BENGALURU: Asad Ali Junaid’s And We Remained, as the title cover mentions, is an absorbing story that is told differently. A must-read for the younger generation, this book is by a young author who is a design engineer by profession. He takes the reader down the memory lane but also moves back and forth from his college days to his work life. The author tells his simple story in a unique way: through emails and a first-person account of various events, occurrences and happenings.
The book is a light and entertaining read about a group of five friends as they experience love, heartbreak, bunk classes, run after girls, lounge with friends, participate in cultural feasts, run for college elections, get locked up in prison, go on drunken binges, visit strip clubs, their sex-escapades, the resulting job hunts and finally about working and studying in the US and Europe after attaining adulthood.
This is the story of five college mates growing up in a Bengaluru engineering college and going their different ways once they pass out. Each of them faces the society in his or her own unique way. They also manage to find and make a place for themselves in the world. The narrative style of the author is interesting and refreshing. The drama in the lives of each character especially during their college days has been described very vividly and realistically.
Each character in this book tells the story of his or her life in their own way, thereby revealing their own traits. The author has managed to beautifully weave this into one single story. Lot of incidents in the book seem familiar and accessible.
The story is set in Bengaluru in the late 1990s and Sahir and his group of four friends Gopal, David, Anand and Sandeep share their innermost thoughts and experiences through emails with one another and take you back to their college days, charting their journey to adulthood. The first -person accounts in this book take you back to the past while the email interactions between the friends is all about the present.
Wardha is an important female character in this novel who leaves an ever-lasting impact on these boys’ lives as all of them fall in love with her. The character of Wardha could have been taken further with the author paying more attention to the development of her character.
In what seems to a leftover from their college days, even after landing successful jobs, these boys seem to be obsessed with sex.
The book has a number of incidents that were actually experienced by the author and his friends. However, the one where they are arrested and taken to jail is too dramatic and seems straight from a Bollywood movie. Some of the incidents that the author narrates are hilarious and entertaining. Even the email exchange between the five grown-ups are humorous, frank and full of college slang. This slang is a bit of a deterrent as it is liberally used throughout the book and ends up being repetitive and jarring in places.
The story is nothing extraordinary and therefore, the storyline is very simple and the author has kept the narrative to a bare minimum.
It is more the style of writing that emerges a winner as it is not only refreshing but also original. But such a style, I feel, can be used only once and that too for a youth-oriented topic like this. Use it again and it will seem tedious and forced.
The tremendous socio-economic and cultural transformation from the nineties to the Internet boom and the growth of social media form part of the story but is woven in subtly and gracefully.
How would these changes impact this group of five friends in their late teens and how they cope with western ideologies later in their lives are nicely tied together.
And We Remained, on the whole, is an entertaining light hearted book for the younger generation who can easily identify with the characters and feel nostalgic about their college days.