Book Review: Another Chance

Another Chance by Ahmed Faiyaz

There are few books that make you sit up till 4 a.m. and read when you have college to attend at 8 in the morning. There are few books that make an internet junkie shut his laptop down in order not to be disturbed while reading. There are few books reading which you feel you know the people you are reading about. Another Chance by Ahmed Faiyaz is one such book. Ahmed Faiyaz may have been just another corporate band-wagon drop-out writing a novel and making a career shift from from a posh B-school pass out to a ‘youth’ novelist but unlike his peers, Faiyaz has written a book that is much more gripping than any other Indian paperback writer so far.

As the back-cover of the book says, Another chance is the story of a depressingly gorgeous woman Ruheen Oberoi going through the roller coaster that her life is. Trouble it seems is her middle name as she gets involved with the wrong men at the wrong time in her life. As the story spans over more than 6 years in time, we meet Ruheen, who, having lost her parents at a tender age is raised by her Nana in Shimla, and spends her life as a spoilt brat in Mumbai. She gets involved with the violent son of a minister, Vishal Chaudhry who stalks her now and doesn’t let her get into a relationship with Aditya Sharma, a geeky Business Management student in Ruheen’s College. The story revolves around how, in the following 6 years, Ruheen and Aditya go back and forth in life and how life takes them to test, the hard way.

Disclaimer: The following review may contain some spoilers. But no spoilers are good enough for such an eventful story. If you want to avoid spoilers, skip to the last two paragraphs.

While Ruheen leaves Aditya, fearing Vishal’s threats, Ruheen and Aditya meet co-incidentally over two years later at a cafe in Amsterdam while she is living in oblivion trying to get away from an abusive husband in London. While Ruheen falls in love with Aditya and moves back to Mumbai with him, Ruheen for the first time it seems is heading towards bliss. Aditya gets too involved with his work at the professional front and after a few initial good months of their relationship, they again start to fall apart. When Ruheen’s Nana is on the death-bed and she relocates to Shimla to be with him in his final months, Aditya is haunted by the pressure of a high position at work. He crumbles under the pressure and his personal life succumbs to his work schedule. Aditya manages to stay faithful to Ruheen despite repeated attempts by Malika, his co-worker and friend, to seduce him. Ruheen, meanwhile, is reunited with Varun Shetty, her childhood friend and teenage crush in Shimla, who is a recovering alcoholic and he also falls in love with Ruheen.

Ruheen is heartbroken by Aditya’s absenteeism when Aditya realizes his mistake, he wants to make it up to her, but its too late as Ruheen decides to leave Aditya for good. Aditya’s life is shattered and he ends up coming face to face with a new aspect of life in the months that follow. Now what happens in the end, that I shall leave for you to find out. If Ruheen and Aditya ever reunite or what becomes of Ruheen and Varun’s relationship are questions I better not answer

Ahmed Faiyaz has done a great in job in bringing his characters to life and you not only can relate with them but also feel sorry for the sheer atrocities they face in their lives. The character of Ruheen, with her indescribable beauty is impulsive, impatient and goes through a lot of changes in life as she fights to survive in the most difficult of situations, From a carefree, high spirited spoiled girl to a responsible, under-loved sensible woman, Ruheen’s journey is a ride to learn a lot from. Aditya, on the other hand is the good guy weighed down by the world around him. His honesty is infectious and you feel right through his heart as the book progresses. Faiyaz deals with the subject of a live-in relationship with a married woman with such flair that you never feel wronged by the relationship of the two protagonists or the times they live in. It is a modern urban tale and Faiyaz deals with it with bravery, be it describing a steamy love making scene, or a hard core emotional outburst. Kudos to that!

Pleasantly written, here is a story that unfolds so quick that you almost feel sad when it ends in just above 200 pages. I would personally have loved to have Faiyas add another 50 pages or so. The story is captivating and the couple of logical flaws that you might find in the narrative may easily be overlooked as the story has too much to tell you in too little a time. Faiyaz keeps you at the edge of your seat all through the narrative and you’re almost gasping for breath by the time you are done with the story (if you read it in one go, like me). You do not even get to know when the story grows onto you and you involuntarily become a part of it.

Frankly Speaking, Another Chance is a must read, an enjoyable novel with a story with substance. In fact I will not call it a story, it is a journey of two people whose strings are pulled a little to tight by the fate above. Having not read Faiyaz’ previous book Love, Life and All that Jazz…, I can’t comment on if his writing has bettered over time or not, but rest assured, I am surely going to buy his next book. The cover says ‘Filming in June 2012‘, I think, it will make for a great film.

My Rating: 3.75/5
My Verdict: Highly recommended, must read!

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“Hope is a good thing, its probably the best thing that man has”- Shawshank Redemption

Hope is not a virtue, it is a necessity
Hope is not a pavement, it is a journey
Hope is in the flickering light of a dying candle
Hope is in the folded hands of a praying mother
Hope is in the sweaty brow of a soldier
Hope is in the resolve of a father seeing off his daughter
Hope is even in the eyes that cannot see, the hands that cannot write, the lips that cannot smile, the tears that may not dry…

Hope is pretty much the only thing that we are clinging to in the times that we live in. Once upon a time, a man resolved to leave the world better than he had found it, today, it is a distant dream. Unthinkable, unimaginable, unrealistic… unless, we want it not to be so. Choosing pieces over peace, wrath over wreath and death over breath is an epidemic that is haunting us since long. Be it the environment, business, economy, politics or something as private as a personal relationship, the ability to pass a litmus test has been lost. Happy was the time when there was no electricity. The only fear of ‘warming’, was the water boiling on a stove and not global warming. Blessed was time when we slept every night setting up the alarm to wake up to a better tomorrow. Hoping against hope that team India will play well down under. Hope, is all I got, hope, is all I got!!