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I have never been (Un)Happier

Have we heard this story before?

At this point, there isn’t one story about depression that we’ve not read, at least the ones that are talked about. So, what’s different with this book written by Shaheen Bhatt? As many critics would point out: there isn’t anything different. Yes, she went through quite a lot. It is a peril indeed to go through something this gloomy and melancholic, but we cannot let it slide that the book (no matter how informative or illustrative it might be) has enormous areas to improve upon. Even if we take the simple narrative, it keeps on shifting from her present to past, to flashbacks to her inner thoughts in a very unpleasant manner. Of course, many writers have used the asymmetrical technique, but through the end, we can understand that red thread that links every dot, unlike here. The book contains pages directly taken from her journal, which is quite innovative, to say the least. Shaheen talks about the insides of the ‘Bhatt family’ and calls out her dad on numerous occasions and even recognizes at the start of the novel that if she didn’t belong to such a family, it wouldn’t have been easy for her to reach such a wide audience (is this a hint to nepotism? Who knows?), which is commendable. The inside workings of a depressed person are displayed in a very raw, yet conceited manner. The book reminds me of a very ‘lite’ version of Lady Lazarus. At the end of the novel, the author reveals a conversation with her father which is the gist of the novel in itself: “… stop wasting your energy chasing something that doesn’t exist. You can’t spend your life feeling bad about feeling bad” as quoted by her father to which she enunciates: “… he was right. The more I tried and failed at being content the worse I felt because I was failing at yet another thing… Trying to be happy forever is like trying to stop water from slipping from your fingers. It’s not possible, and the only way forward is to realize and accept it.” All in all, I would give the novel a solid 7. For those few who want/need to understand what exactly goes in the mind of a person suffering from depression, (with a Bollywood tadka), it is a must!

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