Book: Twice Upon a Time
Author: Anjali Bhatia
Publishing House: Fingerprint/300 pages
Everyone has always been fascinated with the idea of time travel — the possibility of breaking the barrier of time to change the past, to undo mistakes and rid yourself of any regret. This is the basis of first-time author Anjali Bhatia's Twice Upon a Time.
Arpit Singh is filled with regret and bitterness after he loses the love of his life, Mannat, due to his terrible behaviour and rash words he used. He then embarks on a seemingly impossible journey — to replay the past and set things right. Nishimaya (Nishi, as Arpit calls her), a mysterious gypsy with psychic abilities, introduces Arpit to a method of re-dreaming. This enables him to go back to the crucial moments in his life and reverse all that was done.
Meanwhile, Arpit's village is being pillaged by the evil corporate mafia, which is incidentally headed by his father.
Set in modern day Punjab, the plot seems like the old-fashioned love story, where the protagonist does whatever it takes to win back the love of his life.
The story maintains a steady pace. The multiple sub-plots, including Arpit's relationship with his father, the story of Mannat's life, the villagers versus the head of the evil industry, may seem like wrongly placed digressions that slows the pace of the narration. But it all makes sense as the finer details unwind beautifully at the end of the story. The author manages to blend science with fantasy and mystery without confusing the reader or making the connection appear far-fetched.
Subtle messages about the current world scenario, such as the pollution of the environment and urbanisation, are also sent out. Each protagonist has a powerful underlying story that explains his/her personality and the decisions they make (one reason to praise the sub-plots).
All-in-all, a decent debut. The book is a good, light read that works best as an escape after a tiresome day.