I was barely out of college when I first went through the private parts of Vatsayana’s Kama Sutra. Before KS stormed my sex-starved world, the only congress I knew of was the Indian National Congress. It was the Big V who informed me about the other kinds: spontaneous, deceitful, highest, lowest etc. In all ignorance, I assumed that the book’s translator was Richard Burton, the handsome actor who had married the voluptuous Elizabeth Taylor not once but twice. This immaculate misconception further spiced up the text for me (the anti-climax came later, when I found out that some other Burton had done the hard work).
To top it all, Pooja Bedi invaded my dreams as the KS Girl, lending contemporary relevance to the ancient treatise.
Two decades on, I’m still not sure whether to call Kama Sutra comically erotic or erotically comic. This socio-sexual guide abounds with all sorts of crazy lists: 24 kinds of men who obtain success with women, 41 types of women who are easily gained over, 28 ways of getting rid of a lover and whatnot.
As if to mock my dilemma, American humorists Simon Rich and Farley Katz have come up with ‘The Married Kama Sutra: The world’s least erotic sex manual’. This illustrated edition uses the classic format to poke fun at the humdrum, loveless life of a modern-day couple.
One of the positions described by the duo is the ‘interrupted congress’ (not to be confused with the party that got a drubbing in the general election).
It goes like this: “When the man lightly kisses the woman’s neck, and the woman tenderly strokes the man’s chest, and the child runs into the room screaming, because he heard a scary noise, or some other bullshit…”
No less hilarious and real is ‘a moment’s peace’ position: “When the man travels to a sporting event with other men, and the woman, in his absence, takes a long, hot bath and drinks wine out of a box…”
The new book is potentially a balm for those who have felt more blisters than bliss on the marital bed. But it’s also a spoiler for the cocksure fellows who are looking forward to tying the knot. That’s why it is poles apart from the timeless epic,which clearly wants the fun to continue even after marriage, though not necessarily with one’s own life partner.
You may not be adventurous or fit enough to try out the acrobatic positions, you may have just one spouse instead of a full-fledged harem, but all that can’t stop you from enjoying the original Kama Sutra at least theoretically, if not practically.
This stress-buster takes you back to the golden age of guilt-free, uninhibited love-making, long before the Mughals and the Brits repressed the hell out of us Indians. Forget about Akhand Bharat, it’s Anand Bharat that we really miss.
And we also miss Vatsayana, wonderfully played by Amjad ‘Gabbar’ Khan in the ‘eroticomedy’ Utsav (1984). Had he been around today, all the sex clinics, health magazines, marriage bureaus and love ashrams would have been sent packing.
Thanks to his occasionally sexist and casteist ideas (he okayed extramarital sex with women of the lower castes), the self-proclaimed celibate wouldn’t have been spared by the Mahila Morchas and Scheduled Caste commissions. The super sage would have ended up being thrown into jail like any shady godman.
However, there’s a pressing reason why we need him now. He’s the one who can tell the estranged Mrs Modi 69 ways to overpower her all-powerful husband. So, Big V, when are you coming?