Neither an Agatha Christie’s mystery nor a Nicholas Sparks’ romance, yet Jitendra Jain’s Chasing 33% is going to keep you glued to it for its sheer simplicity, humor and the ‘charm’ of the unnamed narrator.
Set in 1990 in the small town of Dergaon, Assam ; the novel takes you on the roller coaster ride of a young boy’s life dealing with the nightmare of board exams. He hates board exams but anyway has to appear for it. He even plans to leave studies after he has done and dusted it or may be somehow crawled through it. His silver linings are his two friends Swadhin and Maggie. Swadhin is the typical teenager with a penchant for ‘adult stuff’, while Maggie is that ‘beauty with brains’ friend who you would find in almost every class. Maggie may remind you of the Japanese cartoon character Shizuka from Doraemon. Unfortunately, our narrator doesn’t have a Doraemon of his own to pull out gadgets from his deeper than Pacific pocket and relieve him from the shackles of board exams. He has to deal with it all by himself. How well he deals with it..for that you will have to read the book.
The USP of the novel is the observation of the narrator which has been hilariously presented by the author. Our narrator has this weirdly unique quality of observing ordinary and otherwise overlooked things in our daily lives. Did it ever occur to you that those stray dogs that you pass by every day could have a love story of their own? Or did you ever think that mosquitoes sucking blood from the ‘Jains’ have the chance of living longer than others? For more such weird observations, grab your own copy of the book. It’s available on all the leading online platforms including Amazon and Flipkart.
While reading Chasing 33% you are bound to come across at least one or two things that you did or experienced during your board exam phase. However, you might have not found yourself guessing the size of the underwear of the student sitting in front of you while writing your paper. Ahem!
The beauty of Jitendra Jain’s book is that it can be relished by anyone. If you are a coming of age teenager you would find many relatable elements like being pestered by relatives and neighbours about exam preparation, those brewing feelings for someone of the opposite sex, or even the weird curiosity for Majboor Ladki. Ahem! (Psst! You might also find tips on how to sneak into a movie theatre the day before your board exam that too without being caught by your Principal). In case you are one of those hyped 90’s Kids, then of course you could start reminiscing your own salad days playing ‘those were the best days of my life..’ in your mind. Although, you might go for Pink Floyd after reading the book.
In the course of the reading you will realize that the author has very cleverly touched upon the issue of a marks-oriented education system in the country with a tint of humor. For instance, when the narrator answered a question during his Social-Studies class (which happens to be his favourite subject), the teacher lauded him for his innovative and out of the box answer, yet recommended him to not write it during exam as it may not gain him much marks. Along with it, other socially-relevant issues like dowry, preference for male child, superstition, eve-teasing have also been dealt with beautifully in the form of the narrator’s witty remarks and of course, his observations.
So, if you are feeling low, or wondering what to do while your phone is in charge or may be just to beat the covid-blues; you know what to do. Thank us later. The book is divided into chapters dedicated to each subject that the narrator has to appear with a very easy to read but bone-tickling narrative.
Overall, Chasing 33% is a win –win for all. It will give you an enjoyable reading experience. Beware! If you are reading it in public you might grab some attention for your chuckles in every couple of minutes.
In case you are one of those who would not touch a book then remember buddy, once a great man said “Fate..can make you do things you never dreamed possible.” Your virgin attempt may turn out to be a score. By the way if you are wondering who is that great man who said those words, just read the book!