Writing a review for the second book by Ahmed Faiyaz is for me an occasion to think about the directions that the young Indian mind seems to have come to follow in terms of carving for itself a career as a creative person and its notions of life in general and of relationships in particular.
The book is a slightly complicated tale of a girl Ruheen Oberoi and the various kinds of emotional entanglements she experiences with different men. She learns and not learns a number of lessons while managing (with varying degrees of success) her life. At the other end of the tale is Aditya- her college friend who admires her almost throughout the novel. Another Chance takes the reader to a variety of locations from Mumbai to Shimla to London and Amsterdam which makes the novel script-able for a film which the front page mentions to be upcoming in the year 2012.
The tale tries unsuccessfully to capture a range of predicaments that the protagonists find themselves in. So there is a threatening boyfriend and then an abusive husband and then a devoted lover Aditya whose affection for her seems later to gradually fade out because of his professional engagements (so the story made me believe) . In Ruheen we see a typical instance of emotional uncertainty that brings her face to face with transforming relationships and allegiances. We are not told about the reasons for her developing a liking for these men in the first instance. Is it merely infatuation that leads her to disastrous linkages or something else was an issue I feel Faiyaz could have dwelt on for the story to have been more nuanced.
Another Chance then is a novel that stands for contemporary upper class Indian youth’s aspirations and is a good window to the perplexities it has come to encounter in the increasingly globalised world. As is clear from the plot, there seems to be now a clear marking out of the settings where love can (should?) happen and romantic gazes may be exchanged. A cup of coffee or a drinking session seems to be the necessary prerequisite. That to me is a stark departure from the mohalla level exchange of letters and scenes of young men pursuing girls riding on bicycles in the lanes of small towns. Romance that ways has gradually been ‘upscaled’ and seems to have acquired a cosmopolitan character and Another Chance is a prime instance of sorts.
There are books that introduce us to characters, make us live their lives and share their feelings. There are books that we read, enjoy and close only to harbor lasting memories. Another Chance is one which I read and enjoyed. I am not sure if I will remember Ruheen and Aditya for that long though. It is well written. There is a pleasant feel to its writing style that is undeniable. Yet it moves too fast for situations to become clear enough and for issues to evolve. Before any of that happens, we are taken to new setting. Amsterdam comes alive in the novel- a part that I really enjoyed reading. Romantic relationships when talked about in a novel, I feel should form the background. Faiyaz pulls it to the fore and that is the reason Another Chance takes the form of a narration and not a tale that I will ever return to!
My Rating : 2 out of 5 stars.