Minakshi Thakur’s maiden novel "Lovers Like You and I" explores different aspects of love and how it affects human beings

Minakshi Thakur describes her debut novel “Lovers Like You and I” as “universal in nature”. “Every reader will identify with one character or the other,” says the author, who is a senior commissioning editor at HarperCollins Publishers India.

Love, as the title suggests, is the driving emotion of the book. It is portrayed in different settings and times, primarily through its protagonist Nayan. On her journey to womanhood, Nayan meets people from different walks of life, backgrounds, generations and places, all of whom have experienced love, perceived it and expressed the emotion differently. Many profound truths of life are thus brought home to her.

Significantly, there are some characters in the book who provide insight into feelings and sentiments of women. The narrative starts with the suicide of pregnant Jugnu. In her missive to Nayan, Jugnu states that the latter will find answers to questions she had left unanswered. These questions are about love and its different facets — what it gives to and takes from individuals.

The author introduces Harshini Deb, a poet and a writer, deliberately towards the end of the narrative, who explains to Nayan that love is companionship, support and friendship and, significantly, it is generous. Modelled after Amrita Pritam, whom Minakshi always desired to meet but could not, Harshini plays a crucial role in Nayan’s life.

The influence of the poet and musician in the author is very much evident in the novel. It is hardly surprising, considering that the author trained in Khayal and Dhrupad for 16 years. Admitting this, Minakshi says that when she started the novel she was travelling with her guru and giving music concerts. “It became autobiographical and music, which I knew best, came into the story quite naturally,” she says.

The author started out as a poet, and the story “spontaneously marries” her poetry with music. Minakshi’s first book, “An Indian Evening” (2002), is a collection of English poems and she has also published two collections of Hindi poems: “Jab Utthi Yavanika” (2003) and “Neend Ka Akhiri Pul” (2010). The fountainhead of the novel was a poem too but ironically it has not been included in the novel; a number of other poems had to be deleted in the final manuscript since they “came in the way of the prose”, and only “what was necessary and natural” was retained.

“Lovers Like You and I” is being translated into Hindi, and the Turkish edition released last week. “Turkish sensibility is not far from our own,” says the author, adding that though it is essentially an Indian novel, it will be understood by readers who have an idea of the sub-continent.

The author has already started working on her next novel — about the life of a photographer and two women in his life — which explores human relationships. The central theme is how everyone pursues absolute truth while never being able to reach it.