Fiction; Srishti Publishers; 213 pages
The things young women read nowadays and profess to enjoy positively frighten me.
So said Agatha Christie in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
I feel Ravinder Singh's debut novel I Too Had a Love Story falls in those "things" that Christie is talking above. The author has got it all wrong.
I was attracted to this novel because it's a bestseller in India and I was curious to know what my country is reading.
There was nothing surprising there as the author has given away the ending on the cover page and in the dedication.
Your abandoning affected me in a way that; In the search for you, I found myself.
It was pretty clear from the beginning that the protagonist's girlfriend is going to abandon him.
The story is inspired from Singh's real life events.
Summary of I Too Had a Love Story
Ravinder Singh or Ravin is a software engineer working at Infosys, Bhubaneswar. He searches the matrimonial site Shaadi.com for a prospective bride and sends random messages to many girls. Khushi who too is in IT industry from Noida replies and they begin to chat. They quickly fall in love and promise to marry even when they hadn't met.
Eventually Ravin flies over to meet her and her family. The meeting takes place, everybody likes everybody else, and they start considering marriage even more seriously.
Ravin returns to work and they continue their chats on phone and Internet.
One sad day Ravin calls Khushi and he's told that she met with a fatal accident and is hospitalized.
A few days later, on the very day of their scheduled engagement, she dies.
The story is narrated with an extremely poor choice of words and weak construction of sentences while there is no complexity in plot and it is very much predictable.
The amateurishness of Singh's writing skills is clearly evident throughout the novel. No depth of vision, no philosophy, no witty dialogues–I Too Had a Love Story is completely bereft of any literary or story telling skills.
The constant use of Hindi phrases in an English novel, that too without any translations, will annoy the only English knowing readers.
The designer's cover page looks unprofessional and the proof readers have left some spelling mistakes unchecked. (For e.g. "colour" is spelt as "color". Indians follow the British English.)
What the book does actually contain and is pretty rich in is pornography.
The author doesn't know where to draw the line, or that a line should be drawn at all, when he narrates the details of the intimate chats and acts of him and Khushi. Is that how you respect the memory of your beloved dead girlfriend?
In February this year, three Indian ministers had to resign after they were caught watching porn in the Parliament. Their act resulted in a lot of furore in the country.
Now consider the following statements from the very first chapter of the book:
That evening, the four of us in that flat were having an amazing time. Talking about our past and present. About those not-so-good-looking girls in college. About the porn we used to watch on our computer.
For what ministers have to resign, writers are becoming bestsellers. Come on India. What's wrong with you?
The only saving part of this story is that it is a true love story which is written with a lot of honesty. Some authors hesitate to draw from their real life events.
As Dickens remarked in the preface of David Copperfield, a book that drew from his real life events–"... an Author feels as if he were dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world."
This and Singh's marketing skills from business school has made it sell more than 1.5 lakh copies.