May 16, 2004

the last song of dusk

…bit by bit, sounds of the train, its metal rancour and romantic whistle, the awed gasps of passengers, the sweet traces of the roving flute-caller — in fact, all sounds — were doused by peacocks unfurling a melody one would not normally associate with such pavonine braggarts.
anuradha’s father looked at her…”i suppose they have come to say their farewell?”
“actually,” she clarified, her hand on her breastbone, “i called them.”

this is anuradha. the main protagonist in bombay-bred siddharth dhanvant sanghvi’s debut novel. engrossing, witty, and very song-like, siddharth’s first book fulfills all the expectations (and more) one would like to have from an ‘indian’ writer. his mature, flowing style and characterisation make the plots in the novel seem very very real…especially the 1920s’ house-that-turns-wicked with its sad history; the rich-widow-turned-high-society-hostess radha-mashi; the orphan nandini’s feline connection and how her art grows with her; the true colours of khalil muratta and libya dass, vardhamaan’s inefficiency to cope with his loss, and how it affects his marital life. the best of all… anuradha, whose mother’s parting whisper before her marriage, echoes throughout the book and takes us through the highs and lows of her life…

in this life my child, there are no mercies.

this story is about the symbiotic relation between all these characters, the love they share, their fears and truths, and years later, the liberation of the gandharvas’ silent son from his mother’s songs, and the collective past. yeats’ poems and schumann and mendelssohn’s music play in intervals in the book too, pretending to soothe harsh realities.

being an indian myself, and a girl, it was easy to relate to the mother’s wise words as the book began; it reminded me of haunting stories in my own childhood, and i could justify the events as the pages flew by.

like some of the books by chitra divakaruni banerjee, siddharth sanghvi ties future incidents to the present situation in many places in this tale. though sometimes this might prompt you to create your own questions and answers about what will happen in the end, it is sure to cleverly bind you to the novel, till the very last word.


  • Yasmin said:

    Well, I have to read Siddharth’s book first…this little extract no doubt has drawn me to it.I have wanted to write a book myself…and being the same age as him has been a wake up call!!!!However, more importantly,I was delighted to read somewhere that Siddharth is an animal lover…..that is reason enough for me to read his book.I love animals and have a huge animal family at home….so I hope and wish him all the joy in the world.

  • mridul chakraborty said:

    Very nice web page

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