Have you read RAIN, she asked sipping a cup full at Costa. No, is it a new one?, I answered. “Yeah, why don’t you read and review it, here it is”, she gave and I accepted. I flipped through the pages and glanced; an intriguing cover, font 9 probably, I guessed. My preference is always 11-12, that helps my bejeweled eyes you see. Nonetheless, this is how for the first time I got introduced to RAIN, A Survivor’s Tale by Sriram Subramanian. My recent brush with some new authors haven’t been encouraging, and so every time I pick up a debut piece, I am reluctant. Here too, an iota of apprehension was there. But, a book is a book, and there is nothing like spending time with yet another untold sorry. So, after four days, here I sit to analyse if this RAIN managed to drench me deep or it just left me parched.
The best thing when you pick up a new author is that you can barge into it without any prejudices or baggage. I knew nothing about Sriram, the author, and that was the best thing about reading RAIN. You go at it with a blank slate, unmeasured and free from an anterior. Alright. Rain welcomes you well. Onto the fifth page and you have a loving acknowledgement that greets you. Poetic and rhythmic, wrapped in Sriram’s veneration and gratitude towards the people who made this happen. It was pleasant, and indeed a very humbling read. Praiseworthy.
Sriram has picked up a very earthy plot. An urban-rural set up in Maharashtra, the plot is highly relatable. The story revolves around Jai and Sarika, and how their life turns upside down after a catastrophic loss in Jai’s business. How Jai finds meaning to his life after wandering for months, and how Sarika hoped against hope to resurrect her broken marriage and life with Jai, is what RAIN is all about(Plot not revealed). The author makes no mistake in giving it a distinguished illustration. You know who, where and how, without any head break. Sriram paints the environment vividly and his illustrations are a joy to read. The book scores high on the plot, convincingly. However, the wavy narration is where it slacked a bit. With the entry of Borkar, the story picks up and becomes intriguing. But in no time you again find it drab. Such ups and downs are there throughout the narrative, which makes the storytelling not enough tight to hold the plot close. I missed few pages in between, and still didn’t feel that I missed much. This was disheartening and unwarranted.
Words and Usages. I prefer to stay uncompromised when it comes to the diction and usages in any book I read. I believe these two are the quintessential elements that constructs the environment we live, while we delve deep into a narrative. The usage and diction in RAIN seemed overcooked to me. The words were heavy, and it didn’t resonate with the basic ethos of the plot. Not once or twice but several times, I found the word used was too loud and jarring compared to the mundane scene it was played into. Sriram writes, “After an hour she would keep the money on the table, wind up her paraphernalia, and head out”. ‘Paraphernalia’ ? Could there have been a simpler word to describe something so ordinary and mundane? Such examples are in plenty.
Strangely, the usages in the novel are equally loud and cacophony. There are several instances where I had lost my interest in the book because the way moments were described was complex, to say the least. Time and again, I felt the author was trying to impress hard and reiterated the fact- ‘look I know’. This was probably the point where RAIN snapped recklessly. The whole pleasure of enjoying a lucid and comprehendable story-line fell flat. The author writes, “…The fragile quiet was broken as Mallik, Sarika’s mother, strode in; her heavy figure bludgeoning through the air like the prow of a battle cruiser. Ashok followed her wake, like a destroyer keeping ceaseless vigil against the dangers lurking the seemingly calm sea”. The problem with such pieces were its abundance in the book. Time and again you come across such images that felt unnecessary considering the gamut of emotion that was in display. Could have been better.
Editing. Commendable editing, but could have been better. Editing here was more like rescuing than enhancing. The editing did save the narration on various levels. Few moments were tight and nothing was given away. Can’t deny the fact that RAIN works a great deal because of the editing that was put in place. Well, that brings me to my favourite chapter of the novel. Chapter 9, and I loved it for many reasons. Sriram kept it simple yet poignant. His illustration regarding the change in the dynamics of Jai Dubey’s life was profound. He didn’t play to the gallery, kept it effortless, delving deep into the finer nuances of the emerging plot. Even the introduction of Shinde and Lakshmi were simple but loud enough to hint that they have a pivotal role to play in the forthcoming plot. Not to mention the sturdy edits. Impressive.
RAIN, in my opinion shows a lot of potential in Sriram Subramanian as an author. Considering some of my recent reads of new age authors, he scores plenty. And, I say that with utmost reverence. However, what could have made this novel much finer a piece is a more defined character sketch, less branched out fillers and a balanced dose of diction. And, if you ask me what’s that one thing that lacked in RAIN, I would say, perhaps it lacked soul. RAIN to me was more of a body without an embedded soul. Now why I say so? That’s because once finished, I didn’t go back to RAIN, I didn’t fiddle with the pages to re-read my favorite lines, I didn’t sit and wonder what happens to Raju and Laskmi after this. I also didn’t dwell on how Jai and Sarika resurrected their life and so on and so forth. In simple words, there was no aftermath of RAIN. Once closed we were estranged lovers, vowed never to meet again. RAIN just managed to touch me, didn’t drench though, sadly.
Just before I conclude, one question to Sriram- “Is your novel RAIN, loosely or remotely inspired by R.K Narayan’s classic ‘GUIDE’ ? I found traces.
Book- Rain, A Survivor’s Tale
Author- Sriram Subramanian
Price- 250 INR