It is better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all, they say. But those who have loved and lost will tell you a different story, and more often than not , it will be that its better to not love at all than to lose a loved one. Losing a loved one to death would probably be much easier in one angle. You at least know that they were yours in living. But losing a loved one due to circumstances and situations, well.. that could be painful. You know the other person is living, and is not yours, and you will be in a quagmire of 'what-ifs'. But then, if you ask me, I’d say the person rather be living somewhere than be mine and dead. He/She is at least alive, but that’s a purely personal opinion.
Aftab , the main protagonist of this book is an example of this. The pain a person goes through at having lost a loved one due to circumstances. Most of them created by himself because of his weak character. And as he is making the long train journey from Delhi to Haridwar, he is letting his mind do the inevitable, dreadful journey into the land of what-ifs. And dwells in it. Thinking about all the times he spent with his love, and wondering how she lived after him, poring into the smallest of the details and killing himself bit by bit in that process.
I have read great reviews about this book, by some of my friends on GoodReads, whose reviews on genres I read I highly trust, which is the reason why I picked up this book after the initial hesitation of reading an Indian author. The past few outings with Indian authors haven't been really pleasant, and I have been lamenting on the death of Indian literature in English, what with every writer trying to get his movie in the hit-list and thus sell it for a huge sum of money to one of the Bollywood production houses. I can blame Chetan Bhagat for this downfall of quality Indian English literature, its even easy because I hate him, his books and his writing. But then, lets face it, the talent is not really there. That's what I told myself.
Atleast till I read this book. I loved Navtej Sarna's style of writing. Really elaborate, flowery, beautiful and a yet a lot of room for imagination. It was a pleasure to read the chapters he wrote about Aftab mulling about his lost love, and recounting those beautiful days. It filled my heart with a wonderful flowery feeling, which does not happen often. And I loved it.
But then, that was about it. I am not a great fan of this book. A fan of the author, yes, but not the book, and it doesn't have anything to do with the author or the book or the plot itself.
I detest books which have weak characters as main protagonists, and that's just me. I know it takes people of all kinds to make a world, and so it is within the book world too. But for some reason, Aftab came across as really a loser. A helpless, pathetic, passive aggressive kinda person, who did nothing all his life but live per others' wishes. And I hate such characters.
But then again, it is a testimony to the good job the author did in portraying a regular person as a weakling and still retaining the flavour of a love story.
One thing is for sure, if you have loved, or lost a loved one, then you will love the particular chapters where Aftab is talking about his Ro. If you have not fallen in love yet, you will want to read this and imagine this is how you would feel if you were in love.
Pick up this book by all means if you love reading a nice romantic story.
Pick it up if you love to read a beautiful, flowery , free flowing elegy of someone's love.
Read this for the pure joy of reading. That's all.
Do not pick it up if you judge the book or the author by its characters, or if you are looking for a strong protagonist.
My Rating – 3.5 out of 5.
But I’ll make it a 4, purely for the joy of reading, and the two nights it sailed me through.