Never before a translation has managed to surprise, evoke a smile and shock all in 76 odd pages. Without giving away the premise of the plot – hmm what can I say. Their are no villains in the sketch, it is just a sort of story where everybody is a victim.
The title as the name suggests is for the lead character – named so because she is dark skinned. She adores the crispness and solitude of night, pretty much faithful to her own name – companion of night . The girl while growing up is devoid of “need” to be “loved /desired/” or “validation” from others including her own parents. There is nothing wrong with her, she simply hums to a tune of rythm, rythm of solitude – which most “social” people find incomprehensible. She does not hate other people or become judgemental about them. She just wants to be a lone wanderer.
This results in consequences beyond comprehension for her and parents , her own kid. Why does she behave like the way she does? Why she can’t be normal like kids, girl her age or woman through various stages. Author does not take prisoners…
“Everything just has to be taken as it is. Why does fire burn? Because that’s the very nature of fire, the essence of its being. There was nothing more to it than that! Fire cannot be cooled. If you want to cool it and pour water on it, it will not cool, it will just go out. ”
Book is inviting in terms of another opposite character – the kid girl of the main lead and plays important part in bringing sunny side. How sad – I associated Sunny/bright with better and…I guess that was one of the point of the author – association of colors/feelings to appearances/behavior. Book does not judge anybody, but highlights how easy it is for us to do so.
Alas, this is the sole novella of the author. MacMillan has to be thanked for undertaking this translation via Vasantha.