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T.C.A. Achintya

By Ira Trivedi
Year 2016, pp 187, Rs.195.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

The stories in Gumrah come from a TV show of the same name hosted by Channel V, owned by Star India. The foreword by Chetan Bhagat seeks to provide a context for the narratives. It also outlines the purpose of the book, which is to warn of the dangers of the teenage years, and therefore the importance of being aware and responsible. The first story, ‘Soulmate’, is the narrative of sibling rivalry turned tragic. A case of unrequited teenage love, insecurity at home and in school, and subconscious resentment of a younger sibling, lead a girl to murder her younger sister in a fit of rage. In this story, I was struck, not so much by the evil of a crime, but by the problems caused by the serious breakdown of communication in a household, and the inability of parents to see that their daughter (who believes her younger sister is a preferred sibling) is unable to cope with a new environment and the pressures of a changed lifestyle. What the story brings out is that there are no clear villains, nor do any of the actors come across as perfect. The ‘innocent’ accomplice of the sister is, for instance, violent and arguably a key instigator of the final crime. ‘I’ll Burn Your Sister’, as the name implies, involves a boy murdering his lover’s sister in a fit of rage, when he finds out that his lover has married someone her parents chose for her. Then, guilt ridden, he commits suicide. The reader sees a girl shattered by events—the consequences of her thoughtless actions, refusal to deal with problems, and refusal to be honest with her lover, due to a combination of legitimate fear, but also dishonest and slightly malicious motivations. ‘Heartbreak’ is a story that demonstrates the complexity of crimes, and how often a criminal is in fact little more than an inadvertent participant caught up in events. The protagonist is a girl who moves to Mumbai and the world of Bollywood Dance. The romance in a world of high pressure and demanding schedules turns on her, as the person she is in love with goes through a crisis, while a combination of bad advice and bad friends quickly complicates the matter. In the end, another boy in love with her throws acid on her first lover, angry for her and her misery in the aftermath ...

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