Tender moments, touchingly told
Roopinder Singh

I too had a Love Story
by Ravinder Singh.
Pages 213. Rs 100.

LOVE stories attract readers, and when they portend to be based on real-life incidents and the narrator is one of the protagonists, much more so. The past tense in the title is intriguing, as is the dedication: "To the loving memory of the girl whom I loved, yet could not marry."

Ravinder Singh, or the abbreviated Ravin, is a techie and a cosmopolitan Indian. He is a Punjabi, born in West Bengal, brought up in a small town of Orissa, who studied for his BE in Computer Science from Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College in Karnataka and now works as a software engineer with Infosys Technologies, Chandigarh.

He has written an account of what happened to him—all the more poignant because the relationship started with such promise, progressed so well and yet fate intervened.

When his college friends meet for a reunion in Kolkata, they naturally discuss how well they have travelled the road to success and what lies ahead. By consensus, arrived after much bonhomie and consumption of considerable quantities of alcohol, the friends decide that the next step would be to look for their life partners.

Various alternatives are considered, but since they don’t want their parents to make the choice, and finding lack of time and the nomadic nature of their jobs an impediment, they decide to take the familiar route in moving on to the next target—the Internet, more specifically, the website Shaadi.com

Ravin, who learned how to perform kirtan and play the tabla early in his life, had no idea that his tabla-playing ability would be a crucial link in finding him Khushi, his ladylove. A series of coincidences like their being born in the same town, and on the same day, provides the initial impetus to the budding relationship, and long phone chats follow.

In spite of huge physical distances (he is in Bhubneshwar and she in Faridabad), they come together, courtesy the communication system that enables long-distance telephony. Of course, IMs, SMSes and the like too play their role, since both Ravin and Khushi are perpetually on the Net. They exchange information, share intimacies, decide that they love each other and declare their intentions be to together forever, even though they haven’t met as yet.

When you see the exuberance of their relationship, the emotional ups and downs—mostly ups, the casual ease with which those who are destined to be together, come together and how various missteps are taken lightly and become stepping stones towards building their friendship—their declaration doesn’t sound far-fetched. At Khushi’s insistence, Ravin gathers up courage to tell his parents about the girl in his life and he is pleasantly surprised at their reaction.

Ravin’s trip to the US on business further cements the long-distance relationship, since it is because of it he meets Khushi for the first time and visits her parent’s house in Faridabad.

Although the book fulfils most of the conditions of being a romantic novel—the main plot revolves around the two people as they develop romantic love for each other and work to build a relationship together—it does not have the required "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending". However, the book is all about love, and it is absorbing because of the honesty of thought and the ease of expression.

There is simplicity, beauty and innocence about these two lovers and the year they were together. Ravinder gets his point across, at times well, sometimes through words and sentences that could have been strung together better, and certain embellishments we could have well done without. However, his narrative is compelling, his emotions reflect a felt experience, and the denouement is touching.

Ravinder says that his book is a narration of what happened to him in his life. He laments that his was not "the fate to cherish the fullest form of love". His tribute to the girl he loved will touch many a heart.