Giving up your own interests and most prized possessions for someone you love is the kind of selfless act that can define the very purpose of your existence. Shriram Iyer’s debut novel Wings of Silence sheds some light on the significance of relationships and the act of giving. It is a simple—yet intriguing—story of two brothers and the power of the blaring ‘silence’ that prevails between them. We caught up with the author for an exclusive interview about the book. Read on for excerpts—
Wings of Silence author Shriram Iyer.
In this era of cutthroat competition, how important do you think it is to always be number one? What does success mean to you?
When I didn’t know any better, I used to measure success the way the world measures success, typically. The ‘rat race’ phenomenon is almost programmed into our heads and everything in the world is ‘relative’. Personally, I prefer to see the world in ‘absolute’ terms. Success, for me, depends on how an individual chooses to define it and not how others perceive it. Like other beliefs and faiths, success is very personal and no one should be pushed into the numbers game. I always see myself running a race alone and the only benchmark is a ‘personal best’.
Wings of Silence is a book that throws light on the importance of selflessness and sacrifice.
An individual faces many tough decisions in life. And usually, these moral dilemmas are a result of other choices preceding that tough decision. When you are at that crossroad and one of the options facing you could mean putting someone else before you, it challenges your very being, your very need for self-preservation. It’s decisions like these that separate the men from the boys. And that’s when one is at peace with themselves regardless of the choice they make, which, once again, is very personal. Wings of Silence does not mean to be prescriptive and sermonise, but I wanted to put the question to the book’s readers and it’s for them to answer it.
The book makes one realise that parents can make mistakes too. The decisions they make may not always be good for us. In a conflicting situation like this, do you think it is of importance to take a stand and explain things to our parents, or would that be tantamount to ‘crossing the line’ with them?
[At the] end of the day we are all human beings. And the beauty of being a human being is that we make mistakes. We learn from old ones, from family and friends, and make new mistakes. And the process continues. A relationship between a child and his/her parents differs in each household. In an open relationship, I think family members should be allowed to communicate freely regardless of hierarchy.
Parents do play an extremely vital role in the all-round development of their children, which affects the way they turn out later in life.
I feel that in the early years the child’s world is literally limited to his/her parents. Children will imitate and set their own benchmarks depending on what their parents do and say. However, as they begin to go to school, make friends, their circle of influence widens dramatically. So as the years pass, the personality of an individual, the way they see the world, is a combination of all the people they have met, the experiences they have had and the lessons they have learnt. So the influence of their parents will decrease but the principles set in the early years will form the core of their personality.
The book revolves majorly around sports—Raj wanting to run at the Olympics and Saurav being extremely passionate about tennis. What sport do you like to watch/play the most?
I am a die-hard sports fan—predominantly racquet sports. I play tennis, badminton, squash, and table tennis. And of course the sport that runs through every Indian’s veins: cricket. For me, sport presents a very interesting facet of life. Behind every victory there is a story of grit, hard work, and sacrifice, and Wings of Silence aims to present one such story.
Wings of Silence book cover (Purchase)
Are any of the characters in your book based on real-life figures? Can you personally relate to Raj or Saurav?
I [have] always wanted to be a professional tennis player. I reached the quarterfinals of the Gujarat Open, but to be honest it was more of a fluke. But very quickly I realised that I wasn’t all that. In many ways Saurav leads the life every teenager would want and [it was] definitely something I wanted for myself. So [the story involves] my teenage ambitions being lived out by Saurav Sethi in a way.
What is the most interesting comment that you have received about the book?
Many of the readers have indentified with the characters, the two protagonists in particular. Several moments in the book have resonated with readers, and the emotions of triumph and guilt that the characters go through have created a feeling of identification. But the most interesting comment was when one of the readers said, “I feel helpless as a reader for Raj and want to jump into the book and adopt him!”
In a society like ours, any disability of the body is considered to be a disability of the mind as well. Differently-abled people are looked down upon. Do you think disability can hinder or foster the will to succeed?
Sadly, a disability is seen as a curse. Something the so-called normal people want to stay away from and have nothing to do with. As part of my research for the book I met several deaf kids and adults who made people like me feel inadequate. Their inspiring stories made me question the need for the five senses. Can we imagine not being to able hear a thing for even one day of our lives? These people are born without the ability to hear! To answer your question, the human spirit is way above any form of disability, but it would be nice if they got unconditional support and love from other members of the society as well.
Are we going to be reading any more of your work soon?
Most definitely. I am currently working on two more books, with a couple more in the pipeline. I am very excited about these forthcoming projects. I am constantly evolving as a writer, and being a professional singer-composer, each of these books will have their own soundtrack, just like Wings of Silence.
Click here to purchase Wings of Silence online.