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Getting attracted to a close friend of the opposite sex is very common these days. This often leaves us in a dilemma of how we want to define this relationship and take it forward. Would you want to stay in the friend zone or take the plunge and end up being more than just ‘friends’? ‘Never Kiss your Best Friend’ elaborates on this confusion lying within many youthful hearts and rekindles your memory of all the crazy and stupid things that you have done in your teenage years.
This comes as good news for all those contemporary young readers who just were left wanting for more after the author’s last release, ‘Just Friends’. Following the same tone, this book delivers much more than desired. The writer takes forward the story of Tania and Sumer, how they met and the intricacies of the craziness which follows on their emotional journey; a journey which sees their infatuation grow into something treading towards an unexpected climax.
Never Kiss your Best Friend is a sequel to his earlier novel ‘Just Friends’, which narrates what happens when Tania Brar, a headstrong and impulsive girl reunites with her best friend Sumer Singh Dhillon after a gap of long 5 years. The narration of these multiple incidents is gripping and interesting. The book redefines the rules of friendship between two best friends. Written in an easy to understand and friendly tone, you will be able to relate yourself with the characters in the book if you’ve experienced a close friendship. It lays out a long list of crazy things like dancing with her in your boxers, crying on his shoulder when you break up, boring her with football talk at 3 a.m. and a lot more. The book also posts a staggering question. What happens when it doesn’t work out between you and your best friend? Will you lose out on this friendship as well?
About the author
Sumrit Shahi is an Indian novelist and screenwriter. Other books written by him are Just Friends and A lot like love a li’l like chocolate. He has been acknowledged as the “writing rockstar of the young” by Hindustan Times. He is recognized as a prolific writer in the genre of young adult fiction and romance and has won over many young hearts thanks to his light and articulate writing style. He has also worked as a script writer for some successful television shows namely Sadda Haq, Veera and Million Dollar Girl.
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From the Publisher
In Conversation with Sumrit Shahi
17 April 2020
‘Damn!’ I said in the same instant I got up from my bed.
The stilettos stung.
Coaxing my feet to endure a night of torture and some unhealthy, I managed a soldier walk to the mirror and quickly took a final, last-minute customary glance at myself. The fair skin with traces of permeated pollution and tan. The wavy shoulder-length hair, tired of experimentation and changing colours. The petite five-foot-three-inch frame, standing tall on a makeshift world of plastic and glass. The kohl-lined eyes, weary yet longing. The glossed lips, parched with all the smoking. The faint traces of cellulite on the triceps. The rajma chawal genetics. Yet a clever dress, which accentuated the cuts, hugged the miniscule curves and revealed what didn’t need to be concealed.
I walked out to Shruti’s room and knocked on the door, politely.
‘Shruti. I’m ready.’
‘Go yourself then! I’m going to take ten. Can’t find the tummy tucker,’ she shouted back.
Shruti and I had met last year at work. We were both commissioning editors at Raspberry Publishing, one of India’s premier publishing houses.
We had had no choice but to hate each other. She was prettier. I was smarter. She had a better rack. I had better business knack. She had the audacity to ‘accidentally’ drop coffee on my desk. I had the intention to spit in her coffee the very next day.
Loathing was a way of life.
Then one fine day my landlady kicked me out because this possessive jerk that I briefly dated created a scene outside my house and Shruti took me in because her flatmate suddenly deserted her to go live with her boyfriend. We were both desperate. She needed the money. I needed a roof.
I moved in.
We began with small talk. Which grew to conversations every now and then. And then we both broke considerable ice over a drunk bare-it-all night, soon after. There was a lot of tongue and tears involved on the couch. And since that night, Shruti had kind of become a buddy. Not my best friend definitely, but a buddy for sure. Becoming a best friend takes a lot…I had a best friend once and he and I were really thick. But then…
It’s funny how you suddenly remember certain people you’ve chosen to forget. Willingly, mostly.
I snapped out of a forgotten world to a partially filled bottle of vodka on the kitchen counter. I looked in the direction of Shruti’s room once again and swiftly began to down the vodka. Neat. Alcohol came overpriced at clubs. And it was month end. Economic calculations. No hard feelings.
‘That was my vodka!’ Shruti had silently crept up on me.
‘It’s okay. Let’s leave. I’ll have to look for an uncle now.’ ‘I’ll help you. I promise,’ I told her.
It took us a good forty-five minutes to get to Lower Parel by cab. Once outside the mall that housed the club on its fifteenth floor, Shruti looked at me and said, ‘Let’s hope we meet someone worth the night.’ ‘Yes. I could do with a pleasant surprise,’ I replied. Not knowing I had asked for more than I could digest. Listen life, there is a difference between a pleasant surprise and a disturbing shock. Please get your definitions right. There’s pressure involved in being a girl and living safely through it. There’s chumming. There’s waxing. There’s staring. There’s groping. Then later, there’s the talk about marriage. There’s the question of individual identity and misplaced equality. There’s labour pain. There’s the sacrifice of career. There’s menopause. There’s hypocrisy. But when it comes to going out and having a good time at a club, women DO have it a lot easier than men. You get to skip the serpentine queues. You don’t have to pay the entry charge. You don’t have to have a date to enter. The bartender often ‘accidentally’ pours extra alcohol in your drink. The DJ plays your requests without fail. You don’t feel unwanted even if your girlfriend has met her potential guy for the night and is busy doing shots with him at the bar while you stand by her side and lazily sip your drink, for you’re checking out the crowd, wondering if there is scope for that random eye-lock to happen for you.
Cute butt, sculpted muscles and some brains. That’s just about it. I scanned the crowd. Underage boys trying hard to look like men. Men in their twenties trying hard to look underage. Boyfriends with their girlfriends, stealing guilty glances. Married men with newly married wives, confused about where their life is heading. Middle-aged men with deep pockets and bigger bellies. Gay men trying to find drunk straight prospects. The usual.
I went for round two. The same. The same.
And then I saw…HIM. I choked on my drink. Was it really him? It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t be. I stared hard in his direction. The same height. The same face. Or whatever I could make of it in the dim lighting. His hairstyle was different for sure. He was sporting a buzz. I remembered how much I enjoyed running my fingers through his curly locks. He was wearing a shirt. Tucked in neatly. I remembered him always complaining about how such ‘formality’ strangled him. He looked visibly leaner. I remembered resting my head on his broad shoulders often and how he had named his biceps just to annoy me.
It looked like him. But it didn’t feel like him. Maybe he was a doppelganger. Or maybe I was just drunk and I hadn’t realized it yet. Perhaps.
But then it had been five years. Five long years of no real or virtual connect. I took a few careful steps forward. And stared again. Yes, it was him! Then in the next moment, it wasn’t.
My heart thumped louder than the dubstep beats the DJ and the crowd were tripping on. There was only one way to not die from a cardiac arrest tonight. I turned and waved to Shruti but she was too caught up with her catch to notice me. I said a quick silent prayer. Gulped down a large sip of my mojito. With God’s prayer and his ‘holy’ water on my lips, I began to make my way through the crowd.
I shoved. I pushed. I elbowed. I apologized. I reached a spot from where I could see him properly, took a deep breath and narrowed my eyes in concentration, to give him a final onceover.
Seven things happened simultaneously right then.The girl he was talking to got up from the bar stool. One. Like a drunk she almost tripped. Two.He steadied her. Three.I saw his face clearly. Four.I realized it was actually HIM. Five.He looked over her shoulder. Exactly at the spot where I was standing. Six.Our eyes met. seven.I quickly turned and made a dash for the smoking lounge.Listen life, why? It was him. It was Sumer.