“The most telling sign of receding youth is not balding or a paunch, it is when you do not feel like laughing as much anymore.” – Asad Ali Junaid, And We Remained.
And We Remained closely follows the lives of five good friends – Sahir, Sandeep, Gopal, Anand and David – through their years of mischief and camaraderie. The novel flips back and forth between individual POV (flashbacks) as well as their emails (present) so as to give us a thorough understanding of the events that played a significant role in their character development. These students who belonged to not very well off families spent their adolescence travelling in crowded buses; eating from roadside vendors only to later travel far and wide, earning great for themselves in terms of money, fame and self satisfaction. The novel covers a period of Bangalore battling technology and ancient values. While these boys tried to strain against the society and traditions that held them back, some inevitably fall prey. Of the five, three are awestruck with the admission of a junior, Wardha, though each of them feels differently about her. Love, heartbreak, opportunities and failures are interplayed in this narrative to give us a very realistic take on the lives of five ordinaries boys in Bangalore, India.
The synopsis is simple yet effective in delivering the message of what you would be chancing upon by reading this book. And after all the fantasy, scifi books I’ve been reading, this one was a happy change. It is an epistolary novel and that too was a good surprise as I love reading books with emails, chats, journal entries etc. There were some things that made me hesitant about continuing to read it and others that urged me on. Particularly, David’s tone of language was a little loud or bawdy and some other characters too had a one track mind. But I soon realized as growing up teenagers, its only natural. Sahir and Sandeep seemed like the typical good boys who’d think of their family, maintain good relations with everyone. What I was most enthusiastic to find out was the ending concerning their feelings for Wardha and let me tell you – it is unexpected. The book, in a true philosophical sense, portrays that life doesn’t always work out the way we want and its not one of those tales where everything is perfect. I really liked the author’s writing style which is very eloquent and shows his good grasp on language. It wasn’t all big words but very well meant and deep ones that mattered in instilling the story in hearts and minds. Another thing I was able to relate to is the email language, terms of endearment and slangs that were used because being a south Indian, I’ve heard my share of “machans”, “dai”, “poda”. Wardha, being not only a unique name, is portrayed as a different character – not your ideal female love interest. She is carefree and mingles well with people. But the status between her and the boys towards the end makes you wonder about her thought process. The highlight of the novel was Sahir’s sentiments, the form of the novel and the author’s talent for making mundane happenings special. A light and fun read. Recommended to all!
I was sent this book by the author himself in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Asad!
Ratings – 3 stars on 5.