Cobalt blue by Sachin Kundalkar: Book review

Cobalt blue is a story of love revolving around the themes of homosexuality, the associated secrecy in India, masculinity and its fragility, longing and heartbreak. The story is centered around a paying guest who enters a Marathi family and overturns the lives of Tanay and his sister, Anuja, at the same time.

The guest is a mystery since he has no last name or family or friends. He enters their lives in a flash, makes them both fall in love with him and leaves them behind without any explanation. While Tanay’s relationship with the guest remains a secret forever, Anuja’s relationship becomes known to everyone. She grieves openly while Tanay bottles everything up.

The story is narrated in two separate monologues, with constant shifts in timelines. While Tanay’s monologue is written in a very poetic way, Anuja’s pov is much formal and organised. It reflects the state of mind both of them are in.

Tanay reassures himself by repeating the same thoughts over and over and Anuja reassures herself by writing her thoughts down in a diary. Tanay is described as a clingy lover longing for affection which brings forth lack of boundaries. The contrast between the homosexual and heterosexual relationship is portrayed beautifully. Both the monologues revolve around seeking answers and drawing assumptions around their lover’s sudden disappearance from their lives. The lack of communication between the siblings who have spent years under the same roof explains the importance of quality of time spent together.

Cobalt Blue was written by Sachin at the age of 20 when he moved to Mumbai. He finished the novel in 2 years and it was later translated to English by Pinto. Pinto describes Tanay’s monologue as intimate since he uses “re” quite a lot in the original version. Unable to substitute a word for it, Pinto told himself that some things are better not translated. Yet, I found the intimacy intended in Tanay’s monologue.

Rating: 4ā­/5

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