It didn’t take me long to complete this novel, just nine hours and thirty minutes, which might be fast for a normal reader. But when it’s your job, it’s not fast. It’s your job. My record time for completing a novel is only three hours, that being Savi Sharma’s Everyone Has A Story, not because the story was interesting, but rather because I always complete what I start. While reading, I always keep a clock handy, and my target is always completing a page in three minutes or less while also enjoying the story, which I obviously did with this one. When I got this novel, I wasn’t expecting anything in particular, which is the best thing to do with any debut author. But the synopsis made me curious when I realised it wasn’t an Indian origin story, nor was it a romance. The mention of the political landscape of Egypt during Dictator Hosni Mubarak made me pick this book over other new releases. Not to get scared though, only the middle part is moderately political, while the rest is not that much. Even if you are someone who refrains from reading political novels, it has elements other than politics even in the middle part. It’s not just a single story. It’s a parallel story of two someones. The author has used the word “someone” in the title and not “person” to highlight something important. Spoiler alert ahead.
The debut author, Jakaria Maroof, used many narrators in his novel, The Never-Said Chronicles Of Two-Someones, to transport us to Egypt, unfolding a part of the story in recent times. Still, the other part takes us many many years back in the past. One extravagant party was organised in Cairo. All the VIPs attended, just to have a glimpse of the most famous actress. Like the first narrator, the name of the actress cum protagonist is also mentioned. I particularly like the scene where she had a conversation with her boyfriend in the bar. The writer used elements of music to enhance the scene, which other Indian writers do not do enough. Everyone is fascinated by her, the many rumours and regular front-page articles and clips in the tabloids already made her image like a deity, but something about her wasn’t right, which was the centre of focus in the first chapter. It is also mentioned that she has no past, not one in public view, which made her fans even more curious and invested in her. And everyone has their own opinion when it is about her, and some even make up their own story. The question remains: who is she?
As we continue further, the alternate chapters build up the parallel story, which converses with the main story in a riddle-like way. Although the link between this parallel and the main story isn’t immediately noticeable in the first chapter, not even after the last parallel chapter. Only the last chapter makes everything clear. The story is of biblical origin, one that we are already familiar with, written from the perspective of an infamous Satan or Lucifer, which will make us question the very definition of good and evil, or things such as protagonist and antagonist. One thing is clear. Things are not always what they seem.
The unnamed actress finally emerges with her own narrative, while talking to her psychiatrist in a distinct voice. The other side of the conversation is non-existent, like a muted telephone call. It’s made clear that she’s been visiting her psychiatrist for a long time, but even after all those sessions, she said nothing of her past. But that day, she had a dream and decided that it was finally time to come face to face with her haunting past. This journey to her past, takes us into so many dark places of her mind, from her normal childhood to the political revolution that overtook Hosni Mubarak, to her greatest loss that still haunts her, and finally, the world that broke her inside out.
The language used in this book is simple and easy to understand, so you wouldn’t need to keep a dictionary with you while reading. And the prose has a distinct flow connecting one sentence to another, one paragraph to another. The same is with the dialogues, precise to the point, and a bit of drama when needed, but never over the top. This book’s central theme is that nothing is permanent, even for those in the high castle. This book seems to belong to the literary, surrealism and mythological genre. This beautiful yet tragic story will haunt the readers for years to come.
The writer of this article is Aisha Gupta.
Author’s link — instagram.com/guyinindigo