If there was ever a book with a perfect title, then it is this one…
I had a certain inkling about the first ‘hero’ to show up in the story, then thought I had my light-bulb moment, only to be left…dangling. It happened again. And again. Amar. Akash. Adi. All names with A, all standing for something, all appearing when… Woops, I don’t want to give anything away, I’ll just be a clever tease like the author and leave you—yes, dangling.
I fell in love with “Dangle” by Sutapa Basu for two reasons. Reason 1 is the story itself. I loved reading about the heroine Ips (I love that name, I associate it with “if” in a way, which fits) finding her inner strength, fighting the demons of her past, embarking on a quest of she knows not what and ending up with one thing first and foremost: love. For herself, for the broken girl she was, for the determined woman she is, for those around her and those inside her. The setting added to the allure, and let’s not forget the thrill of action and suspense throughout. I swear my heart jumped right out of my chest several times. Oh, and let me mention that the first chapter was one of the best I have ever read. Looking back now, I’m even more impressed and taken in by it than I was when I started reading the book.
Reason 2 is the author’s style. At times lyrical, philosophical and poetical, at other times lucid and lush, modern and emotionally evocative, it fits the story’s themes to a T. Not a word seemed out of place or too much. Some lines stuck with me. I fell for the poetry included among the prose too, feeling faint echoes of old Hindi songs and great poets like Tagore well up to shimmer in the air and weave a net of an almost nostalgic magic around the protagonists despite the decidedly contemporary set-up. Here’s a short excerpt that captures what I’m struggling to put into words:
“The lilt of a flute fills the half shadows. Emerald green silk unfurls to lavender hills. Mist gives way to a golden spectacle. Thickly embroidered into flowing waters are hundreds of lotuses. Sunlight dazzles on ruby, sapphire, turquoise and amethyst that reluctantly open their layers to reveal honeyed hearts. The humming of multitudes of bees reverberates in the room. Intoxicated by the sun-drenched perfume of blossoms, they weave in and out of the pattern. Sheer colours daze the senses. Drumbeats intrude softly, only to rise to a crescendo.
Another shape enters the frame. Hazy at first, the outlines darken gradually. It is an empty square etched in bold strokes holding within it diagonally a metallic piece curved to the bent of an index finger. The picture zooms out. The shape takes definition. It is the trigger of a snub-nosed AK-47. The drums fall silent.”
I had already read some books edited and / or coauthored by Sutapa Basu (and from Readomania), but I have to say this gem of hers is my favourite. Do yourself a favour and read it, you won’t just dangle but fall for its charms hook, line and sinker.