Title of Book: Just A Little Longer
Author’s Name: Veronica Rajahram
Publisher: Middletown, DE(USA) 2002. 165p
Veronica Rajahram, just 20, has burst upon the literary forum with an impressive Young Adult (YA) novel—Just A Little Longer. This remarkable breakout lady hails from Basta Hall village in Couva. One of the vintage-best writers of our nation also had his nurturing in Basta Hall, he is Willi Chen. Maybe, folklore will allow lightning to strike twice in the same place! And Basta Hall could become a “go-to place” for our dilettante literary posers.
Rajahram’s secondary tuition was in the halls of Holy Faith Convent in Couva. Modest but confident, she expressed the wish to be a dentist. I took some time to chew on this one.
But Rajahram proves that she has the pedigree to absorb pain; pain to trot out a realistic fiction novel that spans a period from September 2008 to December 2021. A story that runs its course—from a progressive descent of a well-knit family of three, Joe Kenneth, his wife, Jennifer, and their only daughter, Sabrina Kenneth—into a dark, evil hell of torture, tension, anxiety, alcoholism, mental health decay and “cutting”, overdosing with pills etc and etc, amen!
Look at how she draws you into her narrative in the very first chapter:
“I usually dress in hipster-styled outfits these days. Let’s just say I dress like life matters. Life was actually great for me but this wasn’t always so. In fact, I suffered. I suffered while I walked through my own personal hell.”
The writer draws you in from the start. She prefaces you with the problem—so you are apprised. Then as the “I, me” narrative telling, you are witness to the descent into a story that has tension, suspense, near tick-tock electrifying moments. All superbly crafted and with ample dispensation of credible dialogue that is as patently real as anything you’ve read before, except its Sabrina’s reporting.
Witness this: “Your business is going downhill and so is our family. What are we gonna cook tomorrow huh? Where’s our next meal coming from?” shouted mom. Then dad would shout back: “I am trying my best with this family and this is the thanks I get for trying to put food on our table?”
Shades of August Wilson’s play, “Fences”. But the angst in the kitchen dialogue is as rasping as the events that later lead up to both mother and Sabrina having to literally run for cover when the father locks them out of the home and they made a getaway that has its own powerful thrill—albeit it was for a turn—a breaking point in the narrative.
Rajahram’s use of journaling is very evident as the narrative unfolds. The reader gets the full impact of the blows. It’s how she puts down her thoughts and feelings—so as the character, she can understand them more clearly. The author shows how Sabrina can control her responses—her health and emotions are controlled.
These days, teenagers are dismayed and challenged more than ever.
So, in Just A Little Longer, there is a bit of grief and guilt. We see how Sabrina grapples with parental angst and hurt. She herself was physically broken and shattered and was teetering at death’s doorway. But the will to live was the saving grace on offer—and she consciously held on to it.
As a new voice, Rajahram has been preparing for Just A Little Longer.
In using the realistic fiction milieu, she has succeeded in telling a familiar story—one which resembles real life—and the fictional characters in the novel react similarly to real people. It’s this genre of writing which allows writers to show us how to contend with some problems of the human condition. It is here we can meet people with similar problems–and how they can be addressed.
Rajahram has thrown her proverbial hat into the ring. Maybe, just maybe, she may consider the role of a dentist who could not only fill the cavity in a tooth, but also keep on wiring hope and life into the empty hearts and minds of people who want to exit life before living it.
It is my wish that if there is anyone in corporate Trinidad willing to assist in a launch for Rajahram’s novel, it would be a creative gesture that would cost less that any Carnival 2023 costume. Contact 762-2418. Let’s put young writers on a pedestal—they need this STAGE. It’s a good thing to enable Young Adults to tell others stories that can act as catalysts to turn the dross of straw lives into gold! As they say—the pen is mightier that the gun!
PS: Rajahram’s wish is to have a book launch that can be broadcast live! One that is jazzy, not jejune.