At 21, I like any other woman of my age, believed that love can be true only if it comes with a promise of ‘forever’. After all, how can you trust a man who doesn’t promise to love you ‘always’? And since love of such kind existed only in fairytales, I didn’t believe in love. I would have continued believing so, had my best friend’s girlfriend not decided to gift me a copy of The Fault in Our Stars. It was the summer vacation of 2012. And if I remember correctly, I was down with viral fever (happens each time I stay at home for more than a week). My friend visited me (though, I doubt it was to get my opinion about his new girlfriend rather than to see me). She was a sweet girl, who kept asking me how I maintain my ‘figure’ (Linguistics and lots of coffee, girl!). And then she gave me something wrapped in a glittery PINK wrapping paper and a flowery ‘Get Well Soon’ card with it (yeah, PINK flowers). I thanked her and kept it on the table. Soon after they left, I opened it, and I saw a funny looking book with a bright blue cover page. I found the black and white cloud like pattern (was it actually cloud?) on the cover even funnier. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Young-adult fiction! Yucks! Well, I hate to admit it now, but that was my first reaction. I kept it on the table, determined not to look at it ever again.
Two days later, I had run out of all reading material. I was too sick to sit and read e-books (staring at the computer screen for long started making me dizzy). Reluctantly, I picked up the funny looking young-adult fiction and started reading it. It started with Hazel’s ranting about how her mother thinks she needs to attend a support group because she thinks Hazel is depressed. I liked it. At that point, it reminded me of my own mother who was determined that I was a psychopath because I rarely went out and (almost) never attended any social gatherings. It brought a smile on my face. When hazel met Augustus, I thought it is going to be a typical Mills and Boons romance. Boy and girl meet. They fall for each other. Somehow they part (for a short time), and in this case it must surely be because of the ‘cancer’. And finally, everything is fixed and they live happily ever after. But no! Of course, Augustus and Hazel are attracted to each other almost instantly, but there is never the promise of ‘forever’ between them. They know they would be lying if they do so. That’s what makes the book unique. I read the book in one go (I don’t remember how many hours I took, but I do remember not being able to read anything the next day because of a severe headache). It filled me with pain and sorrow. Not the kind of sorrow that lingers and makes you depressed. But the kind that forces you to stop struggling. The kind of sweet pain that makes you move on and anticipate a better tomorrow. May be, I cried a little. I don’t remember.
One thing I learned from the book can be explained in Hazel’s own words,
“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”
I learned that you don’t need a ‘forever’ to be happy…to be loved. And that a ‘forever’ can exist within a short span of time. That ‘life’ doesn’t depend on the number of days one lives, but on the number of happy memories he/she has. The book remains my favorite even today. Whenever I feel like I have stopped believing in love, all I have to do is grab the book and reread it.
P.S. I read the book long before I watched the trailer of the movie.