“Yesterday, when a cobalt blue smudge of the wall ended up on my hand, I wiped it on my trousers without thinking…”
Sachin Kundalkar recently announced his Netflix adaptation of Cobalt Blue, and that was when I knew I could not delay this read any further. Time and again, I had been recommended to read this book by several people who found this quaint dual narrative hauntingly mesmerizing, sort of like the sound of the wind that blows after a tempest. The tempest takes the form of a boy, as he swept into the lives of the Joshis as the perfect paying guest they had been looking out for. Almost immediately, the storm rises in the form of two romances – a homosexual love, a heterosexual love unified by one – one who carries no background, no past, no last name. The brother and the sister fall for the same man staying with them, and it is possible they refuse to acknowledge each other’s feelings – despite subconsciously being aware of them. In the actions of this strange visitor, we see he lacks understanding of human society, as he continually portrays through his acts. Poor Tanay and Anuja, how could they expect him to have an understanding of them?
Cobalt Blue – Review
The tale commences with the narrative of Tanay, disturbed and heartbroken after Anuja’s return following her elopement. Memories are painted in the following 100 pages, like an amateur artist exploring a canvas, slowly but steadily painting it darker and completing a sketch with a lack of mastery. Tanay writes, reminiscing a night he had spent with his love, who he addresses as ‘you’ –
“When I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night I discovered you’d turned your back on me and moved away.”
This line carries more substance about the story than any else. His narratives end with a blurry image of Tanay’s memories, where the image of ‘you’ has faded but still reminds him of the laughter they shared. Anuja’s narrative is quite contrary to Tanay’s, more composed, more confident, and more delightful to read. Tanay mostly focuses on his past memories, but we find Anuja reconciling with her fate, positively reconciling with those around her. However, the passion we find in Tanay is lacking in Anuja. The ending of the tale leaves you with a strange sensation of wonder and satisfaction that seldom novels achieve, and you can find your image resonating with Anuja and Tanay, maybe one more likely than the other. The delicate and soft prose style is another delight of this book, and if you enjoy that, you will adore this read.
The translator expresses his dilemma with the choice of words he must use for words which do not have an English substitute, and I am glad that he –
“…had to abandon the attempt to find a substitute and accept that there are some things you simply cannot communicate.”
How relevant is that to the idea of love and that of the book? A brilliant book translated in all its brilliant glory, Cobalt Blue, makes a must-read for everyone. Can anyone rate this less than 5 stars?