Heavens : The After Life.

Author- Athira P Nair 

Publisher- Wordsbrew, BlueRose Publishers 

Publication date-  23rd September 2020

Genre- Contemporary fiction 

Blurb–  Khushi is a teenager who dies of a heart ailment. She is so angry for being dead that she is unhappy with her afterlife. That’s when she meets with an angel who takes her on a journey. Not just another adventure but on a journey where she learns why people die, how much they need their lives and what it means to them. Towards the end she understands love. She understands why a chance of an afterlife is important. The book is a collection of stories woven together with a larger narrative of Kushi who discovers the meaning of life and death. 

Review–  The book consists of sixteen chapters and trust me, each and every story holds so much life. It is ironic because the stories are about death. The story begins with a young child, Kushi looking up at the sky, narrating stories to her dead grandparents who always told her stories. She was told that people turn into stars when they die. The seriousness of death infused with the innocence of a child is the most heartbreaking aspect. We don’t exactly expect children to understand death because we think they won’t get it. But we never realise that the next moment someone important to them could be dead or that they could be taken away. That is exactly what happens to Kushi, the protagonist of the story. She knew she was going to die but never was she told what it was. When it dawned upon her one fine day, she had no time to contemplate it. 

If you look into the plot of the story, it is very beautifully and understandably structured. Every story has something to do with Kushi. She takes a message from each story. Kushi sheds light into each of these extremely traumatic stories. The intricate message the plot tries to convey is how there are few who wait for death, there are others who are snatched away from their chance to a life and there are many others who never lived, who saw death way before they gained sight. The author has skillfully used the narrative method to portray how everyone has their own story. 

Analysing the characters of the stories, with every chapter there is a main character that takes the story to the next stage. It is almost as if every story is individual but still connected to each other. Manasvi, the child who was raped by an older man. Saira who was bullied and driven to suicide. Characters whose lives were blurred with poverty, abuse, sexual desires, death by torture, martyrdom, old age, substance abuse, health abnormalities, infidelity and money. What surprises you the most about these characters and their stories is that they die of a list of things that play a major role in our everyday life. Another most important detail about these characters is that some are happy that they are dead. This leads to the idea of how much the society pokes its way into someone’s life, pushing them to death and making them feel happy that they are dead. Away from the clutches of the society they feel liberated. 

If you ask me to rate this book, I would say how this book made me take a step back, pause and look around for meanings in a life that is suffocated by so many things that I leave out on the meaning of life itself. The stories are orchestrated with raw truths, so raw that at times your eyes are swollen with tears and other times you are hit by a huge wave of existential angst only to realise that nobody has an answer to it. 

Quote 1 – “They removed my stains from my floral skirt and are making someone else wear it, that’s how the cycle goes.” 

Quote 2– “We ourselves decide whether to be a part of hell or heaven, because we ourselves create it. Every untold story is heard here above the clouds.” 

Rating- 4/5

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