Have you ever ridden on a roller coaster? 5 minutes by Vrinda Singh published in 2019, is just an analogous experience except everything happens in your imagination, that alternates between making you feel excited and exhilarated, happy and sad, disappointed and desperate, like in just 5 minutes.
What makes this book worth reading is the author’s collection of surprising real-life incidents jotted down into subtle 16 thrilling chapters each dealing with specific life situations which are fast-paced, grounded in reality, adrenaline soaked, grab you by the feels, keep-you-guessing, completely unexpected, heart-breaking yet hopeful. It’s hooking from beginning to end with ‘can’t wait to see what happens next’ feels. Now, what message the author has to offer us through her book is her brilliant vision of portraying the existing discrimination of the females in this patriarchal society and the fight-back thereafter.
Coming to the characters of this wonderful book “5 minutes”, the author depicted the female protagonist “Pooja” as someone who can be described as an ‘every girl’- like an extraordinary story of an ordinary girl. This book is a terse journey of the most independent, adventurous and a responsible girl of the 21st century, struggling with the old beliefs of Indian society and her commitments to be an ideal daughter, an ideal lover and an ideal friend. She was born with glitter in her veins but was brought up by the avoidance of her father who taught her the atrocious lessons of life and by the love of her mother who motivated her throughout. So, her fight started right after she stepped into this world.
From being ragged by batch mates, molested by men, betrayed by friends, to being in dramas of relationship chaos, she faced it all alone and still strived towards achieving her dreams fighting her own demons. And then, digging in the dirt, ‘The Perfect Girl’ found herself trapped in love with the male protagonist of the story ‘Mr. Jeeva’ who is 18 years older to her and also happens to be the boss at the work. Thus, a meeting of 5 minutes with him cost her decades of life where she encountered with next-level twists, drama, romance, passionate love, lies, lust and sex. The story also involves a character ‘Shahid’ who was a very close friend to Pooja who again gave rise to another striking tale of religious love riots. And the author, needless to say, didn’t fail to capture this religious battles which is transpiring in our society, thus reminding us again that there is no religion without love. The author started the story as thriller and also ended like one but what happens in the middle is exactly what carries the readers through ways of engaging with whirlwind of emotions. All incidents are described with gentleness and compassion, helping the character Pooja shift from anger and fighting with pain to becoming accepting and compassionate to pain.
As Tolstoy once said, “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content”, and likewise this book also could have been benefitted from a better structure wherein the stories are arranged in a manner so as to allow the reader to progress naturally from one incident to the other and from one emotion to the next. Albeit the episodes presented in the book are engrossing, a part of their impact is somewhere lost due to shaky presentation. There are a lot of incidents happening parallelly and the time-lapse together doesn’t leave much space for us to escape the muddle. And the reader is made to unanticipatedly delve into the ambush of many emotions without much warning. As the readers begin to get used to the concept from one chapter, he is taken onto another wholly new concept in the next one. Also, the author’s relentless attempts to justify the title of the book with its events sounded clumsy at times. Given, the energy of the story, the book could have used some more exciting chapters or length in it, for it drops the reader little deprived as “Why did it end so quick?”Or maybe it’s the author’s mysterious way of leaving us in a dilemma only to keep wanting for more.
In a nutshell, the book will make you ask the most mundane questions to yourselves- the worth of cost we pay for falling in love, the sacrifices we make to keep our relationships upright and thus leave us perplexed. But then, it will all make sense with a twist which the author has secretly, kept for us in the end. Many of our life’s questions were answered here, only to have many more pop-up. To break the monotony of the narrative flavour, the author has interestingly added many beautiful poems where ever apt.