Review: Sita’s Curse by Sreemoyee Piu Kundu

What is Erotica? According to Merriam Webster it is defined as :works of art or literature that deal with sex and are meant to cause sexual feelings”. Yes, Sita’s Curse, in that respect is truly an erotica and ONLY an erotica.

Somewhere, behind closed doors, in her solitary world; somewhere, under the sheets with an indifferent lover; Somewhere, is a woman who will not be denied.

Trapped for fifteen years in the stranglehold of a dead marriage and soulless household domesticity, the beautiful, full-bodied and passionate Meera Patel depends on her memories and her flights of fancy to soothe the aches that wrack her body; to quieten an unquenchable need. Until one cataclysmic day in Mumbai, when she finally breaks free…

Bold, brazen and defiant, Sita’s Curse looks at the hypocrisy of Indian society and tells the compelling story of a middle-class Indian housewife’s urgent need for love, respect, acceptance and sexual fulfillment.

The Prologue of the books shows Meera indulging in self pleasure, quite indifferent to what is happening outside her room’s closed door. It was compelling, compelling enough for me to sit down and read the next chapters. The story started off well – talking about the life of Meera in the small town of Sinor in Gujarat, her relationship with her twin brother and soulmate Kartik. Meera’s bonding with her twin brother Kartik, bordering on incest is the highlight of that segment, or might be of the entire story. Personally, for me that rare and unconventional love was the one with which I was not able to connect at all. Ok, understood kids find the science of body quite amusing and try to explore it out of curiosity. Even desirous relationships with cousins are quite common, but with your OWN twin brother! No, it is really really hard for me to swallow and I found it extremely hard to go through those pages. The irony is that for Meera that was the most fulfilling relationship and the remaining story becomes a quest in search of a similar love and bonding.

Though Meera was married to Mohan, yet they were not able to ‘complete’ each other and remained strangers, even after 15 years of marriage. For Mohan, Meera was “so damn needy all the time” whereas Meera wanted Mohan to “acknowledge her presence. In an attempt to thwart their dull and loveless marriage, Meera creates a world of passion and desire for herself. The inconsistency of Mohan becomes the reason for Amarkant Maharaj, the Godman playing a significant role in Meera’s life.

The hypocrisy of the society has been depicted in the form of Amarkant Maharaj, a man revered, and worshipped by numerous disciples. He indulges in sex with women whose husbands are sterile, with the purpose of giving birth to a progeny. What is shocking is that the liaison happens under the full knowledge and blessings of the family’s elders! The Maharaj was slowly starting to dictate Meera’s life, under the guise of fulfilling her desires. Finally, when his real face comes in front of her, she mustered strength to question and abandon his influence.

It is the Internet which opened a new world in front of her and made Yosuf an important part of her life, if not the best. From virtual lovemaking to sharing a hotel with him for a day, it was Yosuf to whom she surrendered, her body and soul. However, her brief encounter with happiness went away with the deluge, leaving her completely alone.

The book is described as the story of a middle-class Indian housewife’s urgent need for love, respect, acceptance and sexual gratification. In India, where we are still fighting hard to bring “sex education” in the school level, women are not supposed to ponder about their sexual fulfillment. In that respect, kudos to the author for her no holds barred portrayal of sexual desires and imaginations. It is leap forward, in the literary scene of the country of Kamasutra and Khajuraho, where talking about sex and desires openly is still a taboo. It is empowering for women in the context that it recognizes that even women have their sexual cravings.

I am quite unsure about the love, respect and acceptance part, though. While going through the book, nowhere did I feel the presence of ‘love’ and ‘respect’ – not from anyone for anyone! The ‘love’ that she finally felt for Yosuf, was it for keeps?

The author incorporated social issues like the Asaram Bapu scandal, natural disasters like the 2005 Mumbai flood and some feminist thoughts and ideas. Yes, they are integral to the story and blended well due to her storytelling prowess. However, I felt the eroticism – with the on-the-face graphic sex scenes could have been mellowed down a bit. Mid way through the story, I started skimming through the “pleasure plays” in order to go ahead with the story. It would also have shown Meera slightly less desperate.

The reference of Sita could have been entwined with the story in a far better manner. In fact, Meera herself has questioned about the relevance of the story of “Ramayana”.

There are a few glitches in the storyline – for one the relationship between Vrinda and Mohan and Meera and Bansi. It seemed the author started off with a certain view but either changed it or stopped it due to some reason. Sita’s Curse The Language of Desire has its moments – of passion, of longing, of tragedy, of pain, of compromises, of happiness. Sreemoyee has been able to create a bold tale of the tales which we still prefer talking inside the closet.

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