Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar Translated by Jerry Pinto
Two voices, two siblings, mourn the loss of an unnamed man who stormed into both their lives and left a storm within them. He lived in their house as paying guest for sometime before running away with one of them. Only to run away once again. Siblings – a brother and a sister are oblivious to the relationship of the other with the man. But both are hit with the same intensity. This makes it Cobalt Blue story of a man who was homosexual and heterosexual at the same time. And manages to have a relationship with 2 different members of the same family at the same time.
The story is divided into two parts. In the first Tanay, the brother narrates his loss after he discovers the man has left his home and town. It coincides with the disappearance of his sister does not even occur to him. He goes to the room that obviously reminds him of the paying guest and his beloved. He goes back and forth in past and present while expressing his thoughts. And he keeps repeating some words as if re-enforcing them. He takes the reader through his relationship as it is playing in his mind after the man is gone. He talks about his encounters with men on the street before the guest came in. And how he drifted away from everyone to be with him.
How they would go to gay parties and he could see the possibility of he being a part of a couple. The narration is melancholic. And you get into Tanay’s mood and feel his pain.
The second part is Anuja, the sister’s diary. That she writes after she is back home after the man has abandoned her. She is in depression and consulting a psychiatrist who tells her to write a diary with a promise that she does not need to share it with anyone. Slowly she starts writing. And in these diary entries, she replays the same time earlier narrated by Tanay. You see the gaps in his story being filled by her story. And there is a part of her story that happens between her leaving home and returning home. You see her recovery as the writing progresses along with the new happenings in the household. You see her coming out stronger from the experience compared to her brother who tends to become more of an introvert.
At the backdrop of the story is a family that is quintessentially middle-class Maharashtrian family living in Pune. A family where people live together with no bonding. They hardly know what is happening in each other’s lives. And when it comes to supporting, it is a clinical support and not an emotional support. A Mausi signifies the outsider that is more of an emotional support for Anuja. It is a very well told story in two different formats. And somehow those formats themselves show the difference in relationships and personalities. The two voices suck you in and you want to go out there and hold them. At no point, you want to tell them about each other but you feel you like grieving with them. This is the first piece of literature that I have read on homosexuality and it kind of opened a window for me in that world.
Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar is a small but intense story… Read it.