Saturday, June 1, 2013

I Too Loved This Story

Would you like to read a story where you clearly know that the main plot is based on some random man's love life? Most importantly, after knowing that the story will end on a sad note? I would not and that's why I kept avoiding 'I too had a love story' for a long, long time. I had no interest in taking up this book, the cover was uninviting, the publisher was a little known company, and most of the reviews shot down the grammar and logic of the book. Ignoring the book was bliss, until a few days back when I could no longer hold back the mystery of its success. I ordered the book online. New cover, new publisher. Same story.

'I Too Had A Love Story', is an autobiographical take by the author, Ravinder Singh, concerning his love life where he lost the girl he was intending to marry just two days before engagement. The novel tells the story through the eyes of Ravin, who meets a girl Khushi on a matrimonial website after a bet with his friends.  The two connect instantly and the relationship grows gradually to friendship and then love. It is a very unusual kind of love story. As much as I believed it to have a 'Chetan-Bhagatish' feel to it, it was very dissimilar inits feel and approach. No over-the-top sequences, no clever usage of humor, just plain language telling a simple tale. This very plain language attracted the ire of grammar nazis and literary critics. But no Shakespeare extracted tears from me. This one did.

The story, the narrative and the whole feel of the novel is very down-to-earth. Most probably, it can be an indirect impact of the author's humble background. He comes from, as he tells in the novel, a small locale called Sambhalpur in Orissa, India. He has a regular IT job, and likes hanging out with friends, boozing occasionally to give his friends some company. Khushi, on the other hand, is a modern happy-go-lucky girl also in an IT firm. She wears modern dresses, her family member have a modern outlook too, which the author clearly depicts in the various episodes and incidents involving him and Khushi's family. The love story looks all set to meet a happy conclusion with both the set of families agreeing to bond, and the couple busy in their respective preparations for the wedding. And then the girl meets with an accident and dies. With this incident the book reaches its climactic end which it hinted at the very beginning by the following words: "Not everyone in this world has a fate to cherish the fullest form of love. Some are born, just to experience the abbreviation of it"

The book won my heart with its many emotionally-drenched lines about two people in love with each other. And trust me, knowing the end does not in any way hampers the pleasure of reading the book, instead it connects you even more closely to the story. Every little happy incident makes you sad because of the unfortunate end you know the protagonists are going to face in the end. As you approach the latter part of the book, every turn of the page makes your heart skip a beat as you pray for the end to get delayed by a few more pages. You start relating to the protagonist, as they come to life with the various commonalities of ordinary life of people in a city. The pain is heightened by the fact that Ravin and Khushi live in two completely different cities, miles apart in the geography and met only two times in the whole story before she left her forever.

Not very much a fan of lovey-dovey stories, I found myself holding this book before my eyes for hours at stretch and finished it within two days. Initially I was skeptical about the book and the pace was slow, but as the story moved towards the main plot, the book became hard to put down. But I had to put it down in between. To take breaks for my heavy heart and occasionally to wipe away any drop of stray tears rolling on my cheek.

I have read Chetan Bhagat and they have touched my heart too, but surely not in this way. Here, the tragedy was the king, and I as a reader its slave, hoping, praying, crying, knowing very well that the end is near, and it is not good. The last book I remember which managed to bring out my tears was Khaled Hosseini's 'The Kite Runner' which was a long time back. That book brought me out of the illusion that books can never make you cry, and this book reaffirms that lesson. What it is, if not the power of words which moved me, like thousands of other fellow readers?

'I Too Had A Love Story' made me learn that tragedy can be pleasant to read. I also learnt to never judge a book by its cover, or language or grammar, again in the future. I loved this love story, and so will you. Take a leap of faith.

Book: I Too Had a Love Story
Author: Ravinder Singh
Publisher: Penguin
Price: Rs. 140