Reviews, Vol. I, Issue III
Why do we read/write fiction?
The purpose of fiction has always been to entertain, but entertainment is not the only motive in totality. It carries much greater responsibility of enveloping and dealing with the aspects of social, cultural, personal, and impersonal narratives including numerous facts and several facets of lives we live in.
Rupa Publications’ Ananya – a bittersweet journey written by Shilpa Gupta is such a work of fiction, which deals with one of the most sensitive and complicated phase of a complete generation, (the teenagers) – who are usually caught between the webs of their demanding career as well as the dilemmas and surges of their age, growing up in today’s troubled times and society, wherein people keep nagging around the ubiquitous nets of modernity and most often ‘mistaken modernity’. It also raises a tremendous question towards the attitude which is carried on by the parents of recent times, those who keep busy in making their career and money; however, in the meantime, they lose their children.
The novel essentially focusses on a young and talented girl – Ananya Sharma, whose aspirations are bigger than any other regular teenage-girl-next-door. Being a regular topper of her class, she enjoys competing with boys, rather than getting with them into the romantic spheres.
Instead of her passion towards math and science, and complete focus on cracking the IIT entrance exams, she could not run away from her growing age, of course. Ananya’s best friend Mohini’s handsome and charming brother Rohit enters as the distraction in her life and she witnesses the streaming change within herself, later claiming to be in love.
I found myself thinking about Rohit often. I would catch myself daydreaming and with some effort force my thoughts back to my studies. I wanted to ace my exams and make Papa proud. I admired him so much and so desperately wanted to be an engineer like him. I wanted to be a civil engineer so that I could build bridges, roads, and huge buildings. I always envisioned myself with a helmet, on a construction site, looking very important and commanding my team on various operations.
But what she receives by the other end is not trust and affection, rather the dosage of longing and betrayal. She is left pregnant at the tender age of seventeen to face the atrocious world.
‘Rohit, you have put me in the most impossible situation and instead of standing by me, you are washing your hands off this. I just don’t know what to do, please understand that I cannot ask anyone else for help. This is not America. My life is totally messed up – I feel like there is no point in living anymore!’
People start looking down at same the girl, who once used to be looked upon as a pride. She suddenly discovers herself on the wrong side of the world, which may not allow her comeback towards the normal life. She further witnesses the fault lines in her parents’ relationship as well, which threatens her from within.
But the story is not all about the pains. After falling many times in order to make a return and purpose to her life, she goes through many difficult phases, all alone, from inside. She keeps failing. But with the support of her family and friends, Ananya fights back with greater strength this time in order to stroll back to her life, finding new reasons to live, after discovering the larger than life picture of humanity.
This novel deals with an incredibly striking and candid representation of the changing world of a teenager’s life. Mainak Dhar, bestselling author of the Alice in Deadline series quotes about this book quite effectively, saying – “Through Ananaya’s story, we get not only the story of self-discovery and triumph of a young girl, but also the hypocrisy and prejudices of modern Indian society when it comes to women.”
About the Author-
A chemical engineer from IIT Roorkee, Shilpa Gupta holds a postgraduate degree in management from IIM Ahmedabad. While she has many published financial research papers to her credit, Ananya marks her debut into the world of fiction.
Reviewed by Varsha Singh