Sreemoyee Piu Kundu is a name which I didn’t come across in book stores. Rather, it was way back in 2013, when I was fascinated by a story, ‘Nice Boobs’, written by a certain author, which, according to our professor would be helpful in my term paper. I had chosen the topic of analyzing the media representations of rape, as a part of my course work in Gender Studies while I was pursuing my M.Phil in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University. “This woman must be someone”, I had muttered while reading the text. Later in 2014, I found Sita’s Curse on the book shelves of a popular bookstore of Kolkata. After that, I got the honour to be in her friendlist in Facebook. Each day I started discovering and learning new things about her, about the woman in us and about the society. Finally, when I read Sita’s Curse, which happens to be Sreemoyee ma’am’s second book, I found a universe, which was locked by the norms of the society. In the current scenario when authors behave like ‘love gurus’, teaching you to get a boyfriend or a girlfriend through their works, lecturing on love over the social media during promotions, here is one Indian author, The Sreemoyee Piu Kundu who is there to peel off the mushy romantic veil, unearthing the forbidden and making a palace out of a mud castle, revealing the beauty in otherwise ignored and forbidden. Needless to say, that I got hooked to the book, and the experience was a magical one, with Sreemoyee ma’am, giving me time of her busy schedule, to discuss about things in Facebook as I read the novel. Without wasting any more words, I would like to go straight to the review.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Theme: Set in the backdrop of a small village of Gujrat and the city of Mumbai, Sreemoyee Piu Kundu’s Sita’s Curse deals with the social life of the inhabitants of the people who live there. Through the eyes of Meera, the protagonist of the novel and also the narrator, the day to the day picture of villagers and middle class people living in Mumbai have been portrayed. Sreemoyee Piu Kundu never failed to leave out a single detailing while describing the colonies where lower middle class people lived in Mumbai. Her characters struggle through fire and flood, some die, and some live to continue the story. Starting in eighties, the novel ends with the Mumbai flood of 2005, which the author even mentioned in the acknowledgement. As the society changes, her characters grow too, finding dimensions in themselves, which otherwise would have remained dormant. Meera is a free bird, who questions everything. It is her strong sense of independence which makes her do things out of her own volition and as time moves on, she understands where her power lies. The delicate relationship of a growing up girl with her twin brother, the influence of internet over middle class house wives, the issues involving ‘guru culture’ have been woven with extreme detailing within the corpus of the novel. Written in first person narrative, no particular idealism has been imposed by the author on the readers. Situations have been given and it is perhaps the reader’s duty to figure out what is good or bad. When Amarkant Maharaj, was accused of molestation, Meera’s thoughts reveal that Ba knew of the Seths being infertile and that was the reason, they took their daughter-in-law to their Guruji, Amarkant Maharaj. Reference to Pandu and Kunti validates this point. The question is not about the Guru here , rather the questions arise regarding the acceptance of ‘ consent sex’; it reveals the hypocrisy of our society which wants a woman to bear a child, which condemns sex outside marriage and also, humiliates the daughter-in-law if conceiving is not her problem, but rather it her husband’s infertility and above all, the daughter-in-law is made to conceive a child of another man, disguised as some ‘ guruji’ , without anyone’s knowledge.
Sita’s Curse is about exploring womanhood, about exploring the desires of a woman, desires, suppressed by this patriarchal society. It questions the freedom given to women, it questions the divinity promoted in women, and it also reflects the power a woman can have, if she unleashes her true self. It is through the voice of the free bird, Meera, that Sreemoyee Piu Kundu draws upon the psyche of a woman, her dreams, her desires, her pain, her agony. This perhaps is something universal to each and every woman, be it the city girl Binal or the village lass, Meera.
Language: I have always been mesmerised by the power of language. Sreemoyee Piu Kundu just proved me right. Language can make anything beautiful, language can make anything bitter. The story would never have seemed so beautiful had it not been for this resplendent language which even brought out the beatitude of the scene of a masturbating woman.
Narration: Narrated in first person, the novel draws the reader more into itself. Even if the author has certain ideologies of her own, she never imposes them upon the readers. She is like a cook who serves a platter. It is the reader’s choice to identify the taste.
Thank you Sreemoyee ma’am for writing this beautiful novel. However, I would like to know what happened to Binal. I am sure that calls for another story. You are an inspiration for aspiring writers like us. You have taught us that even in this age of chick lits, a novel written with a literary flair , do sell. Looking forward to your upcoming book.
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