In this rapidly shrinking world, full of chaotic emotions and confused identities, can Pure Love survive? As our homes reduce in size and our interactions expand beyond usual boundaries, is it possible to trust strangers with your heart-felt sentiments? Or is the entire universe simply throbbing with cunning devils, out to rob innocent sentimental fools?
As ‘Rohit Mishra’ of Rajeev Ranjan’s second novel “Love @ Internet” graduates from the protected balconies of Delhi to the cramped, dingy Cyber Cafes of Mumbai, many such questions hovered around my mind.
The novel “Love @ Internet” written by Rajeev Ranjan, that I received for review a few days back, deals with love in a hitherto unexplored way. The story is set in late 90s, when India saw a sudden surge of Internet, Mobiles and pagers, and when youngsters were swept off their feet, with swanky gadgets and easy communication modes, mistaking the virtual world to be a substitute for reality. Trapped in such a time warp is Rohit Mishra, the protagonist of the story, who is a shy, introverted boy, his parents’ sole hope and a successful IITian.
However, Rohit lacks self-confidence and his shy nature makes him tongue-tied in front of girls. In a desperate attempt to seek love, he decides to try his luck online. Assuming a false identity, while searching for a true soul-mate, Rohit is flooded with many temptations and distractions from people of uninhibited morals and becomes an easy target for worldly wise women for trade and pleasure.
Will Rohit be able to find true, unadulterated love in the computer web or will he remain as lonely in the virtual world as he was in reality, is dealt with in the 200 page novel, “[email protected]”.
As I read Rajeev Ranjan’s first novel “Splash of Love” and liked the mingling of love with moral agendas and social responsibilities, I was quite excited to read his second novel. And, as I read Prologue, and first two chapters, I found the same mysterious laying of story that I came to really love in his first novel. The first few chapters set in Delhi, enlivened the nostalgia of long gone days with “Balconies larger than rooms” looming over fluttering hearts. A certain suspense was created, as Rohit finds and loses love over few pages. A love that was left unsaid, with a faint promise of being realized in future. The foundation was laid well and executed beautifully. The beginning was enjoyable despite its too much stress on the “pinkness” of buildings.
However, as the setting changed from the grounded Pink reality of Delhi to the artificial grandeur of dust laden Mumbai, the story also underwent a sudden transformation.The entire focus shifted to gratification of carnal desires, rather than the promise of innocent puppy love, the novel began with. I could not empathize with Rohit’s desperation to lose his “good boy” image. He struck me as a confused man, who strives to gain true love, while himself adopting a false identity. The chutzpah that endeared Arunoday of “Splash of Love” was somehow lacking in the character of Rohit. He seemed as desperate as the “despos” and “frustoos” inhabiting the Cyber Cafes, he himself loathes.
Honestly, I was put off by the continuous stress on physicality of love, but as I progressed, I felt that perhaps the novel is just a mirror of changing social trends. Not just Rohit, but most of our youngsters in a bid to look cool, are ensnared by crooks and end up entangled in a web of deceits and intrigues.
As the end approached, the story again shifted gears, and a whole hearted attempt was made to rescue deep love from the clutches of shallow lust, and the suspense created in initial few pages was revived. So, despite some bumps, the author did maintain certain sanity, and I was glued to the novel, waiting for true love to emerge unscathed from the debris of lust and knavery.
Thankfully, after the initial few glitches, Rajeev’s easy, conversational style took over. Though, I terribly missed the pithy intros, Rajeev had so thoughtfully put in the beginning of each chapter in his first novel. To give the author due credit, he has tried to present love in a different manner. But, there was a slight typo in the climax, that somewhat mitigated the suspense. I do understand that some mistakes inadvertently creep into the first edition of a novel. Hopefully, the error would be rectified, before greater damage is done.
All in all, Love @ Internet explores love in a different perspective, something I never ventured to read before. In keeping with Rajeev’s tradition, it is a romantic novel, which is not mushy-mushy love story, but is based on harsh reality, sure to jolt one out of unreasonable dreams. A light read, reflective of changing social trends and mannerisms.