Chaos Theory was originally a play by standup comic Anuvab Pal, which was later adapted into a novel by Pal himself. He perhaps thought it was an interesting concept and a compelling story, which in the format of a novel, could reach a larger audience. I completely agree with him. The play was in demand in many countries, and after reading the book I am seized with a desire to watch the play at least once.
It is the 1950s. Two people – Mukesh and Sunita – meet at Delhi University. They connect instantly and the basis is erudition. Mukesh cannot believe that he was found someone who knows Shakespeare better than him and can beat him at his “Guess the quote” game. Sunita thinks he’s well read but a bit pompous. A case of instant cerebral (and otherwise) attraction but neither acts on it and they continue to live their separate lives, more or less, in close proximity.
Their lives intertwine for five decades in unexpected ways. They are not married to each other, yet continue to orbit each other, and continue to be the most important people in each others’ lives.This in an era without internet. To know how a person is doing or where he or she is, you have to actually contact the person directly. In the era before cellphone calls were ubiquitous, letters were far and few between, they remained connected in spite of sometimes living in separate continents! Is it not a special bond? Read the book to see how it all plays out.
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- I liked the old world charm of keeping in touch through letters across continents. In a world without cellphones and 24×7 social media connectivity, they discovered each other and learned about each other in real time; they didn’t go scrolling back into the past on each others’ timelines and as a result knew everything there was to know without actually talking to the person, which ruins the joy of discovering a person organically.
- The humour in the book was not laugh-out-loud funny but sarcastic.
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- I lived through the decades, 1950s to early 2000s, in a matter of hours. I wished the writing was more fluid and connected as it moved through one life event after another.
- I would have liked to have had more insight into the characters and more material to sink my teeth into. Knowing about the backgrounds of Mukesh and Sunita – where they came from, their childhoods and the families they grew up in, could hold clues to the way they behaved in the present, as adults.
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- The cover was interesting and modern but I didn’t get what it wanted to convey.
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- Sunita knows that Mukesh is commitment phobic and cannot go beyond a certain point and their companionship has no name other than friendship. It was the most important thing in their lives, a love which spans continents and they didn’t want to lose each other under any circumstances. I closed the book a while ago, but I keep wondering if they had married would some of the magic have been lost, the shine worn off ? Or would they have grown stronger with shared intimacies?
- If you are expecting gloss, love and romance in the most obvious form and happy endings this is not the book for you. At its core Chaos Theory is about friendship and a love which isn’t acted on in the way society deems conventional nor do they do follow the natural trajectory for people in love but it is love. Love by any other name is still love. Love not acted upon is still love. Love unexpressed is still love. For them perhaps it was for the best, but the when the book ends you can’t help but think of what could have been, a lost opportunity.
An unconventional love story.