Meet Nimisha, the protagonist of Zarreen Khan’s I Quit! What Now? She is a corporate drone (think Ranbir’s character in Tamasha except wittier) and works so hard at her job that she hasn’t had a weekend to herself in a long time. Sounds familiar? She hates her job and the daily grind that comes with the territory. She desperately needs some time off to recharge her batteries and the idea of a sabbatical is planted in her head when her colleague takes one because of her pregnancy. She thinks a sabbatical is the answer to all her problems. But life rarely works as per our plan. She is forced to quit when she isn’t granted a few months off. So she starts off with the list of options typed in her excel sheet, ready to dive in. And we journey with her as she goes through the list, trying things, with hilarious consequences.
Nimisha, fondly called Nimi, lives with her mother and maid. With a distinct personality of her own her maid is one of my favourite characters. Nimi has an elder sister and her nieces adore her. They love the stories she tells them. She has a bunch of friends who keep in touch in spite of their busy lives. Her relationships with friends, family, and office colleagues is portrayed in a real manner and there isn’t a single false note.
Nimi is afraid to make a fool of herself like the rest of us. But she is a diligent worker who hasn’t more or less caught a break in 8 years and feels unappreciated. No wonder the burnout happened.
Nimisha is a likable protagonist but more than that she is flawed and real, like you and me. Initially I couldn’t connect with the corporate droning but I suspect most people would identify with it. After that the pace picked up and I couldn’t stop reading. I haven’t worked in a corporate set up so for me it was looking in from the outside. A fresh perspective, and a scary one at that. I cackled at her jokes in the middle of a wintry night. There was a very real chance of waking people up and making them think I was a lunatic.
A sabbatical is for doing whatever you love or just slowing down and taking it easy. But she is single and 29 on the brink of turning 30. It might as well be the edge of precipice she is throwing down herself from as far as the rest of the world is concerned except her friend Arjun. She has a hard time with everyone asking what’s the plan (the most dreadful three words on the planet if you ask me). And being told to settle down if there is no plan! Why should there be a judgement if there’s no fixed plan? And how is being clueless about where your life is headed a great time to get married. People I tell you! Some people are so accustomed to their work routines and the fat paychecks that accompany it, taking time off from work sounds like a revolting idea to them, almost an alien notion.
There is a little bit of romance but there is nothing syrupy or predictable about it. Friends falling for each other is a trope that never gets old for me. Also can’t a boy and girl be friends and stay friends. It’s the 21st century we are living in. When Harry Met Sally is wrong. There I said it.
Loneliness finds its way into her life after her friends enter into serious relationships or get married. Priorities change and without meaning to friendship does take a backseat. With friends moving on in their lives Nimi feels lost.
Gender bias and misogyny is shown well in the book when women want to take a break from work. Kudos to the author Zarreen Khan for saying it like it is. For women the leave is only approved for matrimony or for having a child. Taking time off for finding yourself is apparently not on the list.
The cover is interesting but doesn’t do justice to the spirit of the book.
The writing is good and her humour razor sharp. She spares no one and in that she makes herself endearing and not pitiable. It’s a thin line. Whoever writes humour and makes fun of themselves (and others) knows that.
I have decided to stay at home and sulk. Because that’s what I do every day in any case. I am the Incredible Sulk.
I Quit! What Now? is funny but realistic. A lovely breezy read with unexpected lessons thrown in. It is about the journey not the destination. In other words a slice of life book, figuring out life as and when everything happens.
I had a huge smile on my face when the book ended in spite of the clichéd ending (or perhaps because of it?). I am already looking forward to the author’s next book. Towards the end of the book everything appears to fall into place for Nimisha and I can’t exactly call it a happy ending, but definitely a hopeful beginning. Sometimes that is all you can hope for.
Disclaimer – I received a copy of the book from the publishers in exchange for a honest review.