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Book Review: Never the Butterfly by Ankur Ashta

Never the Butterfly by Ankur Ashta is a remarkable novel on subtle romance. Likely set in late 90s and early 2000s, the story takes a deep dig in the psychic of a college student named Mohan, who pursues love with conviction, and it looks that his quest for true love is unquenchable. Not only love is a complex feeling but also a situation that many befuddle and fail to play with it.

‘Never the Butterfly’ is a subjective title. It’s about deeper aspects and vagaries of life and love that change one forever, but more imminently it brings to the table the concern of loneliness and loss of interest in youth. One can be young and have depth of thoughts but life cannot always be exciting.

Anyway, the storyline features Mohan, Saanjh, and Aaradhya in the mainstream narrative. They are in the same college. Saanjh is conservatively tied, and Aaradhya is the modern girl with foreign roots. Mohan has affinity for English language – he cannot tolerate someone with its incorrect usage. He corrects and debates about its many of the nuisances. Mohan is both – protagonist and antagonist.

The novel is not about college fun and pranks. It rather paints a story of mature college folks that look forward to make the fullest of their life and youth but fretted by their own inward limitations. However, the English fun grips the first few chapters of the book, later on it reduces, as main characters indulge into life, love, and aspirations.

Soon it comes out that Mohan is bitten by the charm of Saanjh. He loves her but she never reciprocates that fully. They meet on various occasions of college, at dinner parties, events, and so on. Initially, Mohan develops friendship bond with Saanjh, she respected it. As with time, Mohan thought of it converting it into a relationship, but she refused that out rightly. Still Mohan like a pesky lover didn’t give up pursuing her. Their connection was like sea tides, never constant. Saanjh was always on his mind. He couldn’t take her off. And on the other side, Aaradhya invites Mohan for an apparent love life. Before Mohan could figure out his own streaks of true love, she is gone abroad.

Life goes on around Saanjh. The narrative tenderly delves deep in the heart and thoughts of the characters. They are involved emotionally and mentally than anything else. Mohan gets a sense of being betrayed and ignored by Saanjh. He has own delusions. He hallucinates a lot like a mad lover but at the same time return of Aaradhya sooths him. He doesn’t know where his love priority lies; he sways with emotional escapades that could comfort him. Inevitably, romance brims and it goes beyond a triangle. Some lives are intertwined but no one is sure what they want, what their deep desires are and where they can park their priorities. Subtle and sublime, as it goes! The novel outperforms its own brilliance as it chugs ahead towards a slow tragic scattered end.

Ankur Ashta writes with brilliant prose-like narrative. He rather builds story gradually with follies, flaws, unbridled desires, silent aspirations, and so on. You could root for any character, not necessary Mohan only. The beauty, fear, and complications of love are captured in the novel with finest and raw essence. Whatsoever is the life, love is undefiled…invincible.

Buy it from Amazon/Kindle.


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