Young author Kunal Chaudhari tries to give readers a glimpse of afterlife
People write about life, delve into the struggles it entails, reflect on its impermanence and probe its truth. Twenty-three-year-old Kunal Chaudhari, in his second book, “In Fond Memory of -Myself”, goes beyond the boundaries of life to explore what happens thereafter. “We all have perceptions about life and death and can get serious about it. So why not mock at it,” says the young writer who works as a design consultant at his father’s firm, Udayan Chaudhari and Associates, which provides engineering consultancy. With dollops of humour, Kunal takes a light-hearted look at the journey of life and the questions it poses to us throughout.
The protagonist Kunal, the author himself, is based in Canada. He is frustrated with his job at Technicolor and disgusted with his girlfriend Sara and best friend Lohit, for the two are sleeping with each other. Overwhelmed with a sense of betrayal, he takes to the highway on a freezing night.
The bout of rage, alcohol and black ice — the deadly combination — leads to a dreadful accident. In the hospital, he slips into coma and enters the ‘other’ world where he has an encounter with God and Satan. He is awed by the beauty of heaven and gets to see hell along with two other souls.
The plot may be bizarre or far-fetched, but the humour oozing out of every sentence does arrest the reader. And that, Kunal says, is something consciously attempted. “I was hearing a lot about the Aarushi murder case and I wanted to do something light-hearted. I thought what if I had passed on? And then when I was still writing the book, a classmate met with a terrible accident on the Greater Noida Expressway at 2 in the morning and died. He wanted to read the initial two chapters,” recalls Kunal who took about six months to recover from the shock and get back to writing.
Another purpose behind the omnipresent wit is to reach out to youngsters who grapple with these questions. He even gently touches upon the issues of AIDS, alcohol and smoking. An engineering graduate from Amity University, Kunal always wanted to write “to breathe”. His first book, “Running Around In Circles” came out when he was just 21. “While the first book was autobiographical, the second one is highly imaginative,” he says. The acceptance levels, he agrees, have definitely risen, thanks to a conducive atmosphere created by Chetan Bhagat and other professionals like engineers, investment bankers and IITians who have taken to writing. Kunal says he would have written even otherwise. “There is a drive to write. I tell these stories because I have to. Stories just keep coming to me,” says Kunal.