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No Time for Goodbyes

by Andaleeb Wajid (Bloomsbury, 2014)

This is the first book of the The Tamanna Trilogy, a time-bending tale of a 16-year-old who travels back 30 years in the past and falls in love. As if adolescence isn’t complex enough in the first place!

For Tamanna, the end of school is a mixed bag. It’s a relief to have her class 10 exams over, but with the board results still two months away, long and dreary days stare her squarely in the face. With her mother watching melodramatic TV serials during the day and her nerdy younger sister feverishly mugging up for her final exams during the evenings, it’s no wonder Tamanna is starting to climb the walls. In search of a quiet corner where she might lose herself in a book, she zeroes in on the musty storeroom—which they call the attic to make it sound more exciting. There, she happens upon an old Polaroid photo of her mother and aunts from when they were teenagers, in the company of a strange boy.

The next thing Tamanna knows—well, actually, it takes her a while to figure it out—is that she has been whisked back three decades in time. The setting has moved to her grandmother Ajji’s house, who lives with her three daughters: Tamanna’s future mother Suma and her aunts Reena and Vidya. And get this, they are all teenagers and younger than her! And that’s when all the fun starts.

Slowly, Tamanna comes to the surrealistic realization that she has landed in 1982, a time when Bangalore was lovely, traffic jams were unheard of, the fashion trends cringeworthy and mobile phones the stuff of science fiction. Added to the mix is the dishy next-door neighbour Manoj—the boy from the photograph. It transpires that Manoj’s grandfather is a mad-scientist-type, who, having imbued a Polaroid camera with time-travelling capabilities has caused Tamanna to hurtle 30 years into the past. The trouble is, he has no idea how to reverse the process.

Pretending to be Manoj’s penfriend from Australia—enabled by a convenient coincidence that results in the real penfriend’s trip being cancelled—Tamanna takes up residence at Ajji’s, sharing a room with her future mum and aunts. Even as Mr Prakash, Manoj’s granddad, works on the camera to take Tamanna back, she must think on her feet to come up with believable reasons for her presence—such as, why are her jeans so tight; why does the book she has say it was published in 2000 (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, if you must know); where is her luggage; and so on. As Manoj and Tamanna field these and other awkward questions, sparks fly between them. But there’s an extremely dodgy complication: looks like Suma nurses a soft spot for Manoj herself!

In No Time for Goodbyes, Andaleeb Wajid spins a cracker of a time-travelling tale combined with a bittersweet young adult romance. As Tamanna rockets between 2012 and 1982, the question is, is this romance doomed to failure since, back in her time, Manoj would be 48 years old and she 16? But then, where exactly is Manoj back in her time since he’s defnitely not one the uncles her parents hang out with.

The storytelling is pacy and lucid, Tamanna a believable narrator, and the sense of humour is understated but very much present. What Andaleeb Wajid does best is weave in a beautiful sense of 1982 Bangalore—it does kindle a yearning to go back into the past. Numerous questions remain about the time travel angle, but the story picks up right where it left off in the second book.

RATING: 7/10

Other books in the series:

Tamanna Trilogy #2: Back in Time
Tamanna Trilogy #3: Time Will Tell