In search of Lost Time
Ravinder Singh is proud of his heart, it’s been played, stabbed and broken…but somehow it still works. Mandate explores the dark side of, arguably, India’s most romantic author.
The Delhi winter couldn’t discourage Singh’s young fans to get a picture clicked with him. While waiting for my turn to speak to the best- selling writer of romance, I witnessed the frenzy from a lone corner. Some hung around for their signed copies and some for a crash course in romance. Coming from a humble background in Burla, Orrisa—where his parents had inadequate money to take care of his education, the smart kid managed to reach Infosys and Microsoft, but quit the same for writing—it was a champagne moment for Singh. But as we discovered later, there is more to him than just that. Read on as Singh recalls his melancholic tale, which made his fans sob over and over again.
Were you an avid reader yourself before you started writing?
The shocking aspect about my journey into writing is that I never read a book before I wrote one. The habit of reading was never inculcated in me. Also, the town I was born in has no book stores till date. Honestly, even today I push myself to read a book. So, if I pick a book, I take two to three months to finish it. And I must add, I pick up books with lesser number of pages. My readers make fun of me when they come to know about this habit of mine.
Your first book I Too Had A Love Story, emerged out of an unfortunate accident. Tell me something about the fatal incident.
The year 2007 was the most unfortunate year of my life. A few days before my engagement with my then girlfriend, Khushi, who was returning from the last day of her office, as she had submitted her resignation, met with a deadly accident and passed away.
The trauma hit me very hard. The whole episode of me getting engaged had changed in a short time span. The guests who had come to be a part of the joyful ceremony were witnessing something else. Chefs who were supposed to prepare a feast were preparing the funeral lunch. The way the entire episode unfolded shook me deeply. I was traumatised and had no idea what to do. I was at the top of the emotional graph. I couldn’t sleep or be properly awake for three months. Days and nights would pass and I would wait for the next sunrise.
How did you manage to recover?
I had made up my mind that I was not going to accept this end. But, I didn’t know who should be blamed, as I had no details about the driver, the incident, hitting vehicle, etc. So, I blamed it on God. It was a courtship period of eight months, so I decided to relive it by writing a tribute to her as I was truly, deeply and madly in love with her.
Isn’t it painful to recall your tragic past?
I felt two different emotions at the same time. One, it was easy for me to write as I knew the characters and moments inside out. Second, it was difficult because I knew the end. At times, as I would try to write, tears would roll down my eyes.
Your first book brought you the much-needed solace. What’s the story behind your second book, Can Love Happen Twice?
After my first book, I felt my job was done. I was, of course, not willing to see myself as an author. But as time passed by, people started asking me what happened to Ravin (the character from my first book). They wanted to read about him, in short, about my life. And, that’s when I decided to pen down by second book as a tribute to my readers. The content was based on my exgirlfriend, followed by a new relation, complicated things happening around me, and the question, ‘Can love happen twice?’. But I never revealed which part of the story was real and which was fiction, as I wanted to have some mystery around the third part of the series.
Tell me something about your recently released book, Your Dreams Are Mine Now?
The book is about a young small-town girl for whom studies are her only priority and happens to take admission in Delhi University. Just as everyone is aware, opposites attract, and she happens to meet a guy in college for whom the student’s union elections are at the top of his priority. A certain campus scandal brings them together and they happen to fall in love,
but their fight against evil becomes the test of their lives. In short, an innocent love story that will touch your hearts.
How do you manage to maintain that balance between what you want to write and what sells in the market?
I have always written what I wanted to write and will continue doing so. For me, it is very important to enjoy whatever I am writing. If I would have gone with public demand, then by now I should have written my third book in the series based on my marriage with Khushboo Chauhan. But, I preferred writing about dreams, as I felt that was the need of the moment. People connect to my stories because they find their own selves in some or the other character. They want to read what I write rather than what is available in the market.
With so many fiction writers around, you must be facing a stiff competition?
I don’t look at it that way. See, when we talk about competition, it is just in terms of rankings, when the bookseller ranks the books from 1 to 10. I rather feel that there should be more authors joining in, so that readers get that opportunity to read works by different authors every month, and then return to the same author after completing the cycle.
Which is your favourite book by another author in the similar genre and why?
I happened to read The Fault in our Stars by John Green, a truly emotional tale narrated by a young cancer patient who is forced by her parents to attend a support group where she happens to fall in love with a guy. Another one that I loved reading was For One More Day by Mitch Albom which tells the story of a troubled man and his mother, and explores how people might use the opportunity to spend a day with a lost relative.
Are authors able to make a living with their writing?
Unfortunately, very few authors can afford to maintain those high living standards in India. However, luckily, I belong to the other clan. I seriously wish the situation improves soon.