Will You Still Love Me? was written by Ravinder Singh, who attained overnight fame through his debut novel I Too Had a Love Story. Like all of Ravinder’s previous books, Will You Still Love Me? is also a contemporary romance novel. While the title and the cover might give the vibes of a typically cheesy YA novel (okay, the cover is a bit cheesy, but not the title – read on to find out why!), the book is anything but.
The plot is concerned with how love blossoms between Rajveer, a reckless boy from Punjab, and Lavanya, an easygoing Meghalayan girl of Assamese origin. The narrative is fast-paced and intriguing. It catches the reader’s attention right from the moment destiny brings the two together in an Indigo flight.
From the initial charms of romantic love, the story undergoes a change to a point where the author has exposed the hypocritical attitude of most mainland Indians to their Northeastern compatriots (of whose existence the former is blissfully unaware). The fact that this issue hasn’t been addressed enough in our literature is what makes this a must-read.
Moments later, on the way out of his house, his father stopped by the living room where his wife and daughter-in-law now sat. He looked at his wife and asked, ‘Punjab hor Dilli di kuddiyaan vich koi kami hai, jo es nu Chinese chahidi hai?’ (Is there anything that the girls from Punjab and Delhi lack, that he needs a Chinese girl?)
‘Dad, Lavanya is an Assamese from Shillong. Shillong is in India!’ In Rajveer’s absence his sister-in-law spoke up for him.
‘Oh puttarji, my child, people are not going to get into the details of geography. For them, those almond eyes are Chinese. Who all will we keep explaining to?’
The only thing that puts the reader off a bit is how the author has tried to equate the westernized outlook of the Northeast with its false sense of superiority to people from other parts of the country.
There is, however, another very interesting theme that serves as a subplot to the main theme of romantic love; one that is apparently “incompatible” with the narrative you would expect from a book such as this: the importance of road safety. Through the thoughtfully designed character of Lavanya – and the two men interacting with a group of vibrant college students (spoiler alert: their identities are revealed right at the end of the book) – Ravinder has accentuated our reckless and laid-back attitude while driving, which jeopardizes the lives of other drivers and pedestrians, besides our own. He has put forward arguments that are amusing and thought-provoking at the same time. How this subplot converges with the main theme toward the end of the story, and how it beautifully blends with the narrative is what this fabulous page-turner is all about.
The fact that the human body has a delicate organ like the brain makes it necessary for us to wear a helmet while riding a bike. And a helmet, as you all know, is protective gear designed to be worn on that part of the body which holds the brain. Many men, therefore, prefer to wear it on their left elbow…
The book has tackled a few other issues that have been exquisitely brought up as the plot unfolds:
- Scenic beauty of the Northeast: Much has been said about the pristine beauty of the Northeastern states in general and Meghalaya, which is rightly called the Scotland of the East (we wonder why Scotland isn’t called the Meghalaya of the West), in particular, but few have described it as immaculately as Ravinder has. Now that’s the one place most self-proclaimed Instagram wanderlust travelers should visit (and then brag about)!
- Women empowerment: Interspersed with the sentimental undertone are tidbits of the author’s own views about the (financial and emotional) independence of women. Far from the increasingly negative feminist ideals, the author has tried to subtly give vent to his views on what gender equality really stands for.
- Northeast insurgency: There are a couple of instances where the bloodstained mantle of the violence and insurgency in the Northeast has been brought to the fore. Unlike most self-righteous authors who have a proclivity for bringing the Indian armed forces on par with the terrorists, thus justifying the latter, the author has dared to call a spade a spade by unmasking the true and gory face of the real masterminds behind the bloodshed in Meghalaya and the other Sister States.
The novel is titled aptly. The fact that you are made to wonder why to the very end is what makes it befitting. That, along with the fact that Ravinder lives up to the expectations and hype generated by his previous works, means that anything less than a 4/5 rating from Ameya would be unfair to both the writer and the themes that he has impeccably addressed in this peach of a novel. Do give it a read on this lazy weekend!