An emotion that has inspired ballads, novellas and writing expeditions from time immemorial.
It has caused wars. Brought peace as well.
It has brought people to their knees. And, the courage to face their worst.
Nevertheless, in the modern-day world, the word connects with each of us differently. For some it is sappy teenage crushes, for some, it’s an intense emotion hard to describe and for many others, love is about not-so-happy memories.
It comes as no surprise then that love continues to be at the heart of some of the most popular stories written. Take the last decade alone – we have all fallen in love with some exemplary writing that pays tribute to the many facets of an emotion so complex -- from John Green’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ to Helen Hoang’s ‘The Bride Test’.
Back home, even in the Indian literary scene, some of the best-selling books have been about love. Here the stories have relatable characters and circumstances that almost look like a page out of your own life. And, the newest entrant to this list is ‘My Ex’, a Storytel original audiobook.
What starts as a story of two lovers who at one point, were on their way to embracing marriage, the narration draws you into a story that is full of bittersweet experiences. Written by Ravinder Singh and Ruchi Kokcha and narrated by Sukrit Sharma, ‘My Ex’ was exclusively released on Storytel just last week. Like most of Ravinder’s novels, the frailty of love forms the central theme of ‘My Ex’ as well. The words, just like the story and its characters, are simple, while the interspersed poetic comparisons display real, raw and complex emotions.
Vinay, the protagonist of ‘My Ex’, is intuitive about love and feels the rush of magic that comes with it. Unfortunately, his intuition proves anything but magical when his eyes fall upon the love of his life, who does not belong to him anymore. It is probably the least magical moment of his life, since the time they decided to part ways seven years ago, after dating for two years and being engaged for one. Sukrit draws listeners into flashbacks of Vinay and Ishita’s love story and although the premise develops in bits and pieces, Sukrit’s narration makes one thing clear early on – Vinay is still in love with Ishita and longs for her. Every time you hear Sukrit’s soft, mellow voice reliving Vinay’s past, you empathise with Vinay as he feels let down, maybe even betrayed. Yet, you are not surprised that there isn’t anguish or hatred towards Ishita for you know Vinay is incapable of it. Ravinder and Ruchi’s words wash over you as you get lost into the trials and tribulations of love and hurt.
Sukrit’s voice helps you connect with the protagonist and his vulnerabilities while his measured narration truly helps listeners experience the rollercoaster of emotions and questions in Vinay’s mind, making you thirsty for the answers, maybe just as much as him.
Sukrit makes you want to know why Ishita really broke up in spite of dating him for years and how she found someone else to “settle down” with.
While the book does answer these questions, a lot is left unsaid, leaving listeners with a chance to interpret the characters in their own way.
While Vinay and Ishita are the protagonists, silence is a character in itself. The audiobook beautifully leverages the pauses and silence as you experience the poignant emotions and complexities of the two lovers.
At the end of 40 minutes, when Vinay does get the answers he wanted, he is tormented by a bigger question. And, in doing so, the story drives home a point -- that some settlements we make can be more unsettling than we imagine.
This beautiful story full of emotions and the crossroads of love is perfect to get engrossed in as we set foot into Valentine’s week. Tune into ‘My Ex’ on Storytel and find out what happens when Ishita agrees to visit Vinay in the same restaurant that they used to visit as lovers.