Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sita's Curse by Sreemoyee Piu Kundu

Title: Sita’s Curse
Author: Sreemoyee Piu Kundu
Genre: Feminist Erotic Literature
ISBN: 9789350097809
Publisher: Hachette India
Price: INR 350

Picture Credit: desire/article5706149.ece

Indian women don't talk of sex. Except in their bedrooms. And with their husbands, and sometimes with their girlfriends. To write a piece of erotica in this part of the planet, needs nerves of steel. Sreemoyee tried to liberate the Indian woman from these shackles imposed on her body, by patriarchy. She has used sex as an instrument to expose the religious and social hypocrisy and questioned the Indian arranged marriages by vividly wording the insatiable desires that were never fulfilled in the protagonist's marriage to Mohan. 
Meera, is in tune with her sensuality and the pristine pleasures the body seeks, right from the time she hits adolescence. She sets out on a journey to find a conduit for these carnal cravings. Her first encounters with her twin brother are venerated in poetic language, most of which didn't go down too well with me. All throughout the story, Kartik her brother is shown as that first person who gave wings to her desires and as her most trusted confidante, but what is disappointing is his portrayal as an empty suit, who is made to die too soon. What also left me flabbergasted was her encounter with Binal that made me wonder. Was Meera a nymphomaniac? And which way was her swing? This rendezvous leaves the reader with a distaste in the mouth.

Again, as the story flows, the writer has effectively phrased the lessons in modesty that a young Indian girl is given before her marriage. She has also vented the hubris of hypocrisy that the Indian arranged marriage thrives on. Also the purpose of most Indian marriages is announced from the rooftops, firstly when Meera feels worthless for having had the periods on time. Her mother-in-law taking her to guruji to "purify her womb" clarifies the stand of most Indians about marriage, which translates to adding to the brood. Secondly, the sexist stand of Indian marriages is revealed when her mother reminds her of the age catching up, and why she must keep herself in shape to stay desirable to her husband. I admire Meera's guts to have escaped from that cage of endless expectations. 
Mohan setting his heart on Vrinda added an interesting dimension to the tale.
I applaud the writer's "Cherry pick" in the story. A 20 something guy who had set free the caged bird. In him Meera had found an answer to the thirst that no one could quench, although I still have to come to terms with the ending. Why so abrupt?

I give the book 2 out of 5. Two points go away for the loss of track. Meera could have been set free without penciling her character as a "nymphomaniac". I mean how on earth can a woman find an answer to her lust in her own brother and a woman. At times, I could only imagine Meera as a slut who didn't even know her swing, and got carried away by the touch of another woman when she was a young girl. Incest as a vehicle of lustfulness can't be acceptable always. The language was poetic and sometimes even unconvincing. One point goes away for the flowery language. Although it was laden with imagery.
There were a few typographical errors which can be dealt with in the next edition.
Also, the disappearance of certain characters and the coincidences that were too good  to be true made the read a drag.
Sita's curse is a convincing attempt at trying to embody a woman's sexuality, but somewhere it lost track and couldn't serve the purpose it was meant to. Calling it feminist erotica is not doing justice to feminism, for feminism is more than just getting aroused at the 'drop of a hat' and sleeping around.  

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