“Yesterday, when a cobalt blue smudge of the wall ended up on my hand, I wiped it on my trousers without thinking..”
Translated by Jerry Pinto, Sachin Kundalkar’s Cobalt Blue is a story that makes the reader explore the complexity of family, society, and sexuality through a love triangle. A gripping tale, Cobalt Blue was referred to me by a friend who loves Marathi literature like anything.
The Joshis found the perfect paying guest, who has rent readily available, is decent enough, lends a hand from time to time and can listen to the banter of Mrs. Joshi over the declining culture of society very patiently. A mysterious man, without a family history and no last name, he doesn’t even have any plans for his future. The only thing he lives and breathes is painting. Siblings Tanay and Anuja are smitten by him, his aura that is turning their lives upside down. And then a day comes when he vanishes, just like that. Sounds simple and straight, don’t think like that. And that is the commendable beauty of Kundalkar’s creativity. A simple yet straight story with so many emotions, that you will be entrapped in the magic of this amazing writer.
Spinning a homosexual and a heterosexual relationship into one, Cobalt Blue is divided into two narratives. Both the narratives are monologues by Tanay and Anuja, sharing their deep thoughts about the man who came and lived with them, changed their lives but at the end, was a complete stranger only. Tanay, who was in love with him, is left in a deep shock when he realized that he has eloped with his sister Anuja. He shares the story of how he met him, how everything changed and then how one day he vanished, leaving him heartbroken. He cannot share his ordeal with his family and cannot explain to himself also how to overcome the grief.
After a few days, Anuja returns home without him. And that’s the second narrative. Anuja is now under depression, fighting with her life to make sense of outcome of such deep love that she had for him. She starts writing a diary, sharing details with readers as to how she met him, what made her leave with him so suddenly and then how he again abandoned her. And at the end, a magical pull engulfs you.
The best thing about Cobalt Blue is the simplicity of the story. Siblings living under the same roof, so close to one person and yet so unaware of each other’s feeling towards him. Tanay and Anuja both had no idea that they were falling for the same man, that the same man will first destroy them and then like a Phoenix, they will rise again. Another striking beauty is that even when the story is simple, it keeps you engaged. Until the end, Kundalkar had made sure that the reader is hooked. Never a moment came for me when I wanted to keep the book down. Pinto’s translation makes it all more alluring!
A radical element introduced into a set cultural family, the tenant acted like that for Joshi’s. In their set cultural norms, he introduced music and painting, eating at Irani restaurants and a breath of fresh air. “He might have been born the day when he came to live with us”, shares Anuja, as he had no family history and no last name.
All in all, Cobalt Blue is a story that will leave you mesmerized and asking for more.