Author Interview : Sreemoyee Piu Kundu


What happens when we cross the Lakshman Rekha? And who really decides that limit?
“Writing erotica is a divinely Mystical and Empowering journey” — Says India’s first feminist erotica writer Sreemoyee Piu Kundu.

After  series of successful books based on Indian mythology, readers will definitely find Erotica very refreshing. Sita’s Curse  – The language of desire is being touted as the next big thing and the “new” big idea in the Indian publishing scene.

Here’s a candid conversation with the creator of one of the most bold, powerful, mystical and  beautiful character #Meera. Presenting ladies and gentleman, a proud feminist, soaked in the blissfulness of classical Indian erotica next in our series.. #SuperWuromanWriter (8)  — Sreemoyee Piu Kundu.

1.   Has the feeling sunk in yet? How does it feel to be labelled as the first feminist erotica writer of the country?

I always knew about being the first, so the elation on that aspect hasn’t yet sunk in and neither am I someone who is into labels. What has been overwhelming and heart-warming has been the response to the novel by readers, from both sexes. How it is acting as a catalyst for their own personal catharsis. Be it stories of gay love, marital rape, incest, soul-mates found outside marriage, to men picking up the book to read to their lovers and pregnant wives – it is this dialogue that is critical to me, and a measure of success far greater than book sales and store statistics. To find your own Meerahood. That is where Sita’s Curse, the country’s first feminist erotica ends. And you begin. That is the most precious feeling.
2.   We have read your epilogue in the book about chancing upon Meera in Mumbai. Would you mind elaborating it again for new readers?

Actually Sita’s Curse was the third book I penned after Faraway Music, my second being a racy lad lit, out next from Hachette, a modern day reinterpretation of Shakuntalam, as retold by Dushyant. You’ve Got The Wrong Girl. Sita’s Curse I started writing as a short story about a Gujarati housewife, I saw daily, on my way to work at the Times of India office in VT from Mahim where I resided a few years ago. Sometimes hanging damp clothes on a flimsy plastic wire, feeding green chillies to a tota in a cheap wrought iron cage or running her hands carelessly over her full breasts, the Meera of my imagination soon transformed into an obsession – a slow fire, as I began conjecturing about her daily life. Imagining her every moment. The way she felt trapped, soulless, sad, sabotaged by the simple irony of her own life. I found myself asking if she had children, how her husband looked, whether she was lonely, smuggled in a lover into her airless chawl room, longed to be free from the drudgery of her own existential woes. Till the floods of July 26th, 2005 of which I too was a victim, taking three days to reach home, battling a serious viral infection I contracted, seeing one of my colleagues drop into an open manhole as we made a human chain, trying to battle the sky high waves that lashed Mumbai. And being hospitalized as a result of being in the dirty waters for so long. When I resumed work three weeks later, she was no more. Sita’s Curse is my tribute to that memory. To a life unsung. A woman with the most melancholic eyes – the color of rain. This is her story. I am but a vessel. A medium. A transit point.
 
3.   When and how did you plan to blend erotica into Meera’s story?

I a
ctually wrote the Prologue of the novel on my first day of penning Sita’s Curse, and I was myself blown away with the lyricism of Meera’s loneliness, the way she touched herself, an intimate dialogue as if. The rest of the novel flowed pretty effortlessly from there and even now with the book garnering such a great momentum, I feel awkward when so much fuss is being made about a woman writing erotica. I mean, to me the story, the characterization, the end messaging of women’s emancipation is really the crux of the tale. Also, the biggest challenge for me as a writer was to constantly keep reminding myself of the real Meera in whose memory I penned this novel. And so, in writing the sexually graphic scenes, my attempt was to make it as real and as normal as possible for a woman of her social strata and experience – belonging to a small Indian town, an everyday housewife, a woman who bears no children, trapped in a soulless marriage. Also, as women our battles are all the same. I have myself seen and heard stories of women not being allowed to offer prayers or enter a kitchen/temple when they are menstruating, my own life changing after I made the transition from girlhood to womanhood at twelve. So, more than feminism, I think the erotic elements of the novel are rooted in a deep every day Indian realism.
4.    Is writing erotica more difficult than any other genre? How would you differentiate your book from ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, the most common one you’re compared to?

Honestly, I take pride in being a sensualist and my natural style of writing is very sensuous and lyrical, so for me the erotica bit felt natural and justifiable at all times. The idea being not to make the reader feel nauseated but experience a heightened sense of arousal. Also, with regards to 50 Shades of Grey I personally felt the book had no real story line and why write an erotica that glorifies BDSM etc if you have to use a pseudonym. Where Sita’s Curse is different is that it is a feminist erotica so through the protagonist’s sexual destiny, we are trying to explore a larger voice – the subject of human desire. To me erotica is the language of discovery and debauchery for Meera. It is the sound of her soul. I think readers should look beyond the sexual explicitness and find a strong voice. The reason I call Meera the ‘hero’ of my novel.
5.      What would be your message to aspiring writers wishing to write meaningful erotica?

I would tell writers of erotica in contemporary times not to do a book, with the aim that it should be the desi version of the international best-seller. The idea is to have an original voice, that is soaked in sensuality and that celebrates the most basic human emotion, rather than sensationalizing the sexual overtone alone. Also, read and research on the subject before you take it up. I soaked in the blissfulness of classical Indian erotica – be it Kalidasa or Jayadeva Geeta Govinda or even the firebrand writing of Ismat Chugtai/Kamala Das. There is a plethora of diverse erotica that is prevalent in our stream of cultural consciousness that we can tap and learn from.

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 — Reviewed By “PRB” 
Also blogs actively at Oneandahalfminutes – A moment. Reminiscence. Rumination. Musings. A full time author in the making and a proud iMelonite !
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– An initiative to feature notable authors.
Sita’s Curse by Sreemoyee Piu Kundu is the book “In Focus”.

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Prb
Aspiring author, frequent blogger, freelance editor, book critic, movie buff, mihidana fanatic. Lives in Pune. Before the above titles, I was a PhD dropout in Soil Science from the US of A, which rather coerced me into switching gears and professions. I work in both English and my mother tongue Bengali.
https://oneandahalfminutes.com/

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