“The Diary On The Fifth Floor” by Raisha Lalwani

For a debut novel, I must say that “The Diary On The Fifth Floor” has been well written by Raisha Lalwani. The plot is rather unusual in that it dwells on the goings on inside the mind of a young lady wrestling with ghosts from her past and childhood. The book has endorsements from Bollywood stars like Sonam Kapoor Ahuja and Soha Ali Khan, which gives the book and the author a huge boost.

Ms Lalwani has chosen a difficult subject to write about as depression and mental health are amongst the most misunderstood in our country. A visit to a psychiatrist, more often than not, has to be done in secret. The hapless patient hopes no one has seen him/her come out of the doctor’s clinic. To that extent, this book, written in simple language without the medical mumbo-jumbo lays bare some of the problems faced by persons, especially younger ladies, who suffer from high degrees of mental anxiety and depression.

There are just two main characters in the story. It begins with Sairah Khanna visiting the renowned psychiatrist Dr Rama Berry in her fifth floor clinic. She says he has come on behalf of her sister, Savannah who is facing many problems. Dr Berry, with all her experience, doesn’t take long to understand that Sairah is really there for herself, taking shelter under her sister’s name.

As the title of the book suggests much of the meat of the story lies in a diary maintained over the years by Sairah. I like the way the author has used the diary as the means to communicate her thoughts while taking the story forward. Many who have written diaries in their own lives will understand how to balance between what to share tangibly and what to keep hidden- even from oneself.

Sairah gives the diary to Dr Berry to read and understand things from her perspective. The stories in the diary are stark and brutally honest. They help Dr Berry analyse the diary writer’s mind. It aids her comfort the young diarist who has never before got this kind of comfort and solace from anybody else.

There is the only to be expected twist in the end of the story but to know what happens you will need to read the book for yourself.

Congratulations, Raisha. I look forward to reading more of your books as the years go by. You have set a high benchmark and I am sure you will meet people’s expectations in your future writing.

Is is just a co-incidence that Sairah is an anagram for Raisha? That’s food for thought for you!

 

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