“Thankfully, no one calls it a gay novel anymore. That term is so passé. Now about 12 years later, I feel the brother and the sister are not two people but masculine and feminine sides of the same person. And the book is thus, in turns, a feminine and a masculine monologue,” says the author.
“We both disliked rude rickshwalas, shepu bhaji in any form, group photographs at weddings, lizards, tea that has gone cold, the habit of taking newspaper to the toilet, kissing a boy who’d just smoked a cigarette et cetra. Another list. The things we loved: strong coffee, Matisse, Rumi, summer rain, bathing together, Tom Hanks, rice pancakes, Cafe Sunrise, black-and-white photographs, the first quiet moments after you wake up in the morning.”
“I’m not a halfway person. Either I love or I detest. Him, I loved. I loved his quietness, his understated way with words, his independence, his ability to respect your space.”
Him, he was a wanderer. A painter, a reader, a cinephile; he was an ardent lover of art. He transformed the abode of an old couple into something so beautiful that despite his absence, the place haunts Anuja and Tanay. To be honest, a lot is left unsaid since the paying guest keeps his story to himself. And perhaps, it is the mystery that contributes to the blissful sadness of the story.
“This term- accomplished solitude- struck me deeply. And it slowly began to dawn on you that you did not need people around you when you were painting or reading, when you were watching a film with deep concentration, or when you sat down to eat, chewing every mouthful and savoring every flavor. You made loneliness easy on yourself.”
Anuja and her battle with depression is sad, true. But Tanay, holding his calm when the lonely heart is longing and his insides are twisting makes a lasting impact. A chaotic love triangle, the colors this picture takes range from dull, pale shades of blue to bright hues and the transitions are poetic.
Worth a read and multiple re-reads. A story that reveals itself in layers, that forces you to go back and forth between paragraphs definitely deserves this kind of attention.