The Dancing Boy struck a chord in me. The time is 1980’s and the setting: Calcutta, which brings out the plot even more vividly. It is not an extraordinary story or something that you will mull on long after finishing the book, however it is one of those books that will make you look up and notice the writing.
In the lazy by-lanes of the city, a boy spends hours in front of a mirror, draped in his mother’s saris, entranced by their touch on his skin. Moyur wants to be his twin sister who died before she was born. Moyna talks to him, and urges him to do things. He wants to overcome his oddities and break free from his mother’s expectations and live the life that he wants to. No one understands him but Jojo, his childhood sweetheart, who eventually marries someone else and this changes everything.
They both move on with their lives and come back later to where they started from. Relationships are intertwined – Moyur, his wife, Jojo, Boshonti and Shiuli‘s characters emerge strongly from the book. Your heart goes out to them and you almost feel at one with their happiness and sorrows and the complexities that surrounds them.
I loved the way Ishani described Calcutta in the book. The by-lanes, the colours, the food, the noise and the air link very well with the story that is being set. For me the book was not a heavy read at all, despite the plot feeling heavy-handed in certain places. The story is simply told and the writing reaches to a wider audience, and doesn’t let go of the plot. I would recommend that you read this book on a rainy or a winter afternoon. It is that kind of a book. Perfect for a day like that.