Imagine a seed planted with love. With proper water and sunlight, it slowly pops its head out and looks at the huge and seemingly vast world that greets it. There starts its growth story. Now imagine the sprout from the seed going back and joining the seed again. It’s a kind of suicide. Isn’t it? Why? Why not?
Obsessed by Ruchi Kokcha, a new author on the block, is both impressive and lacking. Impressive because she has delved into an area that Indians would rather not tread into. Parental love is considered to be supreme and the purest of emotions. There is nothing that can compete with it. However, who decides what love is? Also, who decides love’s kinds? Is love not love, after all? Or, is it? When does love turn into obsession? Isn’t it strange how the parameters change as per the person whom you profess your love for?
In a deviation from a typical ‘love story’, as summarized by author Ravinder Singh on the cover page itself—it is ‘unlike the love you would be expecting.’ The reader cannot even be sure if it can be called a love story.
The title of the book is apt for it does justice to the story as every character in the book is obsessed about something or someone at different levels, fairly common for humans. Ruchi’s rendering of the psychological underplay for Avik and Ananki is praiseworthy. While the interplay between the real and surreal, sanity and insanity by the characters has been worked hard upon by the author, it somewhere fails to make the necessary impact.
For the reader, the overall effect was nullified probably because of some expected twists. What started off as a run-of-the-mill story did give hope sometime in the second quarter of the book. However the moment Avik laid his hand on the pulse of the Kalki Rajput murder mystery, kaboom! Something snapped right there.
The story did move ahead with a twist here and a turn there but enter ‘da’ and the reader’s head was quick to conjure up the possibility of where the story was headed. Where the reader wanted to be proved wrong, there not only was the reader proven right but also given an added ‘really?’ moment.
Avik, the average journalist seemed confident and seemed promising as a character. But as the story progressed, Avik simply collapsed for the reader. The build-up and the ultimate fall of that is the biggest blow to this book.
The reader also felt that mental health was not portrayed in a satisfactory manner. While childhood trauma affecting adulthood and its explanation has been excellent, was Ananki a schizophrenic? Ananki’s version of her childhood and the experiences through her looking glass can have the power to move the reader to tears – her habit of wetting the bed, in particular. It is a sharp wake up call to parents who decide early on that making their child sleep alone will make him/her ‘independent’ and ‘confident’. It agonizingly puts forth a child’s perspective, which is amazingly factual and hard-hitting. While the reason for her being the way she was has been explained very well, her ‘possible’ illness and its portrayal lacked depth.
The reader found the portrayal of love in its various shades over dramatic at times. Probably the attempt at offering a poetic touch backfired. But where it did manage to work, it did beautifully.
The complicated nature of the story could be a reason for the pitfalls. Despite that, it remains a quick read. At a time when corruption thrives in the most unexpected of situations, the author has effectively used it as a tool for creating suspense and mystery. Overall, the book can be read by those who can patiently tread over the fairly common storyline to unearth some hidden treasure here and there throughout. Despite all of it, if the book fails to leave a great aftertaste, remember that you were warned.