Thursday 25 August 2016
facebook.com/Outlookindia twitter.com/outlookindia digimag.outlookindia.com instagram.com/outlookindia youtube.com/user/OutlookMagazine

Knickers In A Twist

The buzz was that it made rea­ders gasp when it came out in 2006 in the puja issue of Desh
Panty
By Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay Translated By Arunava Sinha
Penguin India | Pages: 272 | Rs. 399

The title novella came out in 2006 in the puja issue of Desh, the Bengali literary magazine. The buzz was that it made rea­ders gasp—especially the patriarchy that formed the core of the Bengali literati. The 31-year-old Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay had reintroduced hardcore sexuality to Bengali literature. Given Bengali sensibilities, there was every cha­nce that the novella would be branded a gimmick and, for a while, it was. But now, Bengalis are making and watching films like Obhishopto Nightie (Cursed Nightie), and the form Bandyopadhyay introduced is largely accepted. English rea­ders had no access to the stories till Arunava Sinha translated Panty and Hypnosis.

Where English is concerned, erotica and sex-starved women are less rare. How­ever, Bandyopadhyay’s stories have a manic energy, knickers with leopard spots and all. Illona Kuhu Mitra, for exa­mple, the lush heroine of the first story, is never described, except through her lon­gings for sex. Kuhu, her middle name, is the shrill scream of the koel in early spr­ing, a scream described by classical Ind­ian poets as a call for mating. Kuhu dre­ams, but isn’t sure what a dream is, or what reality is made of. Like Bandyopadhyay, she is a journalist, can’t bear working during the day and prefers to work at night when no one is about, driving back in early morning, on the edge of danger. Megh, a musician, comes into her life in between her musings about the past and the present and her trysts with hypnotherapy. But is what happens bet­ween him and her real, or part of a dream?

Advertisement

Panty, too, flits between dream and rea­lity—with the discovery of a pair of leopard spot-printed panties in an otherwise deserted apartment. The nameless heroine is taking refuge there before an unnamed surgery. Her thoughts weave between physicality and the starving  pavement-dwellers on the street below.

Kolkata, not Calcutta, is the world these women inhabit, interspersed with conversations with maids and brief encounters with irate relatives or ex-husbands in clubs—the stuff that comprises bourgeois Bengali household lives. The mundane offset by flashes of intensity, the internal burning that expresses itself in outbreaks of sex like flash fires or buildings on fire. Both stories have outbreaks of arson in multi-storeyed buildings—the Stephen Court conflagration in one and the destruction of a six-storey building and the death of a child in the other.

The novellas breathe no longings of the Fifty Shades of Grey type and Bandyo­padhyay does not venture into Anais Nin territory either. Her world is hard and down to earth, it has no space for mincing uses of four-letter anatomical slangs. Sinha’s translation captures this. Of the two stories, Panty is the more complica­ted, since it flits back and forth between different states of consciousness. In its final stages, the chapter numbering also jumps like an insane digital clock with no apparent logic of sequence.

READ MORE IN:
AUTHORS: Anjana Basu
SECTION: Books
SUBSECTION: Reviews
OUTLOOK: 12 May, 2014
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, please Log in or Register
  • Daily Mail
THE LATEST ISSUE
CLICK IMAGE FOR CONTENTS
REVIEW
Extract
How a brutal LTTE directive was lost in the static of intelligence
MAGAZINE August 18, 2016
Review
A RBI governor remembers his doughty fights, but cuts down on the math
MAGAZINE August 11, 2016
Book Extract
Abused by a relative at six, Laxmi saw how patriarchy tried to crush her femininity. And she made it come back to crush them, ‘those straight men with wives and kids’.
MAGAZINE August 10, 2016
Review
Woven around the many facets of Shashi Kapoor whom most readers would have known only as a star.
MAGAZINE August 04, 2016
Review
The value of Visvanathan’s essays lie in their playfully fresh insights
MAGAZINE August 04, 2016
read more>>>
OUTLOOK ON TWITTER
POLLS

Finally, political parties came together to pass the Goods and Services Tax in the Rajya Sabha. The much-vaunted tax reform is said to have turned India into one common market. It is said that the GST will replace more than 15 state and federal taxes. So will GST lead to #AchcheDin?

POLL STARTED ON: Aug 04, 2016
Quiz
Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro is hosting the 31st Olympic Games from August 5 to 21. This is the first Olympics being held in South America and is going on even as a majority Brazilians are unhappy with their rulers. Here’s a quiz on some random Olympic facts and related trivia.
QUIZ STARTED ON: Aug 11, 2016
Advertisement