Thursday, April 4, 2019

Remember When by Preethi Venugopala

“Remember when I was young and so were you…”

Remembering is what Tara does best, wallowing in the past, a past which has left deep scars on her. Her relationship with Ranjini, her obnoxious sister, is confrontational, as the latter perceives her as a threat, surprising since she is the rich, pampered one who seems to have the better life.

As Tara goes to pick up her five-year-old, Aryan, she runs into her best friend from college, Rupa, who is now an entrepreneur dealing in Kerala art murals. The two friends bond over tea, as secrets from the past tumble out, along with the name of Manu that has never been mentioned in the home of Tara and her husband, Karthik. There is a hint of a mystery that tantalizes the reader.

“Tara’s impulsiveness had left in its wake broken hearts and lives, including her own.”

Tara’s first novel is all set to be published in Chennai, on the 1st of December, a long-cherished dream. Much of her childhood has been spent in Kannur. She has memories, good and bad, about that period in her life, when Manu is the luminescent star around which her life revolves. Though they are from different communities, life couldn't have been more perfect, with Mary, Manu’s rich and widowed mother, also accepting her whole-heartedly.

However, their worlds come crashing down, when one misunderstanding pushes them apart, and Mary and Manu leave for Chennai, leaving their past behind.

However, years later, fate intervenes to bring them together once again, as Tara gets stranded in the floods in Chennai, and is forced to accept Manu’s hospitality to tide over the period. Her son, Aryan, soon wins over Mary and Manu with his winsome personality.

As the floods continue, a few more guests who are stranded in the floods make their way to Manu’s home. This includes Rupa, Tara's old friend, and her fiancé, Pratheesh. As the water rises, people from the ground floor are evacuated to Manu’s house as well.

Preethi Venugopala narrates a tale that transcends the normal love story, weaving in the Chennai floods as a backdrop. She describes the survival techniques used in the actual floods as a part of Manu’s website. Varun Chinnappa, a popular You Tuber and travel blogger, turns into his enthusiastic assistant as he creates a video on rain catchers and sterilising drinking water that soon goes viral. The stories of the various characters that have been brought together by the floods reveal facets of their lives which sound familiar.

Once the floods recede, it is time for them all to bid adieu to one another. However, there is still a secret that hovers in the air, one that needs to be spoken of, even if it could wreak havoc in Tara’s life. Meanwhile there are other questions as well. Why has Karthik, Tara’s husband, not called her even once despite the fact that she and Aryan are stranded due to the floods? What is the decision that Tara has to make about her future, and how will it affect her relationships?

Preethi Venugopala keeps the reader guessing till the very end. While this is a story imbued with romance, there are elements of suspense in it that keep the reader hooked on. 

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