Book Review – Sita’s Curse by Sreemoyee Piu Kundu
Strapped for 15 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 flights of fancy to soothe the aches that wrack her body to quieten an unquenchable need. Until one cataclysmic day in Mumbai, 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 satisfaction.
For some time I had followed the buzz surrounding this book. The video promo, reviews on the web, talks in the book lovers’ circle – all painted an interesting picture of this book. Some said it was desi ‘50 Shades of Grey’, some said it was a powerful feminist story, yet others said it was an well-written explosive erotica.
Whenever I review books for Blogadda, I write it immediately after finishing the book while the impression is still fresh in my mind. However, this time, I am writing it after 3 days. I have been mulling over the book, trying to gather my feelings and views and formulating them carefully to see whether my first reaction is indeed the real reaction. The reason behind the same is that I was confused after finishing it. I really liked the book in the beginning, then swayed between extreme emotions throughout and at the end, I was disappointed!
Despite the blurb giving the impression that it was a story of a bored housewife seeking sexual pleasure outside the confines of her marriage, I picked up the book with an open mind. I hoped it would be a different treatment of a hackneyed story line, which it is. However, I was unhappy with the book for the following reasons.
First, I was left unsatisfied with the protagonist’s characterisation. By it, I do not mean her virtuousness or the lack of it. It was rather my inability to relate to and understand some of her actions which led me to finally be completely detached from her plight. It’s my personal view that Meera’s search for bodily pleasures at every opportunity, at times with people whose names she does not know, did not justify her feeling of betrayal and victimisation towards the end. True, her marriage was a rut and her husband suffered from erectile dysfunction, but the attempt to make them the main reasons behind her actions was not right. Moreover her feelings towards Guruji and Yosuf both lacked proper reason. In the case of Guruji, she was immensely attracted towards him and did not find her liaisons with him any wrong till the time she came to realise that her mother-in-law had pushed her towards him at every possible opportunity. In the case of Yosuf, her mindset that romantic feeling has to accompany physical attraction was completely opposite to her experiences with men so far. At the end, losing her mind over Yosuf was something which felt unnatural to me. Meera, as a character began with the potential to give a different flavour to the usual characters of a woman but slipped at it a number of times throughout the story.
Second, the plotline wavered too much for my liking.The storyline of Yosuf was given too much importance despite the fact that he entered the scene much towards the end. Mohan’s behaviour towards his beautiful wife Meera and plain sister-in-law Vrinda was something I could not relate to. True, it was his male ego that stopped him from loving his wife but what prompted his feelings towards his sister-in-law? Or Vrinda’s towards him? There are enough hints in the story towards a connection between Mohan and Vrinda, which led me to wonder whether she was sexually involved with him or was theirs only a platonic relationship. The second seems unlikely while the first would mean that she would be unsatisfied with him, just like Meera was; or she was easier than Meera to satisfy. Either way, some of the characters and the overall storyline was quite vague.
I am sure Sreemoyee has her own reasons and view point for her characters and the story. The story has beautiful descriptions of places and situations which painted a picture in my mind while I was reading it. Her erotic narratives were not vulgar and unnecessary. At places, the flow was poetic, which was a welcome relief from the linear story-telling in most of today’s literature. She acknowledges in the book that her inspiration was a beautiful Gujarati housewife in a Byculla chawl whom she saw regularly while going to work and who she did not see after the floods of 2005 and wondered about her unspoken story. She had also taken experiences from other housewives, who had shared the stories of their desire with her. However, I wish I could resonate more with it since the underlying premise of the story is quite close to my heart.
Title – Sita’s Curse
Publisher – Hachette India
Author – Sreemoyee Piu Kundu
ISBN – 935009780X
No. of Pages – 344
My rating – 6/10