It was only several years after it was written that I came across a work of prose which was in fact poetry. Not more, not less, but poetry. ‘The Last Song of Dust’ is not just any poem. It is a sad one. A melancholy ballad that fills you up with itself till in a gesture of respect or out of desperation, tears begin to shed. I read this book one day, from dawn till dusk and cried my heart out. It must not be mistaken that the story is one filled with tragedy which warrants this catharsis. It is undoubtedly tragic, but it is not the death and separation that makes you cry. It is the style.
The book flows out in volumes of sorrow. Like a child lost. Like the night. Like Dariya Mahal. Engulfing. This doesn’t necessarily go to say that it is a spectacular book, or even an excellent one. It is just a little piece of dark magic, above mere literary accolades. To measure its contents and grade and judge it, would be sinful. It is not even something that will be remembered and included in academic texts to be learnt by rote by bored students in faraway inconsequential universities. It almost an insult.
What strikes me about this book is its ability to stare at me. Not just the panther, but every character stares at me. I stare at a little bit of each character in me. The wildness of Nandini, the calm of Anuraddha, the silence of Vardhaman or the wordless innocence of Shloka. Or was it the other way around?
I will never know. What I do know is that it was written by a 26-year-old, which only reminds me, that it’s always possible.