Have you ever written a dairy? Remember those new white pages which have been lying vacant longing for the ink to caress its smooth, soft, silky surface, waiting to preserve your long forgotten handwriting and your thoughts/memories/incidents/notes, within the realms of its sturdy covers. Sometimes people trust their diary to safeguard memories or secrets which are often secluded and known only to their minds. The inherent fear of someone reading your diary and the near prospect of finding your diary in someone’s hand will make us shudder and palpitate with fear.
The protagonist of Raisha Lalwani‘s debut novel “The Diary On The Fifth Floor” maintains a diary which is an intrinsic part of this novel evident from its intriguing title. The cover of the book designed by Mugdha Sadhwani is thoughtful and alluring providing the readers a glimpse about the setting of the book. The beauteous illustration by Mohit Suneja is equally enticing piquing our interests about the girl and her blue diary.
Raisha Lalwani begins her book with a beautiful prologue exhibiting doubts about the reality of life.
“The choices we make define the kind
Of people we then become.
The main question here is:
Do we like who we have become? “
These words etched at the end of the prologue sets our cynical mind prepared for the kind of novel we are about to encounter. The prologue with words so real and touching our soul keeps the expectations about the book soaring.
The book’s protagonist Sairah Khanna, a twenty-five-year-old woman has an appointment on the fifth floor of the Holy Grace Hospital to meet Dr. Rama Berry, the psychiatrist. Sairah Khanna says she is there for her sister Savannah Khanna on whose name the appointment was made. She says that her sister Savvy is in desperate need of Dr. Rama Berry’s help. But Dr. Rama finds that Sairah Khanna carrying a blue cloth-bound diary, holding it dear is hiding something. Was it something in the diary or something to do with Savannah (or Saira? herself) forms the rest of this beautiful debut novel.
The characters are limited to only Sairah (or is it Savannah?) and the psychiatrist Dr.Rama Berry with the exception of the appearance of doctor’s assistant whenever Sairah visits the fifth floor, the Psych ward of the hospital. The book is divided into thirty-one chapters with captivating titles many of which are written in the epistolary form of diary entries, barring the chapters where Sairah meets Dr. Rama Berry. This bold experiment of using the epistolary form of writing was new to me as a reader and the author is to be appreciated for using this to make a refreshing experience for the reader. The plot and the characters are relatable, life-like, engrossing us within the pages of the book. The author has provided us with some hard hitting lines about the reality we live at present through the protagonist and beautiful bits of life advice, the essential truth about humanity through the psychiatrist. The protagonist’s cynicism although not entirely absurd hits a raw nerve making us realize us the reality that surrounds us and from which she suffers trying to get things out of her mind. The ending was particularly shocking and make us wonder if the entire story happened only in Sairah (or Savannah’s) head. The answer to your questions about the disturbing end of the story is left for you to find out.
The blurb of the book is what attracted me to this book which gave the illusion of a fast-paced psychological thriller. But it was to my disappointment misleading as it is a book which is to be devoured slowly with the reader dwelling on the diary entries. The stark reality would be staring at your face if you believe in the blurb. Though the diary entries gave us a sneak peek of the protagonist’s mind, it is also the one thing that bogged down the speed of the plot with the reader expecting the meeting of Sairah with Dr.Berry. Apart from the quibbles, this is a beautiful book to be recommended to every reader who is interested in reading a realistic fiction. “The Diary On The Floor” is a book that you will remember even after closing its pages and relate to in real life.
When did we become so devoid of feelings,
When did we become people we used to hate?
Do we even like who we have become?
One must learn whatever there is to be learned; but at the same time, you must not allow yourself to become so deeply inviested in matters outside your control. How other people behave in something is something for them alone to ponder over.
She wished there was a place where one could go and buy the people they wanted in their lives. At least then, money would bring in happiness that wouldn’t be so temporary.
Author: Raisha Lalwani
Paperback: 164 pages
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Copy: Review Copy