While the Capital city waits for rains, to sit down on a humid summer night with a book of erotic stories... Interesting. The stark red cover and Khushwant Singh declaring from the back cover - ‘More erotic than the Kamasutra, Aryanyani’s stories burn up the page’ - what could have been moments of consummate passion, settles down as dregs of an aching absence.
Every character in A Pleasant Kind of Heavy seems to be stuck in limbo. An aching limbo that exists just before that orgasmic moment that might mingle the incomplete with the complete and ease the longing. No longing seems to be soothed to any form of calm - the bodies seem to tremble with anticipation constantly.
From a woman getting her release from a massage while her servant pleasures herself watching her mistress climax to an explosive, thoroughly sexual relationship between an artist and a Russian yoga enthusiast, the desires of a pregnant woman and the pleasure of doing something ‘wayward’ and graduating from a polite girl to someone sexual and alive. Replete with moments of climactic conclusions and releases (for the want of a better word), the stories are saturated with a strange sense of longing. It feels like even after the deed is done, the want remains simply because every story seems to open up the body to a feeling that needs a prolonging and the promise of a repetition that falls on deaf ears.
Perhaps only in the stories - A Touch of Sun, The Courier Franchise Owner’s Wife and A Pleasant Kind of Heavy - the insatiable cycle of want comes full circle. While The Cause of Blindness, Tamil Summer and Leaving Broken Bridge pushes one to that heavy limbo before the moment. As you put down the book, this sense of impatience envelopes you and you are left pent up with some energy that seems to vibrate off the pages and seep into your pores. Maybe that is the fire Khushwant Singh spoke about. No discrete desire to bring oneself to a release or the sense of calm after the moment is gone. You are left haunted by the same shaking dissatisfaction. It is unnerving.
Every character seems to be in search of that feeling of momentary euphoria. While some extract it out of the soil and roots in an impotent sense of anger, others derive it from simple voyeurism as the one woman’s lover makes love to another man. From every nook and corner of South India, Aranyani (a nom de plume) draws out physical moments, reeking with scents, sexual, oppressive and overpowering. And with a strong absence of calm or satiation.
Do read. Just make sure it rains.