First, a li’l bit of background: Over the past decade, there has been a surge of debutant Indian authors whose books have made the bestseller list and landed them lucrative book deals. Some of them come from engineering or management backgrounds; some have left their cushy 9 to 5 jobs to pursue writing full-time. What they lack in highbrow literary skills, they make it up by writing stories in simplistic prose and set in backgrounds very relatable to the middle class Indian youth – about colleges, jobs, money crunches and first love. It has clicked with the crowds in a big way despite critics dismissing the books, and people who have stayed away from fiction because the likes of Jeffrey Archer intimidated them, picked up Chetan Bhagat paperbacks from bookstores. Unfortunately Bhagat’s later books turned out increasingly trite and aimed at landing contracts for movie adaptations. Thankfully, Ravinder Singh’s storytelling still has that inherent honesty which I remember from reading his first book I too had a love story. His debut novel was based on his real life and though I didn’t know at the time of reading it, I wasn’t too surprised when I learnt of it later. Was that a “good” book? Not really. But there was something charming and personal about the love story.
Your Dreams Are Mine Now follows an eventful year in the lives of Rupali and Arjun as they meet and fall in love. Born and raised in Bihar, Rupali’s dream comes true when she gets admission into the Delhi University. She has simple goals: to study well, get a good job, provide for her family and take them on a Euro trip. With a vibrant university campus, friendly roommate and a music club taking in new vocalists, she is looking forward to sing along the next few years in college. However, things don’t go as planned, when she is witness to aggressive youth politics and student union vandalism. It is in these circumstances that she meets Arjun, a second-year student who is heavily involved in the student union and election campaigns. Her unflattering opinion of him changes when he helps her out in a sticky situation involving a corrupt professor and what follows is a budding romance. Long bike rides, phone calls, messages, sharing their dreams for the future and their first kiss. And mutual respect for each other’s work. She helps out in his party’s campaign and he smoothens out his party’s frayed equation with the music club. It seemed like nothing could go wrong… until it did.. when what brought them together in the past turns their present into a nightmare.
The book’s prologue hints at a horrifying real-life incident that took place in the country’s capital and as I read the rest of the book, I almost didn’t mind the comforting stereotypes: rich ‘n generous roommate, affable n’ plump Punjabi bestie, studious and righteous heroine, rugged and “I don’t believe in God” hero. But some other things feel so convenient and unreal too .. especially regarding the youth politics of Delhi.. I mean, the scope and breadth of the problem the author is trying to convey seems huge (reservations, caste politics, quotas..) , and Arjun’s party is shown to be failing because the opposition has influential higher support. But once Rupali enters the party narrative and starts offering ideas, the party’s fortunes change.. It made the party of the “pre-Rupali era” look tactless and stupid. The book is short and maybe the author didn’t want to complicate things and take the focus off the love story… but it does come across as a gaping deficiency because though it is used mostly as a platform for the love story, politics DOES take up a lot of space in the book.
So why am I not being harsher on the book? I don’t know.. maybe it is because I anticipated the ending throughout the time I was reading book which made the experience of reading everything so bittersweet, maybe it is because I read all their moments together knowing how precious it was.. and how it is just so unfair… and maybe because it was partly derived from real life, though it is something that can happen with anyone . And that is so scary to think about…
You can buy the paperback at: Your Dreams are Mine Now by Ravinder Singh (1-Nov-2014) Paperback
Buy the kindle edition at: Your Dreams Are Mine Now – Kindle