Siya Was Dead Before She Died

Review of Siya Seth Decides To Die; Sneha Mehta; Diamond Books 2011; pp 255; Rs 100

– Shana Susan Ninan

Yes, Siya’s life was as good as dead. The suicide was just a final act of ending her profound misery. Sneha Mehta has done a good job with her debut novel, Siya Seth Decides To Die. Sneha has brought to fore, in the manner of a fiction novel, a stigma – parental incest – attached to societies around the world, especially so in India, where stigmas are buried and the wronged never given an ear. Her novel is one of the first of its kind – to my knowledge, at least – and should be read by every teenager, and probably all parents.

In the novel’s prologue, Siya Seth writes from heaven that she committed suicide for her own good. I am a person who believes that suicide is for the coward – someone who ain’t got the balls to face life.  But reading this book made me think – but what does a person, rather a child, who has undergone deep hurt do when faced with pain, embarrassment and severe disgust? Why doesn’t anyone around them understand their sorrow and bring some light into their life? Why is it that an act so obvious goes unnoticed even to the most observant eyes? There were many instances in the storyline where Siya could have tried to correct the wrongs done to her, or at least put a stop to it. The fact that she put up with it only to keep one of her parents from heartbreak makes it believable.

A very bad-mouthed, spitfire dialogue-delivering, rich, spoilt brat Siya behaves as though the world revolves on her command. And almost so – her parents, teachers and even her servants seem subservient to this teenager. Her attitude says she doesn’t give a damn about herself or those around her. She has only two close friends, and relationships with them are strained, too. There’s no one in whom she confides her dark secret, not until the book’s almost over. Siya feels that her death will set her free, and probably her parents also. Before her suicide, we see a slightly changed Siya – she makes her first dish, advices her friends, and so on.

The novel’s writing has some distinct characteristics that make the plot fastened – Siya, at times when she’s really disturbed, refers to her parents in the third person, or even names! Siya’s character maintains consistency throughout the book. At no point do you feel her wit slackening. Talk about wit, the sarcastic remarks that she passes and her absolute carelessness about her appearances or behaviour adds value to her characterization. All these give credibility and strength to Sneha Mehta’s story writing capabilities.

In some novels, when the protagonist hogs the limelight altogether, the readers feel a disconnect with the other characters of the book. But, in Siya Seth Decides to Die, the over-importance given to the character “Siya Seth” is very much necessary. It establishes a rhythm in the minds of the readers, clearly focusing on aspects pertaining only to her. This feature also ties itself to the very self-explanatory title as well helping the readers to understand/figure out the pains and horrible torture Siya goes through in the story. If her character’s importance was diluted even a little bit, that would have affected the flow of the story itself.

The stinging, terse sentences – some only a mere couple of words – hit the nail on the head. Much emotion is delivered in those rather than verbose paragraphs. The dialogues that go on in Siya’s head is rather interesting – I felt that they were more or less like Siya talking to the readers, pouring out her frustrations.

The three things that marred the book are the gross grammatical errors, wrong usage or tenses and verb forms and typos that were super obvious. A little clean-up will ensure a smooth read.

Sneha Mehta’s background in organizational psychology come through very well in her debut work, and her courage in handling such a topic is commendable.

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Rating: 8.8/10 (4 votes cast)
Siya Was Dead Before She Died, 8.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 at 10:33 pm and is filed under Fiction, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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