The Music of Solitude written by Krishna Sobti & translated into English by Vasudha Dalmia uncovers the life of Ishan and Aranya who are in the autumn of their lives with no trappings of family or other domestic compulsions to weigh on their solitary existence. However, as it happens, the two seek solace in a shared solitude that is as sweet as apposite for two people slightly haunted by thoughts of their impending death.
The book is written in a manner to provide you only snippets, brief recollections and glimpses that reveal the history of these characters without baring it all, which if I am honest, felt more like a tease than anything else. I found myself unable to appreciate the book and here’s why:
- I couldn’t distinguish between the voices of the two characters although Sobti makes it very clear that they have contrary beliefs and principles
- I was constantly going back to see which dialogue belonged to which character and this felt really frustrating
- As someone who is still in the youth of her life, I found it difficult to relate to the thoughts of both Aranya and Ishan who are always brooding over death, almost to the point of obsession. From ensuring that the shoes are not wet while taking a walk to eating right, everything they do is motivated by their will to keep death at bay instead of their will to live (I am not sure if I am able to articulate this properly but there’s a difference between the two)
- The narrative style left a lot to be desired
Now I know that themes like death or melancholy or probably anything that I don’t personally relate to presently can be rendered beautifully enough to earn both my admiration & interest. Unfortunately, the book failed to achieve either.