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    TMYS Review June 2020 - Women and Infidelity

    GENDER IDENTITIES AND SOCIAL REALITIES : ESSAYS AND STORIES ON INDIAN WOMEN

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    Subcategory II :

    WOMEN AND INFIDELITY

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    Title : Kamathipura

    Category : Fiction

    Author : Sufi House

    Author intro : Sufi House is an avid reader, a bonafide story-teller, an eternal book-lover and a believer in Karma. She seeks new stories through the everyday lives around her and believes in creating her own heaven while on earth instead of dreaming of a one beyond the world. Sufi House is a pseudonym and the author prefers to be known by that name within literary circles.

    Excerpt :

    It all started with the onset of the Hornby Vellard Project in 1784. The low-lying marshy areas opened up to habitation and the kamathis-labourers who took up place to make a living in the area. No one clearly remembers the date or year when Lal Bazaar, as the area was formerly called, turned into Kamathipura and the buzz of the daily construction labourers were replaced by the chaos of prostitutes. What Shakuntala Tai remembers though, is that Kumadevi was one of the early settlers of the red-light area. Fair-skinned, light-eyed, with curls on her head that snaked all the way up to her slender waist, Kumadevi’s most remarkable feature was her  perfect nose. "Mind you", said Shakuntala Tai, ''A perfect nose in a woman symbolizes the status of her birth. One look at Kumadevi and you'd know she was born into wealth.''

    Shakuntala Tai had been the only daughter of a construction worker who had passed away due to l tuberculosis Left to fend for herself, she stayed put in her one-room tin house and witnessed the change in the area. Kumadevi had arrived with a man she simply called ‘Uncle’ and took residence in one of the dilapidated buildings. What struck Shakuntala Tai about her was  her beauty and the richness of her clothes. A richly clad woman was new to the area and its inhabitants and Her  Kumadevi dressed to make her presence felt.

    A week or so after  Kumadevi’s arrival, began the re-construction of  her building into a palatial prestige. Three storied and lattice worked balconies, the staircase snaked upwards to what seemed to be the heaven in Shakuntala Tai's eyes. The re-construction led to the hiring of many kamathis from the area but no one was privileged enough to see Kumadevi in person. Completed in a span of one year, the newness of the structure shocked the nearby commoners. All through, Kumadevi stayed put, brandishing herself as the hottest topic in the area, not easily visible to common eyes and alluring to the gossip makers.

    (Read more at https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08BZXYH4X )

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    Title : The Conflict

    Category : Fiction

    Author : Vani Menon       

    Author Intro : Vani Menon is an engineer by profession and a writer by passion. She has been previously published in 'The Bangalore Mirror', 'The Bombay Review', 'Quillr' and as part of an anthology. Besides writing, she loves traveling. She lives between Bangalore and Abu Dhabi.

    Excerpt :

    'What is it? Why are you avoiding me? Tell me, please. Is it because of him? Or is it because you don't find me attractive?

    'Suchi, please. Please don't do this. Don't make it difficult and don't create a scene'.

    'Answer me, Vivek. Just answer me, damn it'.

    He stood still, unwavering.

    'You know why', he said finally. 'You are just a tease'.

    She hit him hard. The marks of her fingers on his cheek were slowly turning it into a bright shade of red.

    'You... you bitch! How dare you? You frustrated bitch. What do you want? Just get lost.'

    Vivek was screaming now, in anger and something else.

    Suchitra turned and walked away. She was trembling all over. She felt deeply humiliated and degraded. Didn't she ever learn, she thought to herself. She should have known better than to make a fool of herself so publicly. This was all so horrible.

    As she walked, another thought struck her. Now he would know and her humiliation would be complete. Vivek wouldn't spare any details. That bastard. Seeing him now, all self-righteous anger and prudish, one would assume he was revolted by the very idea. Of making love to a married woman. She knew him better than that.

    The bastard, she thought again. She didn't want to go home, not now. She needed a drink badly. She needed some time to think.

    She walked into a pub nearby. It was late afternoon, the harsh October heat was slowly giving way to a more mellow and pleasant evening. 'Happy hours,' the signboard announced in neon green.

    How ironic, she thought. She ordered a pitcher of beer and looked around her. The pub was nearly empty. It smelt of food and leather and cigarettes.

    (Read more here : https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08BZXYH4X )

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    Title : Band-Aid

    Category : Fiction

    Author : Bhavani

    Author Intro : Bhavani is an independent writer who loves working from home though misses the daily dose of office gossip. Her fiction has won the 2016 Out of Print-DNA Short Story contest. She is in a dedicated relationship with coffee, books, her husband and lower case, though not sure about the order of preference. She lives with her daughter and dog in Mumbai. 

    Excerpt :

    The road meandered lazily, tall copper-pod trees planted alongside accompanying the black tar, their felled yellow buds dotting the blackness, heralding a change of season. The path rose to what once might have been a plush green hill; till man took over and stamped his presence. Her life seemed like that, meandering on its way, rising up and down but without clarity. Shashi had been admitted for a few days now…. or was it a week? That there had been a mistake on his end. He had owned up to it, she hadn't pushed and now the ball was back in her court to play as she wished.

    Just at the top of her ‘baby hill', as she called it, there was a speed breaker. She always wondered who would want to go fast on this hill when there was so much beauty to enjoy along the way – it was a road that asked life to take a back seat. The rise, coupled with the narrowness of the road and the fact that you didn't know if vehicles were climbing up from the other side, made it a notorious spot for accidents. What transformed the speed breaker into a complete stop was a deep pothole that ran along its length. People would drive over the speed breaker with caution and then sink into the pothole; negotiating it like a slow elephant swaying from side to side, leading to a chaotic mess of cars, autos, buses and cuss words that trailed down the hill.

    It had taken Shashi a lot of time to come around and tell her.

    She had seen the signs long back, hawk-eyed as she was. At an office party, the last one she attended, he insisted that they wait for a female colleague, with more enthusiasm than he usually did for others. He looked her in the eye when he spoke and paid her more attention. Shashi wasn't a considerate man; he was a typical hard-nosed male who wanted women to flock to him, not vice-versa. So, this was a deviation. She didn't want to be one of those insecure wives, so she didn't mention it then or during their next fight. A part of her thinking, or hoping, had convinced her that by not talking about it maybe the deviation would stay within the boundaries of flirtatious conversations. "Everyone needs to have some fun", her friend Meku had said. Maybe.

    (Read more here : https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08BZXYH4X )

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    Title : The Trauma of Betrayal & Commemorative Infidelity - Reasons and Experiences of Working Men and Women in India

    Category : Essay

    Author : Ehlam Fatima

    Author intro : Elham Fatma is currently doing her Ph.D. from the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, India. She researches the trauma of Kashmiri women. The intersections of Eurocentric trauma studies, memory, and migration with the South Asian Fiction occupy her areas of exploration. She has also written on traditions, expectations and exploitations concerning marriage and women in South Asia. She is a recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship and studied at Davis & Elkins College, Elkins,

    WV, USA, (2007-08), and obtained her B.A. (2007) and M.A. (2010) degrees from Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India.

    Abstract : Despite the evident rise in the cases of infidelity amongst working couples in India, the adultery of women is not an equal opportunity endeavour for them. This essay, in light of select short stories by contemporary Indian women writers on transgressions and conjugal relationships, examines factors that are responsible for working married couples’ commemorative infidelity and trauma caused by spouses’ betrayal. While against the changing social and cultural norms, this essay discusses society’s prejudiced views on male promiscuity and intolerance towards female infidelity. The short stories referred in the essay are Kamathipura by Sufi House, The Conflict by Vani Menon, and Band-aid by Bhavani.

    Excerpt :

    If marriage is a topic that fascinates all, the subjects of sexuality, commitment, adultery and gender differences within the social institution of marriage have always captured the interest of writers from antiquity till today. In fact, marital discord is as old as the phenomenon of matrimony itself, the range of contemporary literature features some remarkable insights into the escalating toxicity in conjugal relations and the growing emotional and physical gulf between married partners. Thus, in view of the near-universal existence of infidelity across all cultures, this essay precisely probes the psychological, social, cultural, and contextual factors that play a significant role in the increasing rate of infidelity amongst married working couples in India. Therefore, to validate the arguments the essay analyses the three short stories “The Conflict,” “Band-Aid” and “Kamathipura” by three contemporary women writers from India. They have focused on infidelity, not as a breach of trust to remain devoted to one’s sexual partner, but how its ramifications impact women more when their husbands indulge in it, whereas the former land themselves into unimaginable troubles if they forge their ways into promiscuity.

    In general terms infidelity “applies equally to marital, nonmarital, heterosexual, and homosexual LTLRs. It also clearly states that not all infidelities involve sex. Some infidelities never reach a sexual level, but still can be just as devastating in their emotional betrayal” (Solomon and Teagno 17). In the short story entitled ‘The Conflict’, the choice of the title by the author, Vani Menon does justice to its content. Not only does it aptly demonstrate that the conflict of interests between married couples impact their conjugal relationships, but the lack of warmth and emotional bonding in a relationship bordering on illegitimacy affect deleteriously none but the female partners. In ‘The Conflict’, the protagonist Suchitra, having a typical Hindi feminine name meaning ‘beautiful’ has always experienced ugly emotional jolts given by the men (step, legitimate and illicit) in her life; one and all. Even her marriage, that has smoothly materialized after a year of a roaring fairy tale types affair when “she was beautiful and elegant, he was charming and rich” (The Conflict 2) finds itself on the rocks after a decade. Her life following miscarriage undergoes a sea of changes and her inability to conceive a child again and especially to stop thinking about that “bloody mass”  or “her unborn” ( The Conflict 4) have adversely affected her mental equanimity. 

    In the initial days of her grief her husband Rohan remains patient with her, but her waning carnal appetite and primarily her psychological exhaustion to satiate his sexual urges lead to their physical and emotional drifting, and “their marriage started showing the first signs of collapse” (The Conflict 4). Though it happens gradually, but inevitably ushers in the possibility of another woman’s presence in his life. Rohan carries an affair with an unmarried working woman residing in their neighbourhood, and “Like the cliché, she was the last to know. Naila, her neighbor told her about it” (The Conflict 5). But, when she has confronted him with all her wifely vehemence, unabashedly he does not deny it. Rather he tries to minimize the extent and intensity of his association with her. Interestingly, in another short story entitled Band-Aid by Bhavani, the author’s unnamed protagonist, a working woman referred to by the third-person feminine pronouns: ‘she’ and ‘her,’ accommodates her husband’s extra-marital affair with his colleague. Amidst their regular altercations: symptomatic of their unsteady marriage, her husband Shashi himself admits to it, though Shashi has always been “a typical hard-nosed male who wanted women to flock to him, not vice-versa. “So, this was a deviation” (Band-Aid 1).

    (Read more here : https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08BZXYH4X )

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    You can also read the above stories here : https://www.amazon.in/Women-Their-Stories-Tell-Story-ebook/dp/B085GKM43S/

    Go back to TMYS Review : https://www.tellmeyourstory.biz/tmys-review

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