Reviewed in India on 15 February 2020
I love reading love stories and if they are romantic stories with second chances, they make me all the more happy. So when I got the chance to read and review the anthology, Something old, Something new, by Desi readers Adda, I took it. This book is a collection of seven novellas by authors I have read many times.
No Other Love by Aarti V Raman is the story of two doctors, Anika Chakraborty and Vikrant Pandit, set in Mumbai and Aronda, Goa. Anika and Vikrant fell in love with each other in the first year and married straight out of medical college and started working in the same hospital.
Anika wasn’t careless or callous, but she wasn’t raised like him – to always put others before self. She comes from a selfish, consuming line of overachievers, Vikrant from a family of givers, compassionate, empathetic people. Vikrant belongs to an ordinary, middle class, small town family with conservative parents, his father was the headmaster of a local school and his mother, a housewife and Anika’s father is a famous cardiothoracic surgeon, who thinks only about himself.
And one day, when they could not stand each other, they decided to go their separate ways. Vikrant went back to Aronda to work in the hospital there and Anika remained in Mumbai to continue her residency training. And they filed for a divorce.
Now, eleven months, twenty four days, six hours and thirteen minutes later, Vikrant is back in Mumbai and is asking Anika to pretend to be his wife for a week as he has to host his family there for festivities and he has not disclosed the real status to them.
And Anika agrees because maybe being back here, with him, for this one week, could give her the closure she needed to move on with her life without him.
The story has been written beautifully. The characters are realistic and well developed and the feelings of the characters have been expressed well. The descriptions are detailed and the language is simple and the story is fast paced.
My Warmest Sorrow by Preethi Venugopala is the second book of the anthology that I read. Set in Kerala and Bangalore, this book is the story of college sweethearts Ajay Menon and Diana. Ajay and Diana met each other in first year of engineering college and by the end of their course, their relationship had moved from being lab partners to best friends to soulmates. But religion, societal and financial status was against them. She is a Roman Catholic, daughter of a Superintendent of Police and he belongs to an orthodox Hindu family and his parents are government school teachers. She was the first one to give up and end their relationship because she values his life and on graduation day, she told him that she was getting married to a man that her father chose. And he left Kerala never to come back.
Now, years later, she is working in a structural design firm and one day, there is a flurry in their class whatsapp group because Ajay is being welcomed into the group. He has been selected in IAS and is awaiting his posting. He thinks she is married and posts in the group that he has a girlfriend. And then he is posted in Bangalore.
The story is simple and has been written in first person from the point of view of both the characters. A simple story of second chances, the descriptions are done well and the characters are realistic. I loved their friends and how they tried to help them and also Diana’s brother but my favourite was is psychologist friend.
My Heart’s Regret by Shilpa Suraj is the story of Raghav Cherukuri and Samaira Reddy set in Hyderabad. Raghav and Samaira studied in the same class, but he was the driver’s son and she, the employer’s daughter. Her father paid for his education and as a payment for saving her brother’s life, Raghav was even considered for studying in the same school as Samaira. And then, they became best friends and soulmates, sharing their feelings with each other. But then, things change on her eighteenth birthday and Raghav leaves town without a word, a goodbye, without an explanation, without anything. His parents sell their land to fund his education.
Now seven years later, he is a second officer in the merchant navy and she is an architect. He visits Hyderabad with the purpose of asking his parents to move to his apartment in Chennai, but has to step in as the employer’s driver as his father is not well and has to ferry Samaira and her prospective groom to a restaurant and they realise that the feelings are still the same.
But the social differences creep in. And he has a long list of why they cannot be together.
I loved the story and more so because Samaira is a strong girl and does not mind putting her foot down whenever required. The story is simple and has been written in a simple language. The story is fast paced and moves back and forth between the past and the present. The characters are relatable and even their conversations are realistic. I loved the way the author completes the circle.
Coming Home by Andaleeb Wajid was the fourth novella that I read in this anthology. This book is the story of Jahangir and Meesha set in a small town of Dhakara, in Coorg Karnataka. Jahangir was ten when he lost his parents in an accident and was brought up by his father’s cousin, Nausheen Aunty, in Dhakara. And here he met Meesha Kan, whose father ran a café, Sweet Nothings. And these childhood friends became best friends and then sweethearts. And one day, ten years ago, Meesha broke up with him and married the man her father chose because she could not see her suffer another heart attack. And Jahangir left Dhakara with a plea to Nausheen Aunty that he wanted no reminders of his life here, especially nothing to do with Meesha. It had helped him focus on building a new life away from everything that he had known and worked at pouring out his entire angst into his work which was why he was such a successful businessman and now owned several automobile showrooms in the city.
Back in town after ten years, to take his ailing aunt back to Mumbai with him, he meets her at the hospital. She is a divorcee now and lives with her seven year old son Hammad and runs the family café. He realises that she still holds his heart, but can he forgive her for what she did to him ten years ago? But he also has to consider his girlfriend, Natasha.
The story is beautiful and I could actually picturise the scenes so well, the quaint little town the little café, the unplanned hospital and the beautiful Natasha. The characters are realistic and the conversations between them more so. The feelings of the characters have been described in detail. I loved the story and also liked how the story moved back and forth between the past and the present.
Never Stopped loving by Ruchi Singh is the fifth book of the anthology that I read. It is the story of Arjun Singh Tomar and Radhika set in Mumbai and Panchgani. Arjun, a hotshot lawyer in Mumbai, was tricked into visiting Panchgani by his grandmother on the pretext of meeting her ailing friend. But all the while, his dadi wanted him to meet Radhika, her friend’s granddaughter and marry her. And so within three months of meeting Radhika, Arjun married her and eleven months after their wedding, he had nothing to do with her and divorced her without even listening to her.
Now, three years later, he sees Radhika again and is hatred for her is still there, until he realises what happened three years ago was not her fault. And now he wants her back. But she is not the same. She had been angelic and compassionate earlier. The person Arjun had known had disappeared and in her place, he finds a hardened, impenetrable soul.
I loved this story and the characters. The story has friendship, love, family and betrayal. The characters are lovable and the story has humour as well. The scenes have been described in detail and could be picturised easily.
Waiting for Yash and Nisha’s strory next.
Paper hearts and Promises by Devika Fernando is the story of Luke and Taara. Luke Turner had come to India with his family when his father, a diplomat had been posted here. He convinced his father that a study-abroad year would look great on his CV with the plan to finish two semesters, then return to Canberra and graduate while his parents would stay on for as long as the assignment warranted it. But he ended up doing architecture here. He met Taara Chauhan on campus and they had fallen in love with each other. And then Luke had left for Australia and after keeping in touch for a year, Taara went off the radar.
Now seven years later, Luke has expanded his business to China and is visting India when he comes across Taara’s shop. Taara’s parents want her to marry Varun and he has business to do with Varun. So, Luke suggests that to make matters more comfortable, they can be friends for old times sake.
They were both seven years older now, basically different people. He, a renowned architect with awards to his name, and she was had her arts and crafts. Surely so much in their lives had changed that they weren’t compatible anymore.
A sweet story of second chances. I loved how Taara gave up everything for her family and Luke and I also loved how Luke asks for friendship after seven years. The language is simple and the story is fast paced.
But at the end, I wanted more, maybe the author could plan writing a longer version.
Blood Red Love by Neil D’Silva is the story of Vimal Kapoor and Yamini Gupta. Born into affluence, there was nothing Vimal had ever wanted. All he had to do was to name his desire and it was his. He fell in love with Yamini the first time he saw her while driving on the Worli Sealink. She was in a smaller car parallel to his, seated in the backseat; her nose buried in a book. He found her and asked her to move in with him. But she had a secret, something that she has to live with all her life and if she would say it, she would be doomed.
But still Vimal decides that they would take things as they come until….
This story is different from the rest and I was kept guessing as to what would happen. I felt for Yamini and I felt for Vimal too. The language is simple and the characters are well developed. The twist at the end came as a surprise.