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.

Mandate - - Author - By Tr­isha Ma­ha­jan

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.

That’s heartrend­ing.

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.

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