Back in Time by Andaleeb Wajid is the second of the Tamanna Trilogy for Young Adults. The first of the trilogy is No Time for Goodbyes.
Tamanna travels back in time by 30 years to 1982, where her present mother is younger to her. In this setting, she is received as the Australian pen pal of Manoj, her mother’s neighbour. She finds herself in love with Manoj and is torn between returning to the present, and uniting with her love in the past. She manages to return to the present through a Polaroid camera, tinkered to act as a forward time-traveling device. She discovers that she can time travel back and forth, using alternatively the photos and the camera. Book one ends when during one such visit to the past, the camera which helps her to return to the present is stolen.
It is at this point that “Back in Time” opens. Tamanna is staying in her Ajji’s house in the company of her mother, and her aunts. They even become friends. This time around, Ajji has a visitor – an overbearing relative, Rukmini, who has secret plans to sell Ajji’s house. Tamanna gets involved in foiling the devious plans of Rukmini. And, ahem, the love saga between Tamanna and Manoj continues, along with the dilemma of choosing between the past and the present.
After Tamanna exposes Rukmini’s plans, she gets to know that the stolen camera has been found in Madras. When Manoj and Tamanna travel back from Madras, their bus meets with an accident and Tamanna is seriously injured. At this point, she is thrown into her present. In the present, she gets the attentions of the doctors and media because a bed-ridden girl suddenly develops accident-like injuries and has to undergo surgeries.
What happens to the Manoj after the accident is a question that haunts Tamanna in her present. Ajji comes to her help revealing to her that Manoj had returned to Bangalore and confided in her about Tamanna’s time travel. Tamanna learns from Ajji that Manoj attempts to go to his future (to Tamanna’s present), but may have travelled too far into the future.
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- It is a light breezy read.
- Tamanna encountering her Dad in the past, and she willing her Mom not to look at other men is funny.
- As usual, Andaleeb excels in the strong characterization of the characters in the story.
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- With the use of the words trilogy and sequel, I assumed that each book stands on its own. But, it seems to be a single story written in three volumes. This is a major put-off. One has to read the books in the same order for the story to make sense.
- The time travel concepts are not well-researched. The author has used the “Novikov self-consistency principle” where the time traveler Tamanna is not able to change anything of the past. Firstly, with this principle, the thrill of time travel really comes down. There are no paradoxes and there is not much amusement. Secondly, there is no concrete explanation of how the time travel gets triggered. Some smell of almond oil and a photo triggers a travel to the past. And a click of a camera brings the traveler back.
- The time travel idea has not been utilized well. With time travel as a central concept and with such an author as Andaleeb known for her skill with words, I expected to see lots of wordplays. To my disappointment, nothing much except for occasional attempts.
- In 1982/3, Manoj takes Tamanna to a darshini where they have lassi. Then Manoj wipes his mouth with a Paper Napkin!!! Can’t believe it.
A light and easy read.