"Seduction by Truth" | Seducing tradition, rethinking intimacy
Celebrated as the epitome of sanctity, the bond of marriage is shrouded in layers of complexity, fluctuating desire and challenges to convention, explains Dhirendra Kumar.
After making an impressive start in literary writing with his first book – As Boys Become Men – bureaucrat-turned-author Mukul Kumar is ready with his new book which explores the institution of marriage and questions its statute as the singular solution to human desire. Kumar in his new book – Seduction by Truth – has tried to explain 'desire' which is often hidden in the doldrum of marriages.
While talking to Millennium Post about his journey in literary writing, Kumar said, “Writing is very pleasurable, but the post-writing process is often much more tedious. The present market scenario has undergone immense change and, under the given circumstances, attracting readers to read good material is an extremely challenging task.”
Replying to a question on how travelling shapes and influences writing, Kumar emphasised, “Travelling makes the contents of a book more realistic. In Seduction by Truth, there is a scene around the Sistine Chapel of Vatican Museum, Italy. Since I had not been to the place, I wrote about the incidents of the Museum with the help of reference books and materials abundantly available on the internet.”
“I was fortunate enough that I got an opportunity to visit Israel and Germany for my departmental training. I took out some time and visited the Vatican Museum; and, after experiencing the museum in reality, I changed the whole virtual narrative and spent a lot of time rewriting those scenes again – this, certainly, came out much better,” said Kumar, a 1997-batch Indian Railway Traffic Service officer (IRTS).
“Travelling is extremely important while writing a book. Real experiences are always better than virtual tours,” Kumar said.
“Seduction by Truth is a very radical novel. In this novel, I have explored marriage in the context of changing times. I have tried to explore whether marriage is at all the end of all need for human beings. All needs include mental, emotional, physical, social,” the author said.
“I personally believe that there is no point at which one can say that this level of perfection or satisfaction can be achieved through marriage. There is a defined protocol for the treatment of an ailment, but there is no such defined protocol for marriage,” he said.
“Each school of thought contradicts the other’s views. One says marriage has a solution to emotional, social, mental, physical needs; while the other schools contradict the same theory by saying that if this is so then why do both men and women engage in extramarital relations. I have tried to find out the answers to several such unanswered questions in this novel,” the author explained.
“In the novel, I have taken the 'desire' aspect of marriage, which decreases as the year of marriage increases. The beauty of marriage is that when the desire drops, emotional bonding between partners increases and if there is no major change in emotional bonding that signifies the incompatibility in the marriage,” he elaborated.
“I’m sure that certain readers would take the views as quite radical. They may criticise it. But I’m ready to handle the situation. Though it’s fiction, the novel does explore reality. Most sociologists are now thinking on these lines. It’s not new. I have given a new perspective to it,” he said.
“This is a novel on adultery and not on adultery at once; it is the exploration of the interplay of sex, trust and love in marriage, trying to etch out the aspects that may necessitate adultery,” Kumar said.
Some lines of the book that draw attention towards marriage read: Habit saps the life out of living and tradition is a matter of habit; sex has faded away from the marital life of Shiva. But fettered by guilt, a conscientious Shiva is not able to overstep his marriage for sex.
How should a man like Shiva react when he discovers his wife, Akriti, to be adulterous? Let his wrath loose upon her or maybe, get separated from her as well. But Shiva, the protagonist of the novel Seduction by Truth does nothing like this.
“During this journey of discovery, his reflections upon Hindu, Islamic and Christian traditions and mythologies with regard to marriage and sex successfully charm three women out of their beliefs in their respective traditions,” the author explains.