Presenting an excerpt from Penguin's latest book by Ludhiana-based Chanchaldeep Singh Sandhu.
Penguin India's new series of 'mass market books' aims to target the youth by bringing out novels inspired by today's environment and situations at work or at college, different challenges they face in their love lives and relationships.
Debutante author Chanchaldeep Singh Sandhu's I Never Thought I Could Fall in Love is the story of a boy who did not know what he was capable of doing in life until he fell in love.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
Next morning, Sid came and insisted that I get ready to attend class. I resisted a lot, but he forced me to come with him to college. After so many days, I got dressed in clean and ironed clothes, after having showered and combed my hair. It felt I good. I liked my bearded look. I smiled at myself and followed Sid to college. As I entered class, I looked at Monica. She was wearing a yellow suit and looked as beautiful as ever. She looked at me; our eyes met for a few seconds but then the teacher came inside and the moment was broken. I hurriedly took a seat and became conscious that I was sitting next to Mickey.
I smiled at him but he looked away. Mr Bhatt, the English teacher, was from the other department and I had not attended a single lecture of his course during the whole season. He noticed that when I answered the roll call. He seemed a nice person and didn't react to my long absence. He asked the class to close their books as he was going to narrate a saga of love. The students started whispering, as they were all keen to hear the tale. Students always welcome a love story. And the fact that it was coming from a teacher made it more interesting. Mr Bhatt started, 'Well, this is a story of a soldier and a princess. Once upon a time there used to be a kingdom whose princess was very famous for her beauty and intelligence. There were many people who wanted to marry the princess and among them there was this poor soldier. He used to be in awe of the princess. But deep inside his heart he knew that the princess would never marry him as he was so poor and she was royalty.
'One fine day, when the princess was out on a jungle safari, the soldier got the chance to be part of her convoy. In the middle of the jungle, they encountered a hazardous storm and the convoy got lost. The soldier kept his courage and somehow was able to take the princess to a safe place. The princess was terrified as she was alone in the jungle. This was the best time for the soldier to make the princess aware of his feelings. The soldier did his best to arrange food and shelter for the princess and she was happy with his efforts. As the time passed, the soldier was successful in attracting the princess.
Meanwhile the army was sent to find them and the princess was taken back to the palace. The soldier was left alone again and he started to feel disheartened and lonely. 'Meanwhile the neighbouring state attacked the kingdom and there was a declaration of war. The soldier was ready to fight for his land but he wanted to admit his love to the princess before going to war. He somehow sent the message to the princess to come to the balcony at night and he went there near the palace escaping the guards who were on duty. He couldn't gather the courage to express his feelings so he just opened his arms towards the princess and asked her to come to him. The princess understood what the soldier was trying to say but she was afraid of getting caught and the harshness she would have to face after that. She kept on thinking the whole night and the soldier kept on waiting but she was not courageous enough to act. Finally, in the morning she ran towards the place where the soldier had been standing and came to know that he was already away at war. She thought of waiting for him so she could tell him how much she loved him when he returned.
'The soldier fought bravely in the war, died there and never came back. The princess went into shock. She was not even able to express her feelings to the man she loved. She stayed unmarried for the rest of her life and kept on loving the soldier.'
When Mr Bhatt finished the story, I noticed many eyes were wet. I noticed Monica looking towards me but she averted her gaze when I noticed her. Mr Bhatt suddenly pointed towards me. 'Let us hear from the boy who is attending the class for the first time. What is the moral of the story?'
I stood up. I was not ready for the sudden question. But I was ready with the answer somehow.
'Sir, the moral of the story is that we should let the people whom we love know how much we love them. You never know when those people will go away. And we may regret for the rest of our lives the fact that we had not revealed our feelings when the time had been right. This world is too small for hatred. We should try to fill the void with the love which exists between us.'
Mr Bhatt started to clap at my answer and the other students joined him.
'Well, that was such a nice way to interpret the moral of the story. But one has to be in love to understand this story. Okay let us know how you define love.'
I looked at Monica and saw her tense face. I didn't want to embarrass her so I gave a funny reply to his answer. 'Sir, love is when I can't pay attention in class because I am too busy writing her first name and my last name.'
Everybody started to laugh at my answer. Mr Bhatt smiled and soon the lecture was over.
Mr Bhatt and most of the students left the room. Suddenly I noticed Payal coming towards me. I tried to ignore her but there she was right in front of me.
'Ronnie, I am really sorry for messing up things for you. I know very well how upset you are. I have realized now that what we had going between us wasn't love. Love is what you feel for Monica and what she feels for you. I tried to tell Monica that too but she refused to accept anything. I am sorry that I became the reason for your breakup with her. I was feeling so guilty and wanted to confess. If possible, please forgive me. God bless you.'