This compelling memoir spans the author’s childhood and young adult years. Most of the story takes place in India and touches on the cut-throat competition among students to enter preferred schools that eventually lead to a university education. The author delves into the pressure that his parents exerted on him to get the grades as a child to enter into one of these schools.
In one Droplet, or chapter, Mr. Nair describes how his father wakes him up at 4:30 am every weekday when he is still in a non-preferred public school to study before getting ready for school. Unfortunately, the author isn’t as keen as his father about school and rebels against him in several instances.
While in his university, Mr. Nair’s troubles continue when senior students haze him and his junior classmates; these incidents are more serious than hazing in the United States. The author finds himself in dangerous situations on more than one occasion and relies on his ingenuity to escape.
Despite suffering in his native India to reach the preferred schools and eventually a university, Mr. Nair maintains his sense of humor throughout the memoir. There are moments of lightheartedness among his classmates and him even though the pressure that the parents put on their children to perform in school is pervasive. In another Droplet, Mr. Nair and his peers do battle with wads of paper, which they hurl at each other with rubber bands when adult supervision is somewhat relaxed in their school. This battle is a release from the constant pressure to get the necessary grades, and is a bonding experience with his classmates.
The style of writing is engaging because the author addresses the reader directly throughout the story, thereby creating an intimacy with the reader that other authors don’t achieve. In the Droplet that explains the hazing by his college senior colleagues, Mr. Nair begins, “Previous chapters I have traced a little about my college days and how seniors played the part. I will offer you a glimpse of our college days here.” This “introduction” serves to entice the reader to continue on with the Droplet and empathize with the author about his experiences.
Droplets is a quick read but offers valuable insights into life. The author rebels against his parents, but as an adult living abroad he comes to be very fond of them. His parents, in turn, are angry when Mr. Nair rebels against them, but as elderly parents they remind the author with humor about those times. These experiences point to the intense relationship between parents and their children, and how it evolves over time.
Droplets by Ajay Nair is available on Amazon and Black Rose Writing’s website, among other outlets.