Rituparna Goswami Pande
It was my friend Babul who called me out of the blue and insisted that I need to read this book written by Jitendra Jain one of his friend, who was a first time novelist. Steeped in workload with a deadline hovering over me I explained to Babul that I need a couple of months' time to really do justice to his friend's book. Chasing 33%, what an unusual name for a book of fiction, was my first thought when I had a copy of the novel in my hands. So Chasing 33% adorned my coffee table for quite a few days before curiosity got the better of me and I read the first chapter of the book putting aside my other assignments.The author, Jitendra Jain is a senior professional for a major multinational. A chartered accountant who has a way with words armed with a wry humour that is so evident in his narrative.
He grew up in Golaghat, Assam in the fringes of the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary. He is an ardent opponent of the exam system but a big believer in the learning process. As is evident in the name, the subject of the book is about the struggle amid mediocre students to score the coveted 33 percentage of marks which is mandatory to cross the hurdle of the dreaded board exams. Published by Notion Press the book explores the trials and tribulations of the sixteen year old protagonist who hops skips and jumps through his school days trying to achieve what society expects him to achieve. The author also take a dig at the redundancy of our educational system that blatantly ignores the individual's strengths and weaknesses and attempts to measure everyone in the same scale.
The engaging conversational style of writing makes the book hard to put down. The reader experiences the 'real' struggle of the Indian teenager caught between the curiosity and changes of adolescence and at the same time, at the threshold of adulthood. The experiences and incidents faced by the protagonist is like a walk down memory lane as the reader is also taken back into the haloed corridors of school life.
For all of us have gone through such experiences sometime or the other in school. We all have had that
special nickname for a teacher, we all have bunked many a classes just to laze around in the play ground or hopped over the boundary wall to catch an off limits movie in the nearby hall. That funny feeling meeting in the stomach at meeting our first crush… the book is definitely about us, about you and me.
I had to finish off the book in a day, as I had that urge in me to take a peek into the life of this average teenager who mirrored all of us through his thoughts and actions. The author gave words to our emotions that we had confined in our thoughts during those gawky teenage years.
The witty acknowledgements at the very beginning of the novel pave the way for the tongue in cheek humor of the rest of the narrative. The book is divided into eleven chapters where the author describes his experiences of his impression of the various subjects to be appeared in the board exams.
Chasing 33% is the journey of the trials and tribulations faced during the journey of pursuing the meager pass marks that so defines a person's educational achievement. Not everyone is equal and measuring all in one set of parameters is not only unfair but often stunts the growth of people who might be gifted in different fields other than the particular subjects in board exams.
This book is surely going to leave you in splits and at the same time leave you pondering about our preoccupation with redundant traditions.