Doab in Persian refers to a fertile tract of land lying between two confluent rivers. It is on such locations that civilizations take birth. Symbolically, this represents the confluence of text and art, from the mind of the writer. Doab Dil by Sarnath Banerjee is a beautifully illustrated book that takes on the task of presenting nuggets of thoughts derived from reading, literature, popular culture and simple observations of the world around us. Wonderfully executed artwork by Sudeep Chaudhuri marks the entire book, and rightly adds on substantially to the experience of ‘reading’ it.
All the books that we read take root somewhere in our minds, and this is exactly what happened to the writer. In a sense, this is a book from one reader to another. Each chapter is about one topic or theme. Then, the crystallized thoughts pertaining to that theme from a selection of books, philosophical sayings, poetry or popular culture is taken by Banerjee and woven into one piece, that may appear incoherent at times, but then that’s where the challenge for the reader lies! Arranged aesthetically around the words is a visual treat that complements the text. Some chapters explore hidden ways of seeing, others throw up food for thought and yet others delight with the wry humour.
Should I dare say this is a picture book for adults? But, don’t be fooled. As you read and savour the text you will notice wry humour hidden between the sparse lines and the detailed images. As I read the book the sense of irony is not lost on me. The book ends with verses from songs and poetry from a range of languages across the world.
What is missing, and intentionally so, is a cohesive theme that ties the entire narrative together. In fact, there is no over-arching narrative. But perhaps, this is exactly what the book tries to show- literature and art is all about connecting things that may seem to be incongruous or incompatible. The narrative instead seems like more of a stream-of-consciousness style of writing.
To me, Doab Dil also represents a picture of how the books that we have read over the years influence us and shape our world view. In a nutshell, Doab Dil makes me feel that maybe, art and literature should meet more often.