Book Review of Breath, Go Away by Sriman Narayanan: Light-hearted yet profound with nice surprises. The reader will feel enriched in many ways after reading it.
Profound philosophy, desperation, inspiration, humor and amour; I found all these in this tiny 152 page book, Breath, Go Away and Other Stories by Sriman Narayanan. When our Editor suggested this book, I was not even aware of the author. But having read some pretty decent books by first time authors in recent times, I agreed. I am happy I agreed. For a change, Sriman Narayanan isn’t a software Engineer but a management guy with a Credit card company in the US and he definitely has a lot of philosophy in him.
The author admits that scoops full from his own life are thrown in the 14 stories, nevertheless with generous doses of imagination.
Let’s take a look at each story, one after the other.
1. Breath, Go Away: This is the author’s own story of heartbreak and then recovery. It is very casual and drives home the point that India still is extremely conservative when it comes to marriages, irrespective of caste, religion and socio-economic status. The story is about Rita Noel and he heartbreak. Surely brings out the poet inside the author.
2. Kisses to God: This is the story of Shyam and Poonam, old friends and colleagues, who meet after a hiatus and how a story within a story unfolds over a coffee at Barista. This could be anybody’s story.
3. Can Men Water Plants ?: This is the story of a bachelor in US who has been entrusted with the daunting task of watering a neighbor’s plants in her absence and how he finds his multiple soulmates in the process of confabulations. It is intentionally funny and makes for a few chuckles. It also exposes the dichotomy in our society that refuses to leave us even if we migrate to a different continent.
4. A Shiver of Joy: Another mischievous but innocent story that makes for delicious reading. I could completely relate to this story because of my love for the heroine in this story. Anymore I divulge will rob the thrill of readers and I refuse to do that.
5. Priceless Conversations: Delves into the pristine. A conversation with a little girl that enchants and makes us realize, life is beautiful.
6. That Something: This again is something most of the readers can relate to. We all will face this at some time in our lives because they say, “There are 7 similar looking people in the world”. With the population explosion since this number was decided, it actually could be more.
7. Momentous Emotions: This story of Lisa Jacob and Venkat Nayak has love, philosophy and ends hoping to change things in Hindu marriage system thanks to a trauma from the past.
8. My Hot Date: This again is a delicious tale of the inane yet profound. “The World is as you see it”, says the author; and proceeds to teach us something about enjoying a simple day-to-day act.
9. Tears in the Bathroom: Is deeply philosophical. It’s about women and about life. It is perhaps the author’s ode to all those women in his life.
10. Bride Wanted: Is a mischievous prank. This too is something we all might talk or discuss in real life. But here the author goes a step ahead and surprises everyone. A winner all the way.
11. The Greatest Conspiracy, with Qualifiers: More philosophical moorings with Sanjay Jha of the Art of Living and a girl named Raveena. Quite heavy but doesn’t bore.
12. The Tree and Its Secret: Shruti, Priya and Kishore, twelfth grade classmates meet after many years, thanks to Facebook. They share philosophical stories and watch a tree grow up before them and then they happily let themselves be engulfed by life.
13. Anger and Bitterness: Sheer philosophy about how righteous anger can be well channelized if we take bitterness out of it. The lesson is derived from Kurukshetra from the story of Arjuna and Krishna.
14. Heights of Height: This is admittedly real story from author’s own life. It is about how Kris and Kavita meet on Shadi.com and how romance blooms over a relatively short period of 12 weeks and how it culminates in an in person meet and the aftermath. There are chats, friendship, love, sweet somethings, a tall and stunningly beautiful girl who turns into a giraffe and how that pushes Kris from heights of height. This again deals with the stereotypes in our society. Running into almost 60 pages, this is actually a small novel within this collection of short stories.
Overall, the book is an extremely likable compilation of short stories that forced me to read it in record time. Though some of the philosophical writing went above me, the sincerity in approach is endearing and makes for lively reading. A big thumbs up!
If you have some experience of Life itself; then the book is for you.
My Rating : 7 out 0f 10 Stars
Details of the Book:
Author: Sriman Narayanan
Published by Rupa Publications India Pvt. Ltd. 2015
Printed at HT Media Ltd, Noida
152 pages, Soft Cover
Cover Photograph: Mimoza Veliu
Price: Rs. 195/-