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Female sexuality is a taboo topic despite the century we live in, and very few books take us through the awakening sexuality of a woman. Sreemoyee Piu Kundu’s book Sita’s Curse is one such book.
A few months back I had reviewed The Parrots of Desire which compiles a couple of short stories selected from literature across a span of 3000 years of Indian erotica. While we clearly see in it the stark difference between how men write women and how women write sexuality in general, it is important to understand that notwithstanding the seemingly progressive front that our country intends to take about gender issues, women writers are still shunned considerably by the society, when they decide to pen about sex.
A few of my women author friends who delve into this genre regularly get asked very uncomfortable questions sometimes bordering on vulgarity. So when one comes across an Indian woman entering the arena of a much-hushed-about genre, one can only appreciate the courage in it to begin with. The genre can be a challenge to write. It has a way of going awry, if not deftly handled.
Sita’s Curse by Sreemoyee Piu Kundu is one such brave attempt in the genre. It seeks to explore the life of a young lady, Meera, born and brought up in the Sinor town of Gujarat – her dreams, hopes and desires – and it takes us through the sexual awakening of a healthy girl who is conscious of her needs. We follow Meera as she grows up and explores her sexuality in an innocent yet intrepid manner with a certain laissez faire attitude. This is reflected in her chance and planned encounters at the many points of her growing up years as she refuses to acknowledge familial and social laid rules and goes to realms where her mind desires to.
This is the underlying premise of the book. The author has done well in keeping the audience mildly engrossed as they look at the world through Meera’s eyes and watch her discover the needs of her body as she addresses them with the avenues that she has. Many may raise prudish eyes at some situations of her life – within and without the family but one cannot but admire her audacity and honest acceptance of her sexuality.
Now to certain key aspects – The language, while doing its best to talk to us through Meera’s perspective remains choppy at certain stages, and does not allow us to blend in with her world. While the author discards any subtlety, the explicit language might turn the reader off because it fails to make an impression. The bigger picture that the book presumably wishes to address does not reveal itself at any point, and leaves the reader wondering.
The sexual interactions of Meera could have been more well-crafted and could have bordered on sensuality. However, they leave one confused and unimpressed due to too much detail. One also fails to connect with any of the characters. They remain uninterested, detached, inexplicably weird and arrogant at times, not just from each other but from the reader too. The plot also seems to go haywire for most part of the story. Some very important events have just a passing mention and thus, it becomes very difficult to sympathize with the protagonist. A bit of more emotional detailing could have gone a long way for sure.
Another point which arises (pun intended) is – these scenes could have been key stones to illustrate a healthy, sexually active woman’s plight in a modern world and leave the reader ruminating over current issues and boundaries that the woman of today faces. However, these facets are left unexplored mostly, and the reader is left with images of graphic sexual encounters which do not create a sense of subtle erotica that one would expect
Having said the above, kudos to the author in mincing no words to ensure that the intent is not lost upon the reader. It does take a lot to write a book that can be a potential commentary of the state of affairs of a very significant gender-related issue, and Kundu’s attempt surely deserves appreciation. When we have audacious authors like Kundu, all we need is an environment where they can thrive and develop the art some more, and the sky shall be the limit.
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Top image via Unsplash and book cover via Amazon
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