Sonali Dabade’s Nonet is a collection of nine short stories that has varied themes. It isn’t only about one person or one place, but more about the bonds that human create and take forward – be it love, friendship or more frivolously, even that of enemies.
As mentioned, there are nine stories in total and they do not interconnect with each other. But I did find a recurring theme which could be called a base of the plotlines. Themes of romance, friendship, long lost emotions – both love and hatred – and of human desire were incorporated in the stories in a beautiful manner.
In the first story, Zero, we could see the desperation for human contact while in the next story, A Sojourn Somewhere, we could feel the desperation for freedom. In Mystic too, human curiosity played major roles for the theme, as well as the longing for connection. Eerie and mystical, like the title suggest, Mystic was creepily good. Dine and Dash, the fourth tale, was a story of romance and its rekindling after years of togetherness. It is equal parts fun and serious, and made me want to go out for dinner with someone (gah!).
Trust the Future was a bit more political and serious, and I felt that somewhere between the technical plotline, the story got a little lost. It was about a chaotic Delhi and politics playing in to control the massive air pollution. The end was, like the rest, a message for the youth and readers, and a subtle nod at the ugly game of politics. Fight for me, the seventh story, was a good one, except the fact that it was a tad bit too romantic for my liking. The ending was weirdly full of love that I didn’t really like, to be honest. Life and Death, the eight story, could have been better, I suppose. I understand it is supposed to be short but I guess I just wanted a bit more details.
The sixth story, Blindside, and the last story, Crossroads, were two of my favorites. Both leaning more on the darker side of human crimes and society, these dealt with heavy topics but in a poetic and exquisite manner.
All the tales ended on a hopeful note, I believe, giving us readers something to think and reflect on. Full of fun and serious tales, Nonet is definitely a book of short tales that is going to keep you engaged.
Sonali’s writing is fresh and lyrical, easy to read and navigate through. It made reading the stories even more enjoyable. I have to commend her creativity with each story, and how she kept them apart and yet incorporated humanity in each of them. They were lovely!