More emotion than erotica
I enjoyed this book and here's what I wrote about it in the current issue of Marie Claire.
In December 1970, a case was filed against this book and the author was convicted for obscenity. In 2008, he was hailed as a literary genius at his 100th birth anniversary and a postage stamp honouring him issued. But phrases like “bold, explicit and shockingly candid” are still used by crafty marketers to lure dirty-minded people to buy this book.
Now it’s true that Maloti has sex with another man, and falls asleep with her clothes dishevelled and when her husband comes home, has to pretend nothing’s happened. But hot stuff? No!
Maloti and Nayonangshu tell their stories in alternate chapters. Through their simple monologues we understand their priorities, their domestic arrangements, values, pressures, employment opportunities, the weather and more.
We learn from Maloti how a woman feels about her husband, and what kind of man she actually needs. And we smile when Nayonangshu describes the unruly animal that lives inside him.
Are these the last great Indian hero and heroine? It’s only in marriage that Nayonangshu can reconcile love and sex. And Maloti wants to be accepted as part of their joint family, to be oppressed at first and grow gradually in power – as is the true order of things. But Nayonangshu, who lives only inside his head, wishes to appear modern and westernised, and arranges them a separate home. So influenced is he by those bossy dead white males from the west that he encourages his wife to think her own thoughts and follow the dictates of her heart.
I mean, what did he expect?