“Perhaps that’s what happens during the forging of a relationship: if nothing else, you adopt some of the other person’s habits. It makes you feel those small adaptations, those adoptions, make him one of you” – Cobalt Blue
No of pages: 224
Author: Sachin Kundalkar
Translated by: Jerry Pinto
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton (Penguin Books)
I happened to pick up this book randomly based on Amazon recommendation. It was the book cover which intrigued me to this book and I happened to buy this one without even reading the blurb. Also I have been trying to read a lot of translation of regional language books as I have discovered true gems in the work of regional authors which often go unnoticed.
About the book:
The story is about Joshi family, a middle class simple family. The Joshi family comprises of parents (Aai and baba) and the children Aseem, Tanay and Anuja. Everyone in Joshi family leads a monotonous life where Aai (mother) is the nurturer who is religious and dedicates herself to the family and never cares for herself. Baba (father) is stern yet soft and speaks less and cares about societal norms. Aseem is a befitting image of his father. Novelty in Joshi family is Anuja a free spirited young girl who believes in action. She is someone who loves freedom, adventure and new experiences. Tanay is similar to Anuja in terms that he is different from the rest yet he is someone who lives in the shadows and is afraid to show his true self.
The Joshi’s have an empty tower room which Tanay secretly wants as his room but this room is decided to be put up for a paying guest. Then comes a paying guest who is as elusive as one could be. This paying guest is that freshness which Anuja and specially Tanay were looking for. The paying guest is unnamed to the end. This paying guest is an artist, singer, he plays the guitar, reads a lot of books, is a great listener and cooks. He has been independent from a young age due to past circumstances in his life.
As time passes both Anuja and Tanay fall for this paying guest. The intensity of the love and attraction they both have for this paying guest is as strong and stifling as it can be. The paying guest reciprocates back to both of them. At the end this elusive paying guest disappears from their lives without a notice which leaves both of them devastated. Both are left with a sadness and an unrequited love which they need to overcome.
The writing style of the author is very poetic and prose like. Jerry Pinto has done an amazing work in translating this book where he has retained the originality of the story by using the colloquial words. The book is in two parts. The first part is where Tanay speaks where he largely addresses the paying guest. It is here where we discover and know the characters better. The second part is where Anuja is largely pondering to herself and nursing a broken heart. The author very craftily merges both these parts and makes the story a whole. Character building in this book is the best that could be and in the unsaid background we understand them better. The writing is simple yet the strings of words in this book have created a magic which touches your heart. I could not stop myself from re reading certain parts for the sheer brilliance of it. The writing of this book proves how simple words can create magic.
Cobalt Blue is one of the best books that I have read in a long time. This made me cry, smile and stare in the blank wall for hours aghast with its brilliance. It made me realize how the emotion of love is all the same whether it is between friends, lovers, parents and children and siblings. In its simplicity the book has brought out how the emotion of love is powerful but how heartbreak is the more difficult counterpart of this emotion. It has shown how different people nurse sadness and a broken heart. While some howl and cry going into bouts of depression some just enter a shell with a sadness which is palpable on their faces but none take it seriously. At the end I felt that we need people like the paying guest who help us discover and venture in paths which we are willing but afraid to go. A must read book for all.