Determination to succeed is stronger among the disabled than the courage to lose among the champions.
It is often said that blood is thicker than water but rivalry of siblings has been alive since the time Cain committed the first murder, slaying his brother Abel.
But not all brothers are pathologically diabolic.
Shriram Iyer, popular among New Zealanders as ‘A great singer with a thousand melodies,’ has written a book that departs from measuring noses to fraternal understanding and sacrifice.
‘Wings of Silence,’ is the sort of book that keeps you occupied from the prologue to epilogue, with its fast-paced narration of the goings-on in an ordinary family of two siblings of extraordinary contradictions. If you resist the temptation of reading the synopsis, you would find it unputdownable.
If you have a brother who is born stone deaf, would you feel empathetic or nudge him to attempt the most daring and formidable feat and succeed? Would you consider him an embarrassment and an obstacle to your own progress?
Shriram has etched a difficult relationship with pathos and thrill.
This is a book about the lives of a dominant patriarch, Akshay Sethi, a retired Squadron Leader of the Indian Air Force, his sons Saurav a tennis star in the making and Raj, too diffident to speak about his Olympics dreams, his wife Sharada, obedient and yet forceful and a host of other relatives and friends.
Of course, there is Aunt Sheela, who influences everyone’s life.
When an offer arrives from Akshay’s brother Prakash inviting the family to settle down in the US, a volley of emotions come to the fore.
Shriram speaks through the mind of Saurav, who comes across as a self-serving youngster but as you turn the pages, you realise that the concern for his elder brother Raj is unheard of love and affection.
As an addicted reader of novels, I have always avoided books written in first person, because they somehow appear too personal to relish.
But Shriram’s Saurav held my attention and there were several instances that prompted to revisit pages to read a few striking sentences. “For an intelligent man, Papa missed a lot when it came to Raj who was all at sea, struggling to grasp things that he could only see.”
Raj is keen to be a marathon runner at the Olympics (Moscow 1980), while Saurav does well in the Tennis court. There is an inevitable clash of interests. Whether the warmth of brotherhood sink into a cold war, similar to the diplomatic winter experienced by the US and the then USSR is for you to read and know.
There are several twists and turns but I would be doing a disservice as a reviewer (and a well-wisher of Shriram); suffice to say that the book would not disappoint you with its somewhat predictable ending.
As I finished reading ‘Wings of Silence’ (the title belongs to Shriram’s father Venkateswaran Iyer), I was reminded of a saying by American Strategist Harvey LeRoy Atwater: “My illness has taught me something about the nature of humanity, love, brotherhood and relationships that I never understood, and probably never would have. So, from that standpoint there is some truth and good in everything.”
About Wings of Silence
Number of Pages: 244
Publisher: Westland Limited (Tata Group)
Wings of Silence has been launched in 14 countries including India and Korea, in English and Korean editions.
It will be formally released in New Zealand at a function scheduled to be held at the Mt Albert Memorial Hall (773 New North Road, Mt Albert) in Auckland on September 7, 2012 at 7 pm.
Shriram Iyer, the author was educated in Baroda (India), Auckland (New Zealand), and Melbourne (Australia). He is employed in Melbourne. He won the ‘Shankar’s (International) Award for Best Written Work presented by the Indian President in New Delhi in 1995.
His parents Venkateswaran (Venky) and Meena Iyer live in Auckland.