Just Another Complicated Story is M.K. Aarnik’s debut novel that takes the readers to Salem to an educated, working-class family.
WRITING STYLE: 3/5
“Just Another Complicated Story” by M.K. Aarnik was not just simply another complicated story for me. It was special for so many reasons.
Chiefly because it gives you a very intimate insight into the mind of the Indian middle class.
Let me warn you, it is not a fresh story. There are no groundbreaking revelations. It is not a story that will have you questioning the society or life or the world as to why it is the way it is.
It is the normal, everyday, regular life of a tenth grad student, Vimal and his journey to 12th grade wondering if he would ever make it to a good college? Well, Would he?
I leave this to you to read and find out. After all, It is…. Just another complicated story.
In A Gist
For me, what stood out in “Just Another Complicated Story” is the ease with which the author has tackled some serious Indian issues, not just lightly brushing past their layers but hinting the root causes in a very simple and easy way.
The story deals as equally with the pressure from an Indian middle-class family to get good grades and get into a ‘Top-Ranked’ college as it does with the agony of broken friendships and hours spent studying without yielding results.
But it does not restrict itself to that.
It is also about fearing the wrath of the father and thriving and blooming in the love you get from the perennial shade of your mother’s sarees and sister’s covers for you.
The story covers teenage love, frustration, confusion, friends, tiffs and a hope that every teenager has… that one day, they will be understood by someone.
The brilliance of Aarnik’s writing reaches its epoch when you realise that he talks about everything that is wrong with the Indian education system, Indian parenting and society and still manages not to lose the pure and innocent voice of his protagonist who is a teenager stuck in the drama of life.
What amazed me about MK Aarnik was he did not caricaturise any character of the story.
Even in a story as short as this, there is a place for every kind of person, the studious Raju, the carefree Tarun, the sincere Pascal, the strict DHM.
For someone who has come across a lot of bad Indian Writing, this surely was a ray of hope. It was honest and raw and I can vouch for it because I too am a sister to one such Vimal.
“Just Another Complicated Story” is a must-read for the parents of teenagers who want their children to get in the race of being engineers and earn lakh rupees packages in five years.
This book is a must-read for the siblings of engineering students or those who aspire to be.
This book is a must-read for everyone who wants a better picture of our education system and for those students who are on the verge of giving up and taking some drastic steps.
The book seems to say: Hang in there, buddy! This is not the worst thing in life.
The only thing that baffles me is if Aarnik deliberately took out emotions from all the scenes and replaced them with actions symbolising how emotions are just not talked about in Indian families or because he thought that a teenage boy with class, tuitions and everything else going on would not dwell on them or was it simply a structural flaw.
There are so many instances where the atmosphere is emotionally charged but Aarnik does not use them to their full potential.
As a reader, the emotional side of the final tragedy that happened demanded more depth and width.
The book forces you to think: Would talking about your feelings have helped?
On whatever spectrum your answer may be, “Just Another Complicated Story” jerks you awake and forces you to think.
The plot is linear and simple enough. The characters are everyday people.
The story has been told time and again but Aarnik does a good job at re-telling a story that is known yet keeps the reader hooked till the very last words.
A bit of strict and insightful copyediting would have improved the flow of the story, made the overall nitty-gritty better but as a whole, it is a fascinating read.
It is a thoughtful story written by an Indian writer for an Indian audience that deals with Indian themes. And when it comes to Indian literature, there is nothing more M.K. Aarnik had to do to prove his expertise.
A Personal Touch
As I sit and talk about the book with my brother whose story is similar to Vimal, his first reaction is he would not like to live through the trauma again.
But on being prodded, if he would have read it when he was facing the ordeal, he looks away pensively and says yes in a soft tone.
Yes, it would have been better to know that there was someone out there suffering like I was and maybe life wouldn’t have looked so bleak then.
The brother and the sister keep talking. The reviewer closes the pen and looks at the book that has finally initiated a conversation that should have happened long ago.
“Just Another Complicated Story”… a book as beautiful as its cover.
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