modern times. It could have been toned down a bit. But keeping this minor nitpicking aside, the story has been woven in a simple way to drive home a larger point successfully. It actually works like a social treatise for those of us who yearn to understand humanity better.
Reasons for Suicide
There has to be special praise given to the beautiful illustrations that make the innermost emotions of desperation, dejection, loneliness and so on come alive. Truly, a killer walks among us all, in the form of all the negative emotions that can push us beyond the brink. Well done, Illustrations by Ghana!

It is but natural that on reading a powerful story like this, everybody would have a handbook ready to be able to approach life in a better way :)
  • Change begins from ME - Being positive in all my thoughts and actions is the first step to changing the world. Spreading this thought everywhere makes a difference. We make the society, so let's start building a better one today!.
  • Keep an eye out - Souls that get hurt over and over seem to crawl into a shell, unaware that they can find a shoulder to cry on. Be that shoulder whenever, wherever possible.
  • Stop Judgement Calls - None of us want to be judged, yet this is something we all indulge in, sadly :( Whenever we gossip, no matter how 'harmless' it seems, we just push forward the cause of hostility, ignorance and intolerance. Trying to put ourselves in someone else's shoes helps!
  • Give life a second chance - Let's not get into political debates about 'rights' or 'wrongs'. There are a million reasons for which an individual might want to commit suicide, let us not brand them as 'cowards' etc. All we can do is take care of ourselves and those closest to us, keep an eye out for trouble and embrace everything with an open mind, a hopeful heart and a smile on our lips.

How to deal with suicidal thoughts
For everybody who sat through this treatise of mine, I heartily recommend reading The Story Of A Suicide. I am sure it will affect you as personally as it did me :)

All Pictures Source : Illustration by Ghana

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