‘Come here, my dear, you are so near….
Please have no fear, I love my beer….’
He ransacked his brain to come up with the last line to do justice to the poet in him and came up with ‘And my name is…. Sid’
This is Sid for you, the protagonist of ‘Sorting Out Sid’ who very closely resembles urban, uber-cool, working, unabashed, impulsive, witty and too-busy breed of modern India. The character is straight out of your office and you wonder, “Have I met this guy before?” Right from putting on his various modes and various smiles, may it be Casual-Party-Sid, Work-Sid or Witty-Office-Sid, he is as real as a character in a book can get.
This is the story of Sid whose marriage is falling apart while he is busy climbing the corporate ladder. He is about to be the VP in his firm, only that it deals with toilet cleaning. When Neha, a single divorced mom, saunters in like the cool shade in a parched, summer day, life for Sid takes a turn. Does it bring out the better or worse in him? To know the answer, you need to grab this book and read it without any breaks. I did, as I couldn’t put it back. The characters pulled me in.
The pages are full of witty remarks and droll humor, almost immediately diffusing the tension that builds up while handling delicate situations in the life of Sid. I am amazed at author’s ability to bring so much of verve and life into this character. You, as a reader, see the story unraveling right in front of you like a movie, which, I feel, is a rare feat achieved by the author. For that matter, all the main characters and even the supporting ones are very well etched. Except Sid’s estranged wife, Mandira and I wonder why her issues are never harped on in the book.
There are many points where you feel that now the tone of the book can get serious given the situations but the author has managed to balance it out with the layering of unexpected humor right then and there like the alternation of bitter chocolate and sweet vanilla icing. In a scene where Sid starts dreaming of all the important people in his life accusing him, he suddenly remembers Sita’s plea to Mother Earth to swallow her up and he ends up imploring his beloved bean bag, Brownie, to eat him up. “Brownie! Do it! Swallow me up now.”
Sid, with his funny one liners, utter stupidity at times, and crazy ideas is very likeable. Aditi, his best friend, through whom he meets Neha also has wonderful layering in her character. Neha, as a single, cheerful mom, is a perfect anti-dote to Sid’s craziness. Aditi’s husband, Krish, though a side-character, delivers some of the best lines. Sid’s parents and their methods of dealing with the problems are a reflection of how a normal household with a strict, overbearing father would be. The silent, understanding love of a mother, the never-satisfied father, another mother always looking for faults, it is a plethora of intriguing characterizations and subjects that have been handled with the right kind of sensitivity.
You will see the shades of everyday world we live in, where women are not afraid to walk out on their marriage and have the tender ability to live life on their own terms, men are not super-heroes but have shades of grey and understand that they can’t handle everything, couples are exploring love and not just rushing in the emotion, corporates who are stuck in their jobs, people who are enthusiastic about following their passions, complicated mother-daughter, father-son relationships where each has a point to prove and sometimes, not.
‘Sorting Out Sid’ is a light read despite revolving around issues of broken marriage, unhappiness in profession, human vices, and complicated love life. A double thumbs up for the author for wonderfully balancing humor and sensitivity, and for making the characters so believable. I would recommend this book as a must-read.
Author: Yashodhara Lal
Publisher: Harper Collins
Cover Design: Arijit Ganguly (A special mention. He has done an incredible job.)