Some books don't spark any expectations in you. When I picked up this book written by Arpit Dugar, I had no idea what to expect and to be honest, no expectations at all. With its cheeky title and red blurb that caught my eye because a couple seemed to be close to smooching, I thought, "Why not give the young author a chance?"
I liked the protagonist - Avinash - and could understand right at the beginning that he didnt want to get married but didnt want to hurt his parents so he goes ahead with the bride seeing routine. He tells the girl - Neha - that he doesnt want to marry her and she asks why. Forced to share his story with Neha, memories unwind right from the time he was born to proud, affluent parents. In his narrative, I liked the way he connected to 'places.' He speaks so warmly about Jaipur that you really feel persuaded to visit the pink city. He talks about his brief stay in Ranikhet where he lived in a hostel.
Do you know Ranikhet got its name because of Rani Padmini who made it her place of stay? That's how the place got its name. When Avinash talks about the greenery, the pine and deodar trees of Ranikhet, it really makes you want to visit the place.
To get back to the story, our hero Avinash joins the engineering batch in Dehradun (the author too did so, apparently, as given in his bio on the book cover). Avinash talks about the beauty of the campus that is flanked by the Himalaya ranges and the Shivalik ranges on either side.
Unlike many other boys in college, Avinash is well mannered, sensitive to the feelings of others and even writes poetry from his heart. He has no interest in girls till he meets a girl in college and falls head over heels in love with her. Like he says, "When you see a beautiful girl, you forget everything!"
I loved portions in the book where Avinash and friends go out for a walk after midnight and steal litchis for the fun of it and then get caught by the cops who were investigating a rape case that had taken place at the very same spot the boys were found at. This tells us how kids can get into serious trouble even when they don't mean to do any harm. The parts where the cops try to harass the boys was almost painful and as the mother of a son, I was gripping the book and shaking in fear, imagining the worst. Thankfully, the cops find the real culprits but the fear factor is that sometimes when they don't, they go ahead with circumstantial evidence and pin the innocent ones.
Avinash's college life is a roller coaster ride with ups and downs. The good thing is his parents know exactly how he behaves, what he is capable of and what he is not capable of. When he is rusticated from college, his parents realize it is a misunderstanding and they support him with a lot of love and attention. Again, the book warms your heart in places, especially if you are a parent. The book makes you ask: what happens to his relationship with Lisha, the girl of his dreams? Will she love him back? What went wrong that he is now talking about the whole story to Neha? And finally, what will happen to Avinash and Neha?
I don't want to steal the story that Arpit Dugar has written. There is no literary treasure in this book but there are so many warm moments and thoughts that will melt you as you read on. I would definitely recommend this book as a nice, warm read that will keep you glued from the first page to the last simply because you want to know what happened in this simple and sweet love story.
Before I end, let me say one statement by Avinash that I particularly liked, , "For every child, college life is like a dream, a life which you can enjoy to the fullest, a life which gives you immense opportunities to explore the talent within yourself and that too when you are in a technical college."
Tell me, was your college life like a dream that you enjoyed it to the fullest and explored your hidden talents too?
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