Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Lamentations of a sombre sky by Manan Kapoor: a review

“The Lamentations of a sombre sky” is a novel by debut author Manan Kapoor. Doesn’t seem like it, isn’t it? For such a heavy duty title, the cover strikes you so hard that you have to have another look at it to know what it is all about. The colour combinations, the effects, and the background image- everything suits the title and the theme of the book. I would like to say this to the cover designer that it is, off late, one of the most striking yet simple covers I have encountered. Or will it sound that I am hallucinating or exaggerating if I say that the cover feels even more beautiful at night? As I type this down, it is night over here and my laptop is playing the track “Gar Firdaus ruhey zameen Ast, Haminastu... Haminastu” from the recently released film “Fitoor” which roughly translates to “If there is a heaven on Earth, It’s here... It’s here”. I couldn’t have had a better mind frame for writing about this book. I would not waste much time. Here is what the blurb of the book says.

According to the blurb- Kashmir 1991 In between the insurgency and the exodus, Inayat finds solace in the company of Gul, a Kashmiri Pundit, and Aaqib. She blooms under the eyes of her father, Maqbool- an alcoholic poet, and her mother- Wahida, who is fraught with sanguinity. They spend their days listening to The Doors in Gul’s backyard and attending Shakes-Peer’s English lessons at the school. However, as they leave behind their childhood, they realize that the future holds things for them that they have never imagined. Inayat comes face to face with loss as bereavement engulfs Kashmir. The echoing of the machine guns, the wails of her loved ones and the silence that she is bequeathed with is all that is left. The Lamentations of a Sombre Sky is the story of a skirmish with life and the perseverance in the dark times.

When I started reading the book, I was confused on what to expect. I did not know. Did I expect Black? Or was it White? Or probably, Grey? But I have to give it to the book that it is much more than what the colour palette could ever justify. The book took a moment to fit in to the mind set I was in when I started this book but when it did fit in, it was unputdownable. I don’t remember having a moment where the book was kept aside and I was doing something else. You can trust me on this, no matter what idea of the book you get from the blurb of the book; you need to read the book to know what I am talking about or else you would think that I am blabbering without any kind of reason. Almost most of the ideas that you might have of the story or the characters from the blurb would be broken once you get inside the book. At least it did with me.

I should talk about the characters first. To begin with, I do not have any favourite characters because the whole book gripped me. All the characters, though there were not many were given equal and enough attention throughout the book. For me, there was no character which wasn’t given the limelight that they deserved or were given the limelight they didn’t deserve. The way the author has described the characters and the clarity the author had on his characters, it was such a pleasant sight to see. It has been a long time since a debut author stunned me so much.

Coming to the story, the story is truly the lamentations of a sombre sky. The way the story progresses and the way the author takes the story forward makes it so wonderful that there was this one time in the story (which, mind you, I do not usually do) where I had to pause and read the author’s bio to see what the author does. It has been a pleasure reading what Manan Kapoor has to write and to say. I have to say that even being a debut author, his flow of writing is commendable. I also have to give it to most new authors these days that it feels awesome to see them attempting genres that don’t fit quintessentially in the chick lit genre. This piece of fiction by Manan Kapoor is very touching and it stays with you for a long time. It makes you smile and it makes you cry. It makes you at peace and you still feel the turmoil- all at the same time.

If I speak of the cons of the book then I have to force myself to think about it. Shall I be true? I wanted more of Aaqib and Inayat moments and of course more of Aaqib, Inayat and Gul moments. Keeping that aside, I did not want the book to end but when the book ended, I remember hugging the book and re-reading a poem from the book over and over again. Having said that, I’ll confess (with my due apologies to the author) that I had clicked a picture of that particular poem and had sent it to 2/3 of my friends who I knew would appreciate and they loved it. All that said and done, for me, this book is 4.75 out of 5 and to sum it all up, here are two lines of my favourite poem from the book-

“A pinch of white- ecstasy, bliss and delight.

And the dash of black, devouring every light...”

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