by Uday Mane
Who is Rachael?
What is Samir’s own identity?
Every year, several teenagers in India attempt suicide because of failing relationships, dwindling careers, parental pressure or the competitive world. This story is about one such teenager, his early problems and the hurdles to cope with them. This story is about finding hope in the struggle. This story is about fighting for what you believe in and discovering your true identity. This is not a story about falling in love. This is a story of rising from a failed love story.
And most of us have experienced the heartbreak too, when that first love or crush, fails. The pain, as if someone is squeezing your heart hard, making the juice of life flow out of it, is very real. It hurts to no end, and you want nothing but to die. But most of us don’t do that – die, I mean. We eventually learn to pick up the pieces and move on to find better things in life. There are an unfortunate few, however, unfortunate because their will power is not strong enough to lift them above their misery, who succumb to the agony and attempt to embrace death. Some, among them, succeed. Some don’t, and are left hanging in limbo between the ultimate end and a thriving life.
Samir is one such person. Life hasn’t exactly been unfair to him, except for his father’s high expectations from him. He has a good heart, has had a good upbringing by his doting Nana, has great friends, and true love. When he loses that true love in a series of unfortunate incidents, he is devastated. He loses the hold over his life, and drifts away from people around him. He takes to solitude, grass and alcohol, and develops suicidal tendencies. A twist of fate has him calling up a suicide helpline one night, and he talks to Rachel at the other end. He opens his heart to her, and out comes pouring the story of his life. What happens at the end of that conversation, is he able to come out of the depths he has lost himself in, is something I will let the reader find out for himself.
At the outset, I must commend Uday Mane for writing in a genre not attempted by many of his contemporaries. For you cannot call Helpline romance, even though it has quite a bit of romance in it. This would fall under drama, something that not many of the mainstream authors attempt today. Uday speaks to his readers through his words, articulating his thoughts and philosophizing about life, which is also a welcome site, as it makes the book not only about a story, but also the author’s thoughts.
However, while the storyline of Helpline is ok, the execution leaves a great deal to be desired. It starts with a great promise, especially the opening sequence of a series of dreams. They, along with the doctor visit, have been penned down quite well. But as the story progresses, it starts to drift and drag like its protagonist’s miserable life. It meanders through unnecessary side stories and takes a long time to arrive at a point. One could argue that the subplots add layers to the novel. Which could be true, if it weren’t for the sub-standard editing that takes the life away from the book. The language is very rudimentary, and sometimes leaves me gaping at the flaws that I sight. What can I say about editing, when one cannot distinguish between ‘Moral Police’ and ‘Morale Police’?
In all, Helpline is a different and complex story, one that has great potential, but one that has unfortunately got buried under some really shoddy editing.
Uday Mane was born in Pune and raised in Mumbai. He works as a marketing professional during the day and a storyteller during the night. He is an avid reader, and loves to collect classic books. The Helpline is his debut novel that was launched in March 2014 at the hands of Padma Shri Paresh Rawal.
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