Today there are no more pages of Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music to curl up in bed with. So, as one clutches at the last straw, I write about the book to savour my last bit of association with the book. And it amuses me to no end, as it doubtlessly will others, how I chose my favourite Parker fountain pen to write about it (yea, yea, before I typed it here). I think it really is a reflection of the high regard I now have for the book.
Seth’s An Equal Music can be summed in a no less a word than ‘delectable’. I don’t know how this word occurs to me as the most appropriate adjective; but I suppose it has to do with the way I have savoured every nuance of the book, found every bit of the experience delicious. The delightfully sensuous feel of the story may very well have been the inspiration. Odd, though, that Seth’s offering of auditory delights should translate into a distinctively gustatory one for me.
Every day I would look forward most eagerly to my time with the book. As one would save his favourite piece on the plate for the best aftertaste, I saved pages of the book. I didn’t read for more than an hour a day for fear that it would get over. But like all good things, the book came to an end yesterday and it has left one of the most lasting impressions ever. Yessir! This one’s going into my ‘favourite books’ list.
Vikram Seth’s rendition of the story in the first person narrative as the protagonist Michael is mind-blowing. Never has a fictional character appeared to me as so ‘real’. After a long, long time, I cried when the hero did and laughed loudly at his wisecracks. Michaels’s relationships with his quartet friends - Piers, Billy and Helen, with his Tononi violin, with Julia - the love of his life, as even with himself is so brutally honest in it portrayal. Through pages and pages that spoke about B majors and F minors - musical jargon that I have NO clue about - Seth kept me rooted firmly. Not once did I wish to cheat, skim or skip thought the pages. I was a compelled partaker in the world of Michael and his friends even as they discussed Western Classical music!
Another fascinating world that Seth so confidently led me into was the world of the deaf. The pathos of Julia’s condition is truly soul touching, yet one may not feel sympathy for her. So wonderful is the author’s exposition of ‘to each his own’, that one only emerges with a solemn respect from situations even whence the characters have suffered their worst defeats. Though vastly different from Ayn Rand’s style, like her, Seth’s book reminded me the undying spirit of the human who likes to love and who likes to live.