The Pumpkin Eater – A Not So Happy Ending

**Multiple Trigger Warnings** **NSFW****Sexual Content****NC17**

It struck me as odd, at that moment, that while the whole world was talking about feminism, planned parenthood, democracy, careers, and home-ownership, I was sitting there wondering whether I should wank off.

My predicament was made even odder if you considered the fact that I had just then finished reading “Pumpkin Eater” by Penelope Mortimer, a book about a middle-aged rich British white woman’s descent into depression and disorientation. The book went into a lot of literary and symbolic jamboree about marriage, love, and lovemaking.

But, you know what, between you and me, I think the main character was just a prude and was sex starved. A good fuck, with her on top and on her own terms (gotta please the feminists you see), would have unclogged her system instead of having to churn out difficult to read cuckoo books – which incidentally is my erudite and considered response for any Victorian Classical Work.

Not that Victorian Literature is bad by literary standards. They are supposedly the shizz. It is just that some of the corsets and laces and bodices and curtsying and crumpled love letters and love triangles could have been avoided with some wet and wild no-strings-attached sex.

“Throw in a threesome” is always one of my solutions to unknot a three-way love impasse in puritanical literary plots.

Pretty rich coming from a middle class, middle-aged, married Indian male you think?

Well, let me tell you, I may not know a lot about sex, but I emphatically know too goddamn much about prudish, sex-starved marriages.

I am surrounded by these marriages of various gradations. My Indian friends, families, and relations, self-included, represent the entire spectrum of this bodily and emotional deprivation, right from cobwebby vaginas and crumbling penises, to the lower-body-covered-with-a-blanket missionary experts. A pretty narrow spectrum I suspect; just enough to fit the ego bruising narrow window of sexual misadventures and territories that lifetime single sex partners manage to venture into.

School and College

Growing up, there were only two people in Tamil Nadu who were mainstream sex experts. One was Kamal Hassan, the other was Silk Smitha. Poor Silk Smitha committed suicide. Vidya Balan tried to reprise her role but she wasn’t smutty enough for me. I further sought reaffirmations for my preferences with very many similar middle-aged men – all of whom are camouflaged in plain sight – who have studied and researched Silk Smitha, endeared simply as Silk.

With Silk, we all concurred, one just can’t hold his load.

Kamal Hassan, you might have heard, has moved onto political discourses nowadays.

Anyways, in school, sex education classes turned magically into games periods. Long duppattas and longer ponytails oiled into Cat O’ Nine Tails of decorum and modesty successfully staved off any first-hand experimentation. None of this fog of war was helped by intuitively alluring pornographic books and DVDs magically making their underground rounds – watched in relative secrecy, complete with secret handshakes and coded conversations and too frequent synchronized trips to the bathroom.

Thus I graduated from school with second-hand knowledge of sex. The crux of which was that only pretty white women and ugly Indian women ever fucked.

College was a little more sophisticated in its theoretical knowledge but wasn’t of much help otherwise.

Two advanced science degrees down and I still did not know if women masturbated in real life other than from third-hand sources. So much for adulting.

Families and Friends

Before any married Indian man struggles to get up to school me on the intricacies of sex let me paste a sample of how an advertisement for my guides/mentors would look like.

“Wanted sexual expert in real life – for first hand theoretical knowledge only. Should NOT be a sexologist or one of those roadside-tent dwelling itenerant. Must hold a regular corporate job. Must have had at least 3 or 4 real-life non-paid consensual and enthusiastic sexual partners; multiple daytime sex on an impulse, preferably on a dining table, floor or standing; blowjob/anal/BDSM experience will be considered overqualified. Applicant must be born and brought up in India without ever having stepped into another country. ” 

If you haven’t made the cut but are curious, the search for knowledge is on! Follow me seekers.

On the other hand, if you have made the cut, tell me, and I’ll build a shrine for you. I’ll be your scribe, like Ganesha to Ved Vyasa, as you expound your exploits.

The lesser said about my family the better. One look at their perennially scrunched up faces, busy households and careers and a complete lack of private space or time is proof that it is all very crusty landscape.

Parched, scorched earth. Atacama Desert. Even Ghenghis Khan would’ve felt inadequate, war tactic wise.

If one of the overbearing underachieving aunts or potbellied uncles broke out a handcuff I would have dropped in amazement like Nikki’s Butt; again and again.

No, I am afraid, I do not see much hope there. I see a lot of denial, and hence writing material, though. Kamala Das has mined the depths there.

All I see there are bathroom tuggathons and saffron missionaries for Uncles and male cousins. For Aunties, I have no clue.

Already I am struggling to erase the images being formed in my head before being permanently scarred. Even you, dear reader, surely don’t expect me to venture that deep in pursuit of truth and knowledge. To be fair, I avoid mirrors pathologically myself. I am not self-delusional. Today’s standards of beauty dictate that middle-aged and old age sex is painfully unaesthetic.

Single Men and Women

If you are above the age of consent and a virgin in India, please do us oldies a favor and stop foisting modesty and values on us as the reason for your abstinence. It is as much a combination of lack of opportunity, overcoming trauma of harassment, fear of repercussion or other such unnatural and sad incidents that have reduced you to this state. Self-awareness and acceptance will lessen the crushing pain.

We’ve all been through the sympathy shag where the overwhelming emotion is one of wistfulness and self-pity. Sure you have the time and privacy that family gents and ladies are not accorded. All that means is you can afford not to use a headphone when watching Sasha Gray or the male equivalent.

We all sympathize with you. Onwards!


There are various coping mechanisms that I have seen used.

Yoga and temple going activities rise as the angle of incline of the instrument drops. Filling your last waking hour with yoga instead of spending unaccountable time together is pretty apparent of the lack of sex, or even quality time, in your lives, uncles and aunties(?).

Another incredibly unsuccessful coping mechanism are the porn sites. They serve to highlight the vacuum in the life of married Indian men. Those single can still hope. But with married men, it is the mythical itch that cannot be scratched, no matter how much you wank.

The “what if”s, the “why not”s, the “will-I-ever”s. This has not diminished any Indian married men, aka left-hand warriors, from specializing. It is a perverse ritual of self-flagellation that we subject ourselves to.

Caught between our doubts, fat rolls, double chins, receding hairlines and moral hypocrisies, we are rightly despondent of our chances of any experimental sex in our lives. Blowjob videos seem to have been made as much to arouse as to rub the futility of human existence that can only be remedied by the Supreme detachment preached by The Gita. (An entrepreneurial historian named Devdutt Patnaik seems to have figured this out recently).

Mia Khalifa and Sunny Leone have moved onto sustainable careers after their shock and awe tactic, but they singularly provide unverifiable and stylized answers to sexually repressed married men staring existentially into unending sexual boredom (and sometimes duty).

Almost all men I know watch porn or have watched porn. It gives a sense of how unrealistic sexual expectations are when not tempered by real life at regular intervals. It also highlights the difference in what they know exists and what they are prescribed.

Funnily, even now, as an adult, after marriage, when browsing to watch porn I have more questions than answers.

Anal sex offers up more doubts than arousal at this point – A sense of wonderment and mysticism. Is it really a thing? I am sure it is, but it does not look like it offers much for the women. I wonder how many MILFs are really Ms, and why that is a much-populated category in many porn sites? I am assuming they would have optimized by customer traffic and therefore it is a much-searched category. Is amateur porn ethical? At what point in life should one stop watching hentai porn? Do Japanese women really squeak in real life? How exactly does double penetration work? I still haven’t figured out the difference in experience between a vibrator and a dildo. Do normal people 69? How long is long enough, dimension-wise and duration-wise?

Then there are questions about women feminists. Do they like it rough, and if so how rough is too rough? Would they role play as subs? Where do they draw the line between abuse and abort? Do/Can couples experiment sexually after multiple corroding fights and with all their emotional baggages, all the while keeping in mind full sexual honesty can be used for psyops during future bickerings?

In real life, there may occur the occasional rough play, but I have the sneaking suspicion those fall under abuse than sexual kink. Spanking is not backhanded slaps and fisting is definitely not punching the wife on her nose with clenched fists.

I have come to the rather uplifting conclusion that there is one thing sadder than a non-existent sex life. It is a non-existent imaginary sex life.

The State of Being

I imagine Indian marriages and the dating scenes are wrought with perils that wreck the society in horrific ways, not to mention the dangers in navigating it socially, let alone sexually.

Starting right from childhood children are brought up in families by parents who are not only emotional stunted on how to navigate sexual failures and successes but are even unsure of each other’s compatibilities and values. They manifest in many ways starting from a breakdown of communication about physical needs at worst, to a vibrant but sadly underdeveloped sex life, which at some point in a couple’s life will foster discontent and fester. Cutesy sayings of South Asian parents being non-expressive masks far darker underlying problems.

How would such parents be able to appreciate the importance of educating and equipping their children emotionally to find their true right life partner? With the world growing in awareness how do they expect children to conform to marital norms without ever having explored their own needs and preferences? How would children who grow up without choice not impose moralistic boundaries on others and themselves in real-life? What happens when unrealistic over expectations meet rampant sexual inexperience? Marital rape, permanent trauma, and simmering dissatisfaction?

A repressive society designed to frown upon, minimize, and imperil social and sexual interactions among its inhabitants is a time bomb that has already exploded. The rapes, the harassments, the marital depressions, the claustrophobia of being trapped in marriages and relations are all tied invariably to the inability to explore, engage and disengage in relations maturely, emotionally and sexually between people in India. An increasing pressure cooker without release options.

There are extremely tiny slivers of liberation in very curated corners of the elite, but the balance is tipping towards the conservative. In the short interim, moral policing provides for illusions of safety, but in the long run, this is a recipe for disaster. A cauldron of entitlement stemming from self-righteous denial and a surge of hormones will invariably lead to dysfunction. I have seldom heard voices in India address underlying repression in the society as vocally or visibly as the results of these repressions are being brought to light and discussed.

Insistence on marrying first sexual partners and worshipping fidelity as a virtue during courtship and after marriage as the answer to a human’s sexual and emotional desires today is the equivalent of insisting upon abstinence to combat unwanted pregnancies. It is laughable in its very premise. With lack of choices and heavy penalties of living and sleeping together with relatively lower barriers without legal bindings, Indians are struggling to find their right life partners. This even in upper-middle-class societies. One does not even have to think about those from humbler backgrounds and stricter social settings.

None of this is in anyway an excuse for female harassment, abuse or intimidation. That track of deterrence should be bolstered by more fundamental social engineering for the better.

However, no discussion of female safety, mental well-being, and women empowerment in India will make a dent unless the society liberalizes. Lynching rapists is a knee jerk reaction. Public and online shaming of lechers, pointing to their patriarchal and homophobic behaviors, will not even begin to address the social conditioning that piles the odds against rapists or lechers from the moment they are born.

There also seems to be rising indignancy and urgency by online social-justice-warriors that the older the men the more demeaning the harassment. Age has nothing to do with this, and the assumption that with age, the physical need or the emotional trauma and dysfunction is mellowed, is a short-sighted, unstudied and dangerous assumption.

“He was old enough to be my dad/granddad” accusations actually shows a lack of understanding of the problem and is just a social affirmation of the ignorance of a deeper reason by even those looking to correct sexual abuses in India.

Indian marriages also ignore basic realities. Heterosexuality is not the norm for many humans.  Heck, even sexuality is not the norm. Coyness, modesty, and chastity is a double edged sword that marks harassment and abuse as much as they can be used as tools for empowerment.

Hopefully books such as the “Pumpkin Eater” find a reason to exist only as fiction and exceptions and not as the norm.

I hope you understand why I did not unzip and why I did not play Mia Khalifa’s “Masturbation in a Library” video.

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