Vivek and I ; Mayur Patel, Penguin Books;, Rs. 299; pp378
‘Vivek and I’ is a love story; a gay love story; probably, this lengthy novel may earn the credit of a moralistic love story on forbidden love.
Kaushik is a handsome, educated, intelligent, empathetic, creative gay young man hailing from an elite, educated family. His broken affair with his friend Krishna and revelation of sexual identity to his family drives him from the cosmopolitan Baroda to a remote but idyllic village Valai. He takes up a job of a school teacher in search of peace among the innocent, loving village population. But alas! Cupid strikes again insidiously and Kaushik once again falls for his student Vivek who is only in his teens. Kaushik smartly makes his moves to befriend the charming, young and innocent teenager Vivek and brings him into his control. Whether he had succeeded in his efforts to express his love to him and achieve the physical proximity or not was told at length in 377 pages.
Mayur Patel seems to love cricket and nature; so, one has to swim through a lot of passages and pages on the descriptions of idyllic Valai and on extensive commentaries on cricket matches. The story moves back and forth which is admirable and most of Kaushik’s escapades with his friend Krishna are presented as flashbacks only.
The first person narration moves jerkily on many places. Some touching moments go fleetingly and some innocuous situations just drag on. There are not much of sexual innuendos but references in detail on male to male bonding with some explicit details come in between without sounding vulgar.
The feeling of elusive concept of ‘love’ occupies the central stage which is unfortunately all the more transient in gay relationship. The author tries his best to present the pangs of love that could only be accepted in a heterosexual relationship. There were many supporting characters like Kaushik’s family members, the Gavit and Desai families, Vidya, Chandini and Vivek’s family and friends. The showdown between Kaushik and Krishna is described poignantly. On the flip side all the mother characters are typically sugary, aged men are loveable.
The sudden change of color of the protagonist and his futile plans to spoil the love between Vivek and Chandini are too contrived. So is the ending where the central character turning into a philanthropist and social worker.
‘Vivek and I’ is a harmless sermon on the prohibited love.