It’s about love and it’s about romance, and it’s a queer love story! The debut novel by an architect, Mayur Patel, from Gujarat with his family, “Vivek and I” was published by Penguin India and was released in 2010. The story starts with a broken-hearted Kaushik who arrives in Valai, leaving his troubling past behind.
The protagonist Kaushik is someone in his late 20’s from an upper-middle-class Indian man. He is a gay man and is in love with Krishna, his fellow student at college. The relationship doesn’t go well for Kaushik, and despite the difference in social class and intelligence, Kaushik is desperately in love with Krishna. Krishna moves on in life and accepts an arranged marriage. After this heartbreak, Kaushik moves to a small rural town to teach just to clear his head. He falls for his student- Vivek, but he isn’t completely over his breakup with his ex-boyfriend, Krishna.
While the student, Vivek, sees Kaushik as a good teacher, friend, and philosopher, Kaushik hesitates to open up about the feelings he has for Vivek and how much he loves him. All these emotions and dilemmas in the protagonist’s mind is pretty much the main plot of this book- “Vivek and I”.
The narration of the dilemma in a gay man’s mind is admirable. Although there were too many characters in the book, the careful narration makes it an easy read. The whole plot of the book, Vivek And I is told entirely from the point of view of Kaushik. The lead character in “Vivek and I” desperately searches for any sign that would show that Vivek is gay and if he would respond to any proposals Kaushik would make. Almost similar to the journey with Krishna (but without any physical involvement), Vivek announces his marriage after a few years and says he is perfectly happy. We then realize that all the emotional chaos existed only in Kaushik’s head.
The narrative is quite well written, and there are a host of supporting minor characters, both at the school and living near it. We mostly see them from the perspective of Kaushik. At a point in the novel, Kaushik gets a taste of his own medicine. A teacher with whom he is just friendly and enjoys a happy platonic relationship tells him that she loves – and almost sort of wrecks everything.
It was worth a read and gives a good perspective on the chains that bind any gay relationship in India. The emotional journey and the other physical relationship of a young man trying to live the impossible—a one-sided relationship sheds a lot of light on the gay mind. His leaving his job to clear his mind does take a toll on him and the rebound, if it may be called so, doesn’t help the whole situation he is in.
There are so many other interesting plotlines in Mayur Patel’s “Vivek and I” that talk about a husband-wife relationship, a strained relationship between father and son, a motherly love, and also a lesbian character. And these characters and storylines do make the novel more interesting.