Ravinder Singh’s latest novel Like It Happened Yesterday is all about his school days – from losing his milk teeth, to passing his board exams and more
Ravinder Singh’s story is the stuff dreams are made of. As an IT professional at Infosys, he wrote his first novel I Too Had A Love Story which became a national bestseller. Next, as an MBA student in ISB Hyderabad, he penned Can Love Happen Twice? And predictably, his latest release, Like It Happened Yesterday, is well on its way up the charts. Seated at the Penguin Store in Kochi, with the backwaters for a backdrop, Ravinder says his magical journey began, though, with a tragedy.
In 2007, his love Khushi, was killed in a midnight road accident. The pain of that incident grew into his first book. “I wrote to immortalise my mortal story. Writing it gave me the closure I was looking for. I also wanted to share my story with others. The way I see it now, my grief has been encapsulated in bookshelves across the country,” he says. The second book takes off from the first’s close, exploring the possibilities of finding love again. The third however, breaks away from Ravinder’s romance-writer reputation, to deconstruct his humbler beginnings.
“People see me today as a famous author. But I wasn’t always this way. I was born in a small village in Burla, Orissa, and I had a childhood just like everyone else’s. My biggest wish was for a red and green raincoat and if I wanted to tell my friends anything, I would cycle across to their houses as we had no mobile phones. My first crush was on a school teacher and my greatest dream was to own an LML Vespa scooter. Those were days when saving Rs. 10 gave me more pleasure than saving lakhs today,” says Ravinder. Like It Happened Yesterday, therefore, dwells upon this nostalgia for his childhood.
The best years
The book was born at his graduation from business school where friends asked him what the best years of his life were. “That’s when I realised it wasn’t my B-school years, or my engineering college times, but my school days that I cherished most,” he says. The incidents in the book stretch across 14 years from losing his milk teeth to passing his board exams tied together by one recurring theme — the pressure of coming first in class. “It’s something we’ve all experienced at home. I know people don’t read my books for my English but because they relate to my honest story. That’s why all my books so far have been autobiographical,” explains Ravinder.
Between his second and third works though, Ravinder spent a short stint as editor of an anthology of love stories — Love Stories That Touched My Heart. “After I wrote my first book, I roamed the streets of Daryaganj, where all the publishers have their headquarters, and not one wanted me. Finally, I began approaching printers hoping that they would print at least 500 copies and I could distribute it myself. So I know the struggles of a young debut writer and now that I’m published, I feel a responsibility toward other first-time writers. The anthology was the first step in promoting authors with promise.” Ravinder is now working on a larger project stemming from the anthology. He has launched a publishing house named Black Ink, alongside a national hunt for three writers with a unique story and writing style. “I want to mentor them, hone their skills and publish their first works under this banner,” he says.
In the meanwhile, Ravinder is working on his next novel, one that won’t be entirely autobiographical. “I want to push myself as a writer and experiment with new stories. At the same time I don’t want to put out more than a book a year. I will end up cannibalising my own audience!” he says. His fans though are constantly demanding more. From sending him their personal love stories and failures, to telling him his books have saved their broken marriages, Ravinder’s fans are especially vocal on his many Facebook fan pages. The story everyone’s waiting for is the third part to his personal love story — his marriage to Khushboo Chauhan. “She wasn’t a great fan of my first book but after she read it, she prayed that the writer would someday find love again. Little did she know that she was praying for herself! But will I write that story? Just maybe!”