“Living in traditional India, with a cosmopolitan outlook, can be quite a struggle.
Natasha Arora is too flamboyant for Aurangabad, a Maharashtrian city, where she meets her love, a British man from Kenya.
They fall for each other, but their love story takes a turn for the worse. 24 years of life and no past?
A secret is a slave when you make it public yourself, but doesn’t it become your master if someone finds it out on their own?
“Gone days are never gone,” especially when your past is powerful.”
Thus reads the blurb of Medha Patel’s Gone Days Are Never Gone. Sounds gripping? I don’t know. I received the book over two months ago, and I couldn’t bring myself to open it. I could blame the ever-growing pile of a reading list for college that I had to catch up with, the numerous deadlines I have had to meet and the sad excuse of a social life I have. The truth, however, is that until I was given a clear deadline for the review I couldn’t bring myself to crack open the book. Even then, I missed my deadline by over three days.
An extremely short book of 82 pages (you can finish reading the book during a back-and-forth bus ride from Koramangala to Shantinagar), Gone Days Are Never Gone isn’t about much. Narrated in multiple perspectives, Patel tells us the story of a “flamboyant” girl, Natasha Arora and Enrique, a Kenyan man of British heritage who decides to move to India. The two meet, fall in love, share secrets, to only find out that Enrique is what you would call, a stalker (being rich and well, a foreigner, helps him escape the title). The big secret in the book is not that Natasha was previously in a relationship with a woman, but rather that Enrique knew about it as a result of being friends with her ex, and used the available information to find her and cross paths with her.
The most commonly accepted definition of bisexuality is that it is a sexual identity situated between one polarity or the other: between desiring men or desiring women as sexual partners or between being gay or being straight in sexual orientation, as it had been put forth by Alfred Kinsey in the 1950s. The problem with this definition is that it reinforces the normative categories of heterosexuality and monosexuality. Media has a history of portraying bisexuality in a disingenuous manner where the bisexual is portrayed as being torn between potential lovers, on a pathway from straight to gay, or as a serial liar and cheater who cannot remain monogamous due to overwhelming attractions. Representations of bisexual people in media are infrequent, but those that are available too often follow these inaccurate stereotypes.
This (mis)representation of bisexuality as a sexuality in the “middle” of homosexuality and heterosexuality is the exact line that Medha Patel follows. Natasha enters into a relationship with Sameera. When Sameera’s sister reads a text between the two, the duo breaks up over the fear that their relationship would be revealed to the whole family, (which is ironic, because the text read: I don’t care what society says, but I am sure I am ready to be with you). Of course, she stays single until Enrique walks into her life.
There seem to be several gaps in the novel. We are introduced to Enrique as a man who is traveling to India on a business class seat because he no longer wanted to be the son of his rich father. Later, we are told that he runs a business in London, that began neglecting ever since his relationship with Natasha broke off. When did he set up the business? Why would someone who doesn’t want to use his family money buy a house of his own in India? Why does money seem to be an important defining factor for both the characters? In fact, apart from being rich, Natasha doesn’t seem to have a personality, at all.
So what is the saving grace of the book? Well, it is an extremely easy and quick read. It is an attempt, albeit a feeble one, at telling a story of alternate sexuality. Hopefully, better ones make our way soon.