Yeah! I have finished editing the so called final-est draft of my debut novel ‘With love, forever’. Though I finished writing this novel a year back (started in 2011), the revision, polishing and editing took another year. And I committed the grave mistake of sending sample chapters and synopsis to publishers while still editing, which resulted in a few rejections. So, I am completely clueless of what to do now. Maybe, I would opt for self-publishing it, all by myself. 🙂
A few days ago, I shared the rewritten blurb as a photo format. If you’ve missed it, fret not. I will be posting the blurb along with the prologue here.
I sincerely request you all to read it and give me your feedback. Based on your response, I might post a few chapters too. 🙂
For the vibrant 11th grader Bhavana, it is NOT love at first sight when she sees the naive Marwari textile shopkeeper Jairam. Born and bred in Chennai, she is apprehensive of falling in love with a stranger-cum-North Indian. With the help of her best friends Swapna (Nimmi) and Vikram, she takes baby steps towards getting to know Jairam and gradually falling in love with him. Their technology deprived love story is challenged soon. When everything seems rosy, Jairam disappears all of a sudden and he has no means to contact Bhavana. Her desperate search for him via the Internet yields no results.
Six years later, equipped only with five love-filled letters that contain no clue about Jairam’s whereabouts, Bhavana embarks on a journey to the ‘Pink City’ Jaipur in hopes of finding him. The reasons for this journey: a second heartbreak in the form of a playboy named Yuvan and a burning desire to find Jairam and know the truth of his sudden disappearance. But, how did she get to know about the letters? Will her 2184.9 km journey be fruitful? Will she ever get to know what happened to Jairam? Is there a second chance for the lovers? Or will Bhavana’s maturity and pragmatism play villains in an otherwise tranquil love story?
Life is a labyrinth. And this is the most unnerving conundrum I have to solve. Yes, right now. Whether I find him or not is another thing. But what does this dream mean? Why should it occur after all these years? It rankles me to realize that I am unable to make anything out of it.
My lips curve into a smile as I dream. I sleep peacefully, delving completely in the inexplicable fantasy. I have been receiving queer dreams lately. My sleep beckons me daily so that these dreams can astound me, one at a time. But the current one is special to me. It’s hinting at something. Once it ends, I will get to know about it. I also hope that it isn’t a dream and that it is a product of reality. I don’t want this to be a chimera, even though it’s a sweet one.
But I can only dream. And sleep. As my subconscious mind dreams, my conscious mind narrates the story of my past which happened eight years ago.
I stop by a roadside tea shop that has a rather modern outlook. The stall keeper is preparing delicious ‘milk-tea’ as I call it. I start observing his pattern of exchanging the tea from one cup to another. There is something in the aroma of tea that gets me high. Especially if there is ginger and cardamom powder in it, then the aroma is top class. There are hordes of customers hanging around. The men clad in lungi are either reading the evening newspaper or having a cup of tea, probably fed up with their respective wife’s tea preparation. I feel like an odd one out. Being October, it felt rather cold outside, prompting me to stop for a cup of tea. Though there is a Panipuri stall nearby, I don’t feel like gobbling a plate. Panipuri, the lip-smacking Indian street food, is my comfort food, yet I feel nauseated by its sight today.
I hear “Nazar ke saamne” song being played in the tea shop. For a nanosecond, I wonder whether the stall keeper is a North Indian. ‘Whatever, I don’t care,’ I think, immediately after. I have my tea, pay the shopkeeper, wipe my mouth dry and start walking, hopelessly. There is an unnamed park which materializes before my eyes. It’s a newly opened one. Entering it, my eyes fall upon the daisies, orchids, crotons and a sugar-apple tree. All the play equipments – swings, climbers, merry-go-round, see-saws – are occupied with kids, while their parents yell at them to not perform any dangerous stunts. I sit on a stone bench that is constructed for relaxation. There are only a few people seated on the benches, most of them being couples whispering sweet-nothings to each other. So, I have my own ‘single’ time for a relaxed stroll on the bench.
My thoughts embark on a journey. I wonder what went wrong between Yuvan and me. He was a caring person and never gave up on me. Though he was possessive at heart, he never restricted me in doing things which I liked. “But, how did the sparks die within a year? How could he baselessly say that he had found another girl who was more loving and caring? Did I not shower enough love? Did I suppress my feelings? Or…are all guys like that?” I speak to myself, meanwhile receiving a nasty look from a middle aged woman walking on the footpath.
I cannot stop mumbling about it. It was rather a bad breakup. A lot of swearing from my side and an I-don’t-care attitude from him. He had already gone through a breakup and I served as a shoulder for him to cry on. Then, it turned into love. After a few romantic months, it turned bitter with the entry of another girl whom he initially termed as ‘close friend’. And then it went kaput. He walked away, casually stating that the other girl was the one for him.
I snap back to reality. The moon begins its voyage in the sky, making its way through a plethora of clouds. I start walking back home. I notice that each and everyone in my street are happy, except me. I wear a frown all day. Deep inside my heart, I am longing for my lost happiness. I think about the days I spent with Yuvan in my college canteen during the coffee breaks, the nights I spent talking with him on phone for hours and hours, and the promises which he had made to me. But every promise broke with his confession of loving another girl. I had been shattered to pieces for a week. And here I am, yet again thinking about him.
Prodding over all these, I open the gate of my home-sweet-home. The ambience of my home provides me with much relief. We had the house painted in hues of lavender which is my favourite colour. We had also provided ample space for setting up a small garden which held a hibiscus plant, a guava tree, a drumstick tree, a marigold plant and a few coconut trees. Though I did not maintain them, I was fond of the plants and spent some time grooming them in the weekends.
My mom is waiting for me with dinner. She flashes a confused look and asks me, “Where were you, Bhavana?”
“I was taking a walk, Ma,” I reply, as I remove my low heeled slippers and place them on the stand.
“Okay, come let’s have dinner,” she says.
“I am not hungry.”
“Why? But you look famished, dear. Never skip your breakfast and dinner. It’s very important.” My mom starts her health lectures. I have no other go, but to opt for the dinner. Moreover, I want to get out of my gloominess. I want to get over Yuvan as soon as possible. I shudder even at the slightest thought of him. I feel all the more cheated. He is the perfect example for my belief – true love rarely exists in this generation.
“Here. Have these chapathis. I have prepared your favourite panneer gravy,” says my mom, passing the dishes over to me.
If I had been my usual self, I would have gorged on those. But I am not feeling hungry. I just have one chapathi.
“What happened, dear? Not feeling well? You seem to be down in the dumps. Anything bothering you?” asks my mom with her usual concern.
“Nothing, Ma. I was thinking about my upcoming concert.”
“So what, Ma?”
“When shall we get you married?”
She shoots the question with such nonchalance that it resonates throughout the dining room. I am taken aback. I react as if she had actually announced my marriage. I cannot understand her. A minute she is concerned about my sadness and the other minute she is asking me to get married. I just blankly stare at her. The manner in which she had popped the question was like asking ‘What do you want for dinner?’
“What? Don’t stare at me. You are already 21. As per our family traditions, we should get you married as soon as you finish your education. And there is also a potential groom in our family…”
“Ma!” I burst out. “It was you who told me that you will get me married only by 24 or 25. Now why are you reconsidering your decision?”
“Hey, relax, Bhavana. I was just cheering you up. You were deeply engrossed in some serious thinking. I thought to make your mood lighter.”
“Ma, this is not the way to make my mood lighter. I feel sick at the thought of marriage. Seriously, arranged marriages have become a cliché,” I blurt out.
“Good heavens! Do you remember that you had told you’d opt for an arranged marriage? That was five years ago. You were then old-fashioned. What the hell has happened to you now?” She hisses.
I dread arranged marriages. Yes, I had been through a love failure. But that didn’t mean I should get married to a complete stranger. Love might knock at my door once again. I was waiting for that to happen.
My mom continues, “That’s okay, dear. It’s common for a 21 year old to detest marriage. But when you meet that special person, you will be eager to get married. Well, now I remember, we have to buy a new designer saree for you. Krishna’s wedding is around the corner. Let’s go shopping!”
I choke on my food. I had almost forgotten about my cousin Krishna’s wedding. However, I smirk at the thought of shopping. It would be a horrible experience to go through the overcrowded streets of T.Nagar, just for a saree. It is the only place in Chennai where people throng for clothes and jewellery.
“Please Ma, I don’t feel like travelling to distant shops for buying a saree,” I throw a doleful look at her.
“Cool! Even I am not in a mood to travel to T.Nagar. I have decided to buy today itself. I mean, we will go out by 8 p.m. I think we will be purchasing at Madhu Textiles & Readymades.”
Those words hit me hard. I cannot digest it. A whirlpool is swirling towards me.‘Madhu Textiles & Readymades’ my mind repeats. My heartbeats race faster and I appear as if I need an immediate cardiac surgery.
‘What the hell…’ I think, ‘Just now I am getting over Yuvan. But here my mom presents a new flood of memories which are waiting to submerge me. No…Not again. Not after all these years…’ I stand up abruptly from the dining table. My mom raises an eyebrow.
“I am going to my room, Ma.” I say hastily, wash my hands in the pristine white wash basin and scurry inside my room. I shut the door behind me and contemplate the event that just happened.
‘Madhu Textiles & Readymades…’ Once again my mind repeats. I am going to visit that shop after a prolonged period. The same shop where my soul had dwelt.
Yes, that’s it! Eagerly waiting for your valuable comments. 🙂