Sachin Kundalkar started on his first novel at 20 and finished it when he was 22. The novel was Cobalt Blue, the story of a brother (Tanay) and sister (Anuja) who fall in love with the same man who was their paying guest in the city of Pune. The novel is split into two halves with each taken over by the siblings as they progress their narratives through an inner monologue and diary entries respectively.
The first part of the book is directly addressed to the charming paying guest by Tanay’s inner monologue. We feel like we are sitting and watching it through a window, a boy falling in love with another boy in the purest and naivest way possible (reminds us of Call Me By Your Name).
Anuja is writing out her diary after running away with the Guest and coming back after a six-month-long elopement. Anuja’s character develops more realistically and you could see that this change is also started to be accepted by the family, whereas Tanay is left alone. An interesting thing to not is that while Tanay and Anuja are falling for the Guest, both of them are completely unaware of it.
Tanay is left numb with shock when his sister elopes with the man he loves, and has been loved by, unknown to the rest of the world. The society grants that time for two men to spend time together thinking they must be bromancing but Anuja wasn’t allowed to be in the Guest’s room. Our house was big enough for middle-class dreams, “but not for privacy”, observes Anuja. On returning home after being abandoned by the same man, Anuja suffers a nervous breakdown and that shatters her with grief, a lot of it.
This young guest, however, remains a mystery. “He might have been born the day he came to stay with us,” Anuja says, “for he never talked about his past. At the end of their reckonings, Tanay and Anuja are left with no choice but to displace themselves from the comfort of the nest. Like the love they have lost, they learn to cultivate an ‘accomplished solitude’, to make loneliness easy on themselves. Their parents, even though not very approving of Anuja’s free spiritedness, take care of her and help her heal but Tanay’s sorrow knew no burial. The family might have had a clue on what was going between the two of them but as long as things were behind closed doors and their ‘status’ unhampered, they were perhaps okay with that. Tanay needed healing as much as Anuja did, but we can slightly agree on the fact that a lot of Tanay’s out there have to heal their own wounds and that too very very secretively.
A film by the same title was also released earlier this year on Netflix and stars Prateik Babbar, Anjali Sivaraman, Dr. Neelay Mehendale, Geetanjali Kulkarni and Neil Bhoopalam in pivotal roles.