It’s been a week and I am still finding it hard to shake off the deeply felt emotions I was swallowed by on completion of reading this book. One of the shortlists for the ‘Hindu Literary Prize 2017’, the small-town sea is as intriguing as it is emotionally rich, causing you to stock the poignant story of the 13-year old protagonist in your own tiny casket brimming with the unkind piles of the past.
Employing vivid imagery in an ingenious way to evoke some unexpected responses, Salim succeeds in letting you glance at places and bonds with the eye of a young boy which often lends the novel some much-required levity.
The protagonist relies on his knack for finding stories in the most mundane moments to cope with the colossal nature of unfortunate incidents which life so relentlessly hurls at him. In a way it’s a testament to the writer’s capability of absorbing himself in the imaginary narrative of life and nature to mitigate the harsh reality we are engulfed in. Salim portrays an undiluted picture of how the loss of a loved one sometimes confines you into a silent abyss of indefinite pain but never quite allows you the fortune of surrendering yourself to crying for long, wresting from you the vent you need.
The book is not a heavy read, thankfully. The small town landscapes soothe your mind, while the inevitable tragedy around the corner sinks in slowly. Anees carefully constructs his narrative straddling well between art and connection in his content.
‘You should walk either ahead of me or behind me’- the dying father tells the boy while they are walking up to their home and the boy tries to match to his footsteps.
‘The sea sounded like a caged lion behind the row of egg-shaped rocks – the growl of an angry animal whose voice had grown hoarse from too much roaring.’
‘A few yards from the orphanage was the graveyard, and laundry lines ran from tree to tree in the copse that stood between the garden of the dead and the house of orphans, and even a hint of breeze provoked a shower of cashew flowers, which smelled only of death and isolation.’
The book will surely appeal to those who are usually bugged by orchestrations of passionate runs of their imagination to wild recesses of life and beauty.