The alarming rise in ‘teen’ crimes have encouraged me to look at my role as a parent in a new light. There is no denying that prevention and awareness are only sure ways to keep our children safe. But over-protecting our children or forcing them to stay away from the world is no way going to ensure that they stay safe.
In the years gone by, TV shows like Saavdhan India and Gumrah have helped spread awareness and also alertness about the crimes happening around us. Though I am not a big fan of watching such shows, but my family does watch them and we discuss the cases often to stay cautious in our day to day lives.
Recently, I chanced upon the book “Gumrah – 11 Short Teen Crime Stories” by Ira Trivedi. The blurb on the back of the book read:
“…if we are not careful about who we trust, we could be used or even harmed.”—Chetan Bhagat, from the Foreword
Drawn from real-life events, and based on a popular tele-series Gumrah by Star India Pvt. Ltd this book holds tales revolving around adolescent crime, deceit, treachery and bad judgement. In ‘Soulmate’, a case of sibling rivalry leads to disastrous consequences, while in ‘Heartbreak’, the dark side of the nicest of people is exposed. ‘Naaz’ reveals how cultural differences can sometimes lead to danger and ‘Double MMS’ shows a college girl’s stabs at popularity going horribly awry.
Written by bestselling author Ira Trivedi, Gumrah: 11 Short Teen Crime Stories is a must-read, with every story revealing the consequences of wrong choices. Like the show, the message of the book, aimed especially at the younger generation, is: ‘Be aware, be prepared, be safe!’
While watching crime TV shows with their sensationalism and often gory graphics I am often left panic struck or at best avoiding watching these with a kid in the house. I was fascinated by the idea of getting to read the stories from the popular series as a book.
I was well aware that Channel V’s intriguing ‘teen’ crime tele series, Gumrah- The End of Innocence had stunned the nation and astonished viewers with real-life thought-provoking youth crimes. That had taken my interest in reading the book based on it, notches higher.
My Review –
The book cover has a picture of a pain-struck, depressed, troubled teen sitting in the centre of tracks painted in blood-red conveying the crime theme of the book well. The book opens with a foreword from Chetan Bhagat underlining the importance of the fact that there is no definite set of rules that one can follow to remain safe, and yet enjoy a good social life.
The stories, as promised, reveal the consequences of wrong choices made by the teens in a variety of scenarios. All eleven of them tap on a different problem and the most important similarity in them is the fact that it takes just one moment of weakness to make someone go ‘Gumrah’.
Each of the eleven stories are written in a simple, easy to understand language fit to be read by parents and teenagers with equal ease, facilitating understanding the circumstances well. The narrative is engaging and the book makes for a breezy read but every story leaves the reader with a view to help teens differentiate between perception and reality of the real world. The beauty of the book lies in the fact that it avoids a documentary approach keeping the narrative interesting throughout.
The book however fails in delving deeper into analysing the situations in a way that the reader (especially the children reading the book) could see how the situations could have been handled better or in a more sensible way in the given circumstances.
In more than one story where the perpetrator of the crime has been shown to narrate from a mental asylum the one notion that rises commonly is that such crimes are committed by those suffering from mental ailments. Those are the moments where I cringe because though there is no denying that a criminal mind can never be thought of as normal, but who possess it is not written on people’s faces.
These kids who are now criminals were once just like any other child of their age. I would have appreciated focus on areas (or at least a mention of the areas) where the parents or families of these children could have acted differently to change the course of events.
There is no denying that most of the stories are chilling, gruesome and even horrific but they make for an important read for parents and young adults to give them a scoop of the reality of the world we live in.
The stories shall stay with me for a long time because they’ve been drawn from real life incidents, they’ll serve as a constant reminder of not making the same mistake of not letting my child be made aware of such happenings around us.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading short crime stories and especially all parents and teenagers because this book is more about being prepared for the unknown dangers lurking in known people around us.
About the Book :
Title – Gumrah – 11 Short Teen Crime Stories
Author – Ira Trivedi
Publisher – Rupa Publications
Genre – Fiction
Pages – 186
Price – INR 195
ISBN – 978-81-291-3955-9
About the Author – Ira Trivedi is the best-selling author of four books, most recently of India in Love, a seminal work of non-fiction on India s social revolution and sexual violence. She has been called one of India s most important youth voices. She recently won the UK media award for her story on bride trafficking and was honoured at the House of Lords in England.
Rating – 3.5/5
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