The human mind is possibly most susceptible when it is teen-aged and therefore needs to be nurtured delicately; if not, the emotions , spasms and idiosyncrasies of the young mind may veer off-track, with serious implications to the teen’s future.
Immediately on crossing the threshold of the 10th Board , the dreams of a cherished career start germinating in a teenager’s mind, triggering him to a two year rigour – often accompanied by loss of sleep and appetite , of relentless preparation for tests like JEE/AIPMT . But quite often it so happens that by a cruel strike of destiny he buckles under the ponderous pressure at the most critical moment and his much coveted test rank eventually eludes him , inflicting him with an emotional turmoil that he only can understand. Sometimes a perceived social stigma, barbs from peers and relatives may even push him to frustration , for which he needs unfettered moral support from his dear ones , especially his parents. But this does not exactly do happen always, and quite often over ambitious parents with unrealistic expectations from children fail to lend them the support and empathy they so much deserve at such moments of despair.
This very sensitive issue that torments many of today’s teens is what the book “Counting Stars” tries to portray in a fervent , poignant way. Authored by a young author I D Bora, the book delineates how the life of a fervent 12 th pass girl takes a tragic turn after she fails to score the requisite JEE rank despite putting in her best. Let down by her parents , a wretched lachrymose Natasha the protagonist first shuts herself off, gradually goes into reclusion and then finally veers between pathetic torpor and depression trances. And as if this is not enough, her boy friend who is able to make it to NIT ditches her for the only reason of her failing to crack JEE . After days of surviving on anti depressants and sheer hopelessness taking away the last vestige of desire to live on any further, she tries to kill herself with an over dose of sleeping pills. But by a fortuitous stroke of destiny she puts off her suicide attempt and instead goes out on a sight-seeing trip with her cousin Shanaya, hoping to give her life a few more days to live till her next suicide attempt .
During this trip also joined by Shanaya’s friend Aryan to places like Shimla, Rajasthan and Goa, Natasha discovers the other side of life. She finds out how life is not only PCM-JEE-NIT, but has so much else to offer as per one’s interest, love and passion. She also perceives she is not the only one undergoing such tribulations befalling individuals her age. During her fights and chats with Aryan she discerns the internal conflicts undergone by the boy due to his eccentric businessman father’s cantankerous behaviour and persistent attempts at depriving the son of his zest and passion– be it his choice of career or the business assignments he delegates him . She therefore feels a swell of empathy and oneness with him, both inner selves having ripped with similar emotional perturbations.
Natasha enjoys her trip to the fullest with spine-tingling rides, weird adventures and spooky night camps. During these moments of ecstasy she forgets the fact that it was the same her that almost gulped two bottles of sleeping pills only nights before. And during one such intense moment on a moonlit beach, Natasha’s life turns a full circle when she discovers her love in Aryan. Life thereafter takes a circuitous turn for Natasha, culminating in her cherished moments of joy and accomplishment alongside Aryan and most importantly, she ends up doing what she loved and was so passionate about – her writing.
It’s touching storyline so sync with the current milieu and the teenage psyche, Counting Stars is a story of love , hope and spirit and a tale to tell – not all is lost for those in distress, as life always presents a Plan B to chase and live one’s dreams.