What is the natural progression for a precocious reader? Writing a book, most would say. No surprises there — but what if you were told this reader-turned-author is just 16 years old?
Meet the young author of Let Me Be By Your Side, Manvi Handa, a student of DPS Sushant Lok I and a resident of Greenwood City, Gurgaon. The 158-page novel deals with the popular subject of teenage love. In the words of Manvi, it was "an attempt to understand and observe relationships".
Proud mother Hema shares the young prodigy’s journey with City Spidey. She recounts, “Manvi said she wanted to write a book almost two and a half years back. Initially, I did not take it seriously — though I never said no to her, I always felt her priority should be studies. So I told her she could write in her free time. One day, after a good five or six months, she asked me to read the stuff she wrote. Once I began, I couldn’t put it down. I knew then that I had to support her with all my conviction. And we got the book published, without second thoughts.”
And the book has certainly caught the eye of readers.
It explores the feelings of love, infatuation and jealousy — the familiar shades that dominate a teenager’s life. The story revolves around Samaira, a 17-year-old girl who falls in love with her best friend’s boyfriend. Varun, the boy in question, reciprocates in passing moments. Initially, she denies her feelings but eventually grows to accept them — and with this acceptance, her entire life changes. But is it love, really, or just infatuation? The protagonist discovers through her experiences how easy it is to fall in love, and how equally difficult it is to stay in it.
So where does it all begin?
“It began in books, of course,” pat comes the reply from Manvi. “After going through so many novels, I thought, ‘Well, why can’t I be the next author?’ Writing a book was a natural progression for me. And I picked this particular theme because I am an emotional and romantic person myself, so writing about love, relationships and infatuations came easy to me.”
Manvi believes her mom had provided her the bulwark of support she needed for this. “Starting a book at 14 requires unconditional support from parents — their approval and conviction. I had spent nights staying up and weaving the various stages of the story together. She had to be there, you know,” she says, looking a tad emotional.
Manvi already has a lot of fans, including Arun Chopra, RWA secretary of Greenwoods City. He says, “All the characters in her book are well etched, and the writing is mature. She offers an interesting perspective on love. I found it quite fascinating.”
Manvi had always been mature and her perspective on life was always a little different from others her age, recalls Sakshi Chauhan, a neighbour. She adds, “I have known her since 2011, when we shifted from Delhi to Gurgaon. She loves to explore new things and believes every day should have a new goal to be pursued. Although she is just in Class IX, she is well read and very cerebral. Sensible, mature and a gem of a person — that’s how I look at her. I don’t think she has an inkling of how proud she has done us.”
Heaping praise on the girl, principal of DPS Sushant Lok I, Sunita Nagpal, says, “I am proud that Manvi has written a full-blown fiction novel like any other adult author. It’s not a children’s book. At DPS Sushant Lok, we give great emphasis on creative writing and encourage students to participate in writing competitions.”
Can we hope for another instalment, then? Write on, girl.